Pitchvision Academy


We focus on fielding in this newsletter, teaching you how to improve your fielding game and ways to get more slip catches.

There is also advice from Garas on spin bowling and ways to handle getting a duck, while reducing the chances of it happening again.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

How to Be a Gun Fielder

Diving saves, run outs, brilliant catches: A top fielder changes cricket matches.


Some seem destined to fielding brilliance, while others will always be compared to Monty Panesar: Someone who tries and fails to get any better.

Before we start, let’s work out what we mean.

What makes a "gun" fielder?

We all know a gun, or brilliant fielder who can do amazing things. Those players are certainly top cricketers. If you think, I bet you can also come up the names of a few solid, reliable fielders. The ones who drop very little, do everything right and hardly ever stray into the spectacular.

Which one is better?

Trick question.

There isn’t one way to go about fielding. You have to do the best you can with what you are given.

That might mean you are athletic enough to be the spectacular fielder. It might mean you know your limits but push hard to get as reliable as possible.

The fact is, fielders with the best impact can do it in a number of ways.

And worse - or better - different situations demand different styles of fielding: A terrible outfield, a hard hitting batsman, a weird boundary, a hard “seeing” ground, 40-4 or 200-1...

Fielding success is as much about adaptability as it is planning.

You need to find your way. And that's not as easy as a few drills.

Lock your fielding game tight

If fielding is a bit more complicated than just taking a few more catches in the warm up, how do we lock down those skills?

Two things;

  1. Realistic, open ended practice
  2. Games

Before we get into details, you may ask about technique.

Technique is important to learn, but has limited value if you are not practicing it in an environment like a game. Injury-prevention aside, it doesn’t matter how you catch, throw, dive, pick up and stop. It just matters that you do. A coach can help with technical stuff, but you still need to try it in an open situation as soon as possible.

Aside over!

Open practice is any drill that works your fielding skills without being too closed.

Here’s an example drill.

It’s chaotic to practice this way, but also much more realistic to cricket. You can’t set yourself against a specific type of ball. You may get a catch, stop, or nothing.

You will find you make a lot more errors too, but as we know, errors are fine because they teach you to adapt.

Make it even more focused by keeping score and competing with your team-mates to find out who is best, and who is improving quickest.

Games are also a great place to improve your fielding because it is the most realistic.

Bear in mind that, on average, you will only get three or four chances to perform a fielding skill during every cricket match. It’s not high volume, but it soon teaches you the importance of doing it right first time.

Some may say a big game is not the place for development, but I would argue you are always looking to improve, even during the Grand Final. If you make an error there, you certainly learn something for next time!

This brings me on to the final point.

You have to love - and I mean love - developing your fielding. You can’t do it by numbers. You have to work, make practice as hard as you can tolerate and be ready for failure so your can learn.

If you do that, the drills barely matter because you are going in with the aim to improve.


  • Good fielding is not drills. It's about adaptability and knowing your game.
  • Practice in realistic ways that are about quality and learning your method.
  • Have a mindset to enjoy it and try to improve your cricket with better fielding.
  • There are no shortcuts or tips, just plenty of practice!

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Specialist fielding: Slips

In the slips you are always in the game.


Catch the nicks that come and the bowlers will love you forever. Put even the hardest chance down and be prepared for long stares from everyone in the side: There is no hiding place and no respite.

Even when nothing has come to you all day.

Slip configurations

As the slip position covers a wide area there are several ways to lay out the slip cordon:

  • One slip: A single slip is common with spinners or seamers who are moving to a more defensive field but are still hoping for an edge. Seamers who tend to move the ball in towards the batsman and have close catchers on the leg side have just one slip even in attack.
  • Two slips: This is a very common configuration in club cricket early in the game where wickets are needed and so a wider area needs to be covered for the catch. It's often combined with a gully fielder.
  • Three slips: Quicker bowlers, or medium pacers on the attack can add an extra slip if there is enough carry. Gully is better employed at third slip in many cases.

