Pitchvision Academy


This week we look at T20 and Garas has the winners of his design competition.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Powerplay: How to Score Quickly When the Field is Up

Score fast in the powerplay.


From club and school cricket to the highest level, it can be tough to score against a field that’s up. This is especially true on poor batting wickets in T20 cricket.

Unless you have nailed your power game, you may ask yourself how you are going to get through that phalanx of fielders protecting the ring.

How are you supposed to rotate the strike?

How can you hit boundaries when there are fielders bearing down on all sides?

Of course the boundaries are relatively unprotected at this time. Perhaps you are batting in the first six overs of a Twenty20 match and only two are allowed out. With the right bowler to the wrong batsmen on a helpful pitch, you may even see no one out!

Game head on

The basic theory for the bowlers is to squeeze you. Make you do something crazy from frustration. Dots - especially in T20 - can be terrifying to a batsman and lead to desperate slogging.

So get your game head on.

You need a plan. Most batsmen tend to either “wait for the bad ball” or “swing for the fences”. This is a very traditional approach and one still taught by coaches who focus more on batsmen building innings.

In power plays this kind of approach is outdated. Heck, it’s even becoming outdated in 50 over cricket!

The modern mindset is to look to score a boundary through one of your stronger shots and if that fails, rotate the strike. There are “gears” for this, you can read about here.

Keep your head at this time and you will already be in a better place before any other changes!

Look at the green

Now imagine you are out in the middle and staring at seven or eight guys in the ring. Where next?

Look at the huge green spaces and ignore the relatively tiny blobs of people. There a lot less of them than there is grass.

When you realise there is much more green than there is white, you can aim for it. Simply remembering that fielders can't build a wall, no matter how good they are, will give you confidence and freedom.

How you do this is up to you. Some players are more traditional, other use footwork and bat angles to find spaces. If you are aware of your own strengths in games you can play to them and work on hitting those spaces between fielders.

There is always a gap

On top of this idea of gaps between fielders, is the reassuring knowledge that there will always be a space. Even the tightest ring field can't plug every gap. Nine fielders is not ever enough.

For example

  • If third man and fine leg are back you can pick up singles running the ball down
  • Ring fielders can be too deep so you can drop and run (especially true and mid off and mid on), or too close so you can hit past them.
  • A close catcher leaves a gap somewhere else you can manoeuvre the ball into.

It takes work to come up with reliable ways to hit these gaps because most bowlers will not serve you up balls to hit in these areas.So take a moment to pick a couple of safe scoring areas and work on making them reliable in nets, no matter how much people consider them creative or unorthodox.

I prefer effective to orthodox every day.

Hit over the top

Finally, you have the biggest gap of all: the vast area behind the fielders.

Don't slog.

You can power hit, play a more traditional lofted drive, scoop, ramp or slog sweep. it doesn’t matter. Whatever you are good at is fine. Aim for that vast open space and bat the ball there.

If you are not a power hitter, remember you don't need to clear the boundary, you only need to get it over the fielder's head. If you are good at clearing the ropes, you can work on getting so good you can ignore the fielder wherever they are because they are fishing it out of the bushes.

Practice to your strengths and go for gold.

It's easy to get frustrated and worry you are wasting balls. You feel time ticking and you are not scoring.

When you have that moment, remember that this is exactly what the bowler wants you to feel. So release the choke, reset, reconsider your options and get back to batting with freedom.

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Twenty20 Fast Bowling Skills to Fight Back Against Bully Batsmen

Bowlers can bite back.

Most batsmen think a fast bowler in twenty20 is there to serve up balls to be hit. But you can to spoil the fun by keeping that run rate down, drying up the boundaries and putting your team in a winning position.

The problem is focus.

Your consistent, nagging line and length from longer cricket becomes predictable. The batsman sets up to swing across it and puts you in the trees. That subtle away swinger drifting late outside the off stump allows the slogger to free their arms, swing hard and get a thick edge high over slip for a streaky four.

