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It's an exciting time in the professional cricket world. For the first time top sides from around the world are competing in a high profile, big money international competition: The Champions League. Sadly, such riches are not quite so available lower down the ladder but that doesn't stop us trying our best to improve.

With that in mind, this week we cover a range of ideas to make a big difference to your game. We examine how to play multiple sports and still perform well, look at training for fast bowlers and discover why you should plan to not have any plans.

We are also previewing a big announcement in our exclusive competition. You can win one of five video coaching lessons just by leaving a comment on the site. Click here to enter.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Win advanced preview free video analysis on PitchVision Academy

At PitchVision Academy we know you have been looking for ways to improve your game. Now you can.

For nothing.

You see, we are advance previewing a new video analysis service to bring personalised first-class coaches and drills to you. The service is launching with a big announcement very soon but we wanted to give the miCricketCoach readers something special as a 'thank you' for being part of the community.

Just so you know, the video analysis service is an easy way to to get top quality personalised coaching advice:

Who are the coaches?

PitchVision Academy has teamed up with cricket coaching experts Wattacoach to provide specialist coaching advice, for batsmen and bowlers:

  • John Davison (finger spin). A bowler who has played 25 one day internationals for Canada and has been a professional cricketer for 13 years. He has played 51 first class games and taken 111 first class wickets for Canada, Victoria and South Australia.
  • Warren Smith & Murray Creed (batting). Warren is a level 3 coach who has worked with the Australian U17 team, the Australian U19 team and as the batting and fielding coach with New South Wales players. He has worked as a New South Wales Cricket Development Officer for 30 years.
  • Matthew Nicholson (seam bowling). Matthew has represented Australia in Test Cricket. He has been a professional cricketer for over 12 years. During that time he has played 115 first class games and taken 395 first class wickets for New South Wales, Western Australia, Northamptonshire and Surrey.
  • David Freedman & Beau Casson (Wrist Spin Bowling). Former first-class bowler, David Freedman, has been the New South Wales U19 coach. He is currently the assistant coach of New South Wales. Beau Casson is a left – arm wrist spin bowler who has played over 40 first class games for Western Australia and New South Wales and taken more than 100 first class wickets so far.

All these specialist coaches are able to view your videos and provide detailed feedback on exactly how to make strides forward in your game. The simple upload system means you can be anywhere in the world and still get the best advice.

Advance preview free coaching

The best part is, we want you to try it for free.

That's right. No sales spiel, no opt-ins, no questionnaires.

We are giving away 5 free video consultations to miCricketCoach readers to preview the service before it launches properly. You get the full service without paying a penny.

All you need to do is leave a comment on this article (if you are reading it in RSS or email, click here to leave a comment) and finish this sentence:

"I think PitchVision Academy Video Analysis is great because..."

We will contact you via email and show you how you can upload your video for analysis.

Easy enough?

Then get writing that comment and let's make you a better player!

*UPDATE: the competition is now closed*

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Plans vs. hunches: What works best?

As the old saying goes, "Fail to plan and you plan to fail". What happens when plans don't pan out the way you want, and where does that leave the instinctive captain who works on hunches?

Take South Africa as an example. The one day side were criticised during the 2009 Champions Trophy for being too rigid in their plans. Critics pointed out that when Plan A failed, Plan B was... to keep trying plan A.

Does your team make the same error?

There is plenty of evidence that club sides do. Take the UK Club Twenty20 finals of 2008. The losing sides all shared the same mistake: They had a plan of pitching the ball up and bowling stump to stump. When the plan failed there were precious few variations. Slower balls and bouncers were barely seen.

Perhaps both Graeme Smith and the losing club captains would have been better to ditch the crafted plans and do something crazy instead. Let's look at the evidence.

The importance of planning

All good cricket sides work to a plan. The better teams have well developed plans. At club or school level this probably won't extend to video analysis of the opposition, but it does mean everyone knows about roles.

'Roles' is a simple way of saying that everyone in the team knows what they need to do. So the opening fast bowler might know his job is to bowl as fast as possible and take early wickets in a short burst. The medium pacer at the other end knows he has to balance out the expensive pacemen with a miserly spell. Each player also knows what everyone else should be doing.

The only way you are going to do that is by having a plan.

The power of the hunch

On the other hand, ask experienced captains about their finest moments and they will always think back to the flash of brilliance that was instinctive and outside the plan. Mike Brearley reveals several stories of instinctive captaincy in his online captaincy course.

It can't be random though, every good hunch is based in some kind of common sense, even if you are quite sure what it is when you act.

This 'think-on-your-feet' method works just as well (or badly) as elaborate plans, but only if you know what you are doing. As the old butcher said to the new butcher who was asking him how he could measure 2lb of meat without a scale: "My trick is being a butcher for 40 years".

But let's not make this a fight.

In reality we know that you need a plan, but you also need to be flexible enough to break away from the plan and go with your gut. The more experienced you become the better you get at knowing when to ditch things and try something new. Restricting yourself to either method is cutting off half your options.

image credit: PJMixer

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


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Move your fast bowling forward with reverse training

Its well know that when you bowl fast you put your body under enormous strain: The front leg can take up to ten times your body weight on impact. It stands to reason that you need to be strong to prevent injury.

That's why you fast bowlers are the keenest to hit the gym. You know a weakness is far more likely to lead to an injury and strength training is the best way to make your body strong enough to cope with bowling long spells on hot days.

But like fast bowlers, not all fitness work is the same.

The training paradox

It's only natural to assume that as the front leg (left leg for right arm bowlers) takes the most impact, you should train that leg more. It needs to be stronger. The problem is your left leg is already stronger than your right. It becomes so just through bowling: A simple case of overload in action. So to try and make your strong side even stronger will increase the imbalance between the left and right legs.

The reason that is a negative thing can be traced back to 1992 and a little known study. Researchers looked at the difference between the left and right side of the body and found a significant statistic: If you have a 15% or greater difference you are more likely to get injured.

That means, paradoxically, you need to train your weaker areas more to make up for the natural imbalances your body undergoes while bowling.

Reverse (or balance) training

What does this type of training look like?

You start with a simple principle: keep the good areas good and bring the weak areas up. This will vary from bowler to bowler but the basic idea stays the same:

  • Improve the mobility of both ankles. Here is a video from Bill Hartman that shows you how.
  • Improve the strength of the the knee flexing muscles with strength training. Use single limb exercises like single leg squats to bring the right side up to the left side. You can train the weaker side up to three times more than the stronger side.
  • Improve the mobility of the hip. Focus on bringing the right side of the hips by training them 2-3 times more than the stronger side.
  • Train the upper body with more 'pulling' movements. Use chin ups and rows. This will increase the strength of the muscles in 'reverse' and balance out the strains of bowling.
  • Use core stability rather than core strength. Core strength is where your midsection moves against resistance (like a traditional crunch). Core stability is when your midsection stays stable while you move. A great way to do this is with the Pallof Press. If you are weaker on one side, train it more.

It may seem strange to spend more time working on the strength and mobility of your weaker areas, but remember the more balanced your body the less likely you are to get injured.

image credit: kptyson


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How to make room for other sports and still be a cricketing success

Playing and practicing cricket gets you better at cricket. But what if you play more than one sport? The answer is not to give up on other sports, but to learn the 4 simple training tricks of success.

Cricket show 49: Field settings

Field placings for club and school cricket is the theme of the show this week. David is back from a short break while Kevin tells us about his mixed start to the season. Don't worry Kevin, there is a long way to go yet. To help Kevin out, Ian Pont has another fast bowling tip and we answer your questions on:


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: 67
Date: 2009-10-09