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Most of this week's newsletter is based around hunches or plans.

Hunches are often considered to be pure luck but there is more too then that that as we examine in our main article this week. But to have a good hunch, you also need to be experience which is why the rest of the newsletter looks at making plans. This week it's inswing and shying at the stumps.

To finish off we also follow up our recent technical bowling question with some of the answers given by newsletter readers like you.

Have a great weekend


David Hinchliffe

Do you trust your hunches?

You have never seen him before, but there is something not quite right about the batsman as he takes his guard.

You can't put your finger on quite what it is, but it's clear something doesn't add up.

He plays a couple of balls out and still something nags at you about him. You glance at the 'keeper and he nods his head towards the new man at the crease. Whatever it is, he has seen it too.

Something in your head says a short midwicket will see some action so you don't hesitate or think about it, you just put him in.

Next ball he pops one into the waiting hands of the close fielder and you are heralded by the team as a rare genius. Was it just luck or was something else going on?

The power of the cricketing hunch

Author Malcolm Gladwell thinks it's the latter.

In his book, Blink, Gladwell shows, through a series of real life examples, how the hunch is the subconscious mind at work. In many cases these hunches can be more effective than thinking about it too much.

The key, it seems, is to have a large bank of experience to call upon at a moment's notice. In the example above you knew something was not right but you couldn't work out what or why. Instead of trying to think about it too much and leaving the field change you made it based on limited information.

As long as you have the experience you can let your unconscious mind do the work and just go with your hunch.

Want another example?

Hunch batting: How top batsmen pick up line and length early

Do you ever wonder how the world's best batsmen are able to play 90mph+ (144kph) bowling?

It should be impossible. The ball arrives quicker than even the best human reactions can manage.

The reason it is possible is down, again, to the power of the subconscious mind working on a hunch. Over the years batsmen gradually develop the experience to learn the speed and trajectory of the ball by clues given by the bowler.

These tiny clues are not something the batsman can describe easily because they are picked up unconsciously. Studies have shown that the better batsman can predict line and length very accurately purely from the action of the bowler. In other words, they can detect where it is going even before the ball is released. This is working on a hunch at the highest level. It makes the impossible a possibility.

It's all about experience

The key to all this is not some mystical third eye that gives you ESP.

It's all about playing.

The more you bat the better you get at picking up line and length early. The more you play the quicker you see technical errors in batsmen that you can exploit in the field. There is no substitute for real life experience.

As long as you have that experience you can trust your first thought and go with it. It will make you a better player and bring you more luck.

Have you ever acted on a hunch? How did it go? Leave a comment and let us know.

image credit: canonsnapper

Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.



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Classic bowling dismissals: In swing

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

Often thought of as the easier type of swing bowling, the inswinger can be a devastating weapon when used effectively.

When bowling to a right-handed batsmen, here are the classic ways to get a wicket:

Bowled 'through the gate'

The ball that starts it's line outside off stump and ducks back in between the bat and pad is dramatic and effective.

You are trying to deceive the batsman into playing down the wrong line only for the ball to come back in. This overhead view demonstrates the difference:

The red line is going straight on and can be left. The yellow line starts on the same trajectory and ducks back in forcing the batsman to play the ball.

The other key is bowling a length that makes the batsman want to play forward. Ideally on the drive when they are more likely to play with loose technique. The other reason you need to bowl full is to make sure the ball will hit the stumps if the batsman misses it.

The exact length will vary depending on the pace of the wicket, your speed and the reach of the batsman but as long as you are on target with the stumps you have a chance.

To illustrate that point, here is a beehive graphic using PitchVision to demonstrate:

As you can see, the red dots show balls that are hitting the stumps, making the batsman play (and hopefully miss, or get trapped LBW). The purple dots are wasted inswing balls. The good batsman will be able to leave them and any he plays and misses at will not hit the stumps.


The yorker is a variation of the "bowled through the gate" dismissal. The aim again is to hit the stumps or get an LBW. The line is the same as before but the length is very full, pitching around the toes of the batsman. It's almost unplayable at high speeds:

It's also useful for medium pace bowlers, especially at the death of a limited overs match.

Aim for the batsman's popping crease but practice it hard before trying it because if you get it slightly wrong it becomes a simple half volley or full toss.


Three very useful catching positions for inswing bowling are short midwicket, short leg and backward short leg/leg gulley. When the ball swings in it is natural to go more on the off side, especially against limited club or school batsmen who favour that area.

