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As for this week's content, the newsletter covers training for lazy cricketers, spin bowling, sport science and a controversy over how experienced coaches should be. Feel free to chip in with your own opinions.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

The lazy cricketer's guide to training

Being a good player is a lot of hard work. Technical training takes enough time, but then there is the fitness training, not to mention the actual matches. What do you do when you don't have time to train?

When you are trying to get the most out of the least time, it's smart to find the shortcuts that give you the biggest 'bang for your buck'. So what's the difference between training, and training with brains?

Smart training is focused training

We have all been to net sessions where the aim seems to be nothing more than killing an hour or two in the summer sunshine. Bowlers turn their arm over, batsmen have a hit. Nothing gets achieved.

Similarly, we have all seen the guys in the gym spending 5 minutes or more between sets of bicep curls talking on the phone or chatting to their mates.

The problem is focus: Gentle netting is fine if you have time to kill and just want to be social. Hanging around the gym all day is a dream for the bodybuilders. For the rest of us we need to work with a surgeon's precision, get the work done and get out. It's less effort on your part and will give you just as good results, if not better.

Easily train with focus

When you train with a specific goal in mind you can laser in on your target much more easily. So the first step to saving time in the gym or on the training field is to know exactly what you want.

There is an old cliche that says you can't ride two horses at once. This is just as true from your cricket training. Pick a goal and throw everything into moving towards it as fast as possible. It could be anything from developing an on drive to losing half a stone in weight. The very fact of picking something and sticking with it is enough to make the difference.

If the goal sets the tone, what do you do once you have decided?

How to save time with cricket training

A recent comment left on miCricketCoach is typical of the problem a lot of players face: Not enough time to train, even if you have a specific goal.

Here are some tips to get the best out of the time you have (and even sneak some more in):

  • Streamline. Before you even begin your time saving plan, ask yourself; how much time can you make? I know from experience I often feel I have little time to get things done but find a quick go on the Nintendo Wii turning into an hour playing my young son at 18 holes of fake golf.
  • Combine. You can combine different types of training to make the most of the time you have. The classic example is fielding drills. Here you can work on skills and also improve cricket-specific conditioning. You could also combine interval running with your nets such as researchers at the University of Western Australia are experimenting with.
  • Fill every minute. If you are in the gym you need to rest, but you can use rest times too. For example, you can superset exercises together such as squats and chin ups. As the exercises use different movements your legs still get rest even when you are on the chin up bar and vice versa. You can also safely add warm-up style mobility exercises between sets to resist injury.
  • Take up another sport. A second sport is useful on a number of levels. First, the commitment means you have to find the time to participate. It's amazing how much time you can find when you need to. Secondly, if it is an intermittent-sprint activity (football, rugby, tennis) you can develop skills such as speed and agility.
  • Get specific. There are endless exercises that can improve strength, speed and power but not all of them are specific enough for cricket. Pick exercises that train movement patterns rather than muscles groups. Work in ways that meet your goals. If you want to be strong, for example, use heavy weights for low reps in exercises like the squat, deadlift and bench press.
  • Find a batting buddy. Another trick to find more time: If you train with a buddy you are more likely to stick to your commitments. It could be someone you go to the gym with or someone you train with like a batting buddy.

Train smart and you can be lazy while still improving your game. Good deal huh?


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The number one rule in spin bowling

This article is by PitchVision Academy Coach Menno Gazendam. To instantly get all Menno's advice in one place download the "Spin Bowling Tips" eBook today.

The number one rule in cricket spin bowling is "Always spin the ball as hard as possible".

Is that it?

Yes, but let us look at it a bit deeper. Let us rephrase the rule a little bit by saying "Always spin the ball as hard as possible. Do not be concerned with line and length as that will come with sustained practise". In other words - be a spin bowler. Spin the ball until your fingers bleed. Do not worry if you bowl plenty bad balls - that will come right with time - the important thing is to let the ball rip.

The problem with focusing on line and length first is that it is really difficult to try and spin the ball once you start bowling a steady line and length. It is absolutely essential that you FIRST spin and SECOND find your line and length.

The problem is that most well meaning coaches discourages young bowlers from spinning the ball hard. They watch them in the nets or a middle practise and they struggle to maintain line and length. The ball is spinning fantastically big but the young bowler struggles to pitch every ball in the right spot. What happens? The coach encourages the bowler to forget about spinning the ball and not try to do too much with the ball but only focus on getting line and length. This is a serious mistake. The bowler will start getting line and length but lose his spinning ability.

