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With The World Twenty20 coming to an exciting end dominated by spinners, we thought it would make sense to look at some of the successful tactics used by the spin bowlers in the short format. This week's feature article covers that very subject with some 3D diagrams to help illustrate the point.

We also have topics to interest the pace bowlers, the batsman and anyone interested in preventing avoidable injuries by taking some lessons from the professional game.

As a reminder, Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley is available at a discount rate to pre-order before 1st July. After that the price goes up so if you are thinking about it, get in on the action before you have to pay the full amount!

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How to bowl in Twenty20 cricket: Spin bowling

Spinners have found a renaissance in the Twenty20 game. The slower pace and wider potential for variety makes the ball harder to hit.

However, when a spinner does come on, many batsmen decide it's time to go for the big hits.

What tactics can you use as a spinner to limit the damage someone can do?

Variety in the flight

Like the seamer, a god way to slow scoring and take wickets is to bowl a ball that the batsman is not expecting. Seamers have slower balls and bouncers. Spinners have more subtle variations in pace and flight.

The key to flight in Twenty20 cricket is similar to the longer format. Put the ball on roughly the same length but vary how long the ball stays in the air with no change of action. As the diagram below shows, the basic two options are:

  • Fire it in. Increase the pace and aim at the stumps. There will be less turn, ideally 'skidding' through so it is on the batsman earlier than he expected.
  • Throw it up. Getting the ball above the batsman's eyeline, making it harder for him to judge the length.

There are degrees between these two extremes; the more variety of flight the better. As you have little time to work out which option the batsman most dislikes you may need to experiment with different lengths and flights and risk being hit. If you remain accurate and your field is set right you will be more likely to get away with it.

Off Spin

Orthodox off spinners have two basic lines as show here:

The red line is more aggressive, aimed outside off stump and turning in to hit the top of the right handed batsman's off stump. It works well when the ball is turning and bouncing but can be hit more easily through a wider arc, especially if you drop short.

The yellow line is bowled at the stumps with less turn. It's more defensive because the batsman has to take more risks to score anywhere except down the ground. It can be bowled over or round the wicket. This line also suits the bowler who turns the ball less and skids the ball on with a more top spin action.

The arm ball (the one that moves away from the right hander in the air) is a good variation on a pitch with a bit of turn.

Slow Left Arm/Leg Spin

Spinners who turn the ball away from the right hander can be put together tactically. However, it's worth noting the leg spin bowler has the potential for more variety so can be very destructive in the short game.

The two basic options are show here:

The red line is aiming at middle and off or off stump line to turn the ball to hit off. This line can be very difficult to hit, especially when combined with variations in flight and spin. If the arm ball or googly is an option then the batsman may not have confidence when trying to innovate.

You can make this line slightly straighter and bowl shorter using a leg spinner's slider (one that keeps low and moves off the pitch more quickly than an orthodox leg break).

The yellow line is aimed more towards leg stump and usually bowled over the wicket (slow left arm). This angle means the batsman can only hit against the spin to score on the leg side (or take a bigger risk going inside out risking a stumping). The line works especially well when 'fired in' at yorker length.

How do you do it?

Are you a spinner who regularly bowls in shorter format games? What tactics do you use? Leave a comment or drop us a line.

Image credit: PaulSh

Line and length images supplied by PitchVision - Coach Edition. Available to purchase now for clubs, schools and cricket centres.

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Staying on the park: How to prevent injuries in cricket

The number one aim of any good cricket fitness plan should be to prevent injury.

It's not possible to score runs and take wickets if you are on the sidelines due to a hamstring strain or other preventable injury. So while being strong, supple, fast and athletic is an important element, it's important to start by making sure you do no harm.

Cricket encourages movements that can build up an increased risk of injury. This is especially true of fast bowlers, but applies to all positions: striking a ball, throwing a ball and sprinting, for example, are all activities that are associated with increased damage to the body.

Sadly training to counter this gradual breakdown does not always happen.

In fact, some fitness programs actually increase the risk of injury in the hunt for other goals (like getting a hard workout or building muscle size at the expense of cricket specific strength).

Most club cricketers don't have access to a professional strength coach who can guide them through the maze of training options. You may have to work everything out for yourself. Or perhaps you are a member of the local gym where the trainers work mostly with housewives wanting to lose weight and have little knowledge of injury prevention in sport.

Is injury prevention the same as rehab?

It's a common misconception to think that injury prevention is the same as rehabilitation from injury. They exist on the same scale, but are certainly not the same thing.

Rehab requires specialist intervention from a qualified physiotherapist to get back from injury. The exercises are designed to bring your body back to normal function straight after an injury has healed. An injury prevention program looks a lot like a performance enhancement program:

  • Learning to run, jump, stop, change direction and land with good form.
  • Improving mobility, stability and balance.
  • Strengthening muscles (particularly the core).
  • Improving eccentric strength (power training).
  • Ironing out imbalances in mobility and strength between the left and right sides of the body.

The good news is that following some simple training principles can allow you to train for your goals and prevent injury at the same time.

Screen for weaknesses

For the player working alone or the coach dealing with young players this step can be tough but it is essential. Our bodies and minds are excellent at hiding weaknesses so we don't know they are there. However, over time these weaknesses can become full blown injuries.

The classic example is the fast bowler who has an action that causes too much rotation at the lumbar (lower) spine. It feels fine when he or she is bowling but gets stiff afterwards. The natural inclination is to stretch the lower back to relieve the pain, however all this does in improve the flexibility of an area that should be made more stable to counter the excessive rotational force. The end result is often a stress fracture and a sidelined bowler.

