Apr 152014
Forget Technique: What To Work On During Summer Practice
Ian Bell

Don’t spend hours trying to groove technique this summer

© REUTERS / Action Images

Ian Bell.

Now there is a man who can hit a cover drive. Imagine sitting in on a net session where he is grooving the shot over and over. It would be like ballet with a ball.

We all want a textbook technique like Bell, and rightly so, a good technique is the hallmark of a quality player. You are not a bottom handed leg side yahoo merchant. You are a silky stroke maker who plays on the “posh” side.

So you work on technique at every net session.

I’m here to tell you, even if you are as magnificent as Belly, you are better off forgetting about technique as the winter fails and you walk blinking into your summer training shorts.

Summer is for tactics

Technique is important, but the problem of “good technique” is that it lacks context. Your perfect drive in the sports hall looks great but on a wet April track it becomes a spoon to mid on. That’s why you need to work on your tactics at summer training.

Put aside your technical points in April, both perfect an imperfect, and instead start working on how you are going to score runs.

This starts with basic things like line, length and pace for bowlers, and hitting the gaps for batsmen.

You can then drill down to specific tactics to work on for upcoming games.

Chances are you know about the pitches in your league, and how they change. So think about how the pitch will play on Saturday and what that means for your tactics.

Work on chasing runs and setting targets.

Work on bowling at different stages of the game.

Think about the types of bowlers or batters you will face when you play certain games. Think about how they play and how you can defeat them. Then work on your plans in the upcoming practice sessions.

As the season progresses, review your matches. Chances are slim that someone’s technical error lost you a game. It’s usually about dealing with pressure of having the right tactic. So review, train based on the review and win more games.

When September rolls around you can get back to the technical work, but now we are at the sharp end, use your precious training time to get tactically and mentally strong within your existing method.

Even Ian Bell does that.

Good luck this year!

© 2014 Pitchvision Academy

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Apr 042014
How To Bowl A Bouncer...When You Can't Bowl A Bouncer
A good bouncer

Even the best players in the world have to be on their mettle to deal with a good bouncer

© REUTERS / Action Images

Can you really use a bouncer if you are a medium pace club bowler?

As long as you can get a ball up to chest height you are in the game, even if you are not Brett Lee. This is because the batsman can’t get over the ball. He has to hit it in the air.

Naturally, you are not looking to scare anyone. Not at your pace. But with clever field placing and confidence you can take wickets with what we used to call a long hop. 

Just like an away swinging half volley can be caught at second slip, a well-timed short ball will fly to a fielder in the deep.

Fine leg and deep square leg are wicket taking positions.  Simply move them straighter to where the ball is likely to go if the batsman gets it out of the screws. Meanwhile square leg goes squarer to deal with mishits.

Make sure your safest hands and fastest runners are in these positions.

See that guy at cover who impresses you with his fielding every week? He’s the one to move.

The bouncer is also a great defensive move. Batsmen who like to score on the off side or the front foot will have their best area cut off if you bowl short. You can defend the leg side and slow the scoring rate.

Then it’s all about what we coaches call “execution”: In other words, get the ball up to chest high.

Practicing the bouncer

To bowl a bouncer in a game, you must do it regularly in practice. It’s a skill that needs work just like your length ball.

The easiest way is to set up a cone attached to the back of the net. You can then work on hitting it like you would work on hitting cones on a length or the top of off stump.

Practice the bouncer for about 20% of your net time with the goal of getting the ball above chest height. 

Then unleash the medium pace fury in the match with confidence.

As long as you can get out of the mindset that you are “not quick enough” for a bouncer, you can use the variation to take wickets and restrict batsmen.

So join the bouncer party and maybe the nickname “Curtly” will stick!

© 2014 Pitchvision Academy

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Mar 112014
How To Bowl Uphill & Into The Wind
Lord's weather vane

How can you become a more effective bowler when conditions are not in your favour?

© REUTERS / Action Images

The sun beats down from a cloudless sky as you examine the wicket before play.

It’s flat and grassless and looks like slab of baked concrete. Just as you think it can’t get any worse you notice one end has a sloping run up and the wind is blowing down the hill.

You already know what the captain is going to say, but your heart sinks when he says it:

“Can you do this end please mate?”

Another long spell uphill into the wind beckons.

How you react to the news goes a long way to making you a good into the wind bowler.

Do you need to?

