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Animated Fielding Drills Get Fit For Cricket


We all assume that the latest must be the greatest, but it's not the case when it comes to fast bowling.

Bowlers play less but are injured more these days, so why not take a leaf out of the book of the great English fast bowlers of yesteryear and learn how they bowled so many overs without ever getting crocked.

We also take a tactical view with a quick quiz to test your knowledge and an single word that adds up to 50 runs per innings to your score.

Interested in how?

Read on.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Whistling down the mine: How to improve your bowling by going back to the old days

It used to be said that if Yorkshire (and England) needed a fast bowler they just whistled down the nearest mine.

These men seemed carved from granite. They bowled a thousand overs a season on nothing but a warm beer and a bag of chips at the close of play. They only ever got injured if they broke their knuckles on someone's jaw.

How did they do it and how can you emulate their heroic efforts (without finding a mine to work in)?

The new way isn't the best way

Life in England pre- and post-war was very different, and it produced fitter, stronger and faster bowlers.

So to understand how to go back to those days we need to know what they were like.

Boys were put to work early in manual jobs. Boys like England paceman Harold Larwood who was working in a mine at 14. If they had spare time and wanted to get anywhere they had to walk.

When they were not working, boys and men of the age were playing sport and games. Informally in the streets or more organised games of rugby, football and cricket. There was no TV, let alone consoles or computers.

The point is, young men didn't sit down like we do now. There just wasn't the opportunity.

As a result of their work and play they were stronger (mentally and physically), and they were more aware of how to move; skimming stones strengthens your shoulders for example.

They didn't specialise in cricket too soon, with many talented players playing professional cricket in the summer and football in the winter. The most famous of all these non-specialists was CB Fry who played for England at football and cricket, played first-class rugby and held the world long jump record.

Of course, Fry was a legend, but if he was alive now he would never have been able to perform those feats.

4 Ways to copy the great English fast bowlers

While it's impossible to go back to the old days, there are some things us modern players can take from the pre-Nintendo era to help us be a little more like Larwood, Cartwright or Trueman.

  • Get down the mine. The modern world has less physical jobs so we have less chance to be strong and flexible in our working life. That means gyms have become the modern 'mine' in getting fast bowler's strong and flexible. It's especially important in the off-season when many bowlers of yesteryear went back to manual jobs, got strong and reported back for county duty in April.
  • Get moving. Modern life means sitting down; cars, computers and TV all put us in positions that are bad for our posture. In the old days those options just didn't exist. Aim to cut back on how much you sit down by walking more (park a further distance away if you have to), getting up from your computer every so often, playing other sports or active recreations (biking for example) and keeping the Nintendo time down.
  • Eat 'grandma' food. Modern food is different too. We eat much more processed food and much less 'real' food. By that I mean stuff your grandmother would recognise as food: Meat, fish, vegetables and dairy. In those days she wasn't afraid of fat, or carbs, or anything. She just cooked from scratch and ate healthy meals. Make sure you are getting plenty of food from these sources to fuel your newer more active lifestyle.
  • Keep bowling. With a stronger more flexible body you will be able to bowl more, and you should. The great bowlers in the past had no fears of how much they bowled. Once you are fit, get as many overs under your belt as you can. It will help your pace, accuracy and cricketing nous more than anything else.

And it's really as simple as that. We will never go back to those days, but why not cherry pick the best bits to help you become a better bowler?

Just don’t smoke a cigar and down three pints of mild every night. That's best left in the past.


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How to play like an Academy cricketer

Many young players dream of making it as a professional cricketer. How do you give yourself the best chance of making it to the top?

One simple way is to play with the intensity and enthusiasm of a player who is in an Academy.

You see, Academy players know that talent is a flexible thing. You can be born with great natural hand-eye coordination or you can learn how to improve it over time.

Wherever you are on the talent scale, the key is attitude.

Attitude influences ability directly.

The player who works with intensity and enthusiasm will always make better strides forward than the player who wants it all to be handed to them through their natural skills.

