Batting Enlightenment: Discover How to Play Your Own Way | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Batting Enlightenment: Discover How to Play Your Own Way

We have come across that wily batsman who manages to score stacks of runs without a great technique.

At first you look at them with contempt, frustrated at how someone with so little technique can hang around so long and score so many runs (especially if you’re the bowler).

Then after a few overs of this you will just put it down to pure luck.

It’s not luck at all.

That guy knows how he bats: He knows his limits and what he is able to do.

This batsman scores runs because he knows what shots he cannot play.

A good example of this is someone I play alongside, who over the years has scored thousands of first team runs.

He will play classically enough: a forward defensive, a cut if it’s short and a drive if it’s full.

That is all.

To watch him you would describe his batting style as compact and neat; his defence is solid and he rarely plays and misses.

80% of the time his attacking shots reach the boundary and his wagon wheel is something a text book player would be jealous of.

Every run he will score in an innings will come between mid-off and point.

He knows these are his areas to score in.

I once asked him why he doesn’t bother with balls angled into his legs? Surely they’re easy runs.

He replied, “I used to play off my legs when I was your age, but I kept getting out. So now I just don’t bother”.

Perfect sense: why play shots you know you’re going to get out with?

When I talk to some of our juniors about scoring big runs, I always explain to them that one day, batting enlightenment will hit you and it will all become clear about how you personally make your runs.

I know that early on in my innings I get most of my runs on the front foot. I don’t take on a short ball. 

It’s not until I’m established that I let myself play my riskier shots, by which time I have my eye in and these shots pose lest risk to me getting out.

Understanding the way you bat and becoming comfortable with that style is something that makes a decent batsman a good batsman.

Play to your strengths and achieve nirvana. 

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I think my problem is that I play too much 20-20 cricket, where you can't afford to wait to play in "your areas" - and then when you do play 40 over cricket you've forgotten which shots you play and which you don't.

So what do you do AB? Have "get out" shots?

I suppose so. I have a couple of ways I tended to get out this season, and both of them could possibly be avoided with just a little more patience. Remembering to leave the ball alone outside off stump unless its very full or very short would be a start - but of course that's not an option in 20-20 - where a thick edge is a single to 3rd man - so you get out of the habit of it.

May be a bit too organised for some people, but I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all my innings, where I have hit my boundaries to, and how I have been dismissed, including notes on the type of bowler, and an honest no BS assessment of what the bowler did with it, and an attempt at explaining my thought processes. As an opening batsman there are one or two occasions during the season where I feel I have been got out. The rest of the time there is a large factor of batsman error. My hope is that by giving myself some analysis tools I can become better at eliminating the 'out' shots.

I've had my most productive years in both Saturday league cricket and Sunday cricket, scoring 3 hundreds and 4 half centuries, so it is working, even though I feel it is still very much a work in progress.

Wow Mark, that's an interesting process and one I feel others could benefit from knowing more. You fancy sharing the template of your spreadsheet for the rest of the community here?

AB - How long would you say it takes to get back into the longer batting mindset? Makes you wonder how some of the professionals go from T20 to Tests so fast! (I wasn't it Sangakarra who went from IPL to a Test match and scored a big hundred recently?)

Makes sense to play to your strengths especially early in innings - people tend to forget how long 50 overs league cricket is and a lot of younger players start worrying when they haven't scored a run for a couple of overs - scoreboard pressure and 20/20 are big influences on this. My strategy early doors is if it's wide outside off stump then attack it hard - chances are you will either miss it by some distance or if you do hit it then runs will follow. I tend to leave balls wide of leg stump as I feel there is much more risk of a false shot and getting snapped up round the corner at 45 or square leg. If it's straight even a full toss I would advocate playing this defensively early on - I've seen so many good players make the cardinal sin of slashing across the line to straight full tosses and then ............

If I'm playing both regularly then its not a problem at all. The difficulty only arises when you have a Saturday rained off and you have played nothing but T20s for a couple of weeks, then you start to forget.

I think our entire batting line up had an issue with this at the end of the summer, as we had two games cancelled in a row. Some people who had been on holiday hadn't had a 40 innings bat in over a month - so not surprisingly we initially struggled against an opposition who hadn't missed a game all season. It was like starting the season all over again against a team in mid-season form.

We still beat them - but only after our middle order had dug us out of a hole to get us to a defendable target and then our spinners went to work on the dry track.

There is a case for a good hour on BATEX if you have the time.

Great article and a great piece of advise for all youngsters. Most of them get out playing too many shots and consistently playing ones that get them out.

20-20 you can still play in your areas, just do it at one a ball and hit the odd boundary and you will have 80 off 60 balls ..... if the others do the same you have a big big total when you add on the extras!!

Cut out the glamour shots, stick to what you know and the quicker you accept you arent Chris Gayle and you wont smash 100 off 40 balls the better for your batting.

Over and not out!

Sure David, Can do. Mad busy at work this afternoon with some 'blue-sky thinking' and 'out of the box ideas' (Yawn!!!). Maybe if I knocked something up with my process and e-mailed to you and you can decide how to use it?

Perfect drop me a line on coach at pitchvision dot com

You might be on to something there AB. Overall I think our reular performers on a saturday are people who rarely play T20.

Certainly the guy I mentioned in the article rarely plays T20.

I think at a club level it is harder to differentiate between the formats as there is less time to prepare for each format especially.

Mark, great to see you have such dedication in developing your game.

I found switching between the two was nice because T20 gives you more freedom and that travels over to more confidence in the longer game.

Yes, on reflection I think my problem was the lack of 40 over cricket rather than a surplus of 20 over cricket.

On a different note, how do you think "your areas" change against different types of bowling? For example - do you have different "areas" for inswing and awayswing, or for pace and spin?

MY SON IS 12 YRS OLD He is taking batting sessions during the weekend for the last 2 yrs and has started to play very well on the front foot and ok with back foot ,

the problem he is facing is since his batting is based on timing he is able to play the under 16 guys well both on front and back, but when the under 14 or guys with lesser speed comes he is not able to play any short at all he touches the and ball doesnt go any where and comes on the front foot and his hand doesnt move at all as the ball is of lesser speed.

when i ask him about this he says the ball is too slow i get bored of waiting for the ball

what should be done to improve this ?
is there any specific drill that can be used for this?

is there any tips available "david, ab"

I like this! I am an opening batsman too and feel pretty much the same way. More often than not I feel I made an error to get out. Even if the bowler has got me with a decent rock for the most part I think I could have played it better. I am not as organised on paper but I do think about how I am getting out and why and then try to address the issues in my preparation for the next game.

Hi guys, I play normal Saturday League cricket but seemingly I'm sitting with a slight problem. I'm not comfortable playing off the front foot, don't get me wrong I can play the forward defence.But playing the cover drive or the off drive just doesn't come natural to me.I'm most comfortable on the back foot and playing flicks through the leg side and I tend to score most of my runs through mid wicket and behind square leg.

Tell me going forward would this become a problem

Thankyu mate very helpful tips Smiling i will try to apply this theory in my batting.