How to take guard | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to take guard

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PitchVision Academy batting coach Gary Palmer explains the basics of taking guard. For more technical tips try Gary's exclusive course: Improve your batting with simple changes to your setup.

You take guard so you know where your stumps are when you are in your stance. This is important because if you know where your stumps are, you know what balls to play and what balls to leave when you are defending.

Players fine tune this by taking a guard on a particular stump to suit their preferred scoring areas.

Leg stump (or 1 Leg)

Players that take leg stump are generally players who like to score their runs on the off side. It is easy to go off sided from this 'inside out' position.

The down side of taking off stump is that you are stepping across to the off side more frequently. This means that when the ball is straight you not as well aligned and have to get your shoulder round more. You also risk being bowled as you are not covering your stumps.

Middle stump

Players who hit the ball well in the 'v' and especially through mid on prefer this guard. I would advise you to take middle for the following reasons:

  • You minimise the chances of being bowled.
  • You are well aligned and therefore minimise the chances of playing around your front pad.
  • It is easier to make the decision to leave the ball outside off stump because as soon as you turn your shoulder to play on the off side this is a good cue for you to let you know you can leave the ball.

Middle and leg (or 2 Legs)

This guard is a compromise of the previous two. You are at less risk of being bowled compared to the leg stump guard, but more risk than the middle stump guard. However, you are at more risk of LBW and your eye line may be outside off stump, causing you to play at balls you can leave.

Your guard is a personal choice (remember it's only a matter of inches). Know the benefits and risks and you can select one that best suits your game.

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I take guard on middle and off. I started doing this towards the end of last season as I realised that i was getting out because of being bowled rarther that LBW. Also im much stronger off my legs and my weakness is the cover drive. This way balls just outside my off stump i can leave or off drive.

Good move jack.

I take center, but I am really, really terrible at flicking off my legs, so I should probably take leg. My off drives are good, and occasionally I will miss or edge a cover drive, but I have been out 5 times this season trying to flick balls on my legs or wider.

Try middle and leg and work on your flick off the legs with throwdowns.

Ok, I will if I remember in match situations. I always keep forgetting to take off in the nets as well so I can work off my legs.

I will also try to work on the throw downs.

Hi, I take leg n thats where I place my bat and my toes (I have quite big feet!) But I will mainly get out LBW very rarely bowled or caught...

do I need to try and change guard, would that help?

I take a leg stump guard mainly because I am quite considerably stronger on the off side than the leg side, and because I am more confident of leaving a ball on the leg side as I know it will definitely miss leg stump.

However I do get bowled quite often (three out of my last six innings)and I am weak on the leg side.

What am I supposed to do?

Maybe try too legs? You may feel more confident leaving them than taking leg.

Also, you may be getting bowled becuase you are taking leg and have might be lacking in off-stump awareness?

Just some ideas

to david

i play like jack so i am thinking of taking a middle-off stump guard.

so should i ask for middle and off or is it called something else

to david

i play like jack so i am thinking of taking a middle-off stump guard.

so should i ask for middle and off or is it called something else

It's very odd to take a middle-off guard. Why do you do that?

I have worked on my cover drive over pre-season and the early part of this year, making it 1 of my strongest shots, especially off the foot foot. I'm still taking middle and off as it means I get bowled less and I play mens 2nds cricket where we umpire our own team mates. This leads to LBW discisions only being given when it is plum.
Are there any other guards you could suggest David apart from the 1s above

I would say middle is a lot more sensible as middle/off may close you off. If you are a strong off side player, leg stump is more sensible as you can hit inside out easier.

What do you mean by 'closed off?' At the moment I'm stuggling to flick off my legs, even more so off the back foot. Do you think this could b a technical problem or is taking middle and off not helping? thanks

Closed off means your front left is more towards the off side than your back leg when playing a shot. This is OK for cover drives (it's supposed to be like that) but for shots of the legs you front pad is getting in the way of the swing of your bat. You risk getting out LBW or bowled to the swinging ball and missing easy runs down the leg side.

You can avoid it by keeping your front shoulder pointing towards the bowler, or slightly open, and taking a more leg side guard.

Thanks David
I've been told a trigger movement back and across would help my batting as I have been bowled through the gate a on couple of occasions this season. I've also been told that I'm the swing of my bat isn't perfectly straight through the line when straight or on driving. Would having a more open stance help this? e.g having my back foot on middle ans my front foot on middle and leg? thanks

Hi Jack, good question. The answer would depend on what your technical issue is. Getting bowled is, as you say, usually down to a downswing that is not straight. However, it's rare that a simple change of stance fixes the problem. Most times it is a problem with grip, balance or top hand control. Although, a slightly open stance can't hurt, I would look at other issues first.

