Pitchvision Academy
Get Fit For Cricket


It's a proud day for Pom readers and a dark one for Aussies as the Ashes returned to English hands this week. John Hurley pours over the Australian performance and shows us what club players can learn from the experience.

We also have another post from up-and-coming fast bowling coach; Tom Matcham who gives us a secret on hip drive that you probably didn't realise. We stick with fast bowling in our 'Classic Bowling Dismissals' series and talk about the will to win.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Are your hips holding you back from being a fast bowler?
This article is a guest post from Tom Matcham of Get Fit for Cricket.

I’m going to share with you one of the major points that is holding back your fast bowling.

Remember in the last article when we showed you bowling is about energy being transferred through the whole body to the arm? Since we’ve discussed the legs, it’s only logical to talk about the next step in the chain: The hips.

Everyone knows that to bowl fast you’ve got to 'drive your hips through'. What does that really mean?

Hip drive explained

For a side-on bowler, the hips should start the motion of moving from side on to front on.

As Ian Pont explains, every bowler releases the ball chest-on to the batsmen. It’s unavoidable. These pictures prove it: [1], [2], [3], [4]

It’s exactly the same with throwing a ball. You can try it yourself now.

Stand side-on to a target with a ball in your hand. Now, try and hit the target with the ball ensuring that you stay completely side-on. You’ll soon see it’s extremely awkward and very difficult. Now, throw at the target normally, but make sure your freeze as soon as you release the ball. Look down. Are you chest on? I hope so.

If you had filmed yourself throwing at that target and played it back in slow motion, you would have seen one or two things:

  1. Your shoulder starts the motion of moving from side-on to chest-on and pull the hips through
  2. Your hip starts off the motion and pulls your shoulder and arm through.

Which one do you think is technically correct? Which do you think is more common in throwers?

In answer to the first question, option two was correct. Even when throwing, energy starts in the legs and should move up the body. If your shoulder starts off the throwing motion, you loose the ability to use the legs, hips trunk and chest to generate power. I’m sure you know the answer to the second question or otherwise we’d all be pitching for the Yankees!

Bowling is practically no different to throwing: When bowling fast, we must utilise the hips by pulling them through from a side-on position to a front-on position if we really want to bowl fast.

This is hip drive.

The hidden secret of hip drive

All that I’ve described above is well known throughout the cricketing community. What I’m about to tell you isn’t.

What you haven’t been told is that the correct positioning of your feet and the bending of your back leg is critical to getting the hips through. Let’s demonstrate.

  • Stand up facing your computer screen. If you’re right handed, keep your back foot pointing towards the screen, and point your left foot in the direction you’d bowl to from this position (i.e. to your left).
  • Now, keeping your feet planted on the ground, try and rotate your hips round so that they’re facing the direction you’d bowl.

What you’ll find is that this is very uncomfortable and difficult to perform. The reason is due to the hip socket: it’s simply not designed to allow movement like this. So, if your bowling set-up is not unlike this, they’ll be no way that you can properly drive your hips through.

The cure is delightfully simple.

  • Assume the same position, except this time bend your back leg at the knee and be on the ball of your foot.
  • Now, bend your back leg even more and rotate your hips through immediately after. Don’t fight the urge to roll your back foot over your toes. Voila, much easier!

This simple exercise demonstrates how we must use the hips when we bowl: The back foot lands, the knee bends and then the hips are rotated through. As a result, the hips pull the back foot over the top of the toes, which is known as ‘flopping’.

The knee leads the movement, but the hips finish it off. With practise, you’ll be able to drive your hips through so that they’re almost facing the batsmen before the front foot lands. When the front foot does land, if it’s braced, the hips will be explosively accelerated through, pulling the rest of your torso with it.

Real world examples

I’m sure there’ll be some of you saying ‘That’s all well and good, but do real quick bowlers do this?’

In answer, take a moment to watch one of my favourite videos on youtube.

Look familiar?

You may also notice that some of the slower bowlers don’t brace their front legs fantastically well. Jeff Thomson, on the other hand, plants his front leg brilliantly, stays on the ball of his back foot and bends his knee more than anyone else. Is it surprising that he wins the competition and is recognised as the fastest bowler of all time?

