Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, sheds light on the biggest hoax in batting.
Cricket has advanced in so many ways in the last 60 years. So why do we still hold onto the same ideas when it comes to classical batting technique?
Coaches and players have always called batting a side on game. But I have learned that batting is more front on than side on.
In my experience, when I say this most people disagree instantly and switch off.
But I always try to find out why people don't want to hear it.
Inevitably they will point to the textbook, or something they saw a well-known player do or say on TV. That would be fine if it was true, but you need to have logical evidence to back up your argument.
Proof Batting is not side on
I have been through the English system as a player and a coach, from Somerset u12s, South region u15s, Young England and finally playing for Somerset as a first-class cricketer. I started coaching when I was 17 over 30 years ago. I have seen countless players from the greats through to current Internationals through to total beginners, often up as close as it is possible to get.
From the lab of these thousands of players and millions of shots I have seen played I have learned the truth.
As a specialist, professional batting coach and my findings are that batting sideways on restricts you as a batter. I have no doubt that it is a flawed technical way of playing and makes players skill levels limited, especially players who would are talented but have never played to their full potential because they are adopting or are being coached flawed techniques.
Being side on starts your head off in an initial offset position meaning poor balance and alignment, this is difficult to re-correct when the ball is flying towards you at 90mph.
Sideways on only means you are effective on deliveries outside off stump only. This makes it difficult to play consistently well in the V. It makes it particularly difficult play through mid-on without getting blocked off and playing around your front pad. You are limiting your range of shots.
Whilst many people will think my thoughts are radical, it’s certainly not as radical as a left-handed switch hit or reverse sweep, which players are implementing and coaches are coaching.
Rewriting the batting textbook
So what is the alternative?
Playing straight and through mid-on you need to be open with your knees and laces pointing down the wicket.
Being more open will arm you with a technique that allows you to score through 360 degrees. It gives you a head start with your balance and alignment of bat to ball. Yet, you still have the option to turn slightly more sideways when you need to get across to the off side to play the off drive. It's easier to go from slightly open to slightly more side on to play the off drive rather than being too side on and trying to reopen to play through straight and mid-on as you have already started tipping to the off side. From this side on position it is difficult to re-open and play well in the V.
It's no surprise that the great Sir Vivian Richards played this way. Sir Viv was more open than most in his stance and when he hit straight and through mid-on he was well balanced and aligned and had great access to the ball. His shoulder was never in the way therefore his head was always in a great position and with a more open body position he could hit the ball wherever he wanted.
If Sir Viv was side on he may not have scored as many runs as he did nor could have taken bowling apart as destructively ad he did.
Occasionally Viv used to play side on and play around his pad on purpose when he was improvising. But when he wanted to he could play attacking shots in the V as correctly as anyone, using the open method.
Towards a new basic technique
I firmly believe that "one size fits all" with basic batting technique, this makes it clear and simple to identify what to do as a player and a coach.
No mixed messages and less time wasted implementing trial and error.
Through coaching in the trenches I have found what is the most effective technique. I feel we should all use this best practice for the benefit of all players.
Because it makes batting easier.
I realize this is a big statement but I have based it on outcome against a series of specific angles and progressive swing types on a bowling machine.
I call it The 4 Angles methodology.
This sequence of angles exposes batting technique as we know it teaches the more effective "open" method.
My 4 Angles system develops and accesses the ABC of basic batting technique (Alignment, Balance, Completion of Shot). A player needs to get these in order before they progress on to nets and middle practice. The best technique is the one that works against all angles and swing types, you will find that that open works and side-on is inefficient.
ABC is the foundations of correct batting technique.
Every talented cricketer from 11 year olds to the professional game should aspire to be able to play all the angles efficiently with ease.
Cricket nowadays is more about attacking the bowlers through 360 degrees and it is massively important to have technique that allows you to score do this. Being more open and hitting in the V with your laces pointing down the wicket more will help you to do this with minimum risk of getting out.
I run my CCM Academy here in the UK and we have been using 4 Angles for some time. All the players can play effectively well in the V and are especially good at the on and straight drives. The players all enjoy positive performances and 5 boys are playing professional cricket.
Detailed videos of the 4 Angles system and the more open batting techniques can be found by clicking here.