How to exploit batting weaknesses: Choking grip | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to exploit batting weaknesses: Choking grip

This is part of a series on How to exploit batsman's weaknesses. To see the other weaknesses click here.

If you are looking for batting weaknesses, it's best not to highlight a technique used by Don Bradman. So just to be awkward, that's exactly what I'm about to do.

The 'choked' or 'O' grip is a common variation of the more orthodox bottom hand grip and, despite the example of the Don, causes problems for batsman at club and school level.

And you can take advantage.

How to spot the weakness

The batsman has a tighter bottom hand grip and you can see it when he lifts the bat up.

First, his palm is flat on the handle and second his back elbow is tucked in. Bob Woolmer calls this effect an inverted T shape (as opposed to the orthodox diamond shape caused by a hinged grip):


Why is it a weakness?

The problem with the choked grip is that it reduces the size of the batsman's hitting zone: the part of the swing that the ball can be struck:


As you can see from the yellow area, if you swing the bat along the line of the ball you are more likely to hit it.

However, as you can see from the picture below, if you choke the bat you tend to play across it with a more closed face and the time the bat is on the line of the ball for less time:


Unless the batter's timing is perfect, there is a much greater chance of getting bowled, an inside edge onto the stumps or a leading edge back to the bowler.

Outwitting the choked grip: Hit the stumps

Because the batsman needs perfect timing, they are especially vulnerable early in their innings to the straight ball.

So the best tactic is to bowl a line and length that the ball can hit the stumps: straight and with a full length.

Your exact line and length will vary on how much bounce and movement you are getting, but as long as the ball end up hitting the stumps the batsman will always give you a chance.

Bowling short, wide or down the leg side will play into this batter's hands, so keep it pitched up, hitting the stumps and set tight fields to cut off the areas the batsman scores.

Setting a field

The basics of field settings still apply, but because of the closed face, the ball is a little more likely to be hit through the leg side.

There is also less chance of the ball going through the off side with good timing.

That means key positions are:

  • Midwicket (short, in the ring or on the boundary)
  • Mid On (short, in the ring or on the boundary)
  • Extra Cover (in short for the leading edge)

The core six positions will be straighter than normal because your line is straight and full in order to hit the stumps.

A leg slip or leg gulley might also be handy for inside edges, while slips are less important because your line is straighter than usual.

You may find the well set batsman will be able to work the ball into the leg side, in which case you can to return to a more orthodox line: on or just outside the off stump with orthodox fields.

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Great article David!

The reason the "choked" grip didn't produce any problems for Bradman but does for others was because Bradman's grip was entirely different from the orthodox grip. Here's how he held it:

With most players, the [bat] handle runs across the palm of the [right, or bottom] hand and rests against the ball of the thumb. With Bradman, the hand is turned over so far that the handle presses against the ball of the thumb. As the grip tightens, the pressure becomes more intense. The left [top] hand is turned so that the wrist is behind the handle... The combined result is that the bat slopes at an angle of about forty-five degrees from the ground, and so keeps the ball down, ensuring that in both the hook and the cut the blade is automatically turned over the ball."

Great point G, I think bradman would have been great whatever he did. i wonder if he ever tried batting left handed or one handed? If he did he still probably got a hundred.

Well nice post.....
Thanks for sharing it, i think i goty what i was looking for.
I would certainly like to commnet that for being a better batsman footwork is the most essential part.
As among indian cricket team sachin can be considred as the best batsman due to all his footwork but harbhajan singh as the best off spinner due to his free arm spinning.

Choosing a single aspect of Don Bradman's mode of play without due consideration for the exceptional co-ordination of brain, eye and muscle developed by his golf ball and stump training is totally misleading. It is suggested this form of development and 'High Skill' was assimilated and simply evolved into the timing and motion of the "Continuous Rotary Batting Process" by which his runs were scored.

Batsmanship is about runscoring 'Not Theory'. To advise:- "It's best not to highlight a technique used by a player averaging 99-94 in 'Test' cricket seems uncomprehensible.

Greg Chappell:- "Understanding and perfecting the core principles of motion as they apply to natural human movement, not technique, is what makes successful cricketers."

When interviewer Ray Martin asked the question:- "Why don't others play like you?" Don Bradman replied:- "I think it's because they are coached NOT to do it. It's a DIFFERENT technique."

Given the will and today's hi-technology, surely the time has come for accepting the principles of Bradman's form of training and 'Different Rotary Style' as his lasting gift and true legacy to the game of cricket.