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There is an uwritten law in batting that you can either be technically correct or fast scoring. Which is nonsense of course: As Gary Palmer reveals this week in his latest article on how to do both.

In the rest of the newsletter we also look at the role of wicketkeepers and how personality changes the way you play. There are lessons from a coaching conference and we look at more unusual happenings in our Laws of cricket section.

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

The secret to playing straight and scoring quickly

Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, takes fresh look at an old idea and finds out that you can be technically correct and score quickly. If you would like coaching from Gary, check out CCM Academy.

Playing straight with a checked drive in the 'V' from both front and back foot is something that all the great players have done well, and still do well today.

The full blooded drive looks good, but if you want to be an effective batsman you must learn to play the checked drive.

As you know, a check drive is a straight bat shot on the front or back foot that finishes with the toe of the bat pointing down the wicket. Your wrists don't break as they do with the full follow through:

checked front foot drive

Why check your drives?

The downside of using a full swing is that the wrists and leading elbow collapse too early during the shot. When this happens the full face of the bat is not presented towards the ball all the way through the shot:

incorrect technique: closed face of bat

To play straight you need to have a well aligned backswing and more importantly a pronounced high leading elbow position on completion of your shots. This is only possible using a check swing rather than a full swing:

Once you have these elements in your game, the check drive becomes the best option, even when trying to score quickly, for example in Twenty20 cricket:

  • It's easier to hit length ball 'on the up' successfully down the ground for boundaries.
  • It's easier to turn a length ball in to a scoring shot along the ground.
  • It lengthens your hitting zone when driving straight.
  • When improvising on the off side, you can open the face of the bat on contact with the ball when playing off drives. This opens up a large scoring are on the off side with a lower risk of getting out.
  • When improvising on the leg side you can close the face slightly on impact with the ball thus opening a wide scoring area on the leg side while again keeping risk low.

The high leading elbow allows you to have good control over where you are trying to place the ball while maintaining efficient technique. The elbow act like a sort of steering wheel which directs the ball where you want it to go while swinging the bat in as straight a line as possible to the target area.

Key technical points of the check drive

The diamond shape created in the backswing with the forearms must be maintained through to the completion of the shot where the hand and leading elbow finish as high as possible to form biomechanically perfect technique:

The higher the hands and leading elbow finish on completion of the shot the easier it is to play straight: The top hand needs to dominate the shot.

The bottom hand needs to be a hinge grip. This means the only the fingers and thumb remain on the handle of the bat but the palm is not in contact with it.

With the top hand firm and the bottom hand loose it is easier to complete your straight batted shots with high hands and leading elbow.

This allows you to swing the full face of the bat through the line of the ball for the maximum amount of time to positive effect.



If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.


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Wicketkeepers: Are You the Drummer or the Conductor?

The conductor. The sergeant-major. The cheerleader. The Drummer. What is a 'keeper?

England and Kent coach Paul Farbrace tells us wicketkeeper is the drummer in the band: Keeping the beat of the fielding side with tidy glove work and unobtrusive, focused encouragement. Insightful, canny and reliable.

All good things.

He also says the wicketkeeper is the conductor of the orchestra: Controlling the entire ensemble. Energetic and obvious.

Kumar Sangakkara was a drummer: A keeper who goes about his work in a quiet way. If a bad throw comes in he didn't try and tidy it up, he just went about doing his job.

Former England and Gloucestershire wicketkeeper Jack Russell was a conductor: Standing up to all but the fastest bowlers, encouraging his team mates and keeping the pressure on the batsmen.

Split personality

Although all keepers are a bit mad (you have to be to want to do the job), whether they conduct or drum is down to personality: It's something that comes naturally one way or the other.

However, you can learn to do either, depending on the situation.

For example, if your seamers are on, but wickets are not coming, the drummer will offer the odd word of advice and encouragement. The conductor will gee up the fielders and try standing up to the stumps to make something happen.

Neither of these methods are wrong, but one might work better than another.

