Friday 21 February 2014

2013-14 : S.S.RAJAN TROPHY - Day 3 (19.02.2014)

At Coimbatore:

Kanyakumari 245 for eight in 50 overs (W. Antony Dhas 154) lost to Coimbatore 247 for eight in 49.1 overs (S. Sujay 72, N. Jagadeesan 30, J. Koushik 64 n.o.).

At Salem:

Dindigul 184 in 45.5 overs (M. Abdur Rahim 82, Murali Kannan four for 15) bt Tuticorin 114 in 24 overs (Edwin Raja Sundaram 33, M. Mohammed four for 13, M. Mohammed Raffiq three for 46).

At Theni:

Tiruchi 250 for seven in 50 overs (Prithviraj 133, Sarath 64, V. Anbu three for 49) bt Villupuram 163 in 39.1 overs (K. Vignesh 40, Sarath four for 30, Pradeep three for 36).

At Tirunelveli:

Tirunelveli 27 in 16.4 overs (S. Ashwath five for 6, J. Arunkumar five for 21) lost to Kancheepuram 28 for one in 5.1 overs.



2013-14 : S.S.RAJAN TROPHY - Day 2 (18.02.2014)

At Coimbatore:
Kanyakumari 173 for nine in 50 overs (C. Arokia Vijayan 42, V. Tamilvannan four for 28) bt Tiruvannamalai 124 in 29.2 overs (Hariharasudhan 35, G. Godson seven for 50);
Madurai 221 for nine in 50 overs (R. Mithun three for 47, Huzefa M. Patel three for 45) lost to Coimbatore 222 for three in 45 overs (Huzefa M. Patel 94, N. Jagadeesan 73 n.o.).

At Salem:
Krishnagiri 138 in 41.5 overs (V. Santhana Sekar three for 19, B. Suresh five for 35) lost to Tuticorin 140 for eight in 29.5 overs (Edwin Raja Sundaram 39, Y. Prathap four for 37, P. Gokul three for 26);
Dindigul 281 for eight in 50 overs (M. Mohammed 93, N. Veeramalai 88, P. Mohanraj three for 90) bt Salem 175 in 50 overs (P. Navaneeswaran 33, M. Abdur Rahim seven for 44).

At Theni:
Ramanathapuram 204 for nine in 41 overs (S. Subramani 66, B. Karthick 48, K. Vignesh four for 62) lost to Villupuram 208 for three in 36.4 overs (V. Anbu 110 n.o., K. Vignesh 36).
Trichy 161 in 44.2 (M. Prithviraj 31, M. Mohan three for 35) bt Tirupur 69 in 32.4 (B. Pradeep three for 7, C. Sarath three for 12).

At Tirunelveli:
Virudhunagar 152 in 44.3 overs (S. Sornaguru 33, Deepak Singh three for 17, A.C. Pradeeban three for 23) lost to Kancheepuram 153 for one in 35.2 overs (G. Babu 66 n.o. S. Chandrashekar 47 n.o.)
Tiruvallur 183 in 48.3 overs (A. Jerome 47, R. Karthick Adhithya 42, M. Gowtham three for 30) lost to Tirunelveli 184 for nine in 48.5 overs (D. Rajasekaran 33, G.T. Vel Venkatesh 32, R. Diwakar three for 23).

2013-14 : S.S.RAJAN TROPHY - Day 1 (17.02.2014)

At Coimbatore:
Kanyakumari 295 for nine in 50 overs (S. Sunish 72, W. Antony Dhas 47, G. Godson 48, K. Jamaludeen four for 52) bt Sivagangai 82 in 23 overs (W. Antony Dhas six for 24, G. Godson three for 33);
Perambalur 261 in 48 overs (R. Arun Prasath 41, S. Arun 74, G. Thennarasu four for 69) lost to Tiruvannamalai 262 for seven in 47 overs (S. Vipin 37, P. Hariharasudan 53, T. Kapil 48, R. Satheesh 38, S. Karthik four for 57);
Madurai 314 for eight in 50 overs (K. Manibharathy 75, M. Kishore 48, B. Subramani Siva 61 n.o., E. Ashwin 31, S.D. Suresh 30) bt Cuddalore 121 in 32.5 overs (T. Sangaralingam 39, S. Samuel five for 33, A. Duraidhyanithi three for nine).

