Nov 30 2013
by Kevin Keys
You will probably agree that batting is the most enjoyable and exciting part of the game, but it is also the most difficult to master – especially as you probably have only one chance in each game. Successful batting involves not only knowing how to correctly play all the shots, but even more important, when to play them. This demands fine judgement of the flight of the ball.
You need to recognize very early the flight and line of the ball, and then where it will pitch and how high it will bounce. Only then can you choose which stroke to play and then go through with the stroke to bring bat and ball together through correct timing. This judgement will only come after years of regular practice.
Below are some general tips about batting:
- Batting is fundamentally about scoring runs. Practise safe scoring shots. Note that there is no such thing as a totally safe scoring shot – it’s all about minimising the risks. The safest attacking shot is the straight drive, as it is only an extension of the forward defensive shot.
- Defensive strokes are for keeping out straight deliveries that will hit the stumps. In effect, if the ball is not threatening the stumps, it should be left alone or scored off. Letting the ball go is a very safe shot. Never defend a wide delivery. Young players seem to think that every ball needs to be played at – it doesn’t!
- A good balanced stance will not guarantee success but it will help. The weight of the body should rest evenly and lightly on the balls of both feet, so that you can move quickly into line with the ball.
- It is difficult to achieve accurate timing when you have an incorrect grip. Make sure you have your bottom hand just touching your top hand, with both hands towards the top of the handle. Do not grip the bat too tightly with your bottom hand as you will find it difficult to play straight bat shots. Your top hand grip should be firm with your bottom hand loose when playing straight bat shots. You bottom hand should tighten only when playing cross-batted strokes.
- A faulty grip can often be traced to playing with too large or too heavy a bat.
- Most young cricketers tend to bowl short down the leg side, so learn to play the pull to help you score freely.
- If you want to consistently time the ball, don’t try and hit it too hard.
- Thoroughly learn the backward defensive stroke. This is the easiest stroke to master and makes it difficult for bowlers to get you out. If you are in difficulty, use this stroke until you have begun to sight the ball.
- In past years the forward defensive stroke was greatly over-emphasised. Players tended to play forward before correctly sighting the ball, which often got them into difficulties by being on the wrong foot. Don’t commit forward too soon! Let the ball hit the bat. Loosen the grip to “kill” the ball.
- If anticipated bounce is low, tend to play forward and play back if bounce is expected to be high.
- Bounce will tend to be higher when the ball is pitched shorter. Therefore look to play back to shorter deliveries and forward to fuller deliveries.
- To be a successful batter your head must be in line with the line of the ball. If your head is in the correct position, your feet will also be in the correct position. However the reverse is not necessarily true, so move your head before your feet.
- If you are having a bad patch with your batting, go back to basics. Have your coaching mentor check out your grip, stance and back lift.