We often consider the leave to be the absence of a shot. The bowler bowls; the batsman leaves; nothing happens.
In fact, it’s far more important than nothing because it tells you a great deal about your approach to batting.
When the ball is left, the bowler feels she is not doing her job; to make the batsman play. So she straightens her line and the ball can be worked easily into the leg side.
You have created a risk free way of scoring runs simply by not playing the ball.
Sure, it looks good if you middle a ball on the up through extra cover instead of leaving it. Your teammates all applaud you for your Sehwag-like approach to biffing runs with abandon.
But when the ball swings late, and slip pouches you for 8 when you are supposed to make a big score you don’t look so clever.
In modern parlance, leaving allows you to play the percentages.
You are able to make a big score based on that leave.
Leaving with intent
But leaving is not just about when you leave: it’s just as important to look at how you leave.
Most batsmen leave the ball and look like they are never interested in playing it. They are the ones who look a little silly when the ball pops back with your bat in the air.
The batsman who leaves with intent is looking to play on the front or back foot, only deciding to leave at the last moment.
You look for a boundary from the moment the ball leaves the hand. You want to score quickly. However, the bowler is not giving you the right ball, so you leave it.
You are showing the bowler you are in complete control, even when the ball is misbehaving.
And the leave takes on a whole new symbol in the bowler’s mind: one where you are on top and there is little that can be done about it.
Work on leaving well and with intent and you will see the benefits.