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You may bat or bowl. You may be a junior player or an experienced captain. You may even be a coach wanting your team to succeed. Whatever your interest, there is plenty for you in this week's newsletter.

Spinners and batsmen can learn the secret tactics of the leg break bowler. It's a complicated art and no two leggies are the same so any clues you can get will help your game. Gary Palmer's article this week focuses on the importance of good technique in becoming a top player. He uses some English players as examples.

We also look at captaincy, both good and bad, in an article and the miCricketCoach Show.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Classic bowling dismissals: Leg spin

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

Even after the great Shane Warne's legacy, leg spin has a mixed reputation.

Underappreciated by captains and disrespected by slogging batsmen, the wrist spinner has a mountain to climb to even get on. When he or she does get to the crease they are the most destructive of bowlers. With an arsenal of variations they can turn the ball in both directions on even unhelpful wickets.

But everything starts with the leg-break.
Leg break

Like the left arm spinner, the stock ball of the leggie drifts in the air towards the right handed batsman, pitches and turns away:

This delivery brings in bowled, LBW and caught behind. However, not all leg spinners turn the ball the same way. Some bowl flatter with more accuracy while others throw the ball up with more loop and spin.

This means that even the 'stock' leg break will vary a great deal between leg spinners. As a result they will get their wickets with the leg break in other ways. A loopier bowler might need more boundary protection but also will see more balls hit up square inside the ring. A flatter bowler will see more catches taken on the drive.

The line of this delivery is middle to middle and off, turning away to hit the off stump. The bigger spinners of the ball on turning wickets will need to adjust their line more leg side to still be hitting the off stump after it turns. However, it would be impossible for a club leggie to emulate Shane Warne's 'ball of the century' as it will just end up turning less and being worked away on the leg side for easy runs.

Googly or Wrong 'Un

Better club wrist spinners stand out because the can bowl the googly: The ball that goes the other way, turning in to the right handed batsman:

This ball causes great confusion in the batsman. The best method is to bowl a series of leg breaks, ideally dragging the batsman wider to the off side where he feels he can leave the ball outside off stump. The googly is then bowled, turning back and hitting the stumps or getting an edge.

The googly can also cause a problem to the bowler as he will require extra protection behind square on the leg side as the ball is more likely to go there. Filling that gap leaves another one elsewhere so the spinner's line has to be very good.

Top Spinner

Many club leg spinners use this ball as their stock delivery. It's similar to the leg break but has more loop and bounce while spinning less. It's much easier to control and if it turns even half a bat's width it can get the edge.

If it is used as a stock ball the key is to vary the flight, angle and pace on the ball in a similar way to a finger spinner.

It can also be used as a variation from the leg break, the less turn and greater bounce is designed to surprise the batsman and send them off caught behind or at slip.

Left handers

Bowling leg spin to left handers is trickier because the leg break becomes the equivalent of an inaccurate off spinner. The solution is to bowl mostly googlies and top spinners at the off stump. Combine this with a packed off side field.

The other option is to behave as an off spin bowler with more men on the leg side and attacking the stumps. This requires more accurate bowling than any other tactic. The dismissals will be the same as an off spinner to a right hander.

image credit: Chris KWM


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Good technical coaching is the key to batting success
Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, examines how getting good technical coaching can improve your game. If you would like coaching from Gary, check out CCM Academy.
I can't tell you the power and importance of good technical coaching for a player to succeed at any level, especially Test matches. 

A sound basic technique allows you to be consistent against the best bowlers in the world at Test level. Let's look at some current England players for examples:

Jonathan Trott

The new England batter performed well in the high Ashes pressure situation and did not look phased by it at all. He batted like an England player who had been in the side for a number of years with many matches under his belt. He has real presence at the crease and looked highly focused while been cool calm and collected. He bats like a 'good old fashioned' Test player:

Jonathan plays straight very well and has his basics in order. He looks to keep it simple and play straight with good technique while demonstrating high intensity levels of concentration.

From a coaches point of view I would say that he has the level of technique to make him a successful test player.

Jonathan has his batting ABC's in order:
  • Alignment
  • Balance
  • Completion of shot with high leading left elbow with enables him to play straight effectively.

