Ellie Johnston is one of many female cricketers at the Australian Cricket Institute (ACI) who’s had a successful 2017/18 season.


The 15-year-old Ipswich local started off with a couple of ducks, which she wasn’t too impressed with, but worked on her game preparation and scored three half centuries; one in her first game.


What used to take her 150 balls now takes 80, and with a career best of 69 runs not out, it’s clear to see why she was successfully recruited to the Queensland U15 women’s side.


(Ellie Johnston Sweeping). 

“It was pretty exciting, and it was nice make new friends and go to Adelaide; that was fun. They’re a good group of girls,” she said.


Johnston also captained her rep team Darling Downs South West Queensland to an undefeated state title, and won the premiership with her club side the Ipswich Logan Hornets, in the Queensland Women's Premier Cricket Competition.


It hasn’t always been easy easy for the young gun as she struggled with playing off the back foot against fast bowlers. But with a continued aim to improve, her hard work in the nets means she has adapted her playing style.


“I usually rely on my leg glances, but they put players there so I won't be able to get runs off them behind square. Now I’m working in the nets to face more live bowlers and get on the back foot a bit more. I’m also working on having quicker hands and developing more options to score,” she said.


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Perspective has also been a huge indicator of Johnston’s game plan, saying the coaches at the ACI really opened up her thinking patterns.


“They gave me another view of cricket; they don't tell me the same thing over and over again like other coaches do. They gave me a new way to think about things and look at my technique closer,” she said.


ACI Head Coaches Joel Hamilton and Nick Fitzpatrick noticed Johnston’s improvement and say that her dedication to the sport with take her far.


“Ellie has been a pleasure to work with over the past 12 months in our program. Her commitment to getting the best out of her time with us has been fantastic, and I really think it’s shown in her performances and results,” Hamilton said.


Incorporating game scenarios and drills into ACI training sessions and camp week ensure players can identify barriers and set goals for the upcoming season.


“Our aim is to really provide a program and platform for players to understand the game and learn from experiences that they encounter on the field so they are more confident when they get put into these positions during the heat of a game,” Hamilton said.

(Ellie Johnston sweeping)


Johnston has big goals for next season including scoring a century, being able to rotate the strike consistently against good bowling, and show that girls do have the strength and ability to show up the boys.


“Being a part of the ACI program allowed me to show the boys that I can do a bit more than them, and beating them in some of the challenges throughout the camps was really fun,” Johnston said.

Author: Kara Bertoncini

Finn Vemis has gone from averaging 13 runs in the 2016/17 season to 72 and winning the U14's and U12's best batting average for the team, and the best U12's Division 1 batting average in the league in 2017/18.

From the get-go, Vemis was adamant on improving his batting and to convert his starts into bigger scores.

“I just wanted to make a lot of runs. While I may not be the strongest kid, I wanted to concentrate yet play fresh all the way through, bat for longer, be able to find the gaps, and get my timing better when batting,” Vemis said.

The season saw many highlights for the opening batsmen and wicket keeper with a career highlight making his first 50 in the U14's.

Taking part in the Mornington Peninsula Australian Cricket Institute (ACI) Academy meant Vemis was able to channel his energy and focus his goal setting accordingly with the help of ACI Head Coaches Nick Fitzpatrick and Joel Hamilton.


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“Finn has really improved his awareness and ability to bat for longer periods of time. He came to us wanting to work on converting his starts into scores, and that has really shown with a lot of his not-outs and also by scoring his first 50,” Fitzpatrick said.

During the pre-season, Vemis attests his mental preparation to the ACI sessions and online weekly challenges. He even said it helped with his confidence when meeting new players.

“I liked how we had to do different challenges against other people, and then when it came time to meet other players from other clubs, I felt really good,” Vemis said.

Being able to transfer skills learnt at the ACI academies into game play and seeing young players like Vemis achieve their goals is the overall objective for Hamilton and Fitzpatrick.


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“The thing that has impressed me most is that Finn really makes an effort to take what he learns from our environment at the Australian Cricket Institute and put that into practice in his own training; whether that be at club sessions, on his own or with his brother,” Hamilton said.

This coming season, Vemis hopes to work on his overall fitness and make the rep team. He also wants to gain a few more dismissals and give more attention to his wicket keeping.