At Salem:
Salem 105 in 34.4 overs (S. Sivan three for 3, B. Muniyappan three for 10) bt Dharmapuri 96 in 28.4 overs (S. Sivan 27, T. Suresh Kumar five for 33, P. Mohanraj four for 24);
Thiruvarur 85 in 33.2 overs (R. Sanjay Yadhav four for five) lost to Krishnagiri 89 for five in 23 overs (R. Vijay three for 39);
Tuticorin 235 for nine in 50 overs (Sivakumar 32 n.o.) bt Namakkal 156 (Prabhakaran 41, Santhanasekar five for 38);
Dindigul 304 for six in 50 overs (M. Mohammed Raffik 64, M. Abdur Rahim 102, M. Mohammed 81) bt Karur 94 in 29.3 overs (M. Mohammed Raffik three for 26, T. Saravanakumar three for 17, G. Panuvallati three for 41).

At Theni:
Pudhukottai 72 in 26.3 overs (S. Subramani six for 16) lost to Ramanathapuram 75 for five in 11.3 overs (Ramakrishnan three for 32).
Nagapattinam 135 in 41 overs (B. Ganesh 32, R. Gowtham four for 35, R. Sabarinathan three for 22) lost to Tirupur 136 for five in 23.3 overs (K. Ashok Kumar 56, P. Subramani 30 n.o.).
Theni 110 in 36.3 (P. Sankareswar 32, T. Sirajudeen four for 26) lost to Villupuram 111 for two in 16.2 overs (J. Dhananjeyan 38 n.o., T. Balaji 31 n.o.).
Vellore 160 in 43.1 overs (Padmanaban 40, V. Mohammed Rayees 30) lost to Trichy 163 for six in 33.3 overs (Sarath 40, M. Prithviraj 36, G. Rajesh 30, Padmanabhan three for 42).

At Tirunelveli:
Erode 115 in 31.4 overs (Deepak Singh six for 23) lost to Kancheepuram 116 for six in 24.4 overs (A.C. Pradeeban 39, P. Raj three for 14).
Virudhunagar 184 in 43.4 overs (T. Paramasivan 42, A.C. Leo Christy three for 32) bt Nilgiris 119 in 33.5 overs (T. Paramasivam three for 12).
Pondichery 174 in 43.2 overs (P. Sivaraman 56, P. Thamarai Kannan 40, D.T. Chandrasekar three for 27) lost to Thiruvallur 178 for seven in 32.4 overs (R. Karthick Adhithya 68, S. Balaji 27).
Tanjore 163 in 42.1 overs (B. Bala Karthi 42, A.V.R. Rathinam 28, M. Gowtham three for 24, A. Jawahar three for 45) lost to Tirunelveli 164 for five in 40.2 overs (K. Aravindh 72 n.o.).

COACHING : You don't have to be a great cricketer to be a great role model

When it comes to role models we often think about the likes of Glenn McGrath or Sachin Tendulkar; the great cricketers who had the ability to inspire millions.

But you have a job to do as a role model too.

When it comes to grass-roots cricket we cannot underestimate the importance of those who can influence the game closer to home: Club captains, club coaches and club professionals are all role models too.

It’s especially important for those involved in junior cricket to set a good example, as children tend to copy behaviour. It is equally important for a club captain or professional to set the standard on and off the field, a standard that will rub off on their team.

After all, a role model doesn’t have to be a great inspirational player. A role model is simply a person whose behaviour and attitude sets a good example for others to follow.

Young sports people are inspired by older performers, coaches, teachers or even talented friends, not just great players on the TV.

Role models lead by example and gain respect in doing so. Whether you’re a captain or a coach, if you adhere to high standards then others around you will follow.

At all times:

  • Be presentable.
  • Turn up to training & matches on time (early is even better).
  • Take training seriously.
  • Offer advice and support to players.
  • Encourage the team on the field.
  • Be positive.
  • Take the time to get to know different people at the club.
  • Look after personal and club equipment.
  • Show good sportsmanship.
  • Respect match officials.
  • Refrain from using bad language (A must for a coach)
  • Coaches, practice what you preach.

Cricket has a reputation for being a ‘gentleman’s game’, due to the good spirit in which it is played. Regardless of the standard played clubs should aim to produce well-rounded individuals who have been taught values as well as the game.

If senior club members act as responsible role models then they will leave a legacy for younger players to follow.

The future of our game is in your hands.



BATTING : Tactics you should be using: tip and run

It’s a club game on a typical summer afternoon. Tell me if what I saw is a familiar story.

The opening batsman are being tied down by some accurate medium pace bowling. After 10 overs the score is 18-0.

Seeing that he needs to get on with it, one opener plays a defensive nudge towards cover and makes a dash for a quick single. His partner is looking for it too and they make it home. In the next few overs they do more of the same, making the scoreboard look a little fuller before the first wicket falls.

This tip and run tactic had saved the team from a grindingly low score.

Yet they had wasted the first few overs by not looking for these singles and twos.

Score more off non-boundary balls

For me this is one of the big differences between average and good club (and school) sides.

Boundaries are important, but good sides know how to score more off balls that are not boundaries too, and that can add 50 or more runs to a score when you do it right.