Of course you can have no slips in defence or more than three slips, although the latter is rare enough that you probaly will not see it in your games. So you don't need much practice beyond third.

Where to stand at slip

When it comes to deciding where to stand in the slips, some basics are:

  • Take your cue from the wicket-keeper. First slip stands a little way back from the keeper, second slip will be roughly level
  • Stand arms length away from the 'keeper or other slips.
  • In general stand a bit too close rather than a bit too far away. It's better to learn to react fast to an edged drive than to see a defensive edge drop short.
  • On very slow and low pitches you may find that the slips have to come closer than orthodox to make sure edges carry. Here you may see second slip in front of the keeper and first slip almost level.

In modern times, wider, or staggered, slips have been used to try and cover a wider area.

Here the fielder stands wider than the orthodox position to try and cover more area. For example, if you have an athletic keeper who can dive in front of slip to take catches, the slip can move wider. The risk here is that the ball will be edged between the slips so your fielding needs to be even better.


Perhaps the most important part of slip fielding is your ability to stay focused.

You may field for 50 or more overs with nothing coming to you then on the last ball of the day you get a difficult chance. You need to have to concentration to be focused on every ball.

It would be impossible to stay laser-focused the entire day, so the secret is to concentrate hard as the bowler is about to bowl the ball, stay alert until the ball is dead then relax between balls. The good thing about slip fielding is there is always someone to chat to between balls. The less this chat is about cricket, the better you concentrate when you have to switch back on.

There is some debate about what you focus on in the slips. The standard advice is to watch the ball if you are fielding at first and watch the edge of the bat if you are fielding wider. This is not hard and fast rule though, so experiment with both in practice to see what is most comfortable for you and gives you the best reaction time.

Ways to practice

Slip fielding is crucial to a team's success so a good coach will pick out the fielders most likely to be slips and make sure they are getting the right practice.

You can do this with a series of fielding drills designed to replicate slip catching like this one and this one.

In an ideal world you will do some kind of catching drill every day. More realistically, every practice session needs the potential slips to go away on their own for a few minutes and focus on getting catching right. Make the practice as realistic as possible. It's good to practice catching when tired or under a game situation with an outcome (best catcher wins a prize for example).

Slip catching is specialist because such long periods can go by without a slip being required but every chance that arrives is golden. Practice it until your hands hurt and it becomes second nature.

This is part of the specialist fielding series of articles, for the full list of fielding positions covered click here.

image credit: Sarah Canterbury 

Discuss this article with other subscribers

So You Got Out for a Duck. Now What?

The worst has happened and your form has left you.


After all that waiting. After all that practice in the nets. After all those articles and videos you consumed of tips and tricks. Cricket has still bitten you. It hurts.

It makes you want to chuck it all in for something less stressful, like skydiving.

Before you pack you parachute, here’s some things that can help you get back on track and return to the runs you deserve.

Where’s the pain?

If you go to the doctor with an injury, the first thing they ask is where it hurts. This is the same when you have suffered mental scars from cricket too.

What’s the really painful part?

I mean, when you get down to it?

Here’s some possible reasons:

  • You are ashamed because you let your team down.
  • You are afraid you might be dropped.
  • You are worried you won’t be picked for higher honours.
  • You’re angry you wasted all that time and effort.
  • You’re embarrassed because you have been shown up as a bad player.
  • You are anxious about what other people think of you.
  • You realise you can’t call yourself a cricketer if you keep failing.
  • It’s no fun when you can’t have your fair go with the bat!

Every one of these feelings is a reasonable reaction to failure on the cricket pitch. We are all looking for meaning in life, and when life throws you proof of your failure it stirs primal emotions like fear and anger. Even when we don’t realise it.

Recognising why you are upset at your duck is important if you are going to turn it around. Dig deep and find that core, primal reason.

