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Good bouncers are rare in club or school cricket. Slower pace, poor wickets and little coaching means the weapon is rarely used. Yet a good pace bowler can cause a stir by throwing the occasional bumper in so this week we give you the lowdown on it. Are you up to the challenge?

Also this week we are trying an experiment. For the first time we are offering you a choice in the way you get the content: eBook, audio download or online presentation. Choose the option you like best and let us know if you want more content in this way.

Finally we also look at how to play a long innings and improve your fielding.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

How to bowl a bouncer

When you think of the great West Indian pace bowlers of the past, you can't help but wince at their ability to bowl terrifying bouncers. How do you make a batsman jump like that?

Those West Indian legends knew a bouncer was far more than just banging it in halfway down and hoping for the best. Really good bouncers need to be as accurate as traditional line and length bowling to be effective. Otherwise it's a waste of all that effort.

Not all pace bowlers can bowl bouncers

The first question before you even try and use the bouncer as a weapon is: Can I bowl one? Not everyone can.

You need pace. Not 90mph (145kph) pace but you do need to be seen as quick by the batsman at the other end. You might not be fast enough to trouble Sachin, but at club or school level you don't need to be.

You also need a wicket with decent pace in it. This is rarely a problem on the hard wickets in South Africa or Australia. A wicket that is as soft as a English club ground in April is one to avoid the short ball.

Go for the throat

Assuming you have the pace and wicket, a perfect bouncer reaches the batsmen:

  1. Still rising
  2. At throat height
The area to aim for is something like this:
These two elements are important because it forces the batsman to take action. He or she may duck, weave, block or hook but something must be done or they will get hit. This increases the chances of a mistake and your chances of a wicket.

A common mistake with bouncers is to bang it in too short or with not enough pace. This makes theball bounce more like a tennis ball and is coming down as it reaches the batsman:

This is much easier to play for the batsman who can watch it go by harmlessly or punish it. The take home point: when you bowl it, bowl it quick.

You will probably need to experiment a little to find the perfect length on the pitch you are playing on, so stay calm if you get one or two off target to start with.

Change your focus: 'Into' not 'Through'

Normally when you bowl you are focused on getting the ball through quickly on a good length. Some bowlers look at the stumps, some at the point on the pitch where they are aiming and some at the wicketkeeper knowing if the ball gets through to him or her at pace and a good height then the length is right.

This changes for the bouncer.

Now you are aiming to transfer all the energy your action is making to drive the ball into the pitch as hard as possible. So you look at the pitch and drive towards the spot to bury the ball into the ground halfway down:

The main difference is that you are now bowling into the pitch hard, rather than through; As some coaches put it now: you are 'hitting the deck' rather than 'kissing the surface'.

This is done, according to Ian Pont's 'Fast Bowler's Bible' by aiming to drive your shoulder into the pitch as you follow through with a much lower exit stride. You can see the difference in these 2 pictures where Brett Lee is much lower following through: Bouncer, normal delivery.

Keep the bouncer as a surprise ball

Even when you have mastered the ball with lots of net and middle practice, avoid over-using the delivery.

A lot of young fast bowlers can get carried away when they see a fast pitch and realise they can rough up a batsman. Before long the batsman is sitting back waiting for the short ball and punishing anything that is not perfect. To bowl a spell based on the short ball requires a great deal of accuracy and pace, can you say 100% that you can do it?

If you can't, use the bouncer as a surprise ball. It's especially good against batsmen who play off the front foot and get stuck when the bouncer is thrown in.

If you come across a good hooker of the ball, adjust your line to around off stump when you bang it in. This makes it much harder to hit. It's even more important to keep it as a shock ball to this type of batter as if they expect it they can hurt you more than you can hurt them.

Whatever your plan with the bouncer, the key is to make sure you plan and practice it rather than just mindlessly banging it in. Controlled aggression is far more effective.

image credit: pgchamberlain

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

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Are these myths holding your cricket back?

Every cricketer who has nervously bitten his nails waiting for a turn to bat knows how important the mind is to playing well. Yet we spend little time working on this aspect of our game.

Mental training has a stigma around it. There's a web of myths that stop players working on their mental game. The truth is a mentally tough player can outperform a mentally weak one every time and toughness is a trait that can be trained.

So what are the myths and realities around mental training?

Free sample from PitchVision Academy

At the online coaching site PitchVision Academy, we have developed a course called "How to Use Mental Training to Boost Your Game". The course provides everything you need to teach yourself how to gain confidence and concentration with presentations, worksheets, audio files and an exclusive forum for posting your questions.

To help you learn more about whether the course is for you we are giving away Chapter 1. The chapter is an introduction to mental training that debunks the myths and gives you the realities.

The introduction is an online presentation. You can click here to view it now.

You can also download the presentation as an mp3 to listen to on the move. If you like to read rather than watch or listen the presentation can be downloaded as an eBook.

All the options are free.

