Batting coach Gary Palmer passes on his observations about how the great batsmen play, and how you can copy them.
Viv Richards. Sachin Tendulkar. Ian Botham.
All of these men are greats of the game. I've seen them bat over the years, often standing at the non-strikers end, and I have noticed several common technical points with them and other exceptional batsmen.
Now that I'm a coach I consider these traits non-negotiable for any player who wants to be a successful batsman against good quality bowling.
The front shoulder is slightly open, eyes are level. The head is in line with the stumps at the bowlers end and slightly forward of the body.
The back swing goes back over off stump. The elbow of the bottom hand points towards the stumps.
Aligning the elbow like this stops the bottom hand being too dominant and aligns the forearms towards the ball so that the bat swings in a straight line for the maximum amount of time.
3. Head position when driving
The head is forward of the front foot when driving or defending the ball along the ground in the V between extra cover and midwicket.
4. Point of contact
When driving, make contact with the ball slightly forward of the front foot but under the eyes. This encourages leaning in to the shot.
Lean towards the ball predominately with the head not the shoulder to stay open and balanced.
Let the ball come, giving more time and wider variety of options of where to hit the ball.
5. Back foot heel
Defend and drive the ball off the front foot with the heel of the back foot raised. This allows leaning in to the shot to hit the ball on the ground.
A raised heel means the head is forward of the body and in a great position to play the drives and forward defence.
Demonstration of the forward head position and back foot heel off the ground
6. Back foot turn
When playing straight and towards mid on back foot is 'turned in' and the toes are pointed up the wicket towards very straight mid off. This gives better balance, alignment and overall access to the ball.
7. On drive position
When playing the on drive, take a smaller stride and place the front foot down the line of leg stump, this gives you good balance and alignment to play the shot. Only place your front foot outside the line of leg stump if you are improvising for quick boundaries.
8. Checked drive
Finish all drives and defence with high hands and leading elbow in the check drive position. This means the bat swings in a straight line through the ball towards the target area. The full face of the bat will be presented towards the ball for the maximum amount of time. This will lengthen the 'hitting zone' with minimum risk of getting out.
Demonstration of the straight drive check drive position with high hands and front elbow. Also note the back heel off the ground with the toe pointing down the wicket.
9. Bat speed
Don’t try to swing the bat too fast through the line of the ball when driving straight. This compromises technique. Focus on timing the ball by swinging the bat with a rhythmical flow so that technique is maintained.
For video, worksheets and coaching drills to improve batting get Gary Palmer's online coaching course How To Play the Perfect On, Off and Straight Drive.