I gave it a try this weekend for the under 16s and the mens game 2day. I took middle and off as per usual, but just having my back foot there, and my front foot roughly over middle. Didn't help looking at the runs over scored, but it was down to a good ball for a change and the weather than ended my innings an over in. Did feel comfortable tho.
A guy I play with in the 2nds on a saturday says that my back foot is liable to slip backwards while driving. This doesn't happen often, but it only takes 1 mistake to be back in the changing rooms as I've found out quite a few times this year by being bowled on my leg stump by a half volley or caught chipping 1 up to cover or mid off.

I find that the issue with quite a few people who are getting bowled is that the chin and shoulder are seperating as they move to the ball, ie. when you look up at the bowler in your stance, your chin and front shoulder are quite close together, but when you step to the ball your shoulder may stay pointing at the ball and your chin pushes across so that the front shoulder and your ear are more closely aligned. This creates a gap between bat and pad that can leave your stumps unprotected!
Practice keeping your chin close to your shoulder as you step to the ball.
Good Luck!

Thanks John
I'll give it a go wednesday night at training.

If you take guard middle and off what would you ask the umpire for because for middle you simply ask for middle/centre and for middle and leg you ask for 2. So would it simply be middle and off?

Simply - middle and off. It's rare to take that guard though. Why are you doing it?

i used to have a leg 1 guard and i always used to get bowled
but since iv taken my middle and leg, i havnt been bowled once. its probably one of the best things to happen to my batting. my mates always say wen i got bowled before it was pretty much leg stump all the time.

1 more ting
if ur weak on your leg side shots then change ur guard temporerily to a middle or a middle and off guard as this means straight balls must go onb the leg side and u get more practice, when uv mastered the leg side shots then change it back to what it was before. iv tried this and WOW

Gary's advice is spot on. When I was learning how to play my coach insisted that I take guard on middle even though I was rather weak off my pads. Your flick does get better with practice as Louis has said. Standing on middle has let me score most of my runs down the ground and leave with confidence.

I used to take no guard, instead going by the markings already on the pitch by players who (9 times out of 10) take middle-to-middle. However, this season, I changed my style a little - taking a small shuffle across to off side just before the ball is bowled, á la Simon Katich - and with it I decided to start taking leg-to-leg guard. Since this change, my scores have been 0* (from 10 balls), 0 (4) and 0 (2). Is it worth moving to middle-and-leg, back to middle, or something else entirely?

Bear in mind that I have a very strong cut shot (in fact, I occasionally sneak a ball through or over the slips), am poor on my leg side, can drive with confidence but not technique, and can be a defensive wall when needed.


I take Leg stump guard, because I have fear of bowled from backside means leg stump when I playing to off and being in front foot position, what I should take guard for minimize the chance of being bowled through leg stump?

Middle stump is a safe bet, but you need to make sure you head is over off stump in your stance and not too far to the off side to prevent falling over and getting closed off.

Thank You Very Much,

I will work on your suggestion and advice.

Again Thanks Smiling


I take Leg guard. I mostly like playing in the V. I dont get into a good position on the Pull shot on leg guard. I was think of take a middle and leg guard for playing the pull shot. Will that help me?.

I would first look at your foot movement before changing guard. It's not usually the guard that causes the problem in these situations.

Thanks David

I take guard on either middle and leg or leg depending on the bowling. The reason for this is that I am generally stronger through the offside. If you are strong through the off side you should be able to cover your off stump with your natural trigger movement: back and across. I used to struggle with my leg side shots and my advice would be to practice keeping your head still and over the ball; just as on the offside, balance is about 90% of batting. It is easier to do this if you don't need to move to the ball from off or middle, but simply shift your weight forward or back from leg stump. If you are trying to 'flick' balls that are straight and you are not strong in this area, you will either not move your feet and risk being out leg before, or fall away from the ball as you reach for it down leg. Watch the following video of Mark Waugh playing off his legs. Notice that before the ball is bowled you can see all three stumps, and he moves into the ball rather than wasting precious time moving back toward it from middle and off stump.

I have always taken guard on middle since i can remember but recentley i have been getting bowled on off stump when playing forward defensives. They have not been through the gate wither. the question is do i need to STAND on middle or put my bat on it? Also i am experimenting standing on leg and moving across to gain momentum.

Do you realize that only people that already know what this means can make sense of the explanation? You never describe what it is you do to take guard. Great discussion of the theory. Try it with a rank amateur that has never seen cricket. They will say, "Fine, but what do I DO?". An article on "How to take guard" must surely include mention of the banter with the umpire, physically marking the crease...get the idea?

Great idea John, I look forward to you submitting your article to the site.

I take middle and keep getting bowled, shud I take middle n off???

