Matt Short, the Adelaide Strikers and Victorian Bushrangers young gun was our first live Q&A session special guest to kick off the ACI’s free 4-week Junior Wellbeing & Activity Program.

More than 400 online attendees joined Matt as he discusses early memories of starting out in cricket, his advice on batting and bowling, along with some answers to questions from our attendees.

Below are some edited highlights that were taken from that interview;

ACI: Really appreciate you coming on & joining us Matt, what have you been up to recently?

MS: Keeping pretty busy actually, doing an online University course - Bachelor of Health Science (Nutrition), a few other things around the house like painting - got someone else in to do it though, not me (laughs).

 ACI: Where are you from, where’d it all kick-off for you?

MS: I’m a country boy from Ballarat, I started pretty late around 12/13 years of age - I remember my older brother was playing a game and they were short, he had a spare pair of whites, so I filled in.  Didn’t bat or bowl, but took a catch and that was one of my first memories of all the boys getting around me. From there I filled in every week for them and enjoyed playing with my brother.  I played the next 4 years for East Ballarat, got chosen in the rep sides and my performances there led to playing for Victoria in the U/15’s,17’s & 19’s!

 ACI: What’s it like being a younger player trying to fit into that elite environment?

MS: It was really tough being a country boy and not having played too much senior cricket. To come into a locker room with Dave Hussey, Peter Siddle, Chris Rogers & Cam White - I initially felt like I didn’t belong.  So, the first year was massive and took me a while to fit in but you’re always going to be put into uncomfortable situations, the more you’re in them, the better off you’ll be.

 Group Question: Nathan asked who was/is your biggest inspiration?

MS: Family is a big one for me, starting out, playing with my older brother. My dad also, out the back yard being adjudicator for us three boys, I also have a younger brother. And mum, the commitment and sacrifices she made especially being in the country and travelling a lot.

 GQ: A few have asked who’s the fastest bowler you’ve faced, how do you go about it and do you experience fear at all?

MS: Not necessarily, I try to back myself to get into good positions and watch the ball as best as I can!  Quickest bowlers I’ve faced would be Mitchell Starc and Jofra Archer.  Watching them on TV, their strengths, I’m able to prepare somewhat for when I face them. 

 GQ: Hunter asks, do you score from ball 1 in a T20, and what’s your general tactics when batting?

MS: Good question, I’m definitely trying to score first ball, whether it be a boundary or single.  Intensity goes up but it’s all about sticking to your cues.  If the ball is there to hit - hit it!  A lot of risk vs reward but stick to your plans and try not to premeditate, don’t second guess yourself and have the clear mindset to score.

 GQ: You better known as a batter but you do bowl as well, Sam asks what do you focus on when you come into bowl?

MS: I have a couple of cues when I’m at the top of my mark.  The main one being power: when I bowl my bad balls, it’s when I get lazy at the crease - not putting enough effort on the ball or not using my legs enough. So, I’m thinking power, up and over, that fast arm and good follow through!

 GQ: A lot of power-hitting questions, what’s some tips for gaining more power when batting?

MS:  I’m pretty lucky having some big leavers, being tall with long arms!  I’ve worked closely with Brad Hodge at the Vics and his message is always to have a nice stable base, keep your head in line with the ball, hold your shape & stay strong in the shot.

 GQ: An Adelaide Strikers fan asks - Rashid Khan, how do you pick his wrong-un, who is your favourite teammate and who’s the hardest worker?

MS: Rash - he’s pretty interesting, the thing with him is, his leg spinner doesn’t turn that much. So, I feel like he’s not going to beat me on the outside of my bat.  With his wrong-un, I’m only picking him 50% of the time (laughs)!  I try and come down the wicket to him a lot because he’s not going to spin it past my outside edge.  It’ not easy to face him though! A favourite teammate at the Strikers of mine is Liam O’Connor, another leggie from WA. He’s a ripper and one of those blokes you love to have around the change rooms.  Both being from interstate, we stay at the same hotel, we’re with each other every day and night for a couple of months. It’s been great to get to know him.  The hardest worker at the Strikers would have to be Alex Carey I think, not only in the nets but also in the gym - doing extra running etc. must be that footy upbringing. He’d be the first in the nets and the last to leave, always doing that bit extra. That must be his way for making him ready for what’s to come in his career.

 ACI: Your favourite part of being a professional cricketer?

