Today’s article is a guest post by club cricketer and coach, AB.
Batsmen spend years practicing coping with increasingly quicker bowling.
Naturally your main improvement comes by training your feet to move early and instinctively as soon as you pick up the line and length out of the bowler's hand.
This makes perfect sense because you’re automatically in the right position to play the appropriate shot without ever having to think about your feet.
Unfortunately this instinctive early footwork - whilst being the main thing that makes it possible to play comfortably against genuinely quick bowling - is the very thing that makes you a bad player of spin bowling.
This is because early footwork leads to committing to a shot before you have picked up length.
Many batsmen move into position as soon as the ball is released, before realising too late that they have been deceived by the flight and are now in completely the wrong position to play the ball.
Don’t move your feet
So, whenever facing a spinner, repress your instinctive urge to move your feet as soon as the ball is released.
Instead simply stand still and watch the ball as closely as possible until it starts to descend.
Standing still allows better judgement of dip and turn. With a more accurate idea of where and when you want to intercept the ball, you can then footwork to play a confident shot.
There are really only four pieces of footwork you ever need to play against spin: they're all based on taking your time and making sure you have correctly judged the length before committing:
- The over-pitched ball: Quickly get right to the pitch and drive through the line: hit either straight down the ground or with the spin, but never directly against the spin. Aggression depends on the field settings and the game situation. Only play this shot when absolutely confident you can get right to the pitch of the ball (otherwise it will lead to disaster).
- The good length ball: The ball is full enough that you can't go back to play it off the pitch, but not quite full enough to hit confidently on the half volley. Instead defend and wait for a better ball to attack later in the over. Get well forward and use bat and pad together to cover any spin. Get a good stride in to take LBW out of the equation as much as possible.
- The under-pitched ball: Get as far back in your crease as you can and work the ball away along the ground through a gap in the field. Don't commit to a big aggressive shot to early as you will need to be able to adjust your shot should the ball do something unexpected. Simply try and get it away safely though the infield with a controlled back foot drive, a clip off the legs, or a square cut.
- The genuinely bad ball: Either a thigh-high full toss or a genuine long hop. Don't mess around with these freebies, you have to put these balls away or your teammates in the pavilion will start grumbling: quickly get in line, square yourself up, and (unless it's really wide outside off stump) hammer it over midwicket for six.
Get more technical advice and drills on playing spin here.