The first question is; should you be bowling from the difficult end in the first place? If you are super quick and the best bowler in the team then perhaps not.

Why would the captain do such a thing?

  • He wants to give a less experienced bowler the advantage.
  • You historically bowl better from that end.
  • The pitch conditions are different at each end, and the end you are bowling from is to your advantage.
  • The other bowler is more senior or more of a prima donna (or both) and you get that end by default.

If you disagree with the logic of the decision then talk to the captain about it. If you make a good case then he or she might change his or her mind.

Most of the time he won’t.

Take one for the team

So you have the ball in your hand and the gale in your face. Nothing feels right and every step is like wading through glue to get to the crease.

In short, it’s a nightmare.

But doing it well means putting in a solid performance for the sake of the team.

Some bowlers react by using it as an excuse; they can’t possibly bowl well when everything is against them. They go through the motions but it’s nothing like their best. When they fail they say “I told you so”.

Good bowlers see it as a challenge to their skills; a selfless act that if done well will lead to them being able to choose their end.

(Good bowlers also see it as an opportunity to be the fittest player who practices the hardest in the team, or club too).

After all, the skills don’t change. You still need to be fast and accurate. You still need a repeatable action. You still need a plan B if all else fails.

So if it’s not technical or tactical, it’s that psychological difference that separates the best bowlers from the average ones.

Most people will play well when conditions are to their advantage, but if you can learn to play well by reacting positively to negative circumstances you will stand out as a bowler.

That’s not really so bad after all.

© 2014 miSport Ltd

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Feb 042014
How Much Should Fast Bowlers Hit The Nets?
Tuesday 4 February 2014 

Mitchell Johnson bowls

742 is the magic number as far as fast bowling is concerned

REUTERS / Action Images

We all know that the more you bowl, the better you get. But it’s also true that the more you bowl, the more likely you are to get an injury that stops you altogether.

So where is the balance between injury prevention and skill development?

There has been a huge amount of research on the subject (because keeping bowlers on the park is a key aim of top international sides) and as a result, we know pretty accurately how much is enough and how much is too much bowling.

This boils down to a simple method that’s easy to remember: 742

In any 7 days a fast bowler should bowl no more than 4 times and never more than 2 days in a row.

It’s a formula that factors in suitable rest from the rigours of bowling. That’s going to allow you to practice pretty hard but still keep the risk of injury down.

This is especially important for bowlers under 25, who are more likely to try and bust a gut in an effort to become a star player, but are also physiologically more likely to get injured because their bodies are not as hardened to fast bowling as older guys.

So if you are under 25 and bowling every day, the solution is simple, back it off a bit. You can always work on your batting, fielding or technical drills while you are resting.

Manage workload: track workload

All this points to a simple fact: Bowlers should track their workload.

You might do something as simple as noting down how much you bowl every week to stay within the 742 method. You can even get more clever by using PitchVision to track how many balls you bowl (alongside tracking how your fatigue levels influence your pace, line and length). The point is that if you want to stay fit to bowl, you have to track it.

Critics might say that in the good old days nothing was tracked. Old Joe used to bowl 60 overs a week up the hill into the wind and never so much as got a cold. This might even be true. But Old Joe also doesn’t make for a good sample of bowlers, especially those with very different physiques and training histories.

Instead, look at the science, track as much as you need and get back to the nets. You’ll improve while staying fit.

© 2013 miSport Ltd

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Jan 082014
Sri Lanka to change inflation index to cover whole nation
Sri Lanka will change its inflation index to change the basket of items and broaden coverage to the whole nation rather than just the capital city, the state-run statistics office said yesterday

he index change – the third in seven years – follows calls for revision of the existing one from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and complaints about official statistics from opposition politicians.

“The current index does not reflect the whole country,” D.C.A. Gunawardena, Head of the Department of Census and Statistics, told Reuters. It represents only 17 percent of the Sri Lankan population.”

He said the change will be made this year and that the base year for calculating the consumer price index will be 2010. The current Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI) was introduced in June 2008 with a base year of 2006/7.

The statistics department chief said the basket of goods measured will vary depending on the area, but did not give details on how the basket will change.

In its latest country report in May 2013, the IMF said there was need for an “All Sri Lanka” index instead of a Colombo index.

Under the current index and a previous one, Sri Lanka has had single-digit inflation since February 2009.