MS: I love that I’m a professional in something that I’ve loved doing from when I was young and get a lot out of seeing my family react to when I’m doing well and also when I’m doing poorly.  They’ve always got my back and to know that I make them proud is something that I love doing!

 ACI: Finally, what tips would you give our youngsters out there to get the most out of this time in isolation?

MS: I know it’s the cricket offseason, but it’s always good to keep the skills up however you can, whether it be getting the tennis racquet out with a tennis ball, taking catches or hitting golf balls against the wall. If you’ve got a backyard big enough, get out there, but basically try and nail the basics so you’re ready to go for pre-season and keep listening to the ACI with all their videos and advice! 

 For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here


One of ACI’s many coaching philosophies refers to a ‘growth mindset’ that we look to bestow upon our academy players throughout our extended program. This education is delivered in a variety of forms, both in our session structures by our experienced and enthusiastic coaches and staff members. As well as online through a series of webinars, live coaching calls, constant feedback, advice and weekly structures. In turn, this instils quality habits in hundreds of dedicated young cricketers.


Effort dictates one’s ability to accept challenges and allows for a mindset to always improve along every bump or curve in the road. Through all the trials and tribulations of cricket, every one of us has made it to a point where our mindset becomes fixed rather than looking to grow and absorb new ideas. Have you experienced yourself, or a player you know avoiding challenges, not taking on constructive criticism or feeling threatened by others success? If so, have a scroll through this or pass it on!

So what does effort look like and how can I stay committed no matter what?

Effort can bring you above and beyond any obstacle, no matter how stuck you think you are. Effort holds itself above all criticism, arrogance and contempt. This constant ability to embrace challenges and keep your mind open will ultimately dictate how far you progress. Without it, we are robbing ourselves of new opportunities, experiences and the ability to learn from mistakes. It may mean we don’t reach our full potential! If being your best is in your interests, certainly look to implement these points into your training and daily life and habits.

A growth mindset is just another piece in the puzzle of our holistic coaching programs that come in a variety of forms. The outcome we are always after is self-betterment and improvement, creating good habits for life (on and off the field) and becoming the best version of ourselves, always learning.

Author: Seb Contos

National Programs Manager – Australian Cricket Institute

Seb Contos

“I already dominate spin bowling!” I can see you now, thinking that to yourself as you recall those couple of fours and maybe even a six you hit off a spinner during the season.

Now, before you get too carried away, I’d like you to delve a bit deeper. Jump onto MyCricket, those of you who have had good seasons will no doubt have this in your favourites and check how many times you were dismissed by a spinner. Three? Four? Maybe more!?

Now ask yourself what percentage of spin bowling did you face compared to pace? I would envision maybe 30%? All of a sudden, those handfuls of dismissals might be telling you that batting against spin is an area to improve on!

Sorry to be a bit of a wet blanket there, but no need to stress! We are going to look at 4 simple ways to dominate spin bowling!


LOOK TO SCORE! Yes, another cricketing cliché but this is vitally important when batting against spin. We can become a 10x better player of spin bowling just by rewiring our mindset.

All of the best batters have this mindset when facing tweakers. Now, this does not mean we attempt to hit every ball a spinner bowls us into next week.  It means that we have clear plans on where our scoring zones are, INCLUDING SINGLES, and look to score in these areas.

I guarantee you it is easier to have this positive mindset and then scale back to a defensive shot if required.

This leads me into the second key point…


I see it all the time, especially in junior cricket. Batters stuck on the crease and blocking every ball that a spinner delivers. More often than not, an ‘unplayable’ delivery comes along that knocks them over.

This ‘technique’ is directly aligned with having a positive mindset. Once your scoring areas have been identified, we need to find ways to access these parts of the ground effectively…. We need to MOVE!

Effective players against spin bowling are able to move forward, back, sideways and sometimes even both, to hit essentially the same ball into different parts of the field. While there are many components to being able to move effectively, at the end of the day it’s all about practising.

Explore how far you can advance down the wicket. Don’t be scared to move deep in your crease to create a bad ball. Shuffle back and towards leg stump to see if you can pierce the gap through the point region. Do all of this in a controlled environment, where mistakes are seen as a great opportunity to learn and discover what works for you.


SCARY I KNOW! If you’re like me and never actually practised playing a sweep shot as a young player, then the thought of getting down on one knee and ‘swinging’ across the line gives you nightmares. But now, heading into the off-season is the perfect time to see what you’re capable of!