And so every batsman at every level should be playing tip-and-run right from the first ball.

It’s an add-on to good batting, not an either-or situation.

Tip and run mentality

For most players it’s simply a matter of mentality.

For example club batsmen play a defensive shot and hold the pose. Professional level players instantly look to see if a single is on. Even if they don’t pinch a run, they are looking (and so is the non striker).

So the first step is to start looking for that extra single to nab.

But to become a good judge you need some other things too.

Read the fielders

Firstly, you need to know how to play the percentages. Start reading the fielders as soon as you can (even before you go out to bat) and look for:

  • Left- and right-handers. So you know which the weaker side is for each fielder.
  • Those who stay on their toes and those who relax and can be caught on their heels.
  • The fast and slow fielders.
  • The fielders with good and bad throwing arms.
  • Whether the ‘keeper is up or back
  • Gaps in the field (careful with this one as good captains often lay traps)

Every time you notice a weakness and act on it you are adding extra runs to your total, all without risk.

Trust your partner

You also need to trust whoever is at the other end that if you can for a single (or he does) there is little risk to the run.

Some partners have an instinctive relationship; others just let one player make all the decisions. For most pairs, you need to develop an understanding of how each other thinks and judges a run.

The best way to do this (apart from batting together) is to practice your running together.  Not only will you both get better at judging a run but you will get better at knowing how your partner judges a run.

And if you have some ‘unique’ runners in your side, that’s a critical skill to have. 



BOWLING : Specialist fielding: Boundary fielding

Fielding in the deep can feel like a lonely place. There you are with seemingly acres of space to sprint around while the batsman gives it the long handle.

Then he smashes one straight up in the air and you have to wait forever for it to come down into your hands.

The potential for a mess up is a high one. Yet, you can massively reduce the chances of things going wrong simply by working on your specialist skills in this area.

Why have boundary fielders?

Being on the rope is a simple task, if a physically and mentally demanding one. Your job is to stop the ball going for a boundary, keeping the number of runs the batsman scores as low as possible.

More occasionally, and dramatically, you will be required to catch balls that have been skied to you.

This means you need to be able to pick up balls early, run to them quickly (often having to slide to get there) and return them with an accurate throw. If that wasn’t enough you also need to be brave with strong catching hands.

You might find yourself anywhere between deep point and deep square leg. The off side has less catches (it’s easier to sky a ball to leg).

Where to stand: On the rope?

Traditional coaching has stuck to a simple idea: Boundary fielders stand on the boundary line.

To creep in too far is a schoolboy error and makes you look silly when it goes over your head but bounces inside the rope to go for four.

But it’s not always as simple as that.

Mostly you will want to follow the orthodox line, but there are times when you have to judge where to stand with a bit more nous. Here are some times you may want to drift away from that rope:

  • A batsman you know has a big ego and thinks he can clear you so you wander in to tempt him to go over the top.
  • A very long boundary (especially on the off side) that batsmen will struggle to hit boundaries.
  • In the middle overs of a limited over match when the batsmen are not hitting out but working the ball around and looking to turn singles into twos.

How to field on the boundary

Wherever you stand, fielding in the deep requires you to stay focused. It’s rare for the captain to put you out unless the ball is going to the boundary.

As the bowler is delivering the ball, watch the batsman for the shot he is shaping to play. If it’s clear he is aiming for the area you are covering, laser your focus in on the ball.

You have to make quite a few quick decisions when you realise the ball is coming your way.

If it’s coming along the ground, your job is to get to the ball as quickly as possible and, if needed, stop the boundary. What happens next depends on what the batsmen are doing.

  • If they are risking an extra run, attack the ball and return it quickly. This is a riskier approach because more can go wrong, especially under pressure (but that’s OK because as a specialist you will have practiced).
  • If they are strolling and not looking to score, you can play the percentage using the long barrier and take more time returning the ball so your throw is accurate.

If the ball is coming in the air you have to quickly judge if it is going to reach you or not.

If it is, get in position to catch it, steady yourself and catch the ball with strong hands.

If it’s going to bounce, watch how the ball is spinning, adjust and look to take it after the first bounce if you can. Again the return needs to be accurate.



BOWLING : Stop practicing your bowling (and other changes to the Laws of cricket)

Years ago, changes to the Laws of cricket changed the game.

Round arm allowed bowlers to increase their pace in the 1800’s. In the 1930’s, the Bodyline controversy caused fielding restrictions and the banning of the overuse of bouncers.

Dramatic stuff.

These days Law changes don’t have quite the impact, but they still happen.

Canny cricketers always take a moment to find out about the changes, just in case. You wouldn’t want to miss the modern equivalent of round-arm bowling would you?

