With the increasing popularity of T20 cricket, one shot in particular has taken off and that’s the reverse sweep.
It is a shot that allows you to score a lot of runs square on the off side and really put the pressure back on the bowler.
It is a nightmare for bowlers because it is very difficult to bowl at and messes up fielding positions as you can’t set a field.
If you have read my article on playing the sweep shot, then you will know that there are certain reasons that we play the shot.
Why play the reverse sweep?
The reverse sweep is obviously a very risky shot s why are they on the rise? When you listen to international cricketers explain the reasons why they play the shot, they will say the shot is played when they need to move fielders into positions that you want as a batsmen.
The aim is to put the bowler off his line a little bit. For example, if the bowler has packed the leg side field and decides to bowl into your pads, you can open up the off-side with a reverse sweep which may get the bowler to bring a fielder over so that the leg-side is opened up again.
So, if you are struggling to find the gaps and you need to move a fielder, then you can use the sweep shot.
Here is Glenn Maxwell talking about why he uses the shot himself:
Key points when playing the shot?
Now there are a wide range of sweep shots you can play when you get into the reverse position but they all have some key principles to follow so you can execute the shot. The keys to playing it are:
- Head, shoulder and front foot on to the line of the ball
- Line on or around off stump
- As we move forward play the shot, the bottom hand grip changes
- Moving it around a little with the bat almost facing you to put yourself in a stronger position
I believe, that 80% of the shot is getting your head out in front of your knee and watching the ball onto the bat.
This is obviously the case with any shot, but I find that really focusing on this when you play the sweep shot makes it very hard to miss.
Drills to help you learn the shot
Head over the ball
Start by practicing the shot in the finishing position with your head over your front knee, grip changed and high hands.
With my students, I usually start off by getting them to catch the ball under their eyes as demonstrated below by one of Nagesh Gupta’s students:
If you watch closely, getting the student to catch that ball forces them to get their head out towards the ball and to stay nice and low.
Like I mentioned, 80% of the shot is simply getting your head out in front of your knees and this really focuses on that. We can now introduce a bat and start hitting some balls.
Reverse sweeping from the finish position
You then simply watch the ball closely on to the bat and hit with a high to low bat swing focussing on keeping the ball along the ground.
You will probably find that you will miss the first few balls as you won’t be used to judging the line and length yet. It may feel a little awkward at first.
But, you will quickly get into the groove and once you start hitting the ball, you will realise how easy it is to play the shot.
As a progression, I like to get my students playing the sweep spot followed by the reverse sweep as demonstrated below again by one of Nagesh Gupta’s students:
I absolutely love this shot because it’s such a simple but effective shot to play.
Essentially you want to target a huge gap around the third man region. Sometimes there’s a fielder there and you can get a single to get off strike but if there is no one down there, then you could be looking at an easy 4.
I personally find this shot so easy to play and rarely miss because essentially all you are doing is letting the ball come to you and simply paddling it away.
Whenever I think about the switch hit, the first thing that comes to mind is Kevin Pietersen. I remember watching him hit these in test matches during the Ashes and being completely shell shocked.
I remember in one of his masterclasses him saying that he preferred playing this shot in the longer formats of the game then the shorter which seems obscene.
Unlike the previous shots, this one you completely change your stance as if you were playing opposite handed. Then from that point it’s quite simply a slog sweep.
Here is a great demonstration and talk through by the man himself.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, this was more of a general oversight into how to play the reverse sweep. I didn’t want to go too much into the technical side of things. If you are interested in this then you can check out a few articles here where we really look at the nitty gritty. However, the most important thing is to get your head over your front knee and focus on watching that ball right onto the bat. Hopefully, some of the drills I have shown above will help you start practicing these in time for them to be played out in the middle.