Pitchvision Academy


The cricket coaching chat this week covers technique (or how to stop worrying about it) and a new stat.

Plus, do modern bowlers need to bowl more overs?

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

The Cricket Stack: How to Stop Worrying About Your Technique

Once you know about the cricket stack, you can relax about your technique and actually start playing well.


But what is the cricket stack?

To find out, let’s look at cricket life through the technical lens, as most people do.

Have you ever been playing poorly and thought to yourself you need to get in the nets to get rid if those flaws? Do you go to nets and practice hard, trying to find that little trick or tip that will get your game repeatable? Do you use the bowling machine or throwdowns to keep grooving until you’re perfect and perfectly in form?



Another failure.

Go deeper into the stack

The cricket stack offers a solution to this loop of failure.

Instead of looking at the game as a process of technical error correction, we delve down beneath technique and find out the real secrets to runs and wickets.

Imagine a pile or stack of skills, each one building on the last until the top sees a shining example of cricket excellence. It transforms the way you prepare from fear and frustration to focus and success.

Let’s look at it in detail.

Tough at the top

At the top of the stack is broadly called “mental toughness”. In this case, we are talking about the ability to put your skills into action when you are not in a perfect situation.

As we know, there are moments in cricket where things are imperfect. Conditions and preparation can be unhelpful. Failure in inevitable most of the time. Players with toughness are able to see past the moment, remain confident and put their skills into action.

At moments like this, your technique is not relevant. It’s purely about you ability to stay in control before, during and after moments of higher stress. No technical change or fix can make you more resilient or give you more grit.

Technique and tactics

One step down and we can see technique sit with game sense in the stack.

You see, technique is still important. It only sits below toughness in the stack. That shows us it is a skill that has to be built upon. The idea of “mastering the basics” by working on technical changes is missing the point. The basics are lower down the stack!

Game sense is also with it. Tactical skill is essential because without this understanding you can’t execute the right skills at the right time. If you played a T20 like you played the first morning of a four day game you might get a few comments! Context is crucial.

The underpinning of skill

So what is more important than technique?

The parts of cricket that underpin skill need to be your focus because if you get these right, the above levels develop more naturally.

The first element is adaptability. Training in ways that make you adapt are important because cricket is such a variable game. Surfaces change, weather differs, opposition have a range of tactics and styles to play. If you train in exactly the same way in controlled sessions you will never develop an ability to adapt when situations change.

So, try and trip yourself up: Bat on different surfaces with different balls and bats. Add a slope to your run up or raise your heart rate before bowling. Create scenarios where you need to work hard to succeed in ways you are not comfortable. Throw some (safe) chaos into the mix and see how fast you can adapt.

It might mean changing your precious underarm or bowling machine drills for something a little less certain.

Which brings me onto another factor: Self-sufficiency.

We live in a world where we are told what to do all the time. But no one can bat or bowl for you. That means it is up to you. So the awareness to organise yourself - and your team mates - becomes vital to good cricket.

Set yourself to play like this by preparing like you are clear and organised. It’s easy if you are aware of your game.

Yes, it might mean learning how to get to the match on time. That’s one aspect. On the cricket scale it means turning up to practice knowing what specifics to work on that are accountable. It also means knowing why you are working on these things, and how you are going to do it in a net session with all your other team-mates. You might have seen this three question structure before.

Naturally, coaches are helpful in setting up games, net sessions and drills. Yet, it’s your goals that need to be met because it’s your average that you have to live with. No coach can change that!

Deepest in the stack

Finally we reach the bottom of the stack, and the most important aspect to your cricket.

Your mindset.

We have covered this a great deal before, and you can review mindset here if you wish.

Suffice to say, the reason you play cricket is most important to your success. Those cricketers with a mindset based on self-improvement have more chance than those who play to prove their worth. Without this approach at the bottom of the stack, it becomes increasingly difficult further up the stack (including your technique).

This also ties in to the team culture. Culture is also at the base of the stack because it defines why everyone in your team play. Culture is the mindset of the whole team. Read about it here.

Summary: Build your stack

The stack is just a concept of course, but one that is proven to help build the games of cricketers around the world (whether they realised they were doing it or not). It takes the focus off restrictive technical error-correction and puts it onto developing an adaptable, confident game:

  • Base: Mindset and Team Culture
  • Underpinning: Adaptability, Creativity, Self-Sufficiency, Self-Awareness, Decision Making
  • Skill: Techniques and Tactics
  • Peak: Mental Toughness, Grit, Fight

These are not just motivational words to put on the wall and hope. They are actionable skills you can develop, as long as you have the right focus.

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Coach of the Month: Nipun Gupta

The Coach of Year selection panel are delighted to announce Nipun Gupta from Will2Win Cricket Academy as Coach of the Month.

What makes Nipun the worthy winner?

