The biggest talking point from day one of the 2009 Ashes was Kevin Pietersen's horrible shot selection to get out when well set. This pdf file from The Times explains the shot in all its gory detail.
If such a fine batsman as Pietersen makes mistakes like this, what chance does everyone else have to get it right? The answer is: More chance that you might think.
Playing the angles
Pietersen is blessed with talent and unfailing confidence. Club players with much more limited skills (and less confidence to go with it) can follow a more conservative approach, yet still find ways to score safely.
This approach is based largely on picking the shots and scoring areas that are least likely to get you out. To find out what they are you need to understand what angles the spinner is using to try and take your wicket.
Let's take a look at each shot and when the best time is to play it.
Front and back foot drives are the safest shots in most circumstances because you are hitting with the full length of the bat rather than just the width (as with cross bat shots like the sweep).
Driving can be done from in the crease, or moving down the wicket to turn a good length ball into a half volley that can be driven.
If the ball is turning in (off spin to a right handed batsman); the best areas to look to score are between mid off and midwicket. If you keep an open body position with your hips towards the target area the swing of the bat can be straight. It's safe because you are accounting for the ball turning back into you (playing with the spin). You can see the scoring area in red here:
Driving wide on the off side is more dangerous because you are playing against the spin. The classic off spin dismissal is 'through the gate' between bat and pad when trying the drive through cover or squarer.
For the ball turning away, the danger changes and so does the scoring area.
Now you would look to drive from straight to cover. The wider the line of bowling, the wider you can direct the ball safely:
It's worth noting you do not want to drive too square unless you are taking risks. The squarer you drive the less of the face of the bat is shown to the ball and the greater the chance of an edge.
Flick and glance
The flick of the legs is really just an extension of the drive shots. You get in the same position, simply closing the face to direct the ball on the leg side. As a result, it's also a safe shot to an over-pitched delivery. The glance is played to a better length ball and so goes finer. The area for all types of spin is shown in red here:
It's easier to play these types of shots to the ball turning in, especially if the line is too straight meaning all that needs to be done is to help it on its way. Balls that are turning away can also be flicked and glanced although to do it well it's important to only play the shots to balls going down a leg side line.
Cuts and pulls
Short deliveries can be cut and pulled as would be done to a medium pace bowler. The shot is cross bat, but is safe if the ball is poor enough.
It's easier to pull the ball that is turning in towards the bat and easier to cut the ball turning away. For example a ball on an off stump line from a leg spinner could be late cut as an improvisation as you are just helping the ball along the line it is going. Late cutting an off spin delivery on the same line would carry a greater risk, especially of getting bowled.
If you are tied down by a bowler and having trouble using your feet the next option is to use the sweep shot. As Pietersen will tell you, it is more risky purely because you are hitting across the line of the ball.
The safest ball to sweep is the one on or just outside the leg stump. You can help the ball turning in on its way with the spin or get inside the line of the ball turning away and strike it square. This shot will usually go finer.
If the ball is straighter you can still sweep but the risk increases, especially with the ball turning away. The more off side the line of the ball the squarer the ball should be hit to be safe.
Anything outside off stump is probably best left alone unless it is turning back onto the stumps and you need to improvise.
If you are hitting out and you need to hit boundaries you can use the slog sweep, getting the front leg out of the way and hitting between midwicket and square leg. This not recommended against spin turning away (especially a wide line; better to go inside-out in this case). However, there is less risk against spin turning in or balls that pitch outside leg stump. Either way, this shot is a calculated risk and carries a high chance of getting out caught.
The scoring areas for the fine sweep (yellow) sweep (red) and slog sweep (green) are shown here:
Decide your best options
The main point of all this is to suggest that every batsman has a number of options against spin. The sensible way to play it is to decide which option is safest and stick to the plan depending on conditions/match situation.
Image credit: www.a-middletonphotograph y.com
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