It's Twenty20 time. Brendan McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle: entertaining crowds with some colossal hitting.
Naturally, all the club and youth cricketers want to copy their heroes. It's been great to see people try to move around the crease and open up space on either side of the ground.
However, it's vital that we understand how the best players do it before we start to blindly mimic our heroes out in the middle.
This week we are going to look at different ways of opening up space on the legside using two methods deployed by two world class operators.
Meet AB and Jos
The best at doing this is AB de Villiers. He is a master at moving inside the line of the ball and playing full bloodied sweeps - for six - over the fine leg to square leg boundary.
Jos Buttler is also a world class exponent of this skill.
Do they do it the same?
There are some similarities; both move early, are balanced at point of contact and have great levels of success.
There are also some differences. let's explore both methods, experiment and have some fun.
Call for the Buttler
Jos moves early and faces the bowler almost square on, he is looking to ramp the ball up over the inner circle fine leg fielder rather than hit a full bloodied sweep.
Jos flexes his legs and gets as close to the ball as he can before flipping it over his left shoulder for four and six. He is looking to use the pace of the ball and re-direct it.
- Jos' method works brilliantly for him and is worth a try against tennis balls to start with to see if you can connect with the way he does it.
- If this feels like a good option then progress to having harder balls throw at you.
- Feel comfortable there and then try it against appropriate net bowlers.
Master that and then take it into a game when the circumstances are aligned appropriately.
This layering effect builds both confidence and competence. It may take time, but it's worth it.
AB has a slightly different method.
He also moves early but his intention is to access the backward square leg position from balls outside the line of his stumps.
He steps across and retains a more sideways on position.
This is a different approach to Buttlers chest on ramp version.
AB is looking to sweep rather than ramp and needs to have a more sideways-on starting position to create rotation, to establish a swing and from a bio-mechanical perspective, generate torque.
If we throw our front side away and become too chest on too early then the body is already uncoiled, the rotation of the body is lost.
The net result is that the batswing tends to come through too early or with limited bat-lag. This limits bat-speed and therefore, power.
AB moves into a relatively sideways-on and a very low position to play a pretty conventional spinners sweep to a 80+mph delivery.
His outcomes are fantastic and well viewed on YouTube. He played lots of these in his World Record ODI Ton vs the West Indies before the 2015 World Cup. It's worth a look.
Should players follow AB's practice around this shot?
You can do, but for this you will need to have the same level of trust in your game as AB does.
The reason for this is that AB is a reluctant practicer of this shot!
He only really does it in nets occasionally or hits a couple in front of TV crews when doing masterclasses.
AB openly speaks about trusting his skills and ability to execute this shot rather than practising them relentlessly as a Jos Buttler would do.
This isn't a blanket approach as he is a good trainer. But he understands the physical risks in getting this shot wrong but backs his judgement of a situation and his skill to do it in games without having practised the shot endlessly.
Some people are "repetitive practiser" and others are "quality practiser". Which one are you?
Give both legside space opening methods a go and see which one is a better fit. If you find that both are easy then let me know and I will become your agent!