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Bowling takes centre stage this week as we look at several coaching issues for bowlers. The first is 'chucking' and how to deal with the accusations in a responsible way. We also walk you through how bowling with personality is important for getting wickets and examine why Glen McGrath found it complicated to keep it simple.

In other news, as you know, it's been a while since the world's first online cricket coaching academy at PitchVision Academy was launched. Since then there have been a number of improvements, additional courses and updates to current courses. In short it's better than ever. To find out more about how PitchVision Academy can help you become a better coach or player, head over to the courses section.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How to stop chucking

Nobody tries to throw the ball when they are bowling.

Yet for some, especially young bowlers who are trying to bowl fast, that is exactly what happens. Unlike most technical errors, throwing is illegal under the Laws of cricket and has an unfair stigma attached to it that can ruin a players bowling career. If you come across such a problem it needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.

What is chucking?

As with many cricket skills, bowling with a straight arm is an unnatural act as any coach who has tried to teach it to young players can testify. It's much easier to throw the ball by bending and straightening at the elbow. However, the Laws are clear. For a ball to be legal, Law 24.3 says: "the elbow is not straightened partially or completely".

Thanks to computer analysis we now know that all bowlers have a slight straightening (which is now legal in professional cricket up to 15 degrees), but it is when it is clear to the naked eye that problems occur. A young player can get called for throwing and face being banned from bowling.

An example of straightening the elbow

To clarify the point, lets take an example of a young player who has been accused of unfairly throwing. Here is are two stills from the same delivery, taken a frame apart:


As I have highlighted, there is a clear bend in the arm in the first picture and a straight arm in the 2nd picture. This is quite hard to detect at full speed. Without access to a biomechanics lab it would be hard to say if the ball is a chuck or not (remember there is some leeway allowed). Assuming he has only contacted me because he is getting no balled let's say there is an issue.

I suspect this has come about has he tried to up his pace before his growing body is read for the extra demand.

Is there a problem?

Before we roll up our sleeves and start the process of correction, we need to ask if there is a problem at all.

The famous example is Sri Lankan spinner Mularitharan. His hyper flexible shoulders and wrists combined with a bent arm certainly looks like chucking to the naked eye and the bowler was no balled for it in top level cricket. He has undergone extensive computer model testing and despite what the eye thinks, his arm straightens well within the legal limit.

The only way to tell at lower levels is to rely on the judgement of the umpires. If a player is getting no balled his progress will stall and remedial work is needed. It may be he or she is not chucking in the modern definition, but if it looks like it that is enough.

The answer: Kinaesthetic chaining

So how does a coach correct a technical error like this?

It's much easier for young players to correct as they have not ingrained the habit on their muscle memory. However, whatever the age of the player, it is up to a good coach to take the action back to the root of the problem and build it back up again. I call this kinaesthetic chaining. What that translates as is this: Breaking the action down and rebuilding it by getting the feel right. Here is how you do it:

  • Strip it down. Start by taking everything away from the bowler except the action itself: Batsman, net, ball, run up and stumps. The bowler should bowl from a standing position, starting at the point of back foot impact.
  • Build up the feel. Take time to go through the right feel from a standing start without the ball. Make sure the bowler can deliver with a straight arm and maintain all the components of a strong action: loading up, head position, foot position, hip position, shoulder rotation. The coach is not trying to alter the action too much here, the focus is on getting the feel for a straight arm again. When the arm is straight from a stationary position you can start to walk through the action, then jog through from a few paces; still without the ball.
  • Bring back the ball. When the arm is straight without the ball it's time to bring the ball back in. Initially it's more important to get the feel for releasing the ball again rather than worry about line and length. Start as before with a standing position and move to walking through. When the release is sound you can start to jog through the action with the ball from a few paces.
  • Bring back the run up. Finally you can bring back the bowler to their full run up and release. Now is the time to focus on accuracy. With a player wanting to generate more pace the coach could work on driving the hip and chest through more to prevent a chucking relapse.
  • Complete the new action. The new action is now complete and the bowler can return to nets or matches. At any stage the coach may drop back to the previous drill if there are signs of a relapse.

This process can take some time. While the bowler is rebuilding the action it's vital they do not try and bowl at all in practice or games; doing that will only get the player back into previous habits.

If you or one of your players is accused of chucking, the correction process should be a last resort. Although difficult, it is possible for a coach to remove the rhythm of a bowlers' action. However, if the problem threatens future success you may have no choice.

What are your experiences of chucking? Leave a comment whether you are a coach or a player.



Want to learn more technical infomation about coaching fast bowlers? Click here to view Ian Pont's fast bowling course on PitchVision Academy.



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Bowl with personality as well as the ball

Can personality get you wickets?

The former Middlesex bowler Simon Hughes certainly thinks so. He uniquely explains the rise of Graeme Swann from bad boy to first choice England spinner. Swann doesn't get his wickets through vicious turn and bounce. He doesn't get them through a mysterious doosra or carom ball.

Like Warne before him, all he does is put doubt in the batsman's mind.

The power of doubt

As a bowler, particularly of spin, the more you can put doubt in a batters mind the more likely you are to get them out.

