Pitchvision Academy
Get Fit For Cricket


It's a tough life being a spinner: Attacked by batsmen, underappreciated by captains and often the only twirler in the team. They need all the help they can get so this week we have three articles that spinners can use to improve their game, starting with a 4 step guide to bowling to batsmen on the attack.

We also publish the winning article in our recent competition. Congratulations to Bijoyaditya Mukherjee for his contribution on trigger moves for batsmen. We are still open to others submitting articles so if you have an idea you want to share with the other newsletter subscribers, send it in.

Finally, the miCricketCoach show is themed around strength and conditioning this week. You can get the show free every Friday to listen on your mp3 player.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

4 Steps to bowling spin against an attacking batsman

Andrew Flintoff was on the rampage.

The 6ft 4 all-rounder had been served up some easy half volleys in his innings in the third Ashes Test and was walking with a confident swagger.

Given that England were looking to move the game on, it was certain Flintoff was going to go after the spinner. So it proved with Hauritz being deposited for a six over long on and a swept four in the same over.

It's not just Test spinners that are attacked though. Spinners of all ages and skill levels experience the same problem. So how do you deal with the batsman whose eyes light up as soon as the spinner comes on?

1. Stay confident

Spin is a mental battle as much as a physical one: The spinner is trying to tease a mistake and the batsman who is playing a few shots is more likely to make one. That's why you have to stay confident in the face of an assault.

This is easier said than done. The captain suddenly can't look at you, the batsman has biffed your best ball to the boundary and you don't know what to do next.

The secret is to clear your mind, set a plan in your head and bowl that ball. A classic cliche in cricket is to play the ball not the man. This is just as true for the spinner under the pump. Keep bowling to your plan and you can force an error.

2. Cut off the big shots
Speaking of a plan. What is it?

All players, even at Test level, have their favourite and less favourite shots. Club and school players are even more limited than the professionals. This means the first job is to cut off the big shots, especially if they are with the spin.

For example, if you are an off-spinner bowling to a right handed batsman who plays with a lot of bottom hand you might put boundary fielders out at long on, deep midwicket and deep square leg. This suddenly makes it a lot riskier to play the big shot through the leg side.

In this example, you can accentuate the point by bowling around the wicket, pitching on off and turning to hit the stumps. The arm ball will slide across a batsman making it possible for it to be sliced straight up.

Your foe may still go for it, and with a big enough hit may even succeed, but suddenly they are the one taking the risk. If you get hit for a six and a four and then get a catch on the boundary your average is 10 and you are having a good day!

For leg spin and left arm spin against right handers the big shot with is more likely to be with the spin through the off side.

3. Keep the weaker areas open

The other side of blocking off a batsman is tempting him or her with a gap in the field. Let's imagine our off-spinner again bowling to this field:

As you can see from the yellow "danger zone" area, there is a large gap between slip and extra cover. Remember the batsmen plays with a lot of bottom hand? They will see the gap and look to play the ball into it for boundaries.

As long as you bowl well (pitched up, round the wicket, turning a little) it's very difficult to hit the ball into that area and the chances of bowled, LBW, caught at slip and even caught on the leg side are massively increased.

The left arm spinner can use a similar plan, keeping mid on up and inviting the on drive over the top. Not many batsmen can play this shot well, especially against the ball turning away and can slice it to the off side or bring the bottom hand in and hit it to deep midwicket.

4. Use variety

The final element is what type of ball you bowl. Each batsman has a different pace and flight that they are least comfortable against. So like it thrown up but hate it fired in. Some are the opposite. Even when you are under pressure you can experiment with how much spin, pace and flight you give the ball.

Tossing one up might seem like the last thing to do when you are being hit. Most bowlers tend to bowl flatter and more at the stumps in this situation. However, if you have confidence in your plan (which is the first three steps) you can risk trying something different.