When asked if he had any advice for other young players looking to better their upcoming season, Vemis said the ACI is where to further your knowledge.

If you’ve got opportunities like the ACI, go onto their webinars and watch their training videos. They will make you a much better player,” he said.

Author : Kara Bertoncini


Here at the Australian Cricket Institute we place a massive importance on self review and reflection as a means of player development.


It's EXTREMELY important to ensure you are able to track your improvement and also area's that may need addressing to become better.


We have been lucky enough to test and put into practice this particular approach in our academy programs with great success, so here it is for you! Our 7 Step Guide To Reviewing Your Season Effectively.


1. Review Your Goals

A very simple start to the process, but list down any goals that you had set out for the upcoming season. From here, simply tick or cross each goal if you have or have not achieved them.


Once you have done this, please list down 3 reasons why you did or didn't achieve them. Please be honest here, the hardest part is to not let your ego/or frustrations cloud your judgement here. Let's avoid things like "The team can't catch, or I always got run out". You can only control your actions and the decisions/performance of yourself.


Alternatively on the other end of it, if there is legitimate reasons as to why you've had a ripper year, celebrate these and make them apparent to you!


TRAIN WITH US: Learn More About How You Can Gain The Confidence To Make An Impact Next Season.


2. Identify Strengths And Area's To Improve.

In this step we want you to write down 4 headings on a piece of paper. Technical, Tactical, Physical & Mental. In this you are going to write out your top strength in this area, and also your number one area you want to improve on this for next season.


If you are unsure, Technical is anything to do with your technique e.g. wrist position, balance etc.


Tactical is the game and understanding the situation and how to proceed to get the best outcome for yourself and the team.


Physical is any sort of physical or body attribute such as strength, speed, fitness levels, nutritional intake etc.


And finally Mental (probably one of the more neglected part) is all to do with controlling your thoughts, feelings and emotions to get the best performance from yourself.


This part provides the foundations of how you are going to plan out your off/pre season training to hit the ground running for next year!


3. Outline Your Biggest Area Of Improvement

As the title suggests, jot down your biggest improvement you have made. It's really important that you be as specific as possible here.


Don't just put "My batting", what part of it was the area of improvement, can you pinpoint the one biggest thing that you've executed this year to the highest ability that has made you as successful as you had been.


For example it could be " I got better at switching on and off between balls" which enabled me to bat for longer periods of time and use my concentration better to make better decisions.


TRAIN WITH US: Learn More About How You Can Gain The Confidence To Make An Impact Next Season.


4. Why Do You Think You Improved This Area So Much?

Ask yourself this question, and again be specific.


Was your training more purposeful?


Did you allocate dedicated time to improving this area more?


Or maybe you received some game changing advice from a coach... All these are questions you should answer while responding to this.


5. What Has Been Your Biggest Barrier For Improvement?

Understanding why and how is quiet important also, it's being honest with yourself and it enables you to formulate a clearer plan for next season.


Was school intense this year? Was your work ethic not quiet there? Or maybe you got Injured...


Let's nail down an area you can look to improve or change next season to make a difference to your training.


TRAIN WITH US: Learn More About How You Can Gain The Confidence To Make An Impact Next Season.


6. What Will You Do To Change It Next Season?

Everyone makes these excuses (in regards to point 5). The problem is people don't find ways around these. "having too much school work" is not an excuse.


Or for example in other forms of life people say they find it hard to fit things in like gym etc.. It's all about how you plan out your day, you've got 24 hours in a day, 8 of which are spent sleeping, you don't go to school for 16 hours do you?


This point is all about understanding your routine and working in time around your schedule to do some worthwhile practice.

Sure you can't come to the nets when it's 8 pm at night, but whats to say you cannot work on some Mental Skills after your home work or when work or school is done?


Will you get up earlier to give yourself more time? Will you cut out 1 hour of procrastination when you get home of an afternoon?


Will you write out a weekly work list to keep yourself motivated?


Will you prepare your body physically?


All of these are important in become a well planned, and successful athlete.


TRAIN WITH US: Learn More About How You Can Gain The Confidence To Make An Impact Next Season.


7. Seek Out Unbiased Feedback.

Seek out the opinion and feedback of someone who has seen you play/train/plan enough this season.

