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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