I think the main reason the sweep shot isn’t in everyone’s repertoire is there is no real need to play it as a young batter facing loopy spinners, sometimes on concrete! Unfortunately, the Aussie selectors don’t pick the test side on your U/12 form, so it makes sense to develop shots that will allow you to score runs when you are 16 years old and over.

Start simple. Do drop drills from a stable sweeping position and progress as you gain more confidence. Again, you may find that it is not completely natural, but can you develop a lap sweep? A great technique to manipulate the field to open up other scoring areas in your stronger zones.

The mere sight of a batter attempting a sweep can send spinners and captains into a panic, shuffling fields and discussing a change of tactics.

So, get your broomsticks out this off-season and start experimenting with your sweep shot!


If you’re reading this, I want you to raise your hand if you’ve been dismissed by a half-tracker, full-toss or just a horrible ball from a spinner. All of your hands should be up!

It amazes me how many young players tell me they got out to an absolute stinker of a ball from a spinner, yet not one of those players ever practice hitting bad balls.

It is like any other shot or any life skill in fact; if you don’t practice it, how do you expect to execute consistently?

Next time you’re at the nets, or even better, an oval with a wicket, get your training partner to literally throw you pies. Half-trackers, full-tosses, wide and short. Focus on making good contact with the ball to either hit it hard along the ground, clear the infield or clear the boundary.

Once again, this drill will allow yourself to, improve yes, but also learn what your current strengths and weaknesses are so that you have a clear plan around despatching bad balls from spinners.

Fortunately, we have an abundance of videos that explore these shots and techniques, not only in our masterclass area of our website but our Facebook page as well.

Feel free to give us a follow by clicking on the link below or reach out if you have any questions on anything mentioned above.


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Now get in the nets and start practising!

Author: Peter Dein

National Programs Manager – Australian Cricket Institute

Peter Dein

No matter how well you're going, it can be tough to stay motivated for a whole cricket season. A really familiar pattern is players starting the season well and then falling away after Christmas.

In this article, I'm going to outline reasons why this may occur and give you six things you can do (or encourage your players to do) to really finish the season strong.

There are a heap of different reasons players see a drop off in their motivation and performance, some of the most common are;

  • Your team is out of the finals race - it can be hard to keep putting in if you've essentially got nothing to play for other than pride and personal performance
  • You're burnt out
  • You're not having a great personal season
  • You have a lack of focus
  • You're not getting along with your coach or some teammates

And there are plenty more...

Now, how do we address them? I'm going to talk about six things you can do to fight burn out, lack of motivation and whatever else is causing you to drop off.


No matter how you've gone individually and where your team sits, you need to find your own motivation for the last few games and potentially finals.

Something that gets you up for training and drives you.

Even players who are having an awesome season can hit a flat spot towards the end because they've put so much time and energy into performing well so far.

If your team is in the finals race it should be really easy to find some motivation. Now is a great time to reset, refresh and give your finals campaign everything because there's nothing better than team success.

If you're not in finals, it might be small individual goals, putting your name in the spotlight for next season, getting selected in a rep winter training squad. Find something to push you.


Go back and look over your goals from the start of the season. You'll either be way off, way over or around the mark.

Now set yourself some mini goals for the last part of your season.

If you're way off, it's really easy to get despondent, write your season off and finish horribly. Don't do that. Set yourself some smaller, realistic goals so you can finish the season with some momentum and head held high.

If you've already nailed your goals, it's easy to get lazy and waste an opportunity to have an absolute breakout year. Challenge yourself and turn a good season into a great on.

If you're around the mark - you don't need any motivation, you're so close. Tick those goals off.


Everything is easier with the social pressure and accountability of someone else driving you (plus it's more fun).

Grab a mate or mates and push each other outside of normal training times.

Call each other to do extra work - skills and fitness.

Send each other your weekly goals or checklist. We're weird creatures - we're happy to let ourselves down but not others. It's been proven that once we put something out to others, we're much more likely to act on it and remain true to our word.


It sounds silly but don't worry too much about your outcomes.

Take a look at your training process - are you doing everything you know you need to do to perform well? Normally when you are, results will take care of themselves.

If you're not getting your results, take a look at your training process first.


Now is a great time to revisit your game plans.

You should by now have a pretty good understanding of what your strengths are and what your general plan is when you go out to bat and bowl.

Is it working? If so, great - you don't need to change a thing, keep churning out results with a successful plan.

If it's not, now might be a good time to explore a little bit.

Try a new approach to your batting or bowling plans.

