There are no fielders in the air | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

There are no fielders in the air

Is there any more maligned a shot in club cricket than going over the top?

Almost any shot in the air is usually derided as a clue that the batsman is about to hit one straight to mid off or that he is a desperate slogger with no panaché.

But well selected lofted shots are a fantastic way to infuriate bowlers and manipulate the strike. As Robert Croft of Glamorgan says, there are no fielders in the air. You just have to make sure you hit it hard and high enough.

Here are my tips to successful lofted driving:

  • Practice it a lot before you attempt it in a match. The lofted shots are played most effectively when they are straight, controlled and not with your head in the air. Get the coach or a pal to drill the shot with you, then try it under pressure in practice and only then put it into a match situation.
  • Once you can play it under pressure then make sure that when you do decide to go for it that you play it right. That means hitting it with the right combination of timing and power. It also means hitting the ball as straight as possible down the ground. Cross bat shots in the air are far more risky and are less tactically useful.
  • Get your eye in before trying to play it. It helps to have hit a couple of boundaries along the ground first, but if you are in at the end of an innings you may not have time. Remember it's still a higher risk shot and make sure you feel ready to play it.
  • If you are getting tied down by a bowler, it's a great time to go over the top. Pick the area you are confident you can hit it and wait for the right ball. Premeditation is risky so avoid it and concentrate on waiting for the right ball to go for.
  • Use the shot to manipulate the field. A couple of well timed drives over the top can send mid on and mid off back onto the rope. Then you can just push the ball to them for a single. This has the added bonus of allowing your partner to push singles too as club captains rarely set different fields to different batsmen.

The key to lofted shots is that they are a tool to use at the right time. That means you need to be confident you can play them and you know when is the best time to bring them out (as well as leave them for later).

If you find yourself using the shots as a desperate last measure to get some runs then you won't get many before you are out. So take care and let the fielding team bemoan you as a 'slogger' while you cruise to victory.

Thanks to Richard Howes for the suggestion for this post. If you have any questions you would like answered why not follow Richards lead and drop me a line?

© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008

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