All batsmen are better when they know the pace of the ball. Adding a little or taking some off in the flight it a great way to disrupt their rhythm, especially if they have their best shots cut off and are trying to do something unfamiliar.

The captain isn't going to take you off in the middle of an over so you have at least 6 balls to tease even the biggest hitter out.

Let's be honest, the chances of bowling to a player of Flintoff's ability are low, so exploit your awareness of a batsman's weaknesses and you will get more in the wickets column, even against attacking players.

image credit: zoonabar

Field setting image supplied by PitchVision - Coach Edition. Available to purchase now for clubs, schools and cricket centres.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Can the 'back and across' trigger move make you a better batsman?

This article was sent in to miCricketCoach by Indian reader Bijoyaditya Mukherjee. Bijoy entered the PitchVision Academy competition and was selected as the winner with this article on the back and across movement.

Think you can do better? Send your articles or videos to us and the best ones will be rewarded!

We all know the adage against pace: “Get in line with the ball, and don't back away!” This is the seldom understood, 'back and across' trigger movement.

Let’s take a closer look at its intricacies; you may come to share the same respect I have for this humble friend of batsmen.

What is 'back and across'?

A trigger movement is an instinctive movement, the feet in particular, as the bowler releases the ball, so as to generate momentum and aid in the 'unweighting' process.

The late Bob Woolmer described it as; “"Moving your back foot back and across towards off stump; then transferring your weight back on to the front foot as the bowler releases the ball; then making the final movement, having judged length and playing the appropriate shot."

Why would you use it?

To better receive the ball of course! What I mean is to be in a balanced position to watch the ball and then instinctively go forward or back as per the length. All this, while maintaining access to the ball by preventing the front foot from going across and closing off the body.  

A lot of it has to do with balance.

As the body prepares to receive the ball, an instinctive hunching of the upper body causes it to lean over to the off side. This means that the body needs to push out a foot towards the offside to regain balance.

This may manifest as the front foot or the back foot going across to the off stump.

The former is the 'forward press' trigger and the latter the back and across movement. The forward press causes the batter to play across the line to straighter deliveries in an attempt to play around that front pad. Whereas going back and across allows direct access to straighter deliveries and allows for a game plan based more around playing straight.

The back and across movement also allows for the player to be prepared for 'chin music' in advance.

The trigger opens the player’s hips up and puts him in a better position to get behind the line and defend their body against short pitched bowling. Add to that bending the back knee and you are able to duck and weave instinctively. This is because bent knees mean a wider base and a lower centre of gravity. This stable base resists toppling when subjected to ducking or weaving.

Taking a step back and across also allows you to break up the act of getting a good extension to the half volleys into two steps. First a step back, then a small but efficient step forward to get the front foot beside the ball. By the time the ball is driven, the feet are wide enough apart so as to allow for a large hitting area. Just try to drive a half volley keeping your feet together, you will see what a small “hitting area” feels like.

When do you use it?
Use the back and across trigger when:
  1. You are really good on the off side but keep getting hit on the pads to balls that are straighter.
  2. You are naturally uncomfortable to short bowling
  3. You tend to get too closed off as you watch the ball and need to open up a little.
  4.  When you feel you need more balance as while watching the ball.
  5. You keep pulling the ball straight up in the air. This of course might just be poor shot selection.
  6. You want to focus on playing straighter.
  7. You feel you are a little slow in facing the quicks.
How to go back and across
Here are some pointers that helped in executing this trigger move:
  1. Lift the bat to a ready position. Do this and your centre of gravity doesn’t shift awkwardly while going back and across. You end up nicely balanced at the end of the trigger.
  2. Move the back foot back and across and transfer weight back onto the front foot .This puts your upper body in the right position to go forward or back.
  3. Transfer weight forward but don’t take a stride with your front foot or else you will again be playing around that front pad.
  4. At the end of this step, try to end up ever so slightly lower than your stance. This ensures bending of the knees.