Besides, its stuff you should know for when you do your umpiring stint.

So here is the amateur cricketers guide to the latest tweaks in the Laws by the MCC (all came into force for all levels of cricket on October 1st 2010).

You can’t delay your decision if you win the toss

It used to be the case that you could win the toss and not tell the opposition captain your decision until 10 minutes before play. It makes sense as an opener (bowler or batsman) that this isn’t very fair.

So now the decision has to be announced at the toss. And an umpire should be there.

Law 12.4 and 12.5

Bowling to mid off is banned

This is one I think will be ignored by a lot of club players. You know how you used to bowl a couple of balls to mid-off (or whoever) before you started your spell?

Well, now you can’t. The MCC consider it altering the condition of the ball illegally.

As most bowlers I play with do this, it’s going to take some smart umpires to put an end to it, especially at lower levels where the umpire is usually a player.

Law 42.3

Slow bowlers front foot must stay on the same side

In the past, it was legal for a bowler to bowl over the wicket but land his front foot on the other side of the stumps. This essentially means he (or she) is bowling around the wicket.

I’ve never seen it, but it sounds unfair to me. And it did to the MCC too, so they changed the Law to ban it.

Now you must land your whole foot on the same side of the wicket as you are bowling from.

Law 24.5

A broken bat can get you out

If your bat breaks and the broken bit dislodges a bail you are now out (before it wasn’t out).

While this seems pretty unlucky, it brings the Law into line with other weird forms of getting out like your cap hitting the stumps or the slightly more common treading on the wicket.

Law 28.1

Those are the headlines.

There are a few other changes that are less relevant to club players. I’ve never seen any of the Laws applied in their old or new form in 20 years of playing: Umpires won’t offer the light any more, batsmen lose a warning for running on a wicket, You can’t be run out of your feet are in the air after grounding your foot behind the popping crease and you can only start fielding the ball inside the boundary.

So very little drama this time around, it’s all minor stuff, but knowing it may give you the tiny advantage you need.



Tuesday 18 February 2014


Ground : Neelambal Subramaniam HSS – Division : I “B”

Students “Seniors” CC 181 for 7 in 41 Overs (P.Balachander 54, J.Eniyan 46)

Lost to

The United Gymkhana 182 for 5 in 39.3 Overs (T.Gopinath 57, S.Shankar 49)


Ground : Salem Steel Plant – Division : I “A”

Thrive Chevrolet CC w/o Rangers CC


Ground : Periyar University “A” – Division : II “A”

Punith CC 141 allout in 40 Overs (N.Asarudeen 44, Chinnamani 3 for 9)

Lost to

Prime CC 142 for 2 in 18.1 Overs (Kannan 54 Notout, Udhay Shankar 40)


Ground : Periyar University “B” – Division : II “B”

Parks XI 167 allout in 45 Overs (Obali Raj 3 for 12)


Raj Friends CC 132 allout in 45 Overs (Raman 4 for 30)



Ground : Government Engineering College “A” – Division : III

Government Engineering College, Salem 145 allout in 25 Overs (Jeeva 33, Ganesan 3 for 9)


S.K.Murugan CC 134 for 6 in 24.1 Overs (M.Rooban Raj 36, S.Santhosh 32 notout)



Friday 7 February 2014


Ground : Salem Steel Plant – Division : I “B”

Tigers XI 218 allout in 40 Overs (D.Ramakrishnan 72, Rajesh 59, Manoj 4 for 24)


Maratha CC 79 allout in 40 Overs (Gajendran 6 for 15)


Ground : Periyar University “A” – Division : II “A”

Bluestar CC 216 for 6 in 40 Overs (T.Sankar Ganesh 62, R.Aravinth 3 for 25)


Royal Slammers CC 168 allout in 40 Overs (S.Prem Kuar 48, Saran Raj 33, Uday Kumar 4 for 46)


Ground : Periyar University “B” – Division : III

S.K.Murugan CC 67 allout in 45 Overs

Lost to

Kannan Memorial CC 71 for 4 in 13. 2 Overs (S.P.Vignesh 32 notout)


FIELDING : Catching on the drive

Go to any professional level one day game and you’ll see one position that has become ubiquitous: Short midwicket.

But it’s not just pyjama cricket where the fielder ‘on the drive’ is useful and it’s seen more at every level of the game anywhere from mid on to midwicket and mid off to extra cover.

What’s the inside track on these positions?

Why have a fielder on the drive?

Fielders on the drive have two key roles.

The first is to catch and stop balls that are driven by the batsman the same way a goalkeeper would try and save a penalty.

The second is to act as a distraction and prevention of tip-and-run tactics by a batsman who is tied down and needs to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Run out chances may also come along if the batsman misjudges. One thing this position is not for is the bad-pad catch. You will never be close enough to take those.

