BASICS OF CRICKET BATTING

BASICS OF CRICKET BATTING
 
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Sachin Tendulkar gets only fraction of a second when Brett Lee is bowling at him. Within that fraction of a second, he has to take a decision as to which shot to play and execute it. In the execution process, Sachin has to keep so many things in his mind. The batsman gets little more time to offer his shot while facing a spinner. But the challenges of batting against a spinner are no different than a pace bowler. The flight, line, length and spin offered by the bowler needs to be read in no time. The shot to be played depends on factors which can be summarized below:
• The pace of the ball.
• The line of the ball.
• The length of the ball.
• The age of the ball.
• The state of the pitch, and if it has deteriorated noticeably, producing irregular bounce.
• The known style of bowling used by the bowler, including any variations to that style.
• Whether the batsmen can pick the particular variety of ball being bowled.
• The placement of the fielders.
• The batsman's estimation of his own skill.
• How played in the batsman is - whether he is beginning his innings or has settled into a comfortable batting rhythm.
• The state of the game, and whether it is more appropriate to take risks in an attempt to score quickly, or to defend.
• Instructions from the captain on whether to bat aggressively or defensively.
• The time of day, in terms of how much play is remaining in the current session of play.
• The batting skill of the non-striker and the number of balls remaining in the over.

A cricket shot can be broadly divided either as a front foot or a back foot shot. In other words, it is the foot work of the batsman from his stance either backward or frontward depending on the length of the ball to make it either a back foot or a front foot shot. Within this broad division, a cricket shot can again be a straight batted, cross batted, attacking or a defensive shot. Needless to say, the purpose is to score runs without getting out. We can now discuss in more details on the various cricket shots.
 
 
A) FRONT FOOT
 
CRICKET SHOTS

The batsman goes for a front foot shot when the length of the ball is relatively nearer the stance of the batsman from about 0.5 to 3 meters from his stance. The front foot of the batsman moves forward to allow the bat to have impact on to the ball just after pitching. The batsman can take the ball on the half volley. In this process, the batsman does allow much deviation of the ball as the impact is just after pitching.  A front foot shot can again be categorized as given below:
 
FRONT FOOT
 
DEFENSIVE SHOT

This shot is played to defend the wicket. An incoming batsman feels to defend a few balls in this fashion before judging the swing or spin and bounce of the wicket.  This is played by moving the front foot forward down the pitch, placing the foot just inside the line of the ball. The back foot generally remains still and the front knee bends as the front foot takes the batsman's weight. The bat is brought down vertically, parallel to the front shin, and right next to it, in the line of the ball. The aim is not to swing the bat, but to place it as an obstacle to block the ball. The bat should be angled downwards so the ball bounces off it and drops straight down to the pitch, rather than bouncing up into the air where it might be caught. The hands grip the bat loosely to further absorb the impact of the ball and prevent it from bouncing in the air, a technique known as soft hands. The toe of the bat should be on or close to the pitch, because the ball will generally be low in its trajectory when it hits the bat. The front foot defensive is also known as a block.

Thus, the front foot defensive is preferred by the batsman to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket so that he does not get out bowled. The front leg is positioned right next to the bat so there is no appreciable gap between them. This is to prevent the ball deviating inwards and slipping between the bat and pad. There is some danger in this shot if the ball deviates from its line significantly. If the ball deviates inwards enough to miss the bat and strike the pad, the batsman could potentially be out LBW. If the ball deviates outwards enough to hit the edge of the bat it could fly behind the batsman to the wicket keeper or slips fielders for a catch.

DRIVE
 
A drive is a scoring cricket shot. Here the footwork remains the same that of a front foot defensive shot but the bat is swung at the ball in a vertical arc. The bat needs to be angled downward so as to hit the ball along the ground. The risks associated with a drive is that the batsman can end up inside edging an in-swinger, outside edging an out-swinger or can be plumbed LBW or bowled in case he misses to middle the ball. He can also end up offering a catch if he does not reach to the ball and drives in the air. However, at times the batsman goes for a deliberate lofted drive to clear the infield or to the field having no fielder. A drive can be off drive, on drive, cover drive or square drive depending on the direction of the ball on to the batsman.
When the ball travels towards the batsman or towards the leg side, the batsman prefers an on drive in the direction of mid on. In case the ball keeps straight on, the batsman will probably opt for an off drive towards mid off. For balls going away towards the off stump, the batsman may latch in to it and go for a square drive or a cover drive. 
 
SWEEP

This is commonly played against the spinners when the bowler tends to bowl towards the leg side of the batsman. The front foot is moved down the pitch so far that the batsman ends up kneeling on the knee of his back foot. The front shin is kept vertical, and directly in line with the path of the ball, but the front knee is bent to allow the kneeling pose. The batsman leans forward over his front knee and swings the bat horizontally in an arc from off to leg side. The aim is to hit the ball just as it bounces off the pitch and send it along the ground square or behind square on the leg side. This shot has risks involved. In case the ball bounces more than expected, the batsman may end up top edging. With a low bounce, the batsman can completely miss the ball and be given out LBW.
A sweep attempted in a reverse direction is called a reverse sweep. Here the batsman turns his bat over in his hands and swings it in an arc from the leg to the off side. This hits the ball square or behind square on the off side.


B) BACK FOOT

SHOTS

This shot is normally played by the batsman when either the ball is pitched far away or very close in to the batsman’s stance. When the ball is pitched far away, the batsman tends to prefer to stay backward to observe the bounce and the deviation of the ball off the pitch. On the other hand, when the ball pitches close to his stance of about 1 meter, the batsman can go back foot to drive the ball in the half volley. The batsman is put in to confusion as to whether to play front foot or back foot when the bowler pitches the ball in the good length in between 3 to 4 meters from his stance. It is also regarded as the corridor of uncertainty. We can now talk about the back foot shots a little elaborative.


BACK FOOT

DEFENSIVE SHOT

Here the weight of the batsman is quickly shifted on to the back foot as he goes backward keeping his front foot at the position of his stance. The bat is held vertical in the downward angle so that the ball kisses the ground after hitting the bat. As the name suggests, this shot is attempted by the batsman to defend the ball hitting the top of the wicket. If the batsman is unable to judge the bounce of the ball correctly, it may end up as a simple catch as the ball may kiss the gloves. This shot can also take the edge out of the bat when the ball deviates sideways beyond the imagination of the batsman.
 
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