Here comes the most ultimate name drop of all time!
There was this time in 2008, in Chennai, when I got the opportunity to throw some balls at the one and only Sachin Tendulkar.
OMG, it was such an amazing thrill to have 15 minutes with the great man.
I asked Sachin what he wanted to work on and he said he wanted to concentrate on hitting the ball really late as he had found himself “feeling for the ball” in his last few innings before the practice session.
I then asked him what sort of things he had done in the past when he felt his contacts were getting ahead of himself. Sachin replied with
"I play a game that I call Divots".
"Divots" was a game that he had played as a child when having throwdowns into the side of nets ahead of practicing his cricket against bowlers or going into the match. These throw down sessions were held early in the morning, often on the Oval Maidan in Mumbai where the overnight dew had left the top surface of the soil a little damp.
- Sachin would face up to the thrower, the ball would bounce (creating a divott and slowing the ball down).
- Sachin would look to make late contact with the ball, focusing on transferring his weight effectively and being patient: Letting the ball come all the way into his hitting zone.
- The aim of the drill was to create a Post-Contact “Second Divot” in the ground as the ball travels off of the bat.
- Sachin wanted to create a ring of “Divots” as close as he could to his contact point.
This is a great practice drill for pre-game or in preparation for a net practice. But Sachin also told me that he would occasionally use the same drill in a net session against bowlers and also on 2 occasions, he actually did the drill in matchplay!
He told me that he did this for 20 minutes in one game when his technique felt a little out of sync. Sachin then found himself 31 not out at the end of the 20 minute period.
So how do I use this drill nowadays?
I find the Sachin Divot drill incredibly useful when working with batters on indoor surfaces. The surfaces are so true that it’s easy for the player to become complacent and to hit the ball without letting it come all the way up to them.
The grassless surface and bowling machine balls can sometimes mask the cracks in their technique as the batter can strike through the easy ball without worrying about making a mistake.
But we have to remember that real cricket, match play, is played outside on grass, with a ball that can seam and curve through the air.
Bowlers can also add in deception in terms of pace changes. All of this makes the job heck of a lot more difficult than when facing a slick 70mph bowling machine ball on an equally slick indoor surface.
The introduction of the Sachin Divots helps the player to focus on the process, allowing the ball to finish its journey and the player takes pride in striking it late so they can then point to the spot on the pitch where the resultant front foot drive has landed.
Sidearm or bowlers
The intention is for the player to make the front foot, post contact divot hit the ground before it hits the side net.
How many front foot shots can you link together where you meet the intention?
These are called "Divot Strings"
Compare your longest Divot String from session to session or compete against your batting partner to see who wins.
The Little Master was a fantastic trainer with bat in hand and I thank him for sharing his drill with me back in 2008.
It's helped many of the cricketers who I have thrown balls at over the years and could help you too!