The IMF, in its May report, said Sri Lanka’s national accounts “suffer from insufficient data sources and undeveloped statistical techniques” and the method for deriving gross domestic product at constant prices was “not satisfactory”.

The multilateral lender has said it has been using the government’s official historic data for its own estimates. Opposition politicians have criticised President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, saying it has overstated growth estimates and given unrealistic inflation figures with an aim of getting lower rates on foreign loans and attracting foreign investors. Official figures show Sri Lanka’s economic growth has been more than 6.3 percent every year since 2009.

One opposition Member of Parliament, Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, said in December the statistics office had manipulated the 2013 first quarter economic growth rate to be 6.0 percent rather than 5.4 percent. Gunawardena rejected the assertion as “totally baseless”.

Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said the country has a “very sound system” of data collection.


Nov 282013
Foreign commercial debt jumps 36.2% in 18 months
Sri Lanka’s outstanding foreign commercial loan has jumped 36.2 percent within 18 months through end-June this year, an official document showed yesterday, as the island nation has been increasingly borrowing for post-war infrastructure revival.

Total outstanding foreign commercial loan has risen to more than Rs.1.04 trillion (US $ 7.93 billion) by end-June 2013 from Rs.764.5 billion (US $ 5.83 billion) at the end of 2011, a parliament document seen by Reuters showed.

The US $ 59 billion economy’s total debt in the same period has risen 27 percent to Rs.6.52 trillion, while the total foreign debt including the commercial loans had risen 23.7 percent to Rs.2.88 trillion, the data showed.

Rating agencies and economists have warned of a potential risk due to increasing external commercial debt.

But the International Monetary Fund last week said the current debtto-GDP ratio of around 80 percent was not alarming, though the government needed to strengthen a “policy buffer” to face contingencies.

Government critics say corruption has contributed to expensive infrastructure projects, resulting in heavy commercial borrowing.

The island nation, however, has aimed to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio to 65 percent by 2016.

Sri Lanka has been borrowing from the international capital market since 2007 besides other commercial borrowing, mainly from China, to revive longneglected infrastructure since the end of a 26-year war against Tamil separatists in 2009.

Sri Lanka is not eligible for concessional financing since it had been graduated to a lower-middle income country status in January 2010, according to an IMF classification.


Nov 062013
Cricket Training Idea: Half-Time Bowling
Wednesday 6 November 2013 

by David Hinchcliffe

Cricket Training Idea: Half-Time Bowling

REUTERS / Action Images

Pre-match warm ups at the grass-roots level have transformed in recent years, but how would you like an often missed yet simple upgrade to get you more wickets?

Coaches and players spend time making sure the warm up is specific to the game. Batters get their eye in; bowlers bowl at targets; and everyone catches, stops and throws balls. It’s great stuff.

The problem occurs when the captain comes back from the toss to announce the team is batting, and the bowlers head of to put their feet up. Runs are scored and at the innings break we have some food to refuel. But it’s rare to so this time used by the bowlers.

The warm up is long gone. You may have been sitting about for almost three hours if you have not batted. Unless you are a wily old campaigner, how are you going to get through your spell without some looseners?

So instead of an extra cake or cup of tea, the bowlers should spend 5-10 minutes getting ready to bowl.

Get the stump out

There isn’t time for a full warm up, but a couple of stumps are all you need. Mark out 22 yards on the outfield and rope in the keeper or coach to catch the ball. You have halftime bowling all set up.

Extra bonus points are awarded to having some flat marker discs or PV/ONE to use as a target for a length ball, bouncer and yorker. If you have more stumps you can set up two areas and split up the bowlers (spinners and seamers for example).

The aim here is to get into rhythm for bowling and the way you do that is to build up.

  • A general mobilisation and activation if you have time (glutes, shoulders, core and t-spine are the places to focus)
  • Walk through your action
  • Jog through your action
  • Deliver from the full run up

How many balls you ball depends on the time available, the number of bowlers and the individual needs of the bowler. Some guys need to bowl a lot of balls to feel in rhythm and 10 minutes will never be enough time. Other guys can hit the spot after one ball. They should spend more time on quick injury prevention work.

Lose the looseners

With a small bit of effort, the halftime bowling drill reduces the number of poor balls you bowl, especially at the start of a spell. It works not only by physically warming you up, but also mentally preparing you for the task that you will be required in the next couple of hours

© 2013 miSport Ltd

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