If you're not getting bat on ball, you'll likely given LBW instead.

Watch the ball, get your front foot to the pitch of it and bring the bat down straight through the line.

The main reason for taking guard is to know where your off stump is. Your eyes should be over that stump. it make no difference if you play off side or leg if you are unable to judge if the ball will hit the stumps. Eyes over off, watch the ball .....simple!!!

I tend to agree, guard is rarely the problem for a batsman who is getting bowled a lot.

You say that and its 90% true, but I changed guard three years ago from leg to middle and get bowled a whole lot less now. Its not uncommon to get a jaffa in the first few overs, that moves away off the pitch and beats the outside edge. When I had a legstump guard, that would probably have clipped my off bail, but now it sails harmlessly through to the keeper. It surprised me how such a simple change made such a big difference.

You can't discount the psychological benefit, that is true.

Can you please tell me, how to take a middle and off stump guard. I have not ever seen anyone taking that guard.

Why would you?

I just want to know, b'coz i've heard that sehwag is now taking that guard.

i need your help. Sometimes, i face difficulties while defending a spin delivery pitched on good length area. And sometimes i become unable to read that delivery, whether it will turn or not. So what should i do. And also tell me, which is the best guard in your opinion.

I have to tell you that you won't be as good as Sehwag by copying a guard he probably isn't using.

I got bold from the off stump while playing at backfoot in my last three innings. I take a leg stump guard. Should i change my guard. Please suggest me a suitable guard.

I would worry less about your guard and more about your setup. You are clearly getting in the wrong position.

Unless the ball has kept low, you shouldn't be getting bowled off the backfoot, because you should really be going forward to any ball full enough to hit the stumps.

Hi there. Recently I've being taking guard on middle/leg and have a problem with knowing what to play at and what to not. I keep playing loose shots and defending balls outside my offstump - generally not knowing its location and thus edging balls way outside its line which should be ignored. I used to get given lbw alot but have corrected this with an open stance and have a solid defensive to most things straight. Is there anything that can be done to help?

Hi, I'm Sam and my front foot play is generally limited from extra cover (drive) to fine leg (glance). However, I can play all round the wicket off the back foot. Wider fuller balls tend to mean that I have to leave the ball or I skew it off to point when aiming for cover. Although I have managed ok it would be preferable to sort this problem out

jag vill bli sjuten på mina båda 2armar och båda 2 bena
och det är all var såmm jag säger

Play for your strengths, not weaknesses... You'll be more consistent...

I have batsmen take all sorts of guard. Especially against spinners.. Ive seen batsmen take off stump to Murali, and EVEN outside off stump! What is the benefit of this? Would you take different guards to spinners/quickies??

I like to play pull shots (really the only shot that I can hit to the boundary so I want to take guard further over the wicket (middle/off) instead of what I usually do (2 legs) but I don't know what it's called.

Basically, 1 is leg stump. 2 is middle/leg. 3 is middle stump. 4 is middle/off. 5 is off stump. Just ask for middle and off, the umpire should know this. Good luck

Hi David, I ask for middle and off but i stand on leg and trigger on to my mark. im strong on my of side so you might say "well ask for leg or 2" but im good at playing safe or in the "V" is that ok with you?

Whatever works for you DT.

hey david, in your opinion would taking guard on middle ánd leg stump with front foot on leg and the back foot on middle for a right hander be the best option for a stance as it allows your body to be slightly open, your eyes should also be pretty much over off stump and your in a reletivley good position to play well through both the off and on sides, the risk of bowled and lbw isnt a real danger with this guard either, your thoughts?

It's a good guard. It's not the best in all circumstances but as long as you are well aligned and balanced it can do a job.

thanks for the reply, would there be any changes you would make with a guard and stance like this though?

Hey I am a right hander and I take a leg stump guard I feel a slight niggle in my left hip whenever am in my batting stance.It starts off after a few mins after I start batting in the nets.What do you think is the reason behind this?? You think my weight is off balance??

I take leg stump guard. it is very useful for me during powerplays. I score 70% of runs in straight drive. this guard is very useful to clear field ..


I have an ability to hit any drive I am attempting through the covers. That includes balls I am trying to hit through Mid On or Straight.

Why is this happening?!?! I have tried to open my stance more, hit earlier, even change my grip but all are not helping.

I think I may be leaning over too much, is this a likely cause?

Please can you offer any advice.



hi dear,

last time when i got out it was a good length ball when i flicked and then carried to wicket keeper. i dont know what went wrong with me.Is there any changes should i make on stance or my grip or anything in my style.

can u drop an advice for me



hello i m a left hand batsman.presently i m taking the middle guard during batting. please suggest me which guard should i take.

Have you read the article? There are some clues in there.