For information on learning how to drive the hips or for answers to all your bowling questions please email me at gffc@hotmail.co.uk.

Image credit: RNLJ&C


Discuss this article with other subscribers

Chasing a big score: Learning from the Ashes

In the wake of the 2009 Ashes series, I thought I would have a look at the way the Australians played during the big run chase in their second innings of the final Test when the series was on the line. They did a lot of things right and a few things spectacularly wrong and I am sure young cricketers can learn a lot about the way to go about a run chase by analysing this performance.

Firstly, the openers approached their task with great determination and batted out the first session. Their primary job was to get through to stumps on Day 3 with all 10 wickets intact. They did this by: 

  • Staying positive. They left the ball, defended the ball or attacked the ball with total commitment to that shot. They realized the field was up so putting away loose deliveries – especially short bowling – was possible. So when they swung, they swung hard and by stumps 80 runs had been erased from the total required, without the loss of a wicket.
  • Learning from other batsmen. There is no doubt that the wicket was difficult but Strauss and Trott in particular handled the conditions and made runs. Good batsmen watch each other and try to learn what works on a particular deck. Strauss and Trott played with soft hands, watched the ball obsessively and left as many balls as possible. On the evening of Day 3, the Australian openers took a leaf out of Strauss’ book and successfully negotiated that final session.
  • Running well between wickets. In order to wear down a bowling attack, batsmen must continually rotate the strike. This is particularly effective when one batsman is left handed and the other a righty. This causes the bowler to be constantly changing his line and fielders to be changing their positions and angles in the field. It also gives each batsman time off strike to relax so they can refocus when called upon to face up again.

In many ways, what Katich and Watson did on the evening of Day 3 was a blueprint for all opening batsmen looking to set the base for a big score the following day.

Unfortunately, on the morning of Day 4 both batsmen showed precisely how NOT to set about a big run chase. They were obviously trying to set the base for a big score, and they had proved they were up to it the previous evening.

What went wrong?

It is difficult to know what specific thoughts were going through their minds, but a few of the thoughts that may have been circulating that may have contributed to their downfall may have been:

  • Getting ahead of themselves. In any situation the batsman can only play the next ball – that ball is the only ball that can get them out so they must focus all their attention on playing that ball as well as possible. If you think about the task of batting for a whole day, rather than just dealing with the next ball, you run the risk of losing focus and letting the next ball bring you undone. Both Aussie openers were out in the first couple of overs – out LBW to straight deliveries.
  • Forgetting the one basic rule: Batting never gets easy. Having batted so well the previous evening, they may have tried to “just continue on from last night” rather than starting again - having a good look at each new bowler, leaving the wider deliveries and reacquainting themselves with the characteristics of the pitch. After any break in play, batsmen must take a little time – depending on the situation of the game – to settle back in. Trying to continue on as if there has been no break can often times be disastrous.

So having done a wonderful job at the end of Day 3, they put pressure back onto the middle order at the beginning of Day 4, the one thing an opening pair should never do! Ponting and Hussey then showed us all how to approach a large run chase.

They played each ball with total concentration. They did not look concerned with the size of the task they faced – they broke it down into balls, overs and spells but always stayed focused on the next ball. They realized that – even if the wicket was difficult – the longer they batted the easier it would become. That was their motivation.

Then the run outs.

We will never know what might have been if the run outs had not occurred but they may have changed the course of the innings. What we can do is look at the situation and learn some lessons from it.

  • Take responsibility. Once a batsman is set at the crease, he has a larger responsibility not to give his wicket away. Risk must always be balanced against return if successful and consequence if not. In a big run chase, the set batsman must not take excessive risks such as pre-meditating shots or initiating very short singles.
  • Run the first run hard. Regardless of the situation, each batsman must always run the first run as hard as possible. No ball watching – just run flat out when your partner calls you through.
  • Stay aware. Make sure you know where the ball is before heading down the wicket, especially when you are still getting a handle on where the fielders are.

