Pitchvision Academy


This week we celebrate Tom Scollay's coaching as we head towards announcing the Coach of the Year!

Plus there are articles on training drills, bat swings and working out the opposition.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Coach of the Month: Tom Scollay

After a meteoric rise in the coaching world and a clear philosophy, Tom Scollay has taken out the prestigious PitchVision Coach of the Month Award for March 2017.

Tom, Head of the coaching organisation “Cricket Mentoring”, in the Australia, stood out to the Coach of the Year Panel. He is a former county cricketer who moved into coaching, but unlike many he didn't just settle for the traditional way. Perhaps it's because he grew up in Alice Spings, Australia where no professional team plays. You need to work hard and smart to get your break.

But hard working Tom was.

He moved to Perth to play grade cricket, and when he was 20 he went over to England to play league cricket. He worked hard, played well and got a chance to play for Middlesex, eventually playing as a professional cricketer for more than two summers. Through this time, Tom coached young players. However, his heart was still not fully committed to coaching.

Then something changed.

The more he helped people, the more he realised how personally rewarding it was to see them improve. He realised he didn't just want to teach players the basics and move on, he wanted to help them become better cricketers and better people. He wanted people to enjoy training and playing and learn skills in a fun environment rather than "go through the motions". Mentoring players was his future.

His first serious coaching gig soon followed in Perth. Then in 2016, he started Cricket Mentoring, his own coaching company. He was finally able to fully put his vision of developing complete players through his mentoring philosophy.

Tom firmly believes the best way to coach is to start with mindset: Open to learning new things and development over a "win first or fail" mentality. Not only does this help players, but it is more rewarding for coach.

It's absolutely certain that Tom is a mindful coach who is using his great skills to powerful effect. His coaching influences many and his mentoring is world-class.

PitchVision and the PV Coach of the Year Awards panel are delighted to announce Tom Scollay as PitchVision Coach of the Month.

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Middle Drill: Battlezone Cricket Helps Improve Batting, Bowling and Fielding

Last night, the team I coach ran an experimental practice drill to improve game sense and raise the intensity of net practice. Here's how it went.


The drill is called "Battlezone". It's been around for a few years but we have never tried it before. It's a variation on middle practice that adds intensity and focuses on fielding skills and batsman running skills.

The drill is set up like this:

  • On a middle wicket, set out a net that is strung 30 yards out, going all the way around the 30 yard circle. This is the "battle zone". If there is not suitable netting available then use cones.
  • Have plenty of balls available.
  • Two batsmen, two bowlers, a keeper and three fielders take part in the drill. It lasts for 4-8 overs per batting pair.
  • The batsmen attempt to score as many runs as possible while the bowlers bowl and the fielders field.
  • The batsman bat "normally" (they can hit boundaries) but are encouraged to focus on hitting the ball on the ground and rotating the strike rather than big hitting.
  • The bowlers and fielders attempt to bowl dots. Bowlers bowl in pairs in overs. When not bowling the other bowler fields at mid off.
  • If the ball goes out of the zone, grab another ball and continue. Collect the balls up only at the end of the drill.

If that is not clear, there is more about battle zone cricket here. And a video here.

Here are my reflections on the drill.

Positive battle zone cricket

  1. The small-sided focus allowed players to know exactly what they were working on rather than just hitting balls.
  2. The open nature got players out of the net mentality of not picking gaps or running runs. Players were developing skills outside of a net situation.
  3. It was more realistic than nets, but also fast-moving enough to stop players feeling like were wasting training time.

Negative battle zone cricket

  1. As more players arrived and joined in, intensity dropped. It may be that this is a short drill that only lasts a few overs before reverting to more traditional training.
  2. Some batsmen chose to try and smash the ball, especially later when the bowling and fielding lost intensity.
  3. Set up and take down was very time consuming. I would probably go with only cones for faster set up and have someone collect balls, possibly those waiting to bat.
  4. Too many people fielding also make it hard to rotate the strike, which was the point.

Overall I would call it a success as it got the team out of nets. To make it even better I would suggest small groups of about equal skill, a shorter session and an better opportunity for reflection after the session to make sure players were focused on developing skills.

The biggest point for the coach is that it's OK to try new things. They will not always work perfectly, but just getting us to do something different is a vital part of continuing development, especially with older players.

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Working Out the Opposition is Easier Than You Think

Who has time to work out the opposition for your next cricket match?


Actually, it's easier than you think. You might not be able to produced a full analyst dossier every week, but there are some simple thing you can do to find out how your opponents play.

A quick bit of research is likely to give you at least a 1% edge. Sometimes, that's all you need to win. Here's the things you can do

Read scorecards

With many leagues putting the full scorecards online now, you can see who played, who performed and how they did it.

For example, my team recently played a side who scored 219 in the previous match. We looked at the card and saw 76% of those runs were scored by three players and over 50% scored by one player. They are very capable of a total collapse! This proved to be true as we bowled them out for 76, focusing on dismissing their key batsman early.

So, read the returns and learn what you can so you can adjust your tactics.

League tables

Alongside the cards are the tables. These can show you what a teams average score is. You can compare this to your avaerages and see how well you will need to play to win.

If a team is significantly stronger than you with the bat, you can always try to even things up: Prepare a bowling wicket and put them in to bat first with the aim of skittering them, for example. The same apples the other way round.

Resident know-it-all

Every team knows someone who knows every opponent in depth. They may not always be right but they are always certain in their opinion!

But right or not, they can provide important insights. Your geek might know an opposition opening bowler tends to drop short when they lose accuracy. You practice pulling and cutting with extra vigour in the week running up to the match.

Right or wrong, you have improved something about your game. If the know-all was right you get more runs. If they are wrong, you come away better at pulling and cutting.

Own performances

Some argue that the only really important thing is how you play.

So, make sure you also look at your own game as part of your preparation. How did you do in your last few games? Are their weak areas you can try and hide or strong areas you can make super strengths? Are there key stats the opposition might notice during their research?

Analysing your own game and trying to improve is the most important part of this process because you are in control. You can't say the same about the opposition.

I produce a one page document every week for my club side based on all these things and players find it helpful to better understand the challenges. Right or not, it's reassuring someone is thinking about things and letting players get on with focus and confidence.

I'm sure it will help your team too.

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Steep or Shallow: Which Batswing Have Your Players Got?

My little mate Josh, is a 14 year old batter. Josh loves the game and is has one of the best practice ethics in the whole school. A top boy.

Batting Tip: Four Ways to Use Nets to Improve Your Batting Style

Last night at net practice, one of my team was sent in to bat. In one hand was his bat, and in the other hand was a bunch of cones. I had to ask what he was up to.


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: 461
Date: 2017-05-05