Those poor batsmen only get one chance and they know it. A single misjudgement could be all it takes to end their participation in the game. No wonder the nerves are jangling as they reach the crease and take guard. How much worse are those nerves when they have no idea how to play what is coming out of your hand.

You may say that is obvious, but knowing the simple fact and acting on it are two very different things. It's easy to keep them terrified if you are turning it square and have impeccable control of flight. What about the times when this is not happening?

Confidence means wickets

It's said that Ian Botham used to take wickets by self confidence alone. Batsmen (especially Australians) were so fearful of his reputation with the ball they tensed up and played for swing that wasn't there or hit wide long hops straight to the fielder.

While club cricketers would find it hard to replicate such a fearful reputation, Swann shows that you don't need to be a superhuman player like Botham to use confidence and bluff to your advantage.

That starts with your own mindset. Confidence for some comes easier than for others. Chaps like Botham, Swann and Warne believe in themselves even when things are going wrong. The pitch might be flat and the batsman may be hitting it all over the park, but that spark of hope remains.

You may have less confidence in yourself and need to employ some simple mental tricks to keep you on track. Beefy might not have needed to consciously use visualisation and goal setting, but you may if your confidence is shaky.

Set the wrong field and bowl the wrong ball

If the batter has some doubt through your own confidence as they reach the crease you can add to it in your tactics.

A couple of tactics Shane Warne used to use was to bowl a ball down the leg side on purpose to a new batsman to give the impression it was spitting out of the rough. He would also bowl a 'set' of balls gradually moving wider until the last ball is well outside off stump and the batsman chases it.

Fields can add to this pressure. An off spinner may not need a short leg, but putting one in with a slip can lead to plenty of catches to the latter as the nervous batsman plays down the wrong line and nicks off.

The bottom line is that cricket is at least as much a mental game as much as it is a game of skill and technique. The bowler has the advantage in this area, so you might as well use it.

Image credit: castle79

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The most complicated part of fast bowling is keeping it simple

Former first class cricketer turned coach Mark Atkinson returns for another guest post. Mark runs Elite Cricket Coaching in New South Wales. This article is all about keeping it simple when bowling fast medium.

When asked about his amazing success as a fast bowler at the highest level Glenn McGrath said that the complicated thing is to keep things simple! Although this sounds a bit funny there is a lot of merit to what he is saying.

Glenn McGrath's greatest strength as a fast bowler is his relentless accuracy (simple), which enables him to maximise his chances of taking wickets by directing an extremely high percentage of his deliveries at a 'top of off stump' line and length, a fact which he makes no secret of.

Bowling to this plan gives him the maximum chances of taking wickets, as this strategy allows him to capture wickets bowled, lbw and caught behind the wicket which are the most frequent ways batsmen are dismissed. In other words by executing this plan he gives the batsman lots of chances to make mistakes (which is how we are most often out!).

McGrath plays the percentages because he knows if he can be persistent in this plan he will have a very good chance of success, additionally bowling this line and length makes him very difficult for the batsman to score from as he does not give the batsman much room to work with in terms of line and length.

Glenn McGrath is managing his risk!  By sticking to this very simple plan he knows he is a good chance of getting a wicket if the batsman makes a mistake while at the same time he won't go for too many runs, which allows him to keep bowling.  It's pretty hard to take wickets if you are going for five or more runs an over! It's impossible to take wickets if you are not bowling and going at five runs an over is a great way to get taken off!

Glenn McGrath didn't bowl with amazing pace like Brett Lee, he didn't bowl with amazing variety like Andrew Symonds but he is the arguably the greatest (and simplest) fast bowler in the history of the test cricket.  He has a simple and highly effective plan that he executes with precision on a highly consistent basis. He has the technique to execute his plan which is important, as the quality of your plan will only be as good as your ability to execute it and as a developing player you must devote time to acquiring the skills to carry out your plan.

When McGrath says the complicated thing is keeping it simple, I think he means that by determinedly sticking to his simple plan instead of trying to do too much this will give him his best chance of success, as he deals with the pressures of performance such as the quality of his opponents, his age, the game situation, fatigue, the media, his emotions, holding his place in the team, desire for wickets and other things that can distract him from this plan.

Food for thought:
  • Do you have a plan?
  • Do you know it in detail?
  • Does your technique allow you to execute your plan?
  • What skills do you need to master to better execute or enhance your plan?

If you would like coaching from Mark you can contact him via his website at elitecricket.com.au


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Umpires Corner: Runs on a big ground and direct hit penalised?

This edition of Umpires Corner in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.

Cricket Show 28: Batting coaching at Ealing CC

We travel to London this week to catch up with case study subject Naz while watching Ealing CC play a friendly match.


About PitchVision Academy

Welcome to this week's guide to playing and coaching better cricket.

I'm David Hinchliffe and I'm Director of the PitchVision Academy team. With this newsletter you are benefitting directly from over 25 Academy coaches. Our skills include international runs and wickets, first-class coaching, cutting-edge research and real-life playing experience.


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Issue: 46
Date: 2009-05-15