This is a guest post by Laurie Ward from The Complete Cricketer Academy in Cape Town, South Africa.
A good spinner is an attacking bowler. He not only can reduce the run rate but pick up wickets. With the correct mindset, concentration and approach a batsman can put the pressure back onto even the best spinner and his captain.
Treat each ball on its merits and look to be positive, both in attack and defence.
Watch the ball, have a plan and put the pressure back onto the bowler.
The 5 principles of playing spin
- Watch the ball/hand/fingers.
- Adopt the forward press. Have a solid base to play from.
- Higher backlift, slower downswing. Keep the head still on contact.
- Try to get forward. Positive use of the feet from a good base.
- Keep the ball on the ground
These can be developed further.
Just because you have seen off the quicks or a tricky seam/swing bowler don’t relax. Switch on to the different style. Have a good look at the pace/flight/turn off the pitch. Adjusting your mindset is as important as adjusting your technique for correct timing. Look to be positive in defence and attack.
A half step forward towards the ball just before release. Do not lunge or over-balance. Get onto front toe as the ball is in flight to push forward or back depending on flight and length. Stay light on your feet.
Watch the ball. You have 3 opportunities to read the ball’s behaviour. From the hand, in the air and off the pitch. The earlier you see the behaviour the better but we can’t all read all the variations. If you at are the non-strikers end do not miss an opportunity to watch all the bowler’s tricks from close up!
Develop a game plan: Assess the conditions/bowler/field placings/match situation.
Don’t get bogged down, this plays into the bowler and captains’ hands.
You may have to take some calculated risks but look to be positive and put the pressure back on the opposition.
Manipulate the field
Part of any game plan would be to rotate the strike. This keeps the scoreboard moving and does not allow the bowler to bowl to a plan. For example, you may go over the top (straight). The captain could put a man back and you can then milk the singles to that position.
Take the initiative
Show positive intent. Use your game plan and manipulating the field to put the pressure back on the bowler. Use your feet, adopt the sweep shot, hit over the top, rotate the strike, etc. If there are men around the bat, use the sweep to put them under pressure and force field changes. Using your feet takes them out of the equation. Devise your plan. Don’t pre-meditate unless the match situation demands some severe action.
Key terms when playing spin
- Watch the ball. Hand/air/pitch
- Forward press: comfortable position to move forward or back.
- High backlift: higher backswing, slower downswing (in defence)
- Good base-balance/head still
- Let the ball come to you
- Play under your eyes
- Do not push at the ball
- Positive footwork-forward or back. Not in between.
- Use your feet. Positive movement. Takes out the close catchers. Eliminates spin.
- Soft hands in defence
- Play the ball in front of your pad.
Batting techniques and shots for spin bowling
Using your feet. This is used to eliminate the spin, possibly hitting the ball on the full. It also takes the close catchers out of the equation and can help to get the field moved. It shows positive intent and can be used to attack.
Do not go early. Don’t give away signals or triggers to the bowler as he will counter this and could get you out.
If you don’t get to the pitch of the ball and are beaten in flight, respect that and defend the ball, making sure that you get back quickly to your crease.
Use a positive early stride on the line of the ball. Dip your front shoulder and head (but not your eye-line) This creates the higher backlift.
There are two styles of stride: The 'click' where the back foot clicks up to the front foot and the crossover where the back foot comes around the back of the front foot.
The crossover stride can tend to open out the batsman’s shape to hit inside out.
The feet, hips and shoulders should line up with the intended shot direction.
If you intend to hit over the top (and have reached the pitch of the ball) the downswing is smooth and through the line of the ball, striking it earlier, in front of the pad with the body weight still forward. For control, aim to reduce the “power” by 10% to maintain the shape of the shot. Do not lean back for elevation.
The conventional sweep. Played forward or backward of square. Played on length more than line. The head/shoulders/front foot move forward onto the line of the ball.
The body weight is forward over a bent front knee (back leg collapses to allow this). The backlift is high and the downswing is from high to low.
Rotate the shoulders.
Contact is made in line with the leg with the head over the front knee. The head is still on contact. The follow through is an extension of the shot through the arms.
The slog sweep. Played between long on and deep mid wicket. Attacking shot over the top. Looking for maximum.
The head, shoulder and foot go inside the line of the ball. The front leg moving out of line to allow full downsing through the line of the ball. The body weight is transferred forward. The backlift is high.
The hands accelerate through the line of the ball. Contact is made early, in front of the pad to create elevation.
Do not lean back. Momentum and weight remains forward. The head must be still on contact.
Paddle Sweep. Using the pace to guide the ball behind square (<45 degrees) Played to a ball full in length on leg stump. Same head/shoulder/foot lead as conventional sweep onto the line of the ball.
Get the bat out in front of you early. Use the full face of the bat. Use the pace of the ball to guide the ball fine.
Reverse sweep. Hit as a conventional sweep or run off the blade.
High backlift. Adjust grip or change hands over. Lead with either leg. Practice both to have stronger base. Right leg lead better for power for right hander.
image credit: Sarah Canterbury