This article is part of the “How to Improve Your Batting Shot Selection” series. To see the full list of shots click here.
The on drive is the best shot in the book.
The crowd-pleasing cover drive gets all the glamour and attention. Meanwhile really good batsmen know that the on drive is a far more useful shot.
When played well it’s safe suitable in any situation from opening in a 2 day game to the last over of a Twenty20 match. You can use it to work the ball into gaps or score boundaries.
Plus, on driving requires you to have perfect balance and alignment to the ball, meaning your technique in other straight bat and flick/glance shots improves.
When do you use this slice of batting perfection?
Free runs: The traditional leg stump half volley
There are times when the coaching book is dead on, even in these days of switch hits and dilscoops. If you get a half volley on leg stump you hit it back towards mid on with the full face of the bat:
Against the ball moving in, you can play the shot to a ball on middle and leg or middle stump as the angle will take the ball down the leg side.
In all cases, your balance and body position need to be correct to allow you to swing the bat in a straight line. It’s here a lot of batsmen go wrong and end up hitting the ball across the line through square leg.
Avoid this by getting in the nets and facing left arm over bowlers (or right arm over if you are left handed) who can swing it in. This forces you to stay in the right position.
If you get this right it’s a wonderfully safe shot. You are unlikely to edge it and it’s difficult for an umpire to give an LBW decision with the ball on the leg side.
With the field up in longer games you can easily get a four by beating the fielder. If the man is back you can pick up an easy single to rotate the strike.
If you are hitting out you can adapt the shot slightly with the back and across movement. The idea here is that you move deep enough back into your crease to sit back and get underneath the half volley, hitting it over mid on.
Click here and here to see more details on how to do that.
Breaking the mould: Hitting a length ball
The on drive is also a safe way to bat innovatively.
You probably think of shots like the reverse sweep when you think of innovation. In the right circumstances the on drive is just as creative.
Use the on drive to try and hit a length ball in the following situations:
- The ball is not moving in the air or off the pitch
- The wicket is true with bounce that is not too high
Here you can trust the line and height of the ball and play the shot in the same way. The only difference is that you need to get your hands higher because the ball bounces more than a half volley.
The key is to not change the target area. Keep aiming for mid on. If you misjudge you can adapt by closing the face and hitting squarer with a flick or glance (more on that in another article). You are in the right position either way. The ideal is to hit with the full face.
You are not limited to playing the shot to a leg sump line either.
As the ball is not moving you can safely move across the crease to align yourself as if it is a leg stump line, then hit the ball past mid on.
The risk is higher because if you misjudge you are much more likely to get bowled or LBW. It’s not something you want to do when playing an orthodox innings. A good time to do this is when you are trying to rotate the strike against medium pace and spin bowlers and can’t score from traditional methods.
If you only work on one shot, make it the on drive. It’s safe, effective and makes you better at other shots automatically.
For video tips and drills on how to get a perfect on drive, click here.