On quicker pitches the short legs can be in place to catch balls that are defended or pushed at from a shorter length. Short square leg can also be in for the ball that is defended on the front foot and goes from bat to pad then in the air.

Short midwicket is more common on slower pitches or more medium paced swing bowlers. These players are in place for the thick edged drive that doesn't quite get through.

3 Card trick

The inswinger can also be used as a surprise delivery rather than a stock ball. To do this you need to set the batsman up.

This can be done over a number of balls or overs but most commonly is done with three balls:

  • Ball 1: Good length, outside off stump, not swinging.
  • Ball 2: Good length, wider outside off stump, not swinging.
  • Ball 3: Fuller length, just outside off stump, swinging back in to hit the stumps.

This fools the batsman into playing the wrong line and getting bowled or LBW. Perhaps even better is when the batsman leaves the ball altogether only to get bowled. Round here we call that 'village'.

Left handers

With left-handed batsmen the inswing bowler becomes an outswing bowler and can use their classic dismissals. The main difference is the angle, which will take the ball across the left handed batsman (if the bowler stays over the wicket). The ball that swings will be difficult to hit away.

Image credit: www.a-middletonphotograph y.com

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

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To Throw or Not to Throw? That Is the Question

Making a quick decision to throw can be the difference between a run out and a stolen single.

But it's never quite that simple is it?

Even if you are a dead-eye when throwing at the stumps, it's possible to give away overthrows and face the wrath of your "double teapot" captain and bowler.

That's a lot of decision-making to do in a short time and indecision usually just makes matters worse. You need to be confident. Confidence improves throwing accuracy and reaction time.

Cost-benefit analysis of throwing at the stumps

As far as I know no-one has ever sat down, gone through games with run out attempts and overthrows and worked out whether the runs conceded from overthrows are balanced out by the increased chance of a run out.

I suspect, at the professional level at least, this analysis would show a simple general rule: when in doubt, throw.

My suspicion is that professionals tend to be more aware that a throw is possible and get in a position to back up more quickly and efficiently. Knowing there is definitely someone to protect your shy can give you the confidence to throw.

However, even if it does go wrong I would imagine that the odd overthrow could be easily made up for by running out a star batsman who could go on the make a hundred.

To work it out you would need to get your team's scorer to record overthrows as well as actual run outs. Then you can work out how many overthrows per run out you concede.

You can make it more complex by also working out the value of the run out, but that maths is far beyond my limited statistical skills.

I'm willing to bet either way, that the throw comes out the winner.

Returns to the keeper

Run out chances are one thing, but there has been a recent trend for players to throw back to the keeper, even if the batsmen are not attempting a run. The theory goes that this shows the batsman he or she is under pressure from the fielding team.

I don't believe that's right.

Even if the batsman does feel this way, they soon become immune to its effects as it happens after almost every ball. Also, at club level at least, the chance of a poorly aimed throw is increased when the benefit of getting a run out is non-existent.

There is some benefit in doing it as a fielder to find your range with throws early in the match. It also keeps the wicketkeeper's gloves warm. I still don't think that is enough to make the ball come back to the keeper every time. On balance I prefer teams not to do it.


Whatever your policy on throws (and every team should have one), it's vital to practice all the different throws. It should be the rare practice session or warm up that doesn't include some or all of the following:

  • Underarm at the stumps
  • Overarm returns to the keeper (including low returns when throwing with the sun behind you)
  • Overarm at the stumps

There are a number of drills to do this as part of Derek Randall's fielding drills course on PitchVision Academy.

It's also important to watch how much you throw. For club players playing a couple of times a week this is not usually a problem, but if you play a lot of cricket you will need to be careful how much you throw in practice, keeping it limited but still working on something.

All players ideally would include some warm up drills to help prevent throwing injuries. This just means warming up the shoulder muscles with 'activation' work like:

These movements don't require equipment or more than a few minutes of your warm up. They an be done every day if needed and will help protect you from injury.

The take home point

Injury prevention aside, my feeling is that most teams would benefit from the confidence of fielders who are happy to throw the ball. However not many teams should adopt the modern practice of throwing to the keeper every time.

What are your thoughts?


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Ask the coaches: Your answers

A little while back we posted a question to the coaches who read miCricketCoach: How do you stop bowling down the leg side?

We came up with some solutions, asked you to rate them and make some suggestions of your own. Which you did. Here is a selection of some of the answers we heard about from coaches out there in the real world.

Cricket Show 42: Nutrition for cricket

Lay the table as this week we are talking about food and cricket. It's an often overlooked but important part of everyone's game.


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: 60
Date: 2009-08-21