13 year old Ben Baruch is back for another in depth look at batting strategy. This time he examines what we mean when we say 'Play the high percentage shots'.
What are high percentage shots?
If the ball goes in the air, does that make it a low percentage shot? Are shots the same percentage with different bowling or batting?
This will help you decide what shots are the safest early on.
As a side note, if you are better at a shot, most of the time it will be a higher percentage shot. It may be a good idea to try and learn to play the percentage shots, to increase the chance of playing yourself in.
Against fast bowling
- Leave. As long as the ball is not hitting the stumps, this is the best thing to do. For starters, you have been able to see how fast the bowler is bowling, how the pitch is playing and how the bowling is going to be without any effort at all. You are safe to face the next ball, without even moving a muscle. The other thing that makes this tactic especially useful against fast bowling is that in wears them down and annoys them. The strike bowler’s job is to get batsmen out. They put loads of effort into doing so. It is as if you are saying, “bowl at me, this is not worth any effort”. A few runs and suddenly, you’ve seen their best bowler off and he stomps down to fine leg, annoyed that he hasn’t done his job. Each time a fast bowler bowls he is using up energy. With you not playing at the ball he will tire quickly.
- Check Drive. This helps against fast bowling because the full face of the bat gives you more to hit the ball with. If you are not seeing the well, this effectively makes the ball bigger. There is no follow-through needed because you use the pace of the bowler to hit the ball hard. Sachin Tendulkar has the best back foot check drive in the world.
- Leg Glance. If the ball is on your pads, going down the leg side, the leg glance can get you loads of runs. This is because, again, you are using the pace or the bowler. To play it well, start with a regulation forward defence. When you see the going down the leg side, stand up tall and bring your front foot next to your back foot, keeping your weight forward. It is very important not to play around your front leg. As the ball comes in contact with the bat, close the face of the bat to angle to ball onto the leg side. Do not try too hard as it will come naturally to you. Depending on how much you turn the face will decide on where the ball goes, between backward square leg and the wicket keeper. Flick your wrists more the play the ball in front of square, although this is dangerous to a really fast bowler. Don’t leg glance off your pads or away from your body, as they almost always lead to lbws and caught behinds respectively.
- Forward Defence. Always defend with your bat. You wouldn’t pad up to a seamer, so why a spinner? If you play with the pad by the bat, you really increase the ways you can get out. The trick is to play with the bat in front of the pad, but not to leave enough of a gap to get bowled. Also, if you play with both soft hand and soft arms, you can keep the ball down. You can also let your bat ride with the spin. This means you can play the ball as it spins. You can turn the ball 'round the corner' and pick up singles. If you play defensively, the soft hands and arms ensure you cannot get caught.
- 'Full-blooded' Drive. This is the other type of drive. It is still where you get your foot to the pitch of the ball and swing through the line, but it is slightly different to the check drive. For the check drive, the bat stops just after contact. The full-blooded drive is where you relax your wrists after contact and follow through over your shoulder, like a golf swing. You can only play this to a half volley to keep this on the ground. This is good to spinners because as you get over the ball you can smother the spin, and then hit the ball hard. You could also come down the pitch to make a half volley and upset the bowler’s length. However, this is not nearly as safe because you can be stumped, so you have to be in full control and be sure to hit it.
- The Conventional Sweep. The conventional sweep is a sweep through the on side on the floor, as opposed to the reverse sweep, slog sweep or the 'switch hit' that Kevin Pietersen does. If the ball is turning a lot then it can actually be safer than the drive. This is because, as it is cross-batted, you can adjust to the turn of the ball. The trick is to get down low, take a big stride out and make sure you get the back leg on the ground. If you don’t, the bat will be pointing downwards and you can top edge it into your face. The bat should be parallel to the ground on contact. Hit down on the ball or roll your wrists, whichever is easiest, to keep the ball down.
If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.