Talk to your skipper and/or coach and see if they'd be happy to try you in a new role in the team (e.g. opening the batting instead of 5 or vice versa).

You never know, you might unearth a new strength that opens up a massive opportunity for you next season.


Don't wait until the end of the season to get feedback!

Some great feedback that identifies something you may not be aware of could change the end of your season and give you momentum into the offseason.

Speak to people you trust - coaches, captains, teammates. No one will get angry at you for asking their advice on how you can get better and if they do, scrap them!

It shows you care and it shows you value their opinion.

Good luck with the rest of your season, keep enjoying it and finish well.

If you or your child would like to work with us to develop your game next season, make sure you're on the 'early bird' list for our 2020/21 Academy intake which starts in May - click here to learn more about the ACI Academy Programs

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

Co-Founder - Australian Cricket Institute  


We’ve all heard it before, runs are currency. Runs get you picked, score more runs and you will play higher.

The most frustrating aspect of this though is the fact that many players feel like they are hitting the ball really well and then all of a sudden they go out and get that dreaded “start”.

You know what I’m talking about, the 20’s or 30’s. Feeling great and then all of a sudden, boom! Wicket and you're out for another score in the mid 20’s.

This is a common occurrence that I hear on the daily, not just in junior cricket but a lot in senior cricket too. Tying to shake it can become the hardest part of a batters game.

When a player comes to me with this issue, the first thing I say is that it’s not always a technical flaw.

Many player's look at their technical side to find the error which is normal, but in my time as a player and now coach, there are many other contributing factors as to why you have yet again not turned your start into something bigger.

More times than not we use the technical deficiency as the outcome, but you have to look a little further back in the chain sometimes to find out why. Why did you play that particular shot, or what brought you to make that decision which resulted in an error in skill.

Below we take a look at 5 key reasons why you might be missing out on those bigger scores....

1.  Your Limited Ability to Focus Over Long Periods of Time

Some of you may have what we call, the “shiny light syndrome”. I find that many players are only capable of concentrating for a certain amount of time/balls.

After that, they are mentally fatigued and find it hard to make the right decision.

The key to this is to make sure you are using your focus and mental energy in a better way. Your ability to switch off between balls is key here so as that you are not expending so much energy when you don’t need to. Save it for when you have to hit the ball!

Think of your concentration levels as a jug of water, if there is a hole in the bottom that leaks all your concentration and focus out.

If you can plug that hole when you don’t need to expend it, it’s going to last much longer than if you let it all just flow out in one big gush for a certain amount of time. That’s basically what you are doing when most of you bat.

If you are on 100% of the time, all of the time, with so many things happening in your brain you will tend to fade much faster.

? How To Improve ?: Look to develop a between ball routine/process to ensure that you can switch off and on between balls/overs. This allows your focus to be more concise when you are looking to bat as the bowler is coming in and relieves you of the mental stress that you feel in your downtime between balls.

2. You Haven’t Developed Transition Plans for Different Game Phases

This is quite a common one that many batters don’t think they have an issue with. Some players find it tough to move into their next phase of the game.

For example, you spend a lot of time getting in, face a lot of balls and then all of a sudden the pressure to start scoring is put on yourself.  You end up throwing it away to try and go big and hit a boundary to get out of your run of dot balls… Sound familiar?

You need to learn how to transition from each phase of the game so it makes scoring runs much more natural.

If you can develop plans around each stage of the game off the field (early in the innings, middle of the innings, end of the innings), you will be able to execute these much easier when you are out in the middle.

The key to this is to make sure you are able to transition clearly from getting in, to upping your strike rate (run a ball) and then when you are really seeing them well, how to capitalise on that and score greater than a run a ball.

? How To Improve ?: Sit down and identify 3 of your strengths as a batter. These 3 key strengths form the basis of your innings. Early on practice ways of being patient and only scoring in the 2 biggest strength areas. From there start to identify how you can transition and take a few more risks to up your run rate. Your boundary options are your 3 strengths, and then train ways to find singles off other balls.

3. You Have Trouble Reading Different Stages of the Game

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest factors in what leads to you losing your wicket in these scenarios.

If you have trouble identifying the stage that the game is in then your plans will not match these and you will find it builds unnecessary pressure that leads you to making critical errors at important times.

This takes time to learn and making errors and reviewing them afterwards is the traditional way for most people to develop a greater understanding of this.

However, we don’t have that much time! I don’t want the light bulb to turn on all of a sudden when you are 23 and played over 100 senior games. There is a way to fast track this.