A bowler might prefer a quiet word (drummer) than a public admonishment (conductor). The batsman might have their fear of failure increased with a keeper chirping in their ear (conductor) or they might hate the silent treatment (drummer).

You can recognise when you need to be more conductor and less drummer, and vice versa.

So the question shouldn't be which is best, but which is most suitable?

Reverting to type

It can be tough for the keeper to have this flexible personality, because in critial moments we find it hard to control our personalities and revent to type. If you have dropped a catch or missed a stumping you naturally go quiet.

It's hard to try and conduct when you have dropped your baton.

That's why the keeper has to be the most resilient to mistakes in the team, because whether you are drumming or conducting, you can't let up the on the opposition, or allow the team energy drop because you have made a personal error.

And that's really what the good keepers are able to do; put their own personality traits aside and take control of the team, either as a conductor or drummer.

Which one are you and how can you develop some of the traits of the other side?

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What happened at the coaching conference?

Knowledge is a tool used by coaches to make better cricketers.

That's why the ECBCA conference is such an important event for all coaches: You surround yourself with such passionate and knowledgeable people, all of whom love sharing their knowledge of the game.

Of course, the PitchVision Academy Director of Coaching (otherwise known as me) was in attendance for the 2010 event. The theme was "Character, Captaincy and Leadership". I met a lot of excellent coaches from all over the UK (and some from further afield) and learned a lot.

Of course, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't dish some of the secrets I picked up over the weekend. This is the whistle-stop version and I'll be going into more detail in further articles and cricket show podcasts. You can get them by putting your name down for the free newsletter.

Outside the lecture hall

The weekend was packed with events, practical and theoretical, but the really interesting conversations happened in-between them: Sharing ideas and experiences with coaches who are working with players regularly.

These are the coaches that care enough to pay to take a weekend to develop their coaching skills. They are the ones with the passion to make the best players they can. I was proud to find out many of them already read the PitchVision Academy newsletter.

Even if I had learned nothing in the lecture hall, the delegates had won me over. The biggest lesson from the conference was this: Surround yourself with passionate people and feed from each others enthusiasm.

The big problem

The conference itself has a wide range of attendees. Coaches who work with 11 year old beginners are not going to want the same thing as those dealing with international players, but all levels where there.

This means a lot of ideas can be lost.

But it's important not to see the conference as a waste of time because of that. If a coach takes away one idea that he or she can apply to cricketers they coach then it's been worth it. You can't expect to take it all in, but a few key themes can be taken away.

It's not all about technique

A surprising part of my experience in the conference was the lack of technical stuff.

No long lectures on the importance of head position or seminars on improving bat speed. This conference was about other things: How to be streetwise, how to lead people and developing team spirit.

Judging by the feedback we get here on PitchVision Academy, these are often overlooked topics. Of the categories we cover, captaincy is 6th most popular, tactics are 11th and psychology is 13th. Skill based topics dominate reader interest, especially batting which is more than twice as popular as the 2nd category (drills).

But the conference showed me that it's just as important to be tuned into leadership and mental skills as it is to be able to play a cover drive, even at very junior levels.

The only difference between the levels is how you introduce and develop those skills to players.

Of course, skill is crucial, but as Dr Steve Bull said in his presentation, a winning team environment is what really makes the difference.

To get the real value of the conference, you had to be there. It was a tough weekend with so much to take it, but it was worth every moment.

If you were there and met me (or didn't, I couldn't get round everyone), drop me a line to say hello.

If you couldn't be there, I'll pass on as much as I can to you through the PitchVision Academy cricket coaching newsletter. If you are a coach or player, it's not to be missed.

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Laws of cricket: Rebound off the fielder and batsman is recalled

This edition of Laws of Cricket, in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring, covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.

Cricket Show 65: Coaching young players and spin tips

David and Kevin are joined by Gary Palmer in a preview of the Countdown to Summer podcast for those in preseason. In the rest of the show, Kevin tells us about his team's batting collapse.


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: 83
Date: 2010-01-29