The key to this is they have to be unbiased. Seeking out specific, relevant feedback from a person who understands your game can be key to unlocking your season next year.


Many things may go unnoticed by yourself or you'll find that someone may pick up something you may not have even thought about.


They may be a captain, senior player, or coach. The point of this is to receive some honest feedback on your game, but also do identify a specific role or improvement needed for you to take the team and yourself to the next step.


So there you have it, 7 easy steps to reviewing your season with purpose. Remember the most important part of your season review is to take away some information that you start to use and formulate a plan to get better this pre season.


Good luck!


Co Authors

Joel Hamilton & Nick Fitzpatrick



Cast an eye over suburban training sessions and what do you see? Nets, bowlers charging in, batters cracking the ball, it’s all happening.


The question is though… is it really that beneficial? The biggest test in our game is the ability to replicate what happens out in the middle on the weekend, at your Tuesday/Thursday night training.


From my experience much of the session is not overly focused on anything. Sit back and see that it’s just a sort of going through the motions.


Bowlers charge in, bowl the ball, have a bit of a laugh and batters hit for 10 minutes and that’s it.


My question I always ask is how many times batters and bowlers are put out of their comfort zone?


How many times at training are you actually spending time setting up a batsmen, or alternatively bowling to a set plan?


Batters, do you go through your pre ball routine? Set a batting plan or work on your scoring zones?


Most of the time, batters have no knowledge of results. Did they pierce that gap through extra cover? How many runs do I need to score in these middle overs?


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Below is a guide to making your net sessions more match like, which will hopefully see an improvement in game awareness, consistency in your performance and an overall better output for all at training.



The biggest underutilized tool for developing players is letting them explore what they would do in situations.


The only time you are going to learn how to bat at the death, or how to rotate the strike is by doing and playing.


The hope with this is trying to accelerate this outcome and help develop thinking cricketers by doing it in the nets.


It may be as simple as setting up different batting scenarios in multiple nets and let the batting pairs run through each for 4 or so minutes.


The bowling group have the opportunity to set fields and develop bowling plans... This just adds an extra element of competition.


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The opportunities are endless with this, but it really is hardly done.


2.Grouping of Players

Facing lefties, then a spin bowler, then a right arm pace bowler hardly is a way of emulating game like training.


Perhaps we limit the amount of bowlers to 3 or so per net? Have a spin net even?


What about each bowler bowling 6 balls at a batter? Could we have 3 bowlers per net, 1 umpires, one bowls and the other does some catching between overs or speaks to a coach and reviews their over or plans for the next over?


The other thing you find is that all your top line bowlers start bowling right from the get go and after a period of time coaches and players are looking for bowlers to finish the session off, and most of the time it’s the part timers that have to make up the numbers for the poor old bowlers when they bat.


Splitting your session into two can work. Split your bowlers and batters up and ensure some of your better bowlers are batting to other better bowlers. This also gives a spread of quality quicks over the whole session.


3.Change Training Conditions

The opening bowlers get the brand new rocks, the spinners get the old balls, and the inbetweener’s get whatever is left…


Why don’t we practice bowling with older balls as much? You are only really bowling with a new ball for max 4 or 5 overs… most of the game is with an older ball.


Some ways to alter training environments can be;

  • Split bowling spells into two. Go off and field and come back with an older ball and a different plan to simulate second and third spells.


  • Try and execute player’s skills under fatigue. We don’t practice batting or bowling towards the end of the day when we are fatigued as much.


  • Have different nets with different types of bowling (new ball, middle, and death). This way both batters and bowlers get to develop plans for particular types of bowling.


  • Implement distractions in between balls to take players away from their routines and help them practice with switching off from other distractions and focus on executing the skill.


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4.Competitive Elements

The hardest thing possible out of everything I think is to create that competitive environment that happens in the heat of the battle.


As previously mentioned splitting bowling contests into 6 balls per bowler, or even 2 bowlers bowling 6 balls each and then swapping can be a way to bring out some more competition.


Rather than just going through the motions of batting to anyone, you are locked into a contest, and make it all the more realistic giving you time between balls to let certain thoughts/emotions creep in.


A perfect time to train your between ball routine, and develop ways that help you switch on and off in between balls.