You’re going to need it.

Patch yourself up

When you have spotted why you are feeling the pain, you need take a pain killer.

This won’t solve the problem - that comes later - but it will allow you to feel better and be more rational so you can move on.

In the immediate aftermath of your failure it’s easy to give in to the deep emotion and react angrily. We have all played in teams where batsmen shout and throw things in the changing room. I’m sure you know a player who goes and sits as far as possible from the team after failing, unable to face even his best friends.

In reality, in this moment it’s best to face that fear.

Give in to it and you cause more damage to your game and to your team.

Take the painkiller.

  • Notice the emotion you are feeling as you walk off and watch it float past instead of letting it take over. You are not your feelings.
  • Accept, whatever your deepest pain, you can do nothing about it in this moment. Instead of anger, tell yourself that you tried your best. You did try your best, right?
  • Walk off the pitch, take off your pads, sit down next to your team. Apologise for the failure without making an excuse. Tell the next batsman anything you can about what is happening in the middle.
  • If you feel the emotion coming back, observe it and let it pass by without letting it take you over. It’s a fleeting, irrational response. It does not define who you are. It does not make you a better cricketer in this moment or in future moments.
  • Do this as many times as you feel the pain until it has dulled. You will know because you can joke about it and laugh at it quickly.

In the aftermath of a highly charged dismissal, this pain killer is hard to take. You may find yourself becoming overcome by emotion and rationalising this by saying it makes you play better.

This is untrue. Emotions have no cricket skills. You do. And you are not your emotions.

Plus, when you consider the results of giving in to “red thinking” - catastrophic thinking, reduced performance, anger, shame and damage to the team culture - do you really have any other option?

Get cricket rehab

When the dust has settled and the game is over, you can deal with the issue rationally. Let’s call this step your rehab.

You got a duck. That’s a fact. What you do next is your choice. You can see it as proof of your terminal decline as a cricketer. You can see it as pure bad luck to ignore. You can see it as evidence you will never achieve your goals.

Science has shown that all those things are unhelpful.

Instead, the research shows your best response is to see failure as an opportunity.

So, assess what happened.

You can use PV/MATCH and PV/ONE videos to analyse how you played.

What do you spot: A technical issue, a tactical failing, a type of delivery that causes you trouble?

Remember to look at your whole innings in context and not just the dismissal.

Then, ask yourself, “what can I do to solve this issue”? You are a clever person who is good at solving problems (you read PitchVision, you must be). Solve them. Train to smooth away weaknesses or grow strengths. You know these things instinctively, you just need to let your cricket develop with an accountable approach.

Finally, get to work.

Hit those nets. Not out of fear or anger. Out of desire to improve your game. Out of passion to enjoy your cricket. Out of duty to helping others on your team to enjoy cricket too. Out of pleasure in building your craft.

Ducks happen. Bad runs of form happen. Your response to them is the only thing you fully control. So, choose right and start enjoying life.

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Two Top Spin Bowling Tips to get Your Spinners Closer to 981 First Class Wickets

The pupils at Millfield are lucky as we have fantastic guest coaches pop in.

Cricket Show S8 Episode 45: Ashes Fever

Mark Garaway is with Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe to talk Ashes and other cricket. The team talk about drills (and the dangers of them), bowling straight and changing from T20 to 50 over formats.

Remember to follow PitchVision Academy for free bonus content.

Listen for the details.


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.


Want Coaching?

Send to a Friend

Do you have a friend or team mate who would be interested in this newsletter? Just hit "forward" in your email program and send it on.

If you received this email from a friend and would like to get subsequent issues, you can subscribe here.


PitchVision Academy

irresistable force vs. immovable object

Thank you for subscribing to PitchVision Academy.
Read more at www.pitchvision.com


To unsubscribe eMail us with the subject "UNSUBSCRIBE (your email)"
Issue: 489
Date: 2017-11-30