I was sitting today at nets at Little Baddow Cricket Club when I was wondering what the most important things all the great international batsmen do which sets them apart. So, I decided to do some research to see little tips which famous players do to keep them on track.
During a game, it takes only one ball to see your stumps disrupted and end up on the long walk back to your pavilion. However, I have found myself recently thinking too much about my batting while I am out in the middle which affected my decision making.
In this article, I have put together 6 easy tips that will teach you some things the great do to help their batting and keep performing consistently.
1. Great Head Position
Tip: Kiss The Ball
I was recently watching a masterclass by Kevin Pietersen on Sky Sports where he spoke about his career and what he did so well but more importantly what he didn’t do well when he was out of form. The number one thing he mentions on there is how all the great players have fantastic head positions.
When you look at batsmen like Pietersen or Virendar Shewag, they were not your textbook stroke players. However, one thing they both do so well is get their head out to the ball and hit through the line of the ball.
When I haven’t been batting for a while, lets say over the winter period, I’ll find myself getting lazy with my head, not getting it out over my front foot. So, now when the bowler is coming up to deliver a ball, I tell myself to kiss the ball so I focus on getting my head out towards the ball which has not only time the ball much better but I am also able to manoeuvre the ball to pick gaps.
2. Watch The Ball
Whenever I see a close up replay of a batsmen after hitting a shot to the boundary, I usually notice that they are talking to themselves as the bowler is running up. The reason why they do this, is to focus themselves on watching the ball. One thing I noticed with my batting early on my career is that due to the lower pace of lower league cricket, I would often be able to pick the ball up late and still have plenty of time for my shots. It was not until I started playing in the higher divisions that I noticed the importance of watching the ball out of the bowlers hand, especially for spin bowlers. This is a difficult skill to master and it’s why even international players remind themselves to do this as the bowler is running up.
3. Don’t Try To Hit It Too Hard
Tip: Keep only two fingers on your bottom hand
I use to hear this being thrown out all the time by batting coaches but it was a case of in one ear out the other for me. However, the truth is, not trying to hit the ball too hard plays a massive part in playing your best cricket shots. This is especially true if you haven’t been played in a while like me and you try to smoke every ball through the covers. I often found myself really pushing at the ball and using my bottom hand too much which usually means I lose my shape. What really helped me resolve this problem is by really focusing on my top hand and keeping only two hands on the handle with my bottom hand.
4. Hit through the line of the ball
Tip: Keep a nice high elbow through your stroke
This slightly relates to the previous point in that you don’t want to lose your shape. By keeping your shape strong, you set up the right foundations to be able to swing your bat along the line of the ball giving you a greater chance of making contact with the cricket ball. When I get a little too confident and start bringing my wrists into the shot, I often end up swinging across the line leaving me vulnerable to getting bowled and lbw shouts. I know remind myself to keep my elbows high towards the line of the ball so that I have a greater chance of making contact with the middle of the bat.
5. Keep your knees bent especially your back leg
If you are a sports enthusiast like me, you will probably know that you generate most of your power from your legs. If you look at a tennis player, any strokes such as a serve or a ground stroke, you will see them keeping their legs bent at the start to load up power which they can propel into their shots.
I sometimes find myself getting lazy and will stand really upright or when I hit my cricket shot, find that I keep a straight back leg. It is vital that you keep this leg bent because otherwise, you won’t be able to lean in and will lose a lot of power in your shots.
6. Play within a box
During my winter nets practice this year I found myself swinging too early for the ball quite often. I found myself hitting a lot balls in the air. So, I remember my coach mentioned a batting theory AB de Villiers follows which has greatly improved my game and believe has been a catalyst to scoring runs this year. He told me to envision myself inside a box and that I was not to leave this box at any point including my feet or my bat.
Although this seemed very strange at first, what I noticed I started doing is that I waiting for the ball to come to me. However, the biggest gain for me was the power I was generating in my shots due to my more compact stroke and I almost felt like I had way more time on my hands.
As I mentioned, I am not a professional cricketer but being a very keen batsmen who loves analysing the technical aspects of the game, these were the traits which I found were a reoccurring theme among the best batsmen.
If you can follow these tips and add them to your game, then there’s no doubt that you will see large improvements in your scores this summer.