However, such problems can be avoided with proper screening. The screen is not a test, but a analysis of basic human movement to identify potentially weak areas. If you are not lucky enough to have a physio who can perform a professional screen you can do your own screen thanks to physical therapist Gray Cook. He has published a cut down screen for amateur players (or coaches without access to conditioning experts in his book "Athletic Body in Balance". The screen covers the basic human movements with only very cheap equipment required.

The book goes on to show you some simple ways to correct any imbalances in stability or mobility helping you cut any potential injuries off before they emerge.

Aim for quality, not quantity

One myth of fitness training is that it has to be hard. You have to be exhausted at the end and sore the next day. You have to 'go for the burn' and lift as much weight as possible.

While there is a place at certain times for this attitude, mostly it's wrong and increases the chance of injury. Often when you try and push out the extra work you end up going beyond the point of fatigue. The more tired you are the more likely you are to get injured.

While you can't avoid that on the pitch; you can still train hard without pushing yourself beyond the point of no return. For example when weight lifting remember that the moment you lose form on a set is the moment you end that set. Or when you are training for speed and/or power it's your nervous system that gets fatiqued first. You can't feel that until much later so be cautious with your training volume.

As Vern Gambetta says, you can't make an athlete with one training session, but you can break one. A slow steady increase in performance will always work, trying to improve fitness in 2 weeks by knocking yourself out never does.

Get strong, get mobile

You can never be too strong for cricket. Strength in your muscles and joints means improved resistance to injury. If you train in movement patterns similar to the basic human movements: pushing, pulling, squatting and lunging you will create a body with the strength to function effectively on the pitch.

However strength in itself is not enough. Fast bowlers in particular need to be mobile in the hips, shoulders and ankles to allow both speed and injury resistance. You can learn how to train for a strong and mobile body here.

It's important to mention that injury prevention can get very individualised; everyone is different and had different potential for injury. However if you follow the guidelines above you will reduce you chances of a preventable injury and stay in the park longer.


If you want a more comprehensive guide to reducing injury risk and increasing cricket specific fitness, check out county strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide on PitchVision Academy.



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Which Action Is Best for Bowling Faster?

Front on?

Side on?



There are many different positions a bowler can get in when he or she hits the delivery stride. Which one works best for generating pace?

Before we can decide on that, let's look at the different actions.

Types of fast bowling action

The bowling action is a series of movements designed to get the cricket ball to the other end of the pitch as fast as possible.In years gone by it was thought there was only one way to do it; the side on action as typified by Fred Trueman:


'Fiery' Fred was the first man to take 300 Test wickets at a time when most people thought it impossible. He was one of the fastest and most accurate bowlers of his time; possibly ever. You can see from the video his action has all the classic elements of the side on bowler:

  • Back foot lands pararrel to the crease
  • Shoulders square on to the batsman as the back foot lands
  • Head looking over the shoulder as the back foot lands

No wonder it was the case that for years we thought that to bowl fast you must bowl lik Fred: Side on.

Then we started to realise it wasn't that simple.

The other extreme of action is front on as typified by Malcolm Marshall:

As the video shows, Marshall could bowl very fast and swing the ball. His action was far removed from the one everyone had considered to be correct:

  • Back foot lands pointing down the wicket
  • Shoulders are open as the back foot lands
  • Head looking inside the front arm as the back foot lands

On top of these two extremes, there are several 'midway' points where the shoulders and feet are less open but not as side on as the classical action. Some super-fast bowlers have also bowled midway.

Then, to confuse things further, we have a breed of bowlers who sling the ball with a delayed bowling arm. Think of players like Malinga and Jeff Thompson.

Which action is fastest?

Malinga, Thompson, Trueman and Marshall were fast, accurate and could swing the ball. Yet they all had different actions. So which one is right for the budding fast bowler?

In fact, it's nothing to do with the position at all.

As Ian Pont says, pace is about a series of movements, none of which depend on whether you are side or front on. Ian calls these positions the 4 Tent Pegs and you can watch the video about them here.

In short, it's more important to have a smooth, flowing action that fires muscles in the perfect sequence than it is to worry about whether you are side or front on.

Keep safe, stay fast

Of course you can't get wickets if you are injured. So, safety is also a huge priority in your action.

The main point about your action safety is the one all coaches are taught on day one of bowling action school; never have a "mixed" action as it can cause injury that prevents you from bowling at all.

A mixed action is an unhealthy combination of front and side on; this cause twisting in the lumbar spine when it is dealing with a lot of force. Twisting that can lead to soreness and stress fractures. The spine needs to be as untwisted as possible so the shoulders and hips need to be lined up in front, side or midway positions. Take a look here for a video that shows you how you can check your action with a friend and some chalk.

Another area of potential injury is "lateral flexion", sometimes called falling away. If your head is outside the line of your body you will bowl slower and have higher injury risk. Look here for an answer. And of course, get fit to play.

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How to manage a run chase

You are batting in a run chase and the run rate is gradually creeping up. The opposition are bowling well and you start to think you need a 'get out' boundary. How do you know when to go for it?

Cricket Show 34: First class fitness and Twenty20 death bowling

David and Kevin are joined on the show this week by two PitchVision Academy coaches: Rob Ahmun answers our 5 questions and Ian Pont tells us how to bowl at the death ot Twenty20 matches when batsmen are giving it the long handle. We also talk about:


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: 52
Date: 2009-06-26