By Gary Palmer; PitchVision Academy Batting Coach.
If you don't bat with good technique and mental strength you are wasting your talent.
Great natural ability counts for little if you have technical flaws. Your desire to be a cricketing success is wasted energy if you have the wrong attitude.
For me, that is exactly the problem England's batsmen have at the moment and it's exactly why the Australians excel. Want proof? There are twice as many Australian batsmen in the world top 30 than English ones.
The Australian top order batters get big scores because they are disciplined, focused and, above all, don’t give their wickets away lightly. Bowlers have to work hard to dismiss them as they don’t often get themselves out. They know it's what goes on in your head that sets the good players apart from the average players.
In short, Australian batters value their wicket more than English batters.
I have coached alongside the great West Indian batsman Alvin Kallicharran. His mindset for batting in a Test match would be: Get to 20 and then bat to the end of the day. Alvin valued his wicket and bowlers would have to work hard to get him out.
'Kally' says the high the class of bowler you face the more important to have a good technique to combat that bowler.
Alvin had the ability to score big hundreds on a regular basis because he was extremely mentally tough. No matter how much flair you have as a batsman you must still have the discipline to adapt to the match situation.
Alvin also had a very good technique.
To bat successfully you have to be mentally tough but without a good basic technique you will find it difficult to sustain performance and place in the team.
The Australian's technique is about getting the job done rather than flair and how many different shots they can produce in an innings.
Players like Ponting and Clarke play technically sound shots in the 'v' from both front foot and back foot, even under pressure.
Like them, you must be able to play straight well with a good technique to bat long periods of time. This is the key to getting big scores.
Based on this, my coaching sessions at CCM Academy revolve around playing straight for long periods of time while fine tuning techniques and striving for perfection every shot. This make the muscle memory crystal clear on what positions the body needs to get in to on a regular basis.
The minute you neglect your technique, performance can become inconsistent.
For me this can be summed up in three areas:
- Completion of shot (An exaggerated finishing shape after contact with ball)
Put simply, from backswing to completion of shot your bat needs to swing in a straight line to target area when playing straight, this can only be achieved if your technique is sound. I reveal my drills on how to improve this in greater detail in my online coaching course. Click here to start improving your batting ABCs.
Certain principles of batting will never change.
The bat is the same width as ever. The stumps have barely changed for 200 years or more.
Swinging the bat in a straight line for as long as possible down the ine of the stumps is still the best way to protect you wickets when defending and when attacking it gives you the highest percentage of hitting the ball without being bowled.
Playing straight will never go out of fashion.
The best players in the world just attach their individual flair to a sound basic technique, which they always have there to fall back on if they need it when confronted with a challenging situation against good bowling.
With a good basic technique you can bat more positively, with plenty of self belief
And this will lead to more runs.
Correcting batting technique
To show you what I mean, let's look at an English players technique.
The techniques of English batsmen appear to be sound. However, if you put them under the microscope and look at them with a critical eye you will find that many of the players have intricate flaws.
Some small technical changes will make a big difference. 'Alignment' is at the top of the list. Playing straight well is the key but you can't do this effectively and consistently if your alignment is out.
For example; Alastair Cook
The opener has got out 4 times because his back foot is too sideways when the ball pitches on middle and leg stump line as shown here:
This 'closed off' position causes him to tip towards the off side. He is forced into playing too square on the leg side and not quite straight enough on the off side.
The simple change of turning his back foot in will help him to access the ball better with a straight bat thus being well balanced and aligned with the ability to play the ball back where it came from with the full face of the bat, more like this:
If Cook opened his stance slightly he could lead with his head towards the ball when it pitches on middle and leg, this would help him automatically turn his back foot in.
Maybe you have a similar problem in your game. I see it all the time in players of every age and ability. If you do, you can drill it with the drills you can find in my online coaching course on PitchVision Academy. Click here to get the drills you need for proper alignment and more runs.
Cook has only scored runs in the Ashes because Australia have bowled a lot of loose balls; especially Mitchell Johnson at Lord's.
How will the England batsmen with technical defects perform if and when the likes of Mitchell Johnson starts bowling to his full potential and he starts hitting his length and line more consistently?
The answer to this problem is simple. Like Australia, England need to think more about occupying the crease and playing straight.
The key is to play with good technique and put the bad ball away rather than working the ball around and hitting across the line to do so. This is where Australia beat England every time.
At any level, the batsmen who can bat patiently, score off the bad balls and spend time at the crease are the ones who score the runs and put their team in the driving seat.
If you want to be one of these players you can get lifetime access to the drills and techniques in my online coaching videos and worksheets. Click here to get instant access to all the tools you need to become a better batsman.
image credit: RB.rajesh