Jonathan strikes me as being a tough character. This coupled with his simple game plan and solid technique means that he has all the qualities of becoming a great player in the future.

Jonathan just needs to monitor and maintain the efficient and effective technique that he currently has and he will do well.

Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook

The difference between Trott and Bopara is that Trott has found out the best technique that will work at Test level. Bopara is still tinkering and fine tuning trying to get his technique up to scratch.

On the other hand Cook has great potential but his technique has stayed the same and recently it has been proved that it will not work consistently at Test level.

A good technical coach with the right corrections, drills and practices will be able to solve these issues. So my questions to any young player having technical issues like Cook are these:

  • Do you know what technical changes you need to make?
  • Are you prepared to accept change?

Player like Cook with technical faults needs a coach. If he is left to work it out for himself he through trial and error he could end up taking too long and therefore being dropped. He needs the correct intervention and now.

image credit: gingerchrismc

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Get more runs and wickets by acting like a tailor
Have you ever seen a tailor make a suit?

It's a systematic process of fittings, measurements and adjustments to get the perfect fit to your shape. It's a method that has worked to produce the finest suits in existence and it's one you can adapt to improve your cricket.

Just like a tailor, you can maximise your training and preparation so it becomes perfect for you. Also like making a suit, there is no simple way to reach perfection right way. It takes time, effort and attention to detail.

And just like a great suit, the results will last you for years. Let's look at how you do it.

1. Start with a template

The first part is to start with a good basic template. In cricketing terms this falls into:

You might also include recovery.

It doesn't matter what template you pick initially as long as it is something that has been proven to work and you can stick with for 2-4 weeks.

2. Follow the plan for 2-4 weeks

It's important to stick with the plan you choose for at least 2 weeks. Any less than this and it's hard to see any results. You also need to make sure that during this time you don't stray from the plan. If you do then the results will not be correct and you can't properly assess its effectiveness.

3. Check the results

You don't need to do a battery of testing every couple of weeks to see results but you do need something to measure. Steer clear of directly relating runs/wickets to any changes you make as factors out of your control also have an influence on sports performance (such as the form of the opposition or the quality of the wickets).

Instead focus on direct tests:
  • Diet: Amount of weight lost/gained.
  • Fitness: Amount of weight lifted, distance run and speed over 22 yards. Visual evidence (do you look better).
  • Training: Coaches assessment of your technical improvements, your own training journal.
  • Mental preparation: Use a journal to record after a game how confident you felt, how much negative thinking was in your game, how well you concentrated and anything else of importance to your mental game.

Be creative about it and work out some direct measures to properly assess what is working and what is failing. It's certainly worth keeping a training/playing log at all times. This will allow you to go back over the training you did before a good performance. If you see a trend you can stick with it. Your log might include anything worth recording: What you ate, how much you slept, what type of training you did at nets, what fitness work you are doing and even how you feel.

4. Adjust where needed

If everything is going according to plan and you are making progress then carry on doing what you are doing. It's working.

If no positive changes are happening you need to tweak your plan to make it better. If you are trying to lose weight you need to reduce the amount you eat slightly. If you are trying to develop a perfect yorker you need to increase the amount you practice it.

5. Go back to step 2 and continue

As your plan becomes more tailored you can continue through the loop. Keep going back, trying, testing and reviewing. Keep doing this until you reach your goal.

For most people this tailor-like systematic work, test and review plan takes the guesswork out of cricket. Form is no longer something mysterious and fleeting. You can work out what brings you into form and what takes you out of it. That sense of control can only work wonders for your game. 


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How to play under a bad captain

I don't know his name, but a reader who recently emailed was frustrated that his captain was not doing the best job possible.

He felt he could do a far better job. He wanted to know how to go about taking over as captain and emailed me for advice.

Cricket Show 44: Captaincy

Although the focus this week is on cricket captaincy, we have some great guests for you this week too. Ian Pont answers a question about Jimmy Anderson's bowling action and we chat on the phone with Senyo Nyakutse, the Founder of Cricket Montreal.


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: 62
Date: 2009-09-04