I'm new to cricket and had my first club match ever today. I really don't understand taking guard. So say I choose middle stump, I draw a line with my bat on there. Then I stand at the crease, on the line or do I have me toes on the line? Then if the ball is pitches on the off side of the line, I should play an off side shot or leave and vice versa. Have I understood this correctly? Thanks.

Normally I put my back foot big toe on the cross marked by the crease and the line I marked with my spike on middle stump. That was you always know where you are.

If the ball is heading towards the stumps, play it as straight as possible because you can't afford to miss it. If its going down leg play a leg side shot, if its outside off play an offside shot. Simple.

I take a leg stump guard. I am bowled out more often. I am good on the leg than off. What should I do.

I would suggest looking at your technique before you decide on your guard. That said. Make sure your eyes are over off stump in your guard.

I must say that i tend to differ my guard depending entirely on what the bowler is bowling and what the pitch is doing. For example, if there is a lot of bounce in the track I know I'm not going to get bowled or LBW because the ball will miss the stumps, so I take a guard that suits the bowlers action, whether this be middle and off or 2 legs. in the reverse, if the track is keeping low, is slow, or there is a spinner I would change my guard accordingly tending towards 2 legs. I open the batting for my first team so as a 17 year old I am at a reasonably high standard, but off-stump awareness is key to whichever guard you take. I know exactly where my off-stump is whether is take 2 legs or middle and off so it makes no difference to me, what the pitch is doing and the type of bowler makes my choice for me.

I would also like to make a comment, when people keep saying that it is rare for a middle and off guard, or sehwag probably doesn't take it, you will find most professional cricketers take a number of different guards during a match and players who are strong off side in international cricket will go against convention and generally take middle and off as the quality of both pitch and bowling is to a standard where those shots and the batsman's technique are able to be played from middle and off. I know that Sehwag, Jayawardene, Hashim Amla and Michael Vaughan have all tended towards this.

Sorry for the long spiel hope this helps

sir, i take leg stump early ... doing that i edged a lot of balls around off stump trying to drive ...but now i am taking middle stump that is a lot better for me ... now i am feeling more comfortable but i can't free my arm as well as past to play more off side ... Sir Please Help me on this problem

I've just taken up cricket again after a 20 year absence. I took middle guard and got bowled. I've taken off stump now because I don't want to get bowled. This was successful in the next 2 innings. I don't fear LBW because in our grade, the batting team supplies the umpire and it is almost impossible to get out LBW. I score mostly on the offside so I guess my guard is unusual.

Hi , i bat on off stump but don't have a trigger movement. I seem to be gettibg out LBW a lot getting the ball hitting leg stump. Any help? Cheers.

I've had a very poor season with the bat this year and I've noticed in a lot of games I keep getting bowled on off stump with the forward defensive shot. I take middle stump guard. I can't seem to solve this problem. I'm not sure if its because my bat is angled and doesnt come straight through the line of the ball or whether its because I'm playing inside the line of the ball. I rarely get out LBW so would taking middle and off stump guard be a good solution? Or do I just need to work on my technique? Any suggestions would be extremely grateful as to how I can reduce this problem.

Am I wrong in thinking that..........about 1994 West a tour...made the positions of the three stumps with an angle grinder? Anyway good move to speed up play

im week in my off side what I have to do

Hi, I've always taken middle and off. I'm very good at judging which balls I can leave.

My leg glance, on drive, forward defensive and pull are all good shots that rarely cause me trouble. My cover drive and cut are terrible and often cause me to hit the ball in the air. So I tend to ignore anything outside off stump, a fact which bowlers often notice, leaving me mired. When they do this I eventually get frustrated, try to cover drive or cut, and quickly get out.

Recently I read 'Boycott on Batting', where he says that the point of a guard is to get your eyes over off stump. I must stand up much straighter than he did, because to get my eyes over off in stance I need to take an off stump guard. This strikes me as a bad idea, although I'm not terribly sure why.

I've noticed various friends who lean over a lot are very good on off side but can't play off their legs, with them standing up straighter seems to help their leg side play instantly.

Should I maybe try to lean over to off a bit more to get my eyes over the off stump? Will that lead to better off side shots, presumably at the cost of worse leg side shots?

Or should I just bite the bullet, take guard on off, and play everything straight to leg side?

Or something else?

what is the benifit of keeping a large gap between the 2 legs while batting?

i have got the exact same problem and I am not sure why either

Im quite strong off my feet with the leg side flick. I usually play the flick between the fine leg at mid wicket regions well and have a decent off and cover drive. I can play a handy pull and square cut but not as consistent as I would want and I have problems nicking off my square drives. I usually take either leg stump or 2 leg as I shuffle to the off slightly when batting. I tend to get out either bowled or caught behind..any advice to improve this?