All said and done, if you are playing well both on the offside and the onside and are dealing with the short ones, then don’t fix what isn’t broken. But if you need a little help to push your game to the next level, this trigger move might be well worth a try.


Discuss this article with other subscribers

How to bowl to tail-enders

Lower order batsmen can be more than an annoyance. They can cost you matches if you can't bowl them out.

It should be easy. These are the guys with the worst batting skill and the lowest average. Yet strangely some very good bowlers to top end players just don't have the knack of firing out the tail. They repeatedly beat the bat and look like doing it any moment, but somehow the wickets don't materialise as quickly as they should.

Bowling to the tail is a skill

For me a key element is the way the lower order play. Each batter is different of course, but the tail rarely bat properly for any length of time.

You can essentially split most into two groups:

  • Blockers. Those with a good defence but little or no shots.
  • Hitters. Generally swiping the ball over deep midwicket .

There is a third group who are probably not genuine tail-enders but worth mentioning; the nudgers. These are the players with a decent eye who can play the ball into unusual places, such as stepping back and hitting over the slips.

The common element is that all these three types are not playing orthodox attacking batting strokes. You may get the odd one, but generally the way they play is different.

That means you have to bowl differently too.

For me, this is the key to why some bowlers are better at getting tail-enders than others.

How to fire out the tail

Generally there is one magic way to get tail end batsmen out.

Bowl at the stumps.

This may not seem to be a revelation, but sometimes with all the planning and working out of proper batsmen's weaknesses we forget a simple truth: If they miss, you hit.

Most batsmen in the bottom 3 will be unable to withstand a bowler who is bowling at the stumps 6 balls per over. So the default plan should always be to bowl a line and length that ideally hits the top of the off stump (although middle and even leg stump should be fine too, just hit them).

In most cases this is all the advice you need. However, sometimes the plan will fail. For example, the big swinging number 11 may come off and hit you for a few boundaries. What happens then?

It's important to be flexible in your plan but to keep applying common sense. So in our big hitting example, I would still encourage the bowler to aim at the stumps, but perhaps with a very full length to stop him getting under the ball.

You could also block off his big shot with deep fielders and leave a gap through square cover to get him playing in an unusual area. This tactic of leaving a gap in the field also works for the blockers. Even the most stonewall of defenders would find it difficult to resist a half volley from an off spinner with an open off side field. The more shots they play, the more likely they are to make a mistake.

Putting on the pressure

The final tool at your disposal against the tail is mental pressure. If the lower order are in, there is a good chance that the game is either in the balance or they need to save it by blocking out. Either way, they will be feeling that pressure as they come to the crease.

You can add to this pressure in subtle ways. Placing fielders close in, especially short square leg and silly mid off, puts an awareness of fielders in a batsman's mind. The batsman may get nervous and push too hard at one, or they may try and hit the field back with some lusty blows. Either way, you are on top.

It also helps to have a wicketkeeper who can keep the chat up. A few well chosen comments to your team mates about technical weaknesses of a player don't even need to be directed at the batsman but just enough to be in earshot. Anything that puts a seed of doubt in the mind of the player should be enough. Just avoid sledging; there is no place for going that far in my mind.

Whatever your plan, make sure you keep it simple and aim at the stumps as much as possible. This will give you the highest chance of success against the tail.

image credit: www.a-middletonphotograph y.com


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Classic bowling dismissals: Slow left arm

This article is part of the 'Classic bowling dismissals' series. To go to the start, click here.

Left arm bowlers have a great advantage over right arm finger spinners and so are more likely to take wickets.

Cricket Show 40: Strength and conditioning (and indoor net tips)

Strength and conditioning is the theme of the show this week. David has another win and Kevin tries to sort out a knee problem. We also catch up with Ian Pont and have another installment of our league cricket tips section with the LCA.

Questions this week include:


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.


Take a tour
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: 58
Date: 2009-08-07