A good drive fielder then needs sharp reflexes, safe hands and an accurate throw from a quick pickup or even following a diving stop.

There are many similarities with gully in this respect and it’s often the case that a good gully fielder makes an excellent drive fielder (and vice versa).

The position is especially useful on pitches that are slow as the ball will not carry to traditional slips. It’s also a handy position on true pitches against batsmen who like to drive ‘on the up’ and are more likely to drive in the air.

How to field on the drive

The drive position covers a relatively wide area. You could find yourself anywhere from just next to the cut strip to a extra cover or midwicket.

How deep you stand depends on the pace of the wicket and the power of the batsman but you will be closer than an orthodox ring fielder but not as close as a ‘silly’ close catcher or short leg. Usually this will be 10-15m from the stumps.

The rule of thumb is to get as close as you can but still be able to stop a drive off the middle of the bat. As you field more in this position you will get a feel for how close you can get.

Technically this position is most like slips and gully. Your stance should be similar; body relaxed but ready to move quickly and eyes concentrating.

Watch the batsman as he will shape early to play the shot that will bring the ball your way (a front or back foot drive). When you see him moving, focus your attention on the bat, then when he hits it try and pick up the ball as early as possible. This tactic gives you the best chance of taking the catch.

Disrupting the batsman

You also have a key role to play as a distraction to the batsman, disrupting his concentration.

Simply by being there is usually enough. You are in the batsman’s eye line and his mind. But if you can also chip in with a few choice comments to the wicketkeeper you can add to the overall feeling of ‘surrounding’ the batsman.

Don’t fall into the ineffective trap of continual swearing or insulting the batsman. Apart from being against the spirit of the game it rarely works. Good sledging is about picking the right moment, saying the right thing and being as original as you can be.

A great example was in a game I played recently when the batsman was playing a slow innings and not looking to rotate the strike or score boundaries. He was blocking everything basically. I was keeping wicket and the short extra cover called my attention:

“I thought bats came pre-knocked in these days.” He said loud enough to be heard.

A few balls later the batsman tried a big drive and hit it straight into the hands of the same fielder. Game, set and match.

How to practice fielding at short midwicket/short extra cover

Being on the drive is not like being in the slips; it tends to be a less used position. For this reason it’s best to double up your practice with gully and slips so you can perform any of the three.

Make sure you are doing this drill at every practice as it is especially good for close catching on the drive. Work on your reactions and concentration every day, even if you are not practicing.

The drive fielder on either side is not a position for the faint-hearted. You are staring down the barrel of a gun. To be effective you have to stand firm and be confident through lots of practice.



Thursday 6 February 2014

BOWLING : How to bowl off-spin with small hands

No reason to be dismayed if you do not have naturally big hands to grip the ball hard and get vicious turn. Try these things if you have slightly smaller hands but still want to be a great off-spinner.


1. Focus more on developing deceiving lengths and flight


Try and beat the batsman in the air rather than from the pitch. How does that work? Vary your speed and flight and see which one troubles the batsman the most. And also make sure you have an excellent arm ball and faster ball (no long fingers required!). Have a look in my book at developing these variations. Bowl them more than the usual off-spinner. Massive spin is  bonus an not essential. If you are a regular club player you can take hundreds of wickets by just having a deceiving flight, subtle speed variations and a killer arm ball. If you can add a normal ball that spins enough just to beat the bat, then you can become a great bowler.


2. Strengthen your fingers


What comes as natural to other guys - you need to develop. So, make sure you get the maximum strength from your fingers and wrist by exercising them. This is easy to do - just use a tennis or squash ball and squeeze it as hard and as often as you can. Keep one in your cricket bag and pick it up when you sit next to the field watching your team bat. And of course make wrist strengthening part of your weight training in the gym.


3. Develop a wrist doosra


Very hard to do, I know. Very few people manage to do this. But it’s not dependent on big hands, but rather on supple and strong wrists - so do give it a try. This is the type that Saeed Ajmal likes to bowl out of the back of the hand. For a few guys it comes natural. You might just be one and you wont know until you give it a try. No long fingers required as most of the spin is in the wrist.



BATTING : How to bat against left arm bowling

If you can’t play the on drive well you will struggle against left arm over bowlers so go away and work on that shot from the left arm over angle of feed.

In particular, technical points to look for are:

1. Open stance

Align yourself up to the angle that the ball is arriving:

2. Wider backlift

Pick the bat up over off stump or 1st slip area, rather than over middle stump.

3. Stepping out to drive

Lean towards the ball with head more rather than shoulder. Take a shorter stride on middle and leg stump line.

4. Foot position

Point front foot and most importantly back foot up the wicket when driving straight and through mid on. The back foot must turn in before he makes contact with the ball and his heel should be off the ground.