Let us look at a great Australian spin bowler as an example. No, not the great Shane Warne, but the man that lived in his shadow; Stuart MacGill. He was one of the biggest spinners of the ball ever to play the game although sometimes his line suffered. His was well known for bowling the odd bad ball. This was as a direct result of him focusing first on spin. But because he spun the ball so massively he ended up being a very successful international leg-spin bowler with an incredible strike rate.

Do not get me wrong. Line and length is essential, but line and length will come with sustained practise. First - get the fizzing out of your hand before you try and hit the right spot on the pitch!


Master the art of spin bowling with "Spin Bowling Tips" the most comprehensive eBook on spin bowling every produced. Download a copy today and start taking more wickets.


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How India are embracing the science of cricket

This is a guest article by cricket analyst and author Shaymal Vallabhjee. Shayamal was the Indian analyst at the 2003 World Cup. You can read about his experiences in "Now or Never" an exclusive eBook available now in PitchVision Academy. Click here to download it now.

Why is Sachin is so consistent? Why does Harbhajan turn the ball the other way? Why can Agarkar reverse swing the ball?

All these are questions that can be easily answered with aid from the science of Biomechanics.

Science and technology over the past decade, have taken cricket to a new level. Cricket, the longest competitively played game, continuously surpasses all scientific expectations. The latest being the breaking of the 100mph barrier by Australia’s Brett Lee and Pakistan’s Shoaib Akthar.

As a Sports Scientist and Biomechanicist, the analysis of technique is crucial in determining strengths, weaknesses, areas most prone to chronic injury and limitations within the individual’s game.

Sachin Tendulkar: Art and science combined

Sachin Tendulkar is without a doubt currently the most consistent player on the international circuit. His ability to adjust his game in the middle of an innings coupled with his truly professional approach are factors that contribute to his success.

One incidence that stands out during World Cup 2003, was Sachin’s preparation for Caddick at Kingsmead.

We all knew that Caddick would extract exceptional bounce from this wicket and keeping the ball down was definitely going to be a challenge.

Sachin’s approach to Caddick began by altering his stance. By increasing the distance between his legs, he successfully increased his base making him more stable. This gave him the opportunity to free his arms through the line of the ball without much feet movement, allowing him a fraction of a second longer.  

The result was that any delivery fractional short was dismissed to the boundary. An attacking approach, a stable base, good balance and excellent eye hand coordination are reasons why he is the best.

Ashish Nehra: Generating swing with body position

India’s successful World Cup campaign was duly aided by left arm seam bowler Ashish Nehra.

Nehra is not a typical side on bowler and his semi front on approach makes him least susceptible to chronic knee injuries which are extremely common in left armers. His conventional approach allows him to naturally swing the ball into the right hand batter, and more importantly gives him the option of holding his line at will.

Nehra’s ability to take the ball away from the right hander results in the batter counter rotating their hips and pivoting their toes, forcing them to play inside out and making them susceptible to nicking off or being caught at cover.

Harbhajan Singh: The secret of the doosra

The strength of Indian cricket has always reliant on the success of its spinners. In the case of Harbhajan there is no exception. His ability to turn a ball on almost any surface coupled with his secret method of taking the ball away from the right hander has left most batsmen bamboozled. His consistent loop and dip and positively attacking attitude means that most batters must look to survive.

Telling you how to read Harbhajan’s other delivery would be a grave injustice to Indian cricket; however I can say that the secret lies in his ability to hyperextend and counter rotate his wrist.

It is important to remember that the success of a spinner does not lie solely in his ability to turn the ball but also how he goes about trying to deceive a batter in flight.

This brief introduction to the science of cricket with regards to the Indian players is but only the tip of the iceberg. Every movement can be justified by science and it is the understanding of this science that will propel Indian cricket beyond boundaries of anyone’s expectations. Science will always present a solution but it is up to the individual to accept this solution.

If you want to be better than your previous self, then you have to change the way you do things because being willing to win is important but being prepared to win is critical.

Now or Never: The Story of the Indian Cricket Team at World Cup 2003 is available on PitchVision Academy. Click here to download it instantly.

image credit: r@vith


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Ask the Readers: What's more important for a coach?

Should players consider the playing experience of a coach or should they just go on how good a coach is and ignore their playing record?

It seems I stirred a little controversy this week. So I thought I would find out what you think too.

The whole thing started when miCricketCoach Show host Kevin and I were talking about the experience a coach needs to help a player make it to the professional game. I aired my views, it seem innocuous at the time.

Cricket Show 54: Relaxing at the crease and spin stock balls

Kevin tells us about another thrilling match this week. We also catch up with Gary Palmer and Menno Gazendam.

Your cricket 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.


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Issue: 72
Date: 2009-11-13