Perhaps even setting some competition or rules in place. If the bowler gets out during their stint the bowling group wins, alternatively if the batting team doesn’t lose a wicket they win.


Turn the session into a competition of two groups at training.


Perhaps it’s even just an onus on the playing group directed by coaching staff to show a bit of aggression and competition during the session.



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We’ve spoken about how there is very little transference of how we train to how we play, bowling is one of the major ones.


Sometimes we bowl with 4 or 5 bowlers in one net, bowling once every 2 or so minutes for an extended period of time.


Not really much going on with developing plans, dealing with pressure, or an emphasis on how we train ourselves to build an over.


This is a 6 step guide on how to ensure that what you are doing at training can help influence your performance and consistency during game day.


  1. Give yourself a target

It may be bowling at a target on off stump, or causing the batsmen to only play the ball on the front foot.


Too many times I see bowlers just ambling in and bowling, no real emphasis on executing a particular delivery.


Advice: Every ball name the ball you are going to bowl before you start to run in and bowl. See if you can execute what you are wanting. Having a conscious target in mind (it may even be a physical one, hoop on net, target on stumps, bowlers shoe etc) you are more likely to execute or at least have a great chance to execute.


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  1. Work Your Routine In

A big part in cricket is the ability to control your thoughts, feelings and emotions.


Use your time between balls to work on your between ball routine to ensure that your mind is clear of all negative thoughts and distractions.


Having a clear routine can help you with executing your skill and be consistent no matter the situation of the game.


  1. Train All Types Of Conditions

New ball, bowling in the power play, bowling with an old red ball, bowling in the middle overs of a one day game, or bowling at the death.


It’s vital that you train and bowl to mimic all types of conditions you are going to come up against that weekend.


No use bowling with a brand new hard ball, if you are bowling in the middle overs of a 1 day game.


Your lengths will be different depending on the stage of the game you bowl in and also your fields. Get used to adapting to these at training.


(Click Above to download your free Fast Bowling Technique Checklist)



  1. Work With Teammates To Develop Plans

A critical component in developing your knowledge of the game and exploring your bowling plans.


It’s a great time to work together as a group with your fellow bowling partners.


Develop plans to batsmen in the nets. Speak about how you are going to get them out, what are their weaknesses and look to create a plan on how to bowl to them.


Another great component of this is you actually get to learn and understand how your team mates bowl.


This is golden for when you are in a game, it’s critical that bowling groups work together and create an environment where they are “hunting in packs”.


Doing this in training makes it more natural in a game and also just makes you aware of it.


(Click above to download your free Fast Bowling Technique Checklist)


  1. Set Fields

It may seem very simple and easy, but setting fields during your training session will help you maintain that match like focus.


It also just helps you get into the groove of actually thinking about the sort of deliveries you want to bowl.


Lengths, lines and plans change depending on the field and it’s a good way to learn about how all this works in an environment where it doesn’t have so much riding on each mistake or ball.


You may want to use markers for fielders, and set these up in the nets.


We colour code these in our sessions, one colour for outfielders and another set of colours for fielders inside the ring.


  1. Training Specificity

Try to make your bowling training at some stage as game like as possible.


The challenge can be time and facility size, but where you can mimic the settings of bowling numerous balls back to back.


Bowl in pairs, with you bowling 6 and your partner bowling 6.


The non-bowler becomes umpire to judge no balls/wides etc and you actually get to train bowling in sets.


The time and balls that the batter receives shouldn’t differ too much, if anything it will be far greater quality as it gives them a chance to simulate facing real life situations and not having to swap between spinners, fast bowlers, medium pacers etc each ball.


Another aspect of training specificity is to try and mimic bowling at different stages of the game.


Try splitting your bowling spell into two, come out and field for a period of time and then come back and try to execute bowling with an old ball or at the death of a one day game.


Along with this is trying to train bowling under fatigue and executing these skills to mimic bowing your 3rd or 4th spell later in the afternoon.


Too many times we practice within our comfort zone and with a new ball or with fresh legs.


Your decision making, lengths, pace accuracy all become hindered as you bowl with older balls or when fatigued and it’s a skill that needs to be developed at training.

(Click above to download your free Fast Bowling Technique Checklist)








Joel Hamilton

(Co owner and Coach)