I believe the on drive is the most important cricket shot to play well, if you can play this shot you have the ability to score all around the wicket and a wide v area, you are also less vulnerable against the swinging, seaming and turning delivery.



Tactics you should be using: Attacking from the boundary

During a match in the 2005 Ashes, the 5th wicket had just fallen and Adam Gilchrist strolled to the crease. The game was in the balance at 208-5. Orthodoxy dictated a couple of slips and a fine leg the only boundary runner.

But Vaughan directed a fielder to deep point.

Critics were up in arms. They accused the skipper of setting a field for bad bowling; a mistake a schoolboy captain would think twice about.

In fact, it was a stroke of brilliance that you can apply to your matches too.

Vaughan had seen Gilchrist play many times before. He knew that the Australian keeper liked to deal in boundaries, especially early in his innings.

By setting a man on the rope he was cutting off the oxygen of confidence that a boundary brings. Suddenly a magnificent four was a strolled single. Gilchrist was strangled.

Now think about the games you play in. Imagine a player with a reputation for big hitting has walked to the crease. He’s looking to dominate you from the beginning with a big shot, and you know what it might be from previous experience.

Wouldn’t it make perfect sense to cut that shot off before he has time to play it?

His eye won’t be in and straight away he has to find a new way to get that coveted boundary. He has to use shots he is weaker in an is more likely to make a mistake.

Attacking boundary fields

So what might a field look like?

Let’s pick a couple of examples. Let’s assume the game situation is one where you need to take wickets but can’t attack all out. The bowler is a medium pace swing bowler and the batsman is right handed.

The cover driver

Many club and school batsmen are looking to cover drive to get the big booming boundary. They tend to lean their head over to the off side and are looking for that wide half volley to put away.

Knowing this allows you to do three specific things:

  • Place your boundary fielder at deep extra cover to save the four.
  • Place a close catcher at short extra as a ‘shot stopper’ like a soccer goalkeeper (he also prevents the tip-and-run tactic).
  • Have a fielder square on the leg side to cut off the leg side shot played around the front pad and another at fine leg to save the boundary for the same reason.

The slogger

The ‘village blacksmith’ type needs a different approach, but the theory is the same; to cut off his big shot:

  • Place your boundary runner on the leg side boundary at deep midwicket/cow corner.
  • Move fine leg squarer to deep backward square leg.
  • Place gully a little deeper and point a little more backwards. If this batter mistimes a swipe the ball can fly off the top edge into that area.

As the big shot target area is somewhere between square leg and midwicket, you have turned his four into a one or two. Make sure the cow corner fielder has good hands as the batsman is likely to try and clear the rope.

On the surface these moves may seem defensive, trying to protect the bowler’s figures. Really it’s about frustrating an effective batsman before he can get settled. Setting a ‘bad’ field is a brilliantly disguised way of doing it.



Tuesday 4 February 2014

FIELDING : Specialist fielding: Gully

Fielding at gully is like being a goalkeeper saving a penalty.   

A lot of close catchers prefer this position as, unlike the slips, it’s a matter of reactions. You either pull off a brilliant catch or it whistles past you and you can’t be blamed for missing it.

So although the gully is often lumped in with the slips there are specialist skills needed.

Why have a gully?

Like slip, gully is an attacking fielding position behind the wicket on the off side. He stands squarer and deeper than the slips.

The position is in place to both take catches and save runs. Gully is in the game is when a batsman is cutting off the back foot. If the ball is mishit a catch is on. If it is played down the gully is there to save the boundary with a reaction stop, often requiring a dive.

Shared skills with slips

Slip and gulley have a lot of similarities so there is some interchange between the positions. The stance and catching techniques are identical.

Concentration is also a crucial shared skill, although unlike slips the gully usually has more warning that the ball is coming as the batsman shapes to play a cut early and the fielder can ready himself.

For this reason you watch the bat and the batsman as the bowler is delivering the ball.

Where to stand

The ball comes off the face of the bat when hit through gully meaning it travels faster than it typically does to the slips. This means that the orthodox gulley can afford to be deeper than the slips.

On slow wickets the ball will not travel in the air as high or as far so you have to show bravery and get closer than you feel is comfortable. On fast wickets you can be a long way back safe in the knowledge that the ball will carry.

How square you are will depend on where the batsman is likely to hit the ball. A good rule of thumb for the position is to stand in line with the on-side corner of batter's popping crease to middle stump towards the slip cordon. 

Ways to practice

Don’t use this as an excuse but as a reactive position you can get away with less practice as gully than in other close catching positions.

That’s something handy to know for captains with players not keen on fielding practice. You may have found your specialist gully.

