Regular contributor Ben Baruch brings another insight on batting. West Indian opener Chris Gayle gets the examination this time around.
Anyone who has seen Gayle bat will immediately notice his unorthodox technique. It is not as weird as teammates Chanderpaul or Lara, but there are several things you would not find in a coaching book.
Yet, his batting style is very effective. In an ODI series in New Zealand, Chris Gayle averaged 65 at a strike rate of 101, hitting more fours and sixes than anyone else. These are definitely the stats of a very good batsman.
Why does no one try to incorporate any of his style into his or her game?
I find it strange that people would find a style that seems obvious to them and not try to change elements of it. The most effective techniques are used by the top players and I think Gayle’s style is not respected enough.
Many people, even top coaches, just look at him and think: 'he’s slogging'. However many players can adapt one or two elements of his game into theirs to help them play better.
Here are my thoughts on what makes Chris Gayle such a powerful and useful batsman.
In his basic set-up, he puts his feet wider apart than the majority of other batsmen. As demonstrated here:
This has its up and down sides. With your feet in this position, you do not have as far to go, to go forward or back. It makes the cut easier to play because you do not have to move your feet as far. It gives you a solid base to hit from.
However, there are some disadvantages too. With the weight of your body in the middle of your feet, all drives must go straight or square, preventing you from hitting through cover and making setting fields to you easier. Also, he is more susceptible to yorkers as he may not be able to get his feet out of the way and jam the bat down.
This is a very personal preference, requires a lot of practice to get right and even then only works for some. Other batsmen using this style are Graeme Smith, Andrew Flintoff and Andrew Symonds.
This effectively means that you hold the bat higher up on the handle like so:
This is very much a physics based tactic. The higher up your hands are on the bat, the more leverage you get on the ball when driving, and the more force is applied to it. However, doing this can loose a lot of control of where the bat is, so you must be careful how high your grip is if you do not have strong wrists. Adam Gilchrist was known to hold the bat very high. Once again this is a very personal preference.
Quick Bat Speed
Bat speed is another thing that constitutes how hard you hit the ball. The quicker the bat is going when the ball hits the bat, the quicker it will come off it.
How do you get a quicker bat speed?
There are two contributing factors here, the bat weight and your muscles. The bigger the bat, the more power you will get, but the harder it will be to swing quickly, so it balances out. You do not need huge muscles, but you must be quite strong. Take Tendulkar. He may be a small man, but he is very strong. To get stronger, concentrate on power training in the gym.
If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.
Image credits: phik, PitchVision Academy