Finally, in any game, no matter how well you think your side is batting, add two wickets to the total and then re-examine how you are travelling. The Australians had a huge task still ahead of them but I am sure in the back of the Englishmen’s minds the pendulum must have been starting to swing and doubts must have been germinating. The loss of Ponting (which was very avoidable) followed just 4 balls later by Clarke (which was just plain bad luck) really amplified the magnitude of the task facing the Aussies. And the Test was gone!

But even then, a final lesson can be learnt from the way the Australians batted on from this set back and the loss of North soon after. They did not give up.


Hussey continued to bat with great skill and determination and when Haddin joined him they both gave the impression that – if they could bat through to stumps – anything could happen. Good players and good teams have self-belief. This self-belief impacts on how they play and how their opponents are forced to play. They are always in the contest and they force their opponents to “Go hard or go home”!

Once Haddin departed, another case of losing concentration and playing a loose shot, Hussey continued to bat as if it was the first over of the day. He was rewarded with his first test ton in 20 tests. The English bowlers kept at him and eventually got their man and The Urn.

Even though the Test was lost by the Australians, we can learn a lot about how to play the game by examining what they did right and what they did so terribly wrong. Young players should always actively watch the way more senior players play. There are always lessons to be learnt.

image credit: mailliw

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Classic bowling dismissals: Fast bowling

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

You don't have to be above 90mph (145kph) to be fast. You just need to be quick enough to hurry the batsman.

Even by this definition, at club level the really fast bowlers are still a rare sight. Pitches tend to be slower and coaches still persist in telling players to 'slow down and go for accuracy' when we all know what a mistake that is.

But if you do get the right conditions, what are the best ways for the quickie to get wickets?

Short bowling

Fear is a powerful weapon. We all want to avoid pain. The batsman in fear plays differently from one who is confident. This means using short bowling to remind the batsman he should be scared of getting hit. No batsman is ever fully comfortable against this kind of bowling.

The ideal short ball is hard to play with the bat but no so short it passes harmlessly. This means it needs to rise quickly up to chest or neck height. At this height it's hard for the batsman to decide whether to defend, hook, duck or sway. The length that this happens will vary depending on your pace and the pace of the pitch.

This indecision could lead to a mistimed hook to deep midwicket, a glove to short leg or an outside edge to the slips. Here is the area to aim at:

The problem with this method of attack is that, even on fast wickets, the batsmen can get used to the length. The longer they survive, the easier they find it to play shorter bowling. The batter will be half playing back before the ball is bowled and so can get into position more quickly.

To counter this, mix short balls with pitched up bowling. Full length balls bring in bowled and LBW chances, especially if the batsman is 'sitting' on the back foot expecting a short ball. A series of short balls followed by a yorker also works.

Slower ball

The rise of professional Twenty20 cricket has shown how useful a weapon the slower ball can be. It certainly shouldn't be limited to short format games as it can take a wicket in almost any situation.

A sudden change of pace can put of the most well-set of batsmen. Bowl it so it hits stumps and watch the fun as the ball is mishit to the in-field or missed altogether.

It works best if you disguise it by bowling with no change of action. There are many ways to do this, all excellently described in Ian Pont's Fast Bowler's Bible book. Pick up a copy to find out more.

Other methods

You can also, of course, use the classic bowling dismissals of swing and seam bowlers listed here. The ball moving at pace is even more difficult to play.

Image credit: chris_jd

Discuss this article with other subscribers

Why the will-to-win takes more than a dressing room pep-talk

The captain is in the dressing room before the game giving his team a last minute talk.

He tells the boys that they have the talent and ability to beat this lot. All that needs to happen is this: Stay focused and switched on for the entire game. Let the will-to-win take us over the line.

Cricket Show 43: Fast bowling tips (with Ian Pont)

Ian Pont takes centre stage this week as we feature the fast bowling guru answering your questions on how to bowl with pace and accuracy. Kevin discusses his palns for the coming summer and David watches the rain sheet down as another game is called off.

Your 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: 61
Date: 2009-08-28