But like any fielding position, the more you practice the better you get, so having a specialist who practices gully catches at every practice will help your side.

Simply getting someone to hit throws off the face of the bat to you is an excellent way to practice the position.

Then double up with slip practice as you may be required to move into 2nd or 3rd slip in certain situations.

Finally, general work on improving your reactions will help you get into position earlier.



BOWLING : Spin bowling tips: Bowling with a poor fielding team

We don’t all play in a team where we have great fielders to support us. A great wicket keeper to take a leg side stumping, a short leg that snatches a half-chance and a pair of good hands in the deep that you know will always take it. Unlike fast bowlers who take a lot more wickets by hitting the stumps or LBWs, spin bowlers rely much more on a good fielding team.

So, what do you do when you bowl spin a not-so-good fielding team. Here are a few tips:

  1. Know your fielders. Even in a poor fielding team some guys are better at some things than others. Get your sharp reflex guys up close and your safe hands out in the deep.
  2. Watch you team at practise and at warm ups before the game. This way you can identify your fielders’ strengths.
  3. If you really do not have good close catchers, do not waste them by putting them close. It might be the correct field but it’s no use if they will never take a catch. Be realistic and put them where they will be worth something.
  4. Bowl a straight line with the aim of hitting the stumps or getting LBWs.
  5. Make sure you practise your own fielding from your bowling at every practise and that you lead by example.

Remember to never get angry at team mates when they miss-field or drop a catch! No one does that on purpose and all it will do is alienate you in the team and make you lose your own temper and control.



Monday 3 February 2014

FITNESS : One fast, simple way to improve your cricket stamina

Everyone who has played cricket has felt that 'heavy leg' feeling.

You want to keep going, but the body just doesn't give you the same after a long innings, bowling spell or session in the field.

While no one can stave off the feeling forever, there is a really simple way to get more stamina.

And it doesn't require you to spend hours in the gym staring at a screen as you run on a treadmill like a rat in a science experiment.

But be warned: While it's fast and simple it certainly isn't easy.

The method

This method is based on the well-established idea that cricket is a stop-start game so your training needs to be stop-start too.

But, you need to cram in more work in less time because you can't reflect bowling a 10 over spell of batting for an hour very easily.

It can be done at home or in the gym, with a barbell, dumbbell or anything that you can hold and lift up that has weight (small children perhaps not recommended)

So, you pick an exercise from:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press

Pick a relatively light weight (if you know it, about 30% of your 1RM) and perform 10 reps.

Rest for 30 seconds.


Repeat for 5 sets.


Sounds pretty easy, right?


It isn't.

The first set is OK. The second is hard. The third is a struggle. The forth is pain and the fifth is suffering.

With such a short rest time, your muscles won't have time to recover from the last set, making each one harder until each rep is like you are suddenly 80 years old. Or 8 years old. Except people of those ages won't curse as much as you.

The beauty is the simplicity.

You can do the movements anywhere, even after a heavy lifting session in the gym or training session at the cricket club.

In can be done during the season to bump up your stamina if you are not playing much, or in the off season as part of a fat loss or conditioning plan.

The only hard part is actually doing it.

But if you do you will feel the effects on the park with increased stamina and work capacity. And who doesn't want to be a bit fitter?



COACHING : Hypocrites make better cricketers

If you want to get someone's hackles up, call them a hypocrite.

It's an insult against something we all hold dear: consistency between words and actions. Hypocrites talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

Except if you want to be a better cricketer or coach, hypocrisy is a handy skill to have.

You just need to be able to get over the urge to be consistent.

Hobgoblin of the mind: Why consistency is a bad thing

Most of the time consistency is in our best interests. It allows us to know how people will react in certain situations and gives us a structure to work from. Without it, it would take a lot of time to work out even simple actions.

Naturally then, we all have the urge to stick to our decisions. It's easy; we don't have to think about it, we can just get on with life.

But it's so easy to be consistent that it can quickly become counter-productive to do what we always did.

Take the example of batting first when you win the toss in one day games. Despite the clear evidence that there is a disadvantage in this action, tradition dictates you bat first. Consistency is winning out over common sense.

How to be a cricketing hypocrite

Consistency is just as important for cricket. You can't try and be a fast bowler one day and a leg spinner the next, you won't get good at either.

However, you can learn to recognise when consistency is getting in the way of progress and to make a change to do something about it.

Let's take an example.

Imagine you are a fast bowler who is a little wild and inaccurate. Your coach has told you many times you need to slow down to improve your accuracy and be happy as a medium pace bowler.

You have done so and are working hard on being an accurate dobbler bowler.

Then you hear from Ian Pont, who tells you it's quite possible to be fast and accurate. The skills are not exclusive.

