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We seem to have a lot of cursing this week.

Batsmen the world over curse us, because we continue our series on how to exploit weaknesses. Shane Watson curses us for saying he is injury prone (despite being fit for almost a year) and Kevin curses his luck at the weather in the miCricketCoach Show.

For those of a softer disposition, we have curse-free articles on the latest scientific research in cricket and batting orders.

(Don't worry, we never curse really.)

Have a great weekend,


David Hinchliffe

Cutting Edge: How the latest research can help you become a better cricketer

Rob Ahmun is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Glamorgan CCC. Part of his job is to stay up to date with the latest research into cricket.

In this exclusive article Rob shows us what he has found, and explains how you can use the information as a coach or player.

Throw less than 75 times a week

The more you throw the more likely you are to be injured.

Data from elite Australian cricketers has demonstrated that an increase in throwing workload is a risk factor in the development of upper limb injuries. It was found that players were much more likely to get injured if they completed more than 75 throws per week and a trend towards increased injury if they completed more than 40 throws per day.

What this means to you as a player or coach

During pre-season training:
  • Throw on alternate days, (i.e., Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
  • Keep the number of throws per session to 20 or less.
  • If you want to practice long throws from the boundary, make sure you have properly warmed up and only complete a small number of throws (i.e., 5 from 10m, 5 from 20m, 5 from 30, and 5 from the boundary).
  • Complete a well structured pre-throwing warm-up session as well as a post-throwing flexibility session

What distances do fast bowlers cover?

GPS technology has allowed sports to track how far a player has covered during the course of a game.

Most of this is spent walking, with the bowler covering approximately 2 km striding and over 1 km sprinting. Sprints occur every 70 seconds or so and last for approximately 3 seconds. The average sprint distance is approximately 20 m with players clocking up almost 70 sprints per game.

What this means to you as a player or coach

This information firmly puts cricket on the map as a high intensity intermittent sport. As such, conditioning practices should reflect the demands of the game.

Long slow runs for cricketers should be kept for off-season recovery purposes only, with the majority of conditioning done through interval training.

In terms of player recovery, it is vitally important that the player re-hydrates and re-fuels immediately post-game so that the recovery process starts as soon as possible.

How does it take for a bowler to get tired?

In an attempt to find out the effects of bowling repeated spells on accuracy, and speed, a group of six first class bowlers bowled two, six over spells separated by 45 min of light activity..

Bowling speeds were barely reduced (125.7 kph versus 124.7 kph), and accuracy was similar during the two spells. It was also found that run-up speed in the final five meters was strongly related to bowling speeds.

As a side note, perceived effort in the second spell was higher than the first.

What this means to you as a player or coach

Taken together, these results mean that you can be confident that your bowlers should be able to maintain speed and accuracy during a competition for at least six overs.

Plus, a second spell is unlikely to have any effect.

It also highlights the importance of an effective strength and conditioning program to improve peak running speed and run-up speed.

It's also important to note the increase in perceptual fatigue without any change in bowling pace or accuracy. This finding emphasizes the importance of recovery strategies between spells or following games.

Do weighted bats help?

Some people say that bat speed is one of the most successful components in striking a ball. Which is true: There is positive relationship between bat velocity and the distance the ball travels. In other words, the higher the bat velocity, the greater the distance the ball travels.

Researchers in America looked at different strategies to improve baseball bat speed by using heavy, light or standard weight bats. They found that the combination of standard, light and heavy bats (each swung as hard as possible six times each) resulted in a feeble 6% improvement in bat speed.

They also found that upper body strength (as measured by the Bench Press for 3 reps) was related to bat speed.

What this means to you as a player or coach

Although this study was conducted using baseball players, the specific order of standard, light and heavy bats might be applicable to cricket, particularly for big hitting events such as Twenty20 games!

Higher bat swing speeds would translate to greater distances that the will ball travel. Also if you are able to generate higher bat speeds you are able to wait a fraction of a second longer before deciding to swing. This extra portion of time could enable the batter to more accurately recognise the type, speed and location of the ball being bowled to them allowing for better or more correct shot selection.

It also highlights the importance of an effective strength and conditioning program to improve upper body strength to potentially improve bat speed.

Want a complete guide to strength and conditioning that cricketers can apply in the middle? Take a look at Rob Ahmun's Strength and Conditioning for Cricket at All Levels

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How not to be Shane Watson
Poor old Shane Watson.

The talented all-rounder can't stay on the park so because he has a burly frame and a lantern jaw, his critics have blamed his bulky muscles.

No wonder everyone is terrified of following the Shane Watson (or Shoaib Akhtar) example of having too many muscles and constant injuries.

How do you avoid that fate?
Well, you don't.

