The basics of batting against spin are different to the basics of batting.
“Wait,” I hear you cry. “The basics are the same! Watch the ball, be balanced, play straight!”
And yes, that’s true. But after these things, the basics change very quickly.
So that means - when you are learning or teaching batting - you better look at playing spin and seam as different skills.
You need to work on both independently.
So, what’s the difference?
Front foot play
Work hard against spin.
Playing spin on the front foot needs much more physical effort than playing seam. Against pace bowling you can stand, hit the ball and the speed does the work. When the spinner is on, it’s down to your body and bat to put power into the ball.
So, your movements need to be different.
Naturally, you start in a comfortable stance, watching the ball.
Then things change.
You need to be more dynamic against spin you need to be ready to move fast and confidently into the shot. This could be:
- Stand still but bend your legs - or lean forward - more to build up energy ready to move
- Use a Forward press trigger move to get into a powerful position.
When you work out it’s a front foot shot, you need to work much harder to get to the pitch of the ball. This is vital because if you give the ball time to turn off the pitch you are giving the bowler the advantage.
So, unless it is a long half volley or full toss, this means either
- Coming down the wicket
Using your feet and playing with the full face is skill is crucial to any player who wants to take on the spinning ball.
In fact, I would call it a basic. Anyone from 12 years old upwards should be working on it if they face spinners.
Aim to hit the ball on the half volley with control along the ground by hitting on the downswing. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to hit the leather off it. Using your feet is a shot to show control, not a way to power hit.
Sweeping is more risky, and comes naturally to some more than others, but is a good option when performed with good control and technique. I wouldn’t consider it a basic, but it’s certainly something to consider.
Back foot basics
As with the front foot, you set up with your best way of playing spin. Let’s say it’s a forward press. However, when you move back, things are different from the basics of batting again.
Your aim is to get back as far as possible in the crease to give you time to adjust to the turn and bounce.
You also use the crease dynamically. When the ball turns in to you, you can go straight back onto leg stump. When it turns away you can go back and across like you were taught in the old days.
Either way, you can use the full face of the bat to hit the ball either with the spin or into the spin, depending on your preference. Either way - or both ways - is fine and another basic skill.
Although it’s not a basic, you can also teach yourself to play the ball into gaps by using your body and bat angle. This will allow you to pick up singles by putting balls into areas where fielders are on the defence.
From the back foot you can also cut and pull bad balls in the traditional manner.
So, there are key differences to playing spin. Enough of them that your approach to batting and your technique change in the following ways:
- Setup in a more powerful position than against seamer.
- Learn to get to the pitch of the ball and drive with the full face of the bat along the ground.
- Learn to get as far as possible from the pitch on the back foot and drive with the full face of the bat along the ground.
- Make sure you are moving back appropriately to the type of spin: straight back for turning in, back and across for turning away.
These are the basics. Every batter who faces spinners needs a method and these simple skills allow you to build one. Without it, you are left trying to play spinners like seamers and reducing your chances of success.