The reverse sweep; it's fun to play and is a well-established shot. Yet many still think it a high-risk funky shot that should be banished from the game. So should you play the reverse sweep?
I was at a coaching workshop recently where this question came up. I was fascinated by the answers from the coaches. There certainly was not total agreement, but the discussion revealed a great deal, and it will help you decide to use, rather than misuse, this controversial shot.
If you want to learn how to play the reverse sweep, I recommend this video from Ian Pont, but before you do, read on to find out if you should!
The benefits of the reverse sweep
Let's be honest, the reverse sweep is an exciting shot. Playing straight, we all agree, is a safe and necessary batting skill. Yet, the appeal of the reverse is strong. It's cheeky and it annoys your team mate when you do it in nets to his bowling.
And honestly, for most people that is as far as it goes. It's a bit of fun and worth a go. Maybe you even try it in a game at the death but you are not expecting much. There is a lot of value to this. It breaks up dull practice. It makes cricket fun.
But there are real benefits too. Otherwise we would not see the shot played in top level cricket:
- Upsets a spinner's length.
- Puts the ball into a gap when the field is set with no cover behind square on the off side.
- Forcing the bowler to change field and make a gap elsewhere to exploit.
- Allows you to score when you are tied down.
All these are fair reasons to play the shot.
The problem with the reverse sweep
Yet despite all these benefits, the reverse sweep is still a shot that carries a lot of risk. It's easy to miss the ball and be out bowled or LBW. When you consider that you can't use it very often and when you can it will mostly bring a single, do the benefits outweigh the costs?
In our discussion at the workshop, the general feeling was that younger players are not thinking much about the problems of the shot. They want to play it because they have seen it on TV, they want to have fun with it. When you ask "why" they might come up with some of the reasons above but never mention the problems.
The end result is a player uses "doing Twenty20 practice" as an excuse to have a go. And beyond tactical or technical reasons, this is the biggest problem with the shot.
To play or not to play?
For me, that is the key to deciding if the shot is one to use.
If you have decided that this is a shot that you can use a lot and has a role as a risky but effective tactic then you should play it. Although I would advise learning it properly rather than just having a go at the end of a net session.
If you are doing it off the cuff, ask yourself if there is a genuine reason to use it or you are making an excuse. Of course, there is a place to have a bit of fun, even in the most "serious" net session so maybe your reason is simply to relax a little and tease the bowlers.
Bear in mind the coach may frown on your choice, so make sure you have a discussion before hand. The worst choice you can make is decide to play it off the cuff with no forward thinking. That will waste your time and make your coach cross.
So, simply, be mindful and make a rational decision by thinking it through. Then you will be ready.
What about you, do you reverse sweep or is it banned?