At least that's what Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy Batting Coach and Director of CCM Academy says. And he should know. Gary was a professional cricketer with Somerset for 10 years before turning to coaching and building up an impressive CV. More importantly he has coached 38 young players into full first class contracts, Academy intakes or age group squads.

How to practice like you are at an Academy

Gary is always looking for talented young cricketers to take into his Academy. Would you be able to keep the intensity up and show you have what it takes?

To help you decide, Gary has agreed to reveal what his Academy sessions are like. If you can keep up with the pace in your own practice you know you are on the right track.

Once you have been selected for the CCM Academy the basic structure is simple: 15 full days of coaching spread throughout the winter, spring and summer followed by a 10 match summer season against first class Academy sides.

The days are very intense. I came along to see the Academy in action recently. Gary and his team of coaches (all former first class or International players) lined up a taxing plan.

All the players start with an hour of fielding drills that covers the range of skills required of a modern professional cricketer: Diving, throwing from your knees, backing up, and hitting the stumps.

This is followed by a batting warm up starting with tennis balls with a bobble feed to get the body moving and groove the muscle memory for key shots. Four bowling machines are then brought out to deliver technical, tactical and mental coaching.

With four or five batters per net, each net sets their machine on a different theme of bowling and through the use of cones placed in specific scoring areas each net tries to achieve a given total. Because this is interesting and competitive the players are lured into batting for long periods of time while remaining focused for every delivery. Each group has half an hour per net meaning the players have two hours of highly intense and focused batting.

As Gary supervised he told me the exercise tests and builds mental strength, and encourages batters to learn to perform a skill well under pressure.

Not bad considering we had not even had lunch yet.

The afternoon saw the group split up. More traditional nets put the specialist bowler's through their paces. Meanwhile a couple of bowling machines had been set up for some one-to-one coaching.

Today, Gary explained, he was teaching the boys how to play different types of spin. One net is for the ball turning away, the other net for the ball turning in. The players couldn't relax as Gary was drilling, coaching and assessing players all the way through.

The day finishes with a tactical game to bring in a more competitive element.

The big picture

It felt to me like a test to the players. They all had the desire to be professional and the CCM Academy was giving them a taste of the experience. However, the problem for most cricket clubs and players is they can't possibly find the time and resources to devote the same attention.

Even if you did have the bowling machine, nets and drills you need, how do you drive yourself on without someone with experience to guide you?

Gary was kind enough to show me his secrets, but to really succeed you actually had to be there.

CCM Academy Intake 2011/12

Gary is starting his selection process for the 2011/12 intake now (starting over Christmas 2011). So now you can be part of the Academy. Players have travelled from all over the UK to attend the Academy held in Hampshire.

If you are interested in finding out how you can trial for CCM Academy in 2011/12 then click here.

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Here's a quick way to test your cricket knowledge

So you think you know your cricket tactics inside out?

There is only one way to find out for sure; test yourself.

That's why a while back I created a quick and dirty "Tactical Awareness Test" for PitchVision Academy users to find out how good they really are.

I knocked that up in a spare hour almost 4 years ago and it's still popular now.

So I have decided to give it a fresh coat of paint, a spruce up and the ability for it to give you instant feedback.

It's just 6 questions, so it should take you less than 4 minutes to finish.


Click here to take the new test and see how much you know.

image credits: rob the moment, Leo Reynolds

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5 Ways to be a better leg spinner

If I had to pick one type of bowler I love most it's the leg spinner.

As a keeper there is no greater pleasure than watching a good leg spinner bamboozle someone from behind the stumps. Plus the challenge of picking the variations is great fun.

But leg spin is not always encouraged as it should be.

Wickets are less spin friendly, coaches don't know how to teach the technique and captain's are unsympathetic to even good leggies.

Want a fast and easy way to get more runs?

Picture the scene: A gloriously sunny day with a warm breeze rustling through the trees; Perfect cricket weather.

Walking out to the middle to examine the playing area, the bowlers take one look at the pitch and hang their heads while the batsmen rub their hands in glee. It's a bowler's graveyard: Hard and flat with short boundaries and a fast outfield.


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: 95
Date: 2010-04-23