Research into top batsmen has show they can predict a delivery from tiny clues in a bowler's run up and action. They can read his mind.
I'm pretty sure this ability has been around forever, but in these days of limited overs and Twenty20 cricket, the ability to do so quickly is even more relevant, even for club players.
Increasingly, batsmen are having to become innovative and score runs in ways that 30 years ago would seem absurd: Hitting across the line, making room, sweeping and coming down the wicket are all accepted tactics in all formats.
It stands to reason that if you are going to take these calculated risks you need to know exactly where the ball is going to be as soon as possible. Reading that bowler in his run up would be ideal.
The key, like many things in cricket is experience.
The more you bat against a bowler, the better you get at picking up the clues. But until then try and identify his tactics from other clues:
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- The field. Where are the boundary fielders? What close catchers are there for what type of delivery? Where have gaps been left and are they there to tempt you or because the captain has run out of ideas?
- The wicketkeeper. Is the keeper up or back, and if so how far back? This will give you a clearer idea of what pace the bowler is going for.
- The Bowling action. A front on bowler tends to get more inswing while a side on bowler tends to get more outswing.
- The Grip. See if you can catch how the bowler is holding the ball. You might be able to see what he is planning â€“ swing, slower ball, arm ball or otherwise. For finger spinners also watch whether the ball is coming from the front or side of the hand as this will give you an idea of how much top spin or side spin the bowler users.
- The Position on the crease. A wide on the crease bowler will come at you from a very different angle from a stump to stump bowler. See where he is landing on the crease and work out wher the ball will go after pitching so you can choose which shot will be lowest risk for you.