We use a little framework called the traffic lights. Red light (defend) , yellow light (contain), Green Light (Attack).

Your game plan (Reason No.2) should be dictated partly by what stage of the game you are in. If you read this wrong then you find that your batting methods can be a catalyst to losing your wicket at the wrong time.

Example -  you're 14 off 50, you start to panic because you’ve been bogged down and need to score quick runs now because you are under 50% strike rate.  The pressure is on for quick boundaries to make up for all the dot balls you've taken. See how it can escalate so quickly?

In that situation being 14 off 50 isn’t the end of the world, it's actually a great platform! But instead of going from Red Light  to Green Light and being ultra attacking, maybe let's look at ways we can slowly build up your strike rate and look to be a little more busy at the crease?

That middle phase is called the Yellow Light; building that solid base and then progressing into slightly more attacking mentality, while still having an understanding that you need to contain and not lose your wicket.

Low risk, high reward shots are key in this stage and it helps you create a slightly more attacking mindset while not throwing the kitchen sink at everything.

? How To Improve ?: Spend time at training batting in these different situations. Put a runs and balls value on them e.g. First 7 minutes no wickets lost for Red Light, Yellow Light might be 10 off 12, with the Green Light being 14 off 12. Have fields set out so you can see where you can score as this brings Reason No.2 into the equation (making sure you have a set plan in place).

4. You Aren't Fit Enough

Some cricketers take fitness for granted. Put simply, being physically fitter will mean you tire less quickly.

How does that affect your batting? Well easy…

The fitter you are the less tired you become over a longer period, which means that your brain also doesn’t become fatigued as quickly.

If your brain isn’t fatigued you have more clarity in decision making and judgement. If you have better clarity and judgement you won’t play that rash shot or chase a wider ball and knick it like you may do if you are starting to feel the signs of mental and physical fatigue.

As I said, many people underestimate this but cricket is a tough game played in the summer in harsh conditions. If you can meet the physical demands of this, it becomes much easier to bat for long periods of time.

? How To Improve ?: Look to invest in a strength and conditioning coach.  Learn how interval training can influence your performance and incorporate this into your batting training. Rather than just standing at the striker's end and lacing balls into the net, actually have intent and run between the wickets. After 10 minutes you will work up your heart rate and find that these areas of your game are more tested because you are having to use them at training now.

5. You Haven’t Batted for Long Enough

One aspect that many don’t think about is that you may not have batted for an extended amount of time before.

If you expect to score 50’s and 100’s you will have to face 100 - 200 balls. If you’ve not scored that amount of runs before then you actually don’t really know what to do and how it feels facing those amounts of balls in one go.

If you only bat for 10 minutes in a net a week, you probably will find it hard to face more than 30 balls consistently on a weekend.

In order to get better at batting for long periods of time, you have to do it more often outside of a game.

10 minutes of nets mean facing maybe 30 balls. If you want those big scores and bat for long periods of time, you have to eventually learn to do that at training as well.

Don’t be happy with just one hit at training for the week. Learn to bat for long periods of time and what comes with that as well. Learn that after batting for 10 minutes your mind starts to wander and you get a little hot and dehydrated. This is where it's good practice to start constructing your innings and use all the tips we've been over in this article.

The reason why you get out in the 20’s is likely because you haven’t trained to bat any longer than 30 or 40 balls.

? How To Improve ?: Bat, bat, and bat some more! Sometimes you might want to find someone to go down the nets with and create an innings. What I mean is actually go down and face 70 balls in a game style situation. Learn to build your innings and bat for long periods of time with the game situations in mind by setting fields etc. If you are out, start again and only take drinks after facing an hour of balls. All of that will help you learn and put into practice all of the 4 reasons before this one.

Naturally, you can’t do this at training every week but even just having a hit outside of your allocated net during training will help.

Hit balls with a purpose if you aren’t a bowler, get to training early and work with a mate. All of these things can help you become better at this.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the issue that players have when they say they are getting starts but not going on with it can come from many different areas of their game.

The question you need to ask yourself is which of these areas is most likely your downfall?

If you can answer that straight away that’s great! If you can’t that's okay as well.  It may take time to tinker with a host of these different areas to make sure that you turn that start into a big score!

The biggest takeaway message here, however, is that scoring big scores takes effort and you cannot just expect them to happen. Work hard and be diligent in your preparation and the rest will take care of itself!

Good Luck!

Author: Joel Hamilton - ACI Co-Founder and Head Coach

Joel Hamilton