Because there is no link between muscle size and injury risk.

The rapier-like Michael Vaughan was equally injury prone in his career. How about Shane Bond, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra and even the tiny Sachin? All have had more than their fair share of injuries without a passing comment at their bulk.

Fact is; you can't tell how injury prone anyone might be just by looking at their muscles.

Being skinny is just as risky.

That's really just common sense.

Players can have a barrel chest and be injury-free. In fact, being strong helps your game. Shane couldn't bowl in the 130-140kph range and smash sixes into the crowd if he was weak.

The real trick is to be as strong as Shane without having his proneness to pulling a fetlock every time you look at a cricket bat.

And the way to do that is a program that includes being fast and agile and flexible as well as strong combined with a healthy diet.

Cricket fitness isn't always about going for the biggest muscles or the most sweat in a session, it's about being a well rounded cricketer who can run, jump, throw, catch, bowl and have a range of batting shots.

And if you can do that you will be able to take the good bits from Shane Watson while leaving his injuries behind.

If you want to know more about building up your strength, power, speed, agility and mobility for cricket then enrol on the complete training course by county strength coach Rob Ahmun: Strength and Conditioning for Cricket at All Levels

image credit: pj_in_oz

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How to exploit batting weaknesses: Open stance

This is part of a series on How to exploit batsman's weaknesses. To see the other weaknesses click here.

On the surface, an open stance is an excellent way to play. It gives the batsman a balanced position from which he or she has a wide range of scoring options.

But it can also lead to their downfall, if you know how to read it properly.

How to spot the weakness

Batting with an open stance is when the batsman moves his front foot, or shoulder, or both more towards the leg side like this:


From this position, a batsman has good access to the straight ball and can usually play straight and through the on side very well with front and back foot drives.

This position also lines the batsman up for bowlers bowling around the wicket (or left arm over).

Why is it a weakness?

There are a couple of flaws that can be exposed:

First, the open stance means it takes more work hit on the off side. The batsman has further to go:

Second, the stance may be a response to a batsman who has had a problem with being too closed off in the past. Old habits die hard and you may see them automatically stepping to the off side as a kind of trigger move.

This causes the player to become closed off again with the same problems.

How to bowl to an open stance batsman

The first thing to do when you see an open stance is to find out if it's really a closed position in disguise and the batsman is stepping to the off side even though he starts from an open position.

If the batsman is guilty, then switch your tactics to the same as a closed stance.

Assuming the batsman is not closed off and is playing in a well balanced and open way he will be:

  • Weakest to a good length ball on or outside the off stump, especially moving away.
  • Strongest to straight balls, especially on leg stump.

That means your best option is to move the ball away from the batsman: If you have a bowler who can move the ball away from the batsman, get them on.

It can be away swing, seam movement or spin, the more open the stance, the harder the batter will find it to get his shoulder round from an open position to an off drive position.

The classic 'corridor of uncertainty' is best used here because the open stance batter is even more uncertain in this area that other stances ,meaning he or she is more likely to edge the ball:

corridor of uncertainty, right handed bowler to right handed bat: move the ball away to create doubt

Movement is important because just bowling wide outside the off stump straight will lead to the batsman leaving it or getting used to the tactic and playing confidently through the covers.

If the ball is not moving much you could adjust the angle by going around the wicket (right hand bowler to right hand bat). This will naturally move the ball across the open stance batsman, although it does carry an increased risk of the batman being able to play favourite on side shots more easily (with LBW less likely).

Exploiting strengths

A second plan, if you have no away movement bowers or your strategy fails, is to bowl a straighter line at the stumps to the batsman's strength.

You then set a leg side field and dare him to get through: 5 or 6 fielders on the leg side with a couple of spaces to tease him into a shot over the top.

For example a medium pace bowler against a set batsman's field looks like this (although it's flexible):

The trick here is that the batsman will be over-confident and think he can beat all your fielders because he can middle the ball.

However, remember he is still a club player and so can't get it right every time. You just need to let him think he has the measure of you and wait for the error.

Want to improve your skills so you can bowl to these tactics or iron out your batting weaknesses? PitchVision Academy has an online coaching course to help you from the world's finest coaches.


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Ask the Readers: What's your perfect batting order?
How do you pick your batting order?

Do you flout convention? Do you put giving everybody a go above winning the match? Or vice versa?

There are a number of things to consider:

Cricket Show 68: Rain, rain, go away

Playing cricket in wet weather is no fun, but that's exactly what happened to Kevin this week. Find out in the show about his disastrous results and whether he can recover for the 2nd day.

Our regular features are also back. Gary Palmer talks batting 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: 86
Date: 2010-02-19