LBW always seems a bit unfair. You are sure it was sliding down the leg side, but when you look up the umpire's finger is slowly raising.
Your team mates console you by telling you it was a shocker and you can't get the umpires these days. Deep in your heart you wonder why it keeps happening to you more than anyone else. You know its not likely that a whole series of umpires have bad eyesight or are looking to get off the pitch early because it's getting late.
Maybe it's you.
Maybe you are the classic "big candidate". (As my team calls the players who look like they are going to get out LBW.)
Yeah, so why am I getting out LBW?
First, we need to establish if there is a problem at all.
If you have got out three times in a row to LBW then the red warning light is flashing, but we are not at full troubleshooting mode yet. It may be no fault of your own. You might get a bad decision, followed by a brilliant fast inswinging yorker and then a lazy shot: Three different reasons and only one in your control.
So, let's make sure there is a pattern first.
Ask yourself: Are you getting out in the same way repeatedly? For example, early on when the ball is swinging but the pace is gentle are you still getting trapped? That's a trend that needs further examination.
I'm sure it's more than bad luck, what's happening?
The first thing I look for in the LBW candidate is "falling over".
What does that mean?
Simply, you are strong on the off side, especially on the cover drive, so you always have half an eye on playing that shot. It's sensible, it's a strong area.
However, if you misjudge the ball and it's not a wide half volley you are in a bad position:
- Your front foot is pointing to extra cover.
- Your backlift goes behind your body (you can sometimes even see this in the stance).
- Your head is leaning to the off side, sending your weight, and feet, towards extra cover.
One or more of these leads to you stepping in front of your stumps - sometimes called "planting" - and having to move your bat around your front leg. When you are too slow, the ball hits you dead in front.
The bottom line is that your balance is wrong.
OK. How do I get my balance right again?
Some people can get away with balance that is a little off. Graeme Smith scored buckets of runs and always looked like he was about to be out LBW, even on two hundred!
However, assuming you are not doing as well as Smith, you can do a simple drill to correct your balance.
Face left arm bowling (for a right handed bat).
Open your stance a little to make sure both eyes are looking at the bowler then get on with it. You'll adapt as time goes on as you will be forced to play straighter and not through the covers.
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Bowling machine set up for left arm bowling, ball swinging in.
- Right arm around bowling, throwdowns or sidearm.
- Left arm over bowling, throwdowns or sidearm.
This drill will allow you to work out your way of playing and adjust because it exaggerates your flaw so much you have to change to survive.
Give it a go over a few sessions and watch the difference it makes.