The secret to playing straight and scoring quickly | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

The secret to playing straight and scoring quickly

Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy batting coach, takes fresh look at an old idea and finds out that you can be technically correct and score quickly. If you would like coaching from Gary, check out CCM Academy.

Playing straight with a checked drive in the 'V' from both front and back foot is something that all the great players have done well, and still do well today.

The full blooded drive looks good, but if you want to be an effective batsman you must learn to play the checked drive.

As you know, a check drive is a straight bat shot on the front or back foot that finishes with the toe of the bat pointing down the wicket. Your wrists don't break as they do with the full follow through:

checked front foot drive

Why check your drives?

The downside of using a full swing is that the wrists and leading elbow collapse too early during the shot. When this happens the full face of the bat is not presented towards the ball all the way through the shot:

incorrect technique: closed face of bat

To play straight you need to have a well aligned backswing and more importantly a pronounced high leading elbow position on completion of your shots. This is only possible using a check swing rather than a full swing:

Once you have these elements in your game, the check drive becomes the best option, even when trying to score quickly, for example in Twenty20 cricket:

  • It's easier to hit length ball 'on the up' successfully down the ground for boundaries.
  • It's easier to turn a length ball in to a scoring shot along the ground.
  • It lengthens your hitting zone when driving straight.
  • When improvising on the off side, you can open the face of the bat on contact with the ball when playing off drives. This opens up a large scoring are on the off side with a lower risk of getting out.
  • When improvising on the leg side you can close the face slightly on impact with the ball thus opening a wide scoring area on the leg side while again keeping risk low.

The high leading elbow allows you to have good control over where you are trying to place the ball while maintaining efficient technique. The elbow act like a sort of steering wheel which directs the ball where you want it to go while swinging the bat in as straight a line as possible to the target area.

Key technical points of the check drive

The diamond shape created in the backswing with the forearms must be maintained through to the completion of the shot where the hand and leading elbow finish as high as possible to form biomechanically perfect technique:

The higher the hands and leading elbow finish on completion of the shot the easier it is to play straight: The top hand needs to dominate the shot.

The bottom hand needs to be a hinge grip. This means the only the fingers and thumb remain on the handle of the bat but the palm is not in contact with it.

With the top hand firm and the bottom hand loose it is easier to complete your straight batted shots with high hands and leading elbow.

This allows you to swing the full face of the bat through the line of the ball for the maximum amount of time to positive effect.



If you want to learn everything there is to know about technique, check out Gary Palmer's interactive coaching courses. Gary is a coach with over 20 years experience teaching players to become first class cricketers. For the first time he has put his drills online, only at PitchVision Academy.


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When driving I have no problem with a high elbow or now that I think of it keeping a 'diamond' shape. This might be as a result of having a *very* straight backlift (which I would guess brings its own problems). The thing is, it seems *all* of my drives are checked drives, which kind of seems like a problem to me because the few times i've managed a 'full' drive I seem to get quite a bit more power. Should this concern me? I can't say much about my success in games as I don't get to do much batting, more because i'm an opening bowler (so that's my 'participation' taken care of) than any particular lack of skill.

So basically is it a problem not having a full blooded drive in my armoury?

I would say you don't need it. If you can time the ball well you can play only checked drives and score a great many runs. It's all about improving your timing.

Now i have a problem with my bat lift as when i lift it i point the bat 2 gully instead of the 1st slip or the keeper similar to viv richards anway can you help me try an straight my bat lift or even help me bat with angled bat lift.

When Sehwag used to have a backlift towards point his coach put a pole in the ground, stopping him from bringing his bat that far out, you may want to try that

thxs i might try that during the off season & at training

It's kind of funny that Bradman himself had a closed face of the bat. Check the old video here where he displays his shots:

thxs thats gd my coach has been trying to get my bat straight but i like it closed
only prob i had 2 games ova the weekend both games got out to the same ball trying to cover drive a wide half volley and edging to slips dont no y and its pissing me off cause ive look gd both games and in the nets i smoke them out of the middle. acn u help me asap?

david, i seem to be developing the nasty habbit of using too much bottom hand in my drives, and also, my completion of the drive seems to be too low, and i dont get enough power on the ball. what can i do to change this?

what about at fourth XI level, were fast bowlers are rare and you have to smack it away to get it past the infield. a check drive won't do it. iv tried, with a medium pace (at amateur level) bowler, the ball goes nowhere. i understand if the bowler is bowling 60mph+, but ther are exceptions.

i'd say, practice the check drive in the nets, to train foot movement, shoulder rotation and eye position, and in matches, take these practiced skills and apply them to the full drive.

I hope it's not to harsh to suggest you are playing 4th XI because your technique needs improving.

what about the top hand should the palm touch the handle or not

Good question and the answer is not a clear cut one. Theoretically the bottom hand gripp should be very liigh with the palm off the handle because this cuts out a number of potential technical errors (for more on that see here). However many players do have a choked grip and use it effectively. So if it is not causing you a problem, keep it. If you find you are getting out for low scores bowled or caught on the leg side it's time to consider a change.

I don't know why but i can't drive fast for some reason?? can any one help me.

maintain correct form whilst increasing bat speed. don't be tempted to hit across the line. if you are struggling with bat speed, consider a lighter bat. other than that, it might be just a case of poor timing.

I'm a reasonably big guy, so I can use a 3lb bat. But I can easily just punch the ball with a check drive straight back over the bowlers head and have in carry for six, simply because I watch the ball carefully and time it nicely.

can you give me some technical points of weight transfer on the BACKFOOT

You can get the back foot weight transfer secrets of the pros with Gary Palmer here:

I highly recommend it if you are serious about your game.

thank you

I got a serious problem... I played very well before 2 years.. but suddenly i lost my ability... Before I can beat every ball.. but now my stump is going every time..also no tming..but i feel it is some where hiding in me...what to do

I got a serious problem... I played very well before 2 years.. but suddenly i lost my ability... Before I can beat every ball.. but now my stump is going every time..also no tming..but i feel it is some where hiding in me...what to do

While taking your stance see that the front shoulder is straight in line with the stumps at the other end and while driving try to move the leading elbow straight as if it is the extension of your bat handle.

While taking your stance see that the front shoulder is straight in line with the stumps at the other end and while driving try to move the leading elbow straight as if it is the extension of your bat handle.

Play the check drive only when you feel that you have not reached to the pitch of the ball or if you have not meddled the ball properly or else play the full drive.

it looks like you are having the same as mine. the bat is not coming down straight and must be coming slightly at an angle pointing in the direction of the first slip. So when you bring down your bat to play the shot it is actually not hitting in the middle but the edges which result in a slip catch. you need to play straight mate.