All you can do is pull a double teapot with your hands on your hips while the cheeky batter has a quiet grin.

You may have won the moral battle, but your run rate doesn’t care about morals.

Time to adapt

Swing still wins

Traditional bowling methods might be limited in T20, but they are not dead. The trick is getting really good at them.

Really good.

A new ball will still swing late if you know how to make it swing late, even in T20. And late swing is dangerous. Sure the batsman will have a go at it, but it’s difficult to hit and opens up bowled or LBW.

The trick is to be able to make it swing at pace.

Any bowler is capable of both making the ball swing and increasing pace. You included. It just takes practice and experimentation.

Adjust your length

We all know predictability in T20 means serious damage to your bowling figures. Most bowlers at club and school level don’t have any variety, meaning happy time for the batsmen.

Really good T20 bowlers are more about length variations.

Not a million different slower balls.

Adjusting length is very effective because the batsman can’t set up to play a shot. it could be at the toes, at the ribcage or do something in-between. That means more risk taking and a greater chance of bowling success.

This tactic gets even more effective when you learn to adapt it to the batsman. The more you bowl in T20 the better you get at predicting what a batter is going to do and bowling to overcome it. It’s often just a subtle feeling but you get to know a big shot is coming and whip in the yorker.

But it’s also very difficult. Not many bowlers’ have the skill to do it accurately because they don’t practice making length adjustments; they are always looking to hit a good length. It’s something you need to practice.

Something you can track with PitchVision both in training and games.

What you measure, you improve.

Don't let those show-pony batters win the day. Nail those skills.

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Garas Indoor Cricket Centre Ideas Winner

You will recall that a couple of weeks ago we set up a competition to help me design a new Indoor Cricket School and after careful consideration we are able to share the best and wackiest ideas!


Size does matter

The most popular consideration that was offered related to the dimensions of the playing area.

Ian posted “The size of the facility so that it is large enough for fast bowlers to have a full run up to give both bowlers and batters the chance for realistic practice and be wide enough to host indoor cricket matches which would give the boys and girls the opportunity for competitive cricket over the winter months”.

This is a great point as I have coached in too many indoor centres which lacked run up length. Of course, bowlers don’t always practice off their long run nor practice only against batters. We have so many other ways to develop fast bowlers nowadays yet it’s important to have opportunity for bowlers to charge in off their match length approach if you can.

Our indoor centre design has incorporated a 20 metre run up length which should be enough to contain most fast bowlers and provide match realistic practice for the batters too.

Indoor cricket is such a good development tool for cricketers in the Northern Hemisphere especially. The confined space speeds up the game and is particularly good for the development of fielders footwork, throwing over shorter distances and anticipatory skills. It’s also great fun and is fully inclusive as everyone gets the opportunity to bat and bowl in the format that we will play in the new indoor centre at Millfield.

Different backdrops

We had three people who gave me the idea of having both white and black sightscreens so our cricketers can have red, white and pink ball practices.

Lots of County age group cricket is played with a white ball nowadays and two National Schools competitions are played with a pink ball so it’s really important to expose young cricketers to practice opportunities throughout the year.

Pitch variance

A number of contributors talked about having different pitch characteristics in different net areas.

The challenge with indoor practice is that it gives you a highly consistent surface to bat and bowl on which doesn’t create significant opportunity for adaptation. We can often hit balls on the up in the indoor environment that would fly to slip on grass surfaces and spinners often are left to feel like bowling machines feeding up easy balls to strike on surfaces which do not promote lateral movement. To counter this, a number of leading artificial pitch designers have developed artificial grass and or underplays with different grip characteristics.

We are presently looking at the best options to provide different pitch challenges to go across our five lanes. Exciting stuff.

Bring the outdoors, indoors

Ned bought this great idea to the table. The game of cricket is played in natural light for 99% of all games played across the cricketing world yet many of us practice for six months per year under fluorescent lighting conditions.

