How to Bat on a Bad Pitch | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Bat on a Bad Pitch

 Club cricketer and controversial PitchVision Academy columnist AB is back with his views on playing on dodgy tracks.

 The "up and down" pitch is a nightmare: one moment a full length ball balloons up to chest height, and two balls later a short delivery shoots though by the shins.

How on earth are you supposed to deal with this?

There is a method.

If you get a genuinely short or full ball, simply play it as usual and be sure to watch it carefully and strike it confidently, because you must always make sure to capitalise on any scoring opportunities you get on a bad pitch.

However, if the ball is somewhere around a good length, you must be very careful not to commit to an aggressive shot until you have seen the height of the bounce of the ball. Initially play forward or backwards as you usually would, but get ready to adjust to the variations the pitch might offer:

 The full leaping delivery

The good thing about this ball is that although it's jumped at you, you do still often have time to adjust your shot as the pace will have gone off the ball in a kind of "tennis ball bounce". 

As the ball is a full delivery, you've instinctively played forward, but if you simply try and carry on with your drive, you will risk skying the ball straight up in the air.

Instead, stand as tall as possible, ride the bounce, and abandon all thoughts of hitting the ball hard and instead play a back foot "deflect" shot - a late cut, a leg glance, or even just a back foot defence.

 The short, shooting delivery

These are horrible deliveries that can easily crash halfway up your middle stump if you're not on the lookout for them.

The ball is short or back of a length, so you've initially gone back with ideas of pulling or cutting for four, but as soon as you spot the low bounce, forget the cross bat shots and force yourself into as much of a forward defence as you can, quickly jumping into a side-on position if necessary.

Play straight, and simply try to carefully deflect the ball away exactly as if you were playing forward to a full length ball.

 Of course, a full shooter or a short leaper should present far less of a problem, because orthodox footwork should already have you in the perfect position to deal with them.

 So the ultimate result is this: there aren't just front foot shots and back foot shots on a dodgy wicket: there are also front foot shots off the back foot and back foot shots off the front foot!

Just like a golfer practices his bunker shots as much as his putting, if you want to become skilled at surviving tricky periods on difficult village pitches, you should practice the footwork involved with these emergency shots just as much as you practice the more orthodox strokes.

To practice these skills in nets, simply force yourself to initially go forward to every delivery for a 5 minute spell*, and then go back to every delivery for a 5 minutes spell, and see if you can adapt your shots and survive when the ball arrives at an awkward height.

*Be careful about trying this against any genuinely quick bowlers you may have in your club!

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Nice article AB,
but some of us need articles title "How to bat" nevermind the "bad pitch" part!

I think the key to batting (other than being able to keep out the straight balls) is to know what shots you can play and what shots you can't, and focus on using the ones you can to full effect. You don't have to be able to play every shot in the book to be an effective club batsman. Some batsmen like width, some like it on their legs; some like it full, some like it short. The bowling at club level is normally erratic enough that there will be something for everyone.

superb articke AB . i am opner batsman and face problems to play yorker and quick dilivries .. guide me what to do..

The ultimate nightmare is playing a really quick bowler on a bad pitch. You are really onto a hiding to nothing. I've played on some dodgy pitches in club cricket and have counted my lucky stars that there was only trundlers in the opposition.

I reckon that playing predominantly on the back foot may be the safest way to go, while keeping a lookout for the shooter.

thankyou alaxander but what about yorker dilivries..

Well as usual dude, get your bat down quick to dig out the yorker. Also on these type of pitches it may be worthwhile to have a lower backlift with the bat.

but dude we do not use this every time specialy in quick yorkers . . .

Yorkers and full-tosses are the two deliveries that are not really affected by the pitch.

Interesting you should say hang-back against quickies on a bad pitch Alex. One common tactic I see at amateur level is for batsmen to play outside their crease and use the pad a lot agaisnt the quicks on a bad pitch - this is done to take lbw and hence the risk of low bounce out of the equation.

Of course - this takes a bit of courage if the ball is banged in short or jumping off a length- but bad pitches are almost invariably also slow pitches, so you normally have time to get out of the way. I guess it depends how quick we are talking about - anyone 75-80mph+ should not be playing for a team that can't prepare a decent enough pitch for it to be safe to bat on against that pace.

That's an interesting tactic AB. Haven't thought of that. You are right that against real quick guys this can be tricky.

But your advice that to go in the nets and have 10 minutes playing of the back and 10 of the front is a good way to somewhat prepare for these type of pitches. But back in the old days without helmets the batsmen used to hang on the back foot, even played lovely drives of the back foot, so you could get away with back foot play on a bad pitch.

This article solved my greatest problem