If you like what you see or hear and want the rest of the course you can buy it here.

Tell us what you think

If you view or listen to the presentation, we would like to know what you think. In particular we want to know:

  • Do you prefer the presentation, pdf or audio format?
  • Would you like to see more content like this or do you like the written articles more?
  • Has the information been useful to you?
  • Would you pass the information on to someone else?
  • What do you think of the rest of the course (even if you have not bought it, let us know about the chapter titles).

You can leave your comments in the box below or you can contact us directly.

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Dropping Anchor: How to Play A Long Innings

Good batsman turn starts into hundreds. Anyone can get out early in an innings, but once your eye is in your goal is to get a big score.

Yet how many players do you see getting a good-looking 30 before falling to a loose shot? The art of the long innings is waning in the crash-bash Twenty20 world.

Let's start turning the tide right now.

Choosing the right shots for the situation

When you see attritional innings in Test matches the commentators will talk about players cutting out risky shots. For example, at one stage in his career Andrew Strauss gave up on almost everything except flicking the ball off his legs. Anything off the stumps he learned to leave alone. This retraction slowed his scoring rate but allowed him to build big scores when he was low on confidence.

At lower levels this can still be done, although the mindset is slightly different. You can still earn to leave balls outside off stump, especially if you open. However with less time than in Test cricket you will need to play more shots, so work on the ones that are the lowest risk. A batsman who is strong with the on drive can also be strong flicking off the legs and playing straight drives. Three shots that are very low risk but can allow you to score in a wide arc on the leg side.

Riskier shots like cuts and cover drives look impressive but unless you are very good at them you are better off leaving them out first.

You also need to consider the pitch. For example; ff you are playing on a minefield against medium pace and spin you will be looking to get forward much more to avoid the ball that shoots from a short length. If you are playing on a hard, bouncy wicket against pace bowlers you can 'sit back' more ready to pull or back foot drive.

This is not just tactical thinking though. You must have the technique to play these shots, and that means intense technical batting practice that teaches you the muscle memory to play your chosen shots perfectly.

All your plans are worthless if you can't play the shots.

Keeping gas in the tank

Speaking of worthless, all the technique in the world is worthless if you don't have the fitness to use it after a long period in the middle.

That's why fitness is so important for the batsman. Fatigue kills concentration fast. As I'm sure you have experienced, when concentration goes, your well laid plans are not far behind as you play a loose shot with poor technique.

Fatigue can be staved off with good training. While nothing beats actually playing long innings to get cricket fit you can take some surprising short-cuts:

  • Low rep strength training. It might seem unspecific, but the more absolute strength in your muscles and tendons, the longer they take to tire even when playing a long, slow sport like cricket. That means lifting relatively heavy weights for a few reps rather than lower weights for more reps.
  • Energy systems training. If you think back to your biology or sport science classes, this is the different ways the body can produce energy to power muscles. In cricket the main system is ATP-PC. So focusing on developing the efficiency of this system through interval running will increase the time it takes you to run out of gas.

Long slow runs are not ideal preparation for playing long innings, although they will improve your general heart and lung efficiency. The reason they are usually avoided is because they are boring and carry a risk of injury through repetitive impacts (jogging for miles on hard concrete is tough on the knees).

For more information on a training programme for batsmen, check out strength coach Rob Ahmun's guide.

Staying focused

The hardest part of a long innings is keeping an iron concentration on the task. Being fit helps with this, but like your muscles, your mind can improve with the right training.

  • Have a ritual. Between balls, develop a way to switch off and think about anything except the game. Some batsmen walk away to square leg, some garden, some adjust their pads. It's idle but essential. Pick something that clears your mind and stick with it.
  • Ignore the voices. It could be your internal monologue telling you how bad you are, or the opposition sledging. Whatever the source of the negative voice, ignore it and think of something positive, like how it will feel when you raise your bat for three figures.

Everyone will have a different way of doing these two things, and you may need to try a few methods out before settling on something that works. For ways to work out your own best methods of staying focused have a look at Chapter 3 of How to Use Mental Training to Boost Your Game on PitchVision Academy.

Combining the technical, physical and mental like this covers all your bases. Of course, all these tricks are worthless without lots of practice so get in the gym and get drilling to make sure you are as prepared as possible when the time comes for you to play a match-winning innings.


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3 simple tricks to instantly boost your fielding skills

Fielding is guilt. Everyone wants to be better at it, but it always plays second place to your main skill so you end up feeling bad about not doing enough.

Well guilt no more, as you can use these three tricks to make an instant difference without endless hours of drills.

It's all in the way you think about fielding.

Cricket Show 53: Playing spin, the Magnus effect and fast bowling appearance

Kevin's young and inexperienced team is having early season success. This week he reveals why he thinks everything has gone so well. Also Menno Gazendam and Gary Palmer join David in answering cricket coaching questions:


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: 71
Date: 2009-11-06