Based on this new information, do you break consistency and go against your coach, or do you stick with what you know?

It's the same for batting.

Gary Palmer has long argued that cricket isn't a sideways game at all, despite what many coaches say.

Would it be hypocritical to change the way you coach batting if you started saying cricket is not a sideways game? Yes. But it would also be right, and that is far more important.

Yes, consistency is a powerful tool in cricket, but to improve we need to be mindful of what Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Don't be foolishly consistent, be hypocritical and become better.



FITNESS : How to stay injury free

You can be the best cricketer in the world but it makes no difference if you are injured and off the park.

More and more of life becoming dedicated to sitting down: working at a desk, driving, watch TV or spending time on the computer. As we use our bodies less they become slow and inflexible. Our postures change and we are more likely to get hurt.

Plus, we have less and less time to dedicate to cricket with increasing demands.

 Despite the fact we instinctively know the answer is to become more active, we don't know where to start to make it happen, or how to do it in a limited time.

You could join a gym and rely on the poorly trained fitness advisor to give you a program based on outdated ideas and general 'fat loss and tone up' principles given to housewives. But that's not very helpful to cricketers.

You could get advice from the bodybuilder who is only interested in looking as bulky as possible with his shirt off. But even if you had his dedication to the body beautiful, would you want to be so hefty?

You could train at home with push ups and sit ups. But how do you know it's making any difference?

The truth is you just want to stay fit and strong so you can score runs and take wickets.

Fit cricketers are better cricketers. Imagine having the stamina and strength to bowl that extra over at the end of the day when one wicket is required for victory. Think how important it is to make that quick single because you have the speed.

It's been shown that if you are fit you have better reactions and concentration too. So just think what effect your new abilities will have on your cricket skills. What player wouldn't like extra reserves?

That fitness edge can get you over the line in more tight games, which means you win more, which gets you noticed.

And that's why you need to know the right way to get fit for cricket.

So who better to ask than a man who does it for a living with a full professional side?

Rob Ahmun has trained many cricketers and he knows how to keep them injury free, even when they are in the middle of a season with little time for dedicated fitness work.

He has put his knowledge on an interactive online coaching course on PitchVision Academy so you too can benefit from knowing how to train, when to train and what to train to become a fitter player.

There is no other content as detailed and specific to cricket as this course which includes:

  • Personalised training plans based around age, experience and time available.
  • The most effective methods used with professional players at Glamorgan CCC.
  • Understanding the critical but overlooked link between fitness and skill.
  • Work out if a training plan given to you is going to make you a better player.
  • Plans to boost your strength, power, endurance, speed and mobility.
  • How to change your training to keep it working all year round.



COACHING : Proof batting first isn't what it's cracked up to be

Batting first gives you control. It's the attacking way and its how cricket 'should be played'.

At least that's what the senior pros at my club and TV commentators say.

Except that you are also much more likely to lose.

At least, that's according to Economics Professor V. Bhaskar who studied the results of every daytime One Day International match and concluded that teams who win the toss and bat only win 44% of matches.

But teams who bowl win around 50% (which is what you would expect).

What gives?

And more importantly, can you apply this knowledge to your one day limited over matches?

Why do teams lose batting first?

There are several big reasons.

The main one, as most commentators will tell you, is that it's easier to get a score than to set one.

When you bat second in one day cricket you have a run rate, and that means you know what you need to do to keep up with it.

While that can add its own pressure if the rate is high, if you know you need 4 an over to win then you are less likely to take risks aiming to score at 5 or 6 an over when there is no need.

But there is another, often over looked reason that batting second is easier: You have 'overweighted'

Overweighting is when your analysis of your own or your opposition's strengths are not realistic and you choose to bat first in the mistaken thought that you will be more likely to win.

For example, the very strong West Indies team of the 1970s often chose to bowl first knowing they could bowl teams out for low scores. They were so strong bowling they had weighted correctly.

However, teams playing against the West Indies often won the toss and chose to bat because they felt their attack was weaker. Then got bowled out for a low score. They had underweighted.

Finally, like at my club, the draw of tradition is huge.

Losing if you bat first has far less of a stigma. Batting first is traditionally seen as an attacking move allowing you to control the game. If you lose, you have died trying. Captain's who want to play safe bat first and then lose.

So what do I do if I win the toss?

Based on the evidence of ODI games, it seems obvious that batting first gives you a large disadvantage.

There is no reason to think that this information is less relevant to club and school cricket either. In fact, it may be an even greater discrepancy as club teams don't know each other as well as international sides and are more likely to overweight.

Clearly you can't just rock up and field every time though.

You need to take into account other factors: pitch and weather conditions will make a difference, as will the relative strength of the opposition. But when in doubt it seems there is only one way to go.

And that's to commit heresy and field first.