Whilst this may seem a little over the top to some, the more we can train players to adjust to natural light the more relevant the practice becomes to actual match play. Logically, the fielders, bowlers and batters will then be able to constantly alter the iris, the coloured ring of tissue behind the cornea that regulates the amount of light entering the eye by adjusting the size of the pupil to facilitate optimal visual acuity. Fluorescent lighting does not directly replicate ever changing outdoor visual conditions.

We are designing centre with multiple natural light entry points which aims to allow us to run lots of sessions without needing to turn the lights on. Naturally, as the evenings draw in over the winter, a pre-programmed light sensor will turn the fluorescent lights on when the internal light level begins to dip towards unsafe perimeters. This is also an environmental consideration as it will reduce the electricity bill.

The bursar will be happy.

Tropic thunder

Dave and Ian wrote to me offering the idea of being able to heat the training space in order to replicate overseas climates.

This is more of a necessity in a National Cricket Centre than it is in a school or club environment as national players will be travelling to different parts of the globe on multiple occasions each year. Climate heating is pricey to purchase and even more expensive to run so whilst it would be lovely to have, I’m afraid our budget won’t stretch that far.

Indoor grass pitches

This idea came from Richard. This is something that only a few environments around the world have successfully achieved. I know that Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s Performance Director is exploring indoor grass wickets in order to increase the opportunities for developing Irish Cricketers to practice on good quality grass pitches throughout the year. If Richard and Cricket Ireland achieve this then it could be a game changer for the Northern Hemisphere Cricket playing nations.

3D vision

Appropriate camera angles are crucial to the modern day cricketer. Leon suggested cameras in each net being situated behind, in front and to the side of each popping crease.

This would allow batters and bowlers to synchronise the footage so that they have a fuller view of the shot or delivery that they have just performed.

I am aiming to add in an “over the top” view also as we can see how the hips and shoulders create torque when we throw, bowl and strike the ball. Keepers can also see how their body twists and turns when taking a bouncing ball from a bowler from the same overhead view. We had one overhead camera in the old Cricket Bubble and it was a eye opening view.


Mark threw in the idea of having a indoor diving pit to better prepare fielders to be confident at launching themselves off their feet for catching and diving stop practice.

This idea comes from him taking his nephews to a local “Flipout” trampoline and gymnastics centre where youngsters jump off obstacles into foam landing areas.

This idea resonates with me also. Normal indoor diving practice involves matting which sits above the floor and impedes the incoming “ground” ball. So I am exploring the option of having some 4G Rugby Artificial Grass built into the floor at the rear of the centre which lies flat and allows the fielder to dive and slide on it without the risk of injury or burning skin on knees and elbows.

Sir Don and his water tank

Lastly, the zaniest idea... or is it?

You will recall my article on Donald Bradman from a couple of weeks ago. Varun suggested that we build a replica of Young Bradman’s backyard game within the centre to develop reflexes, anticipation and hand eye coordination using a golf ball and a stump.

Whilst this idea may have been sent in as a bit of a tongue and cheek offering, there are worse things that I have seen incorporated into indoor centres. From a safety perspective, we would require a tighter netting type to contain the golf balls and find a corner for the brick and correlated rebound wall but as I said the other week; what is good enough for Sir Donald Bradman is good enough for me!

And the winner is...

The winners of the PitchVision Courses are Ian for his advice on playing area dimensions which we have very much taken on board in the design phase of the Indoor Cricket Centre and Varun for the Bradman-esque practice area initiative which has got me thinking.

Thank you to everyone for their contributions and I shall keep you posted on the progress of the indoor centre build as we move from the design to construction phase.

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How to Maintain Pressure on Batsmen in Limited Overs Cricket

It's common to say an inexperienced bowling attack can't "maintain pressure".

Cricket Show S9 Episode 2: Your Time to Be Coached

With criticism and backlash flying around online this week, David Hinchliffe, Sam Lavery and Mark Garaway chat about how to deal with negative feedback.


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: 496
Date: 2018-01-26