As a currently state player in Harayana, Nipun is still early in his coaching days. Yet, he also has a deep understanding of the requirements of the modern game. From technology to the classic basics, Nipin spoke with passion to PitchVision about how he coaches the young players at Will2Win.

Like every coach, Nipun stressed the importance of the basics to mastering the game. He talked about bowlers strengthening their action and batsman having a comfortable stance. It was beyond this that things got really exciting.

Nipun is a talented player himself and, as a coach, he recognises the difference between the good players and the excellent ones. He puts it down to work. The best players work hard of course, but they also work in the most efficient way.

Nipun used the example of fitness training to illustrate. He talked about the player who jogs for hours to build up fitness. This is hard work. Then he talked about another player who does a series of full intensity sprints instead. This is harder work but for much less time. It requires more dedication but is more efficient.

Nipun went on to talk about creating adaptable young cricketers too. For him, coaching is a process that never ends. We are alway learning to adapt. The good players are able to learn how to change their game and adapt to circumstances. Nipin builds drills, games and fitness work to build this.

Those who attend Will2Win find Nipin a truly progress coach rooted in the traditions of the game. He is a worthy winner of coach of the month.

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Tame Your Fear of Collapse with Wickets per Over

This simple stat can save your team from batting with fear.


In cricket, the runs per over (RpO) stat is universally accepted as a measure of batting success. The higher the RpO, the better!

So why don’t we do the same for wickets per over (WpO)?

The benefits of tracking WpO are more subtle than RpO, but by keeping them, you can see at a glance how your team batting performance is doing, and gain confidence that you are “on track” in your innings.

Just like RpO, you can see who is winning the game.

Why WpO?

I had this idea while analysing the team I coach’s losses in the last season. In every case there was a pattern that was tied more to wickets than to runs: The team were keeping up with the RpO target in 50 over limited over cricket, but lost wickets quicker than in the games they won, leading to being bowled out.

In other words, the run scoring wasn’t the issue. We were keeping up with the RpO.

It was the wicket rate that stopped us.

It made me realise that we are often vague about wickets during matches. We often talk about run targets (such as 35 in the first 10, 100 by over 30 and so on), and we almost always meet or exceed them.

However, due to fear of failure and a desire to not lose any wickets, we never set targets for wickets.

This is sensible on the surface. Why would you set a goal for something you ideally want to prevent 100% of the time?

In reality, wickets fall in almost every innings. So we shouldn’t hide from this. The best course of action is to find out the acceptable average number of wickets that fall before the game starts to spiral out of control.

This was a revelation.

WpO is safe uncertainty

We know target setting is safe and effective for runs. We also know that it is still an average, so still uncertain in any given match. We are working with chances of success, not guarantees.

So, let’s extend this effectiveness to wickets.

For example, after some research into the last two seasons at my club (50 over limited over cricket) we found the follow gave us the best chance of success:

  • Fewer that two wickets falling in the first 10 overs
  • Fewer than five wickets falling in the first 30 overs
  • (Most obviously) Fewer than 10 wickets falling in 50 overs

If we convert that to WpO we get an average of 0.19.

(That’s nine and a half wickets falling in 50 overs. The half is important statistically in that it stops the average being a round number. You want the average to be less than 10, but not exactly nine.)

This allows you to compare your WpO to the average to see how you are doing. If you are 90-4 after 22 overs your WpO is 0.18. You are doing better than average so no need to panic!

Get more granular

If you find this reassuring in the same way RpO is reassuring, you can extend the concept.

In our case, we want to see if we are on target at three stages: first 10, 11-30 and 31-50. This translates to:

  • 1-10: 0.15
  • 11-30: 0.18
  • 31-50: 0.19

So, in our example above, a WpO of 0.18 is just about where you can feel good.

However, even if you need to get back on track, you can take tactical measures to survive for a few overs until you are back below 0.18. If you lost a wicket in the 23rd over, you would still be back on track by the end of the 28th. That is not very long to play safe!

You will need to do your own research on your numbers. But you get the idea.

Not an excuse to be sloppy

You may argue that tracking WpO is an excuse to be sloppy. It isn’t.

It’s still not OK to say “we are only three down after 25 overs so we can afford to lose a wicket”. That’s the cricket version of saying it’s OK to crash your car because you are wearing a seat beat. The ideal remains to win without losing a wicket, naturally.

However, it is reassuring to know how you are doing in the game. If you are ahead on RpO and WpO when chasing you know you are “winning” the match. If you are ahead of your average winning WpO when batting first, you know you are setting up a good score. You can play with more freedom and more control and increase your chances of more runs.

We know it works because it works for RpO.

So, give WpO a run and see how it helps your cricket team when you bat.

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Use These Examples to Prove "It's the Way That I Play" Wrong

“It’s the way I play!”

Cricket Show S8 Episode 43: Bowl More Overs

David Hinchliffe with Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery. The team discuss preventing injury with more bowling, county cricket trials and coaching sessions for 11 year old cricketers.


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: 486
Date: 2017-11-10