This is part of a series on How to exploit batsman's weaknesses. To see the other weaknesses click here.
It might be controversial to say it, but a backlift over middle or leg stump is a weakness dying to be exploited by all types of bowlers.
Coaching manuals often advise players to pick the bat up straight, but this method limits a player's scoring options and allows the bowler several obvious ways to get a wicket.
How to spot the weakness
A straight backlift is easiest to spot as a bowler or wicketkeeper. Often it's harder to spot for the captain at slip or mid off because of the angle, but from front on you can see it right away as the ball is delivered.
It looks like this:
With this backlift the shoulder and head tend to tip towards the off side. This makes the batsman strongly favour the off side, especially driving through the covers or squarer.
Why is it a weakness?
While the setup is great for the cover drive, it comes at a cost.
- The batsman tends to play too square and not straight in the V. This means he or she often plays with half a bat, making edges more likely
- The batsman is closed off to the leg side, meaning he can only hit the ball very square or fine on the leg side. It's almost impossible to drive or flick the ball in the mid on to midwicket area.
You can see the area the batsman looks to score in, and the area that is difficult to score in here:
How to bowl to a straight backlift
The leg side weakness is the area to exploit first.
Bowl the ball at the stumps and swing or spin it in.
This is because the batsman is forced to swing the bat around his body, is in a poor position and becomes a candidate for:
- Bowled and LBW on the front foot.
- Caught by a leg side catcher on the back foot.
Assuming the batsman is right handed for a moment, the best bowler would be left arm over/right arm round, swinging the ball in:
This angle is the hardest to play as the natural scoring area is between mid on and midwicket, which is closed off to our batter.
If your line strays off the straight (or the ball doesn't swing) you also have a chance to pick up slip/gulley catches as the batsman is aiming to drive through the covers rather than straight.
For this reason, off spinners going around the wicket can be especially effective against this batting weakness.
Make sure your cover and extra cover fielders are switched on to cut off the favourite shot, put your leg side fielders a little squarer and wait for the batsman to make a mistake. You can attack with slip and gulley fielders. Keep your short leg or short midwicket in as long as possible for the one that pops up when the batsman swings across it.
Want to improve your skills so you can bowl to these tactics or iron out your batting weaknesses? PitchVision Academy has an online coaching course to help you from the world's finest coaches.