Gary Palmer, PitchVision Academy Batting Coach, has 20 years of coaching experience talks about how to play off the back foot well. If you would like group or one-to-one coaching with Gary visit CCM Academy.
Long before Shiv Chanderpaul was playing an Englishman, Peter Willey, came back from a tour of the West Indies with a similarly open batting stance.
This was because he was peppered with bouncers from four of the fastest bowlers in the world. He had worked out that being more open give him a better chance of both surviving and scoring runs.
He was right, and so is Shiv.
Batters that stand and play from a sideways position to deliveries on middle and leg stump line have no success against fast bowlers who are bowling short and at your body.
The secret of back foot play
To play the back foot defence, drives and leg glances on the leg side well, it is very important that you open your body position slightly so that you get good access to the ball with the full face of the bat.
To get in to the more open body position you need to dip the head and shoulder forward and push off the front foot to help you get back and across in to the crease.
As you go back the shoulder opens this allows you to present you head towards the ball. The back foot should land slightly turned in pointing towards cover:
The body will then open and the front leg will open out giving you good access to the ball:
As the shoulder opens the bat will align automatically towards 1st slip thus being aligned to the target area allowing the bat to swing in a straight line to the target area with the full blade of the bat:
This more open body position will give you a full range of areas to score in on the leg side while minimising the risks of getting out. It is also a great position to be in to hook and pull and duck the bouncer without turning you head and taking your eye off the ball.
Why staying side on will get you into trouble
Players who get to sideways on middle and leg stump line end up swing the bat across their body in a golf swing fashion while presenting half the bat blade at the ball. Like this:
This is a high risk way of batting and it also minimises your scoring options on the leg side. Generally from this to sideways position you can only play the ball towards square leg and fine leg.
Fast bowlers exploit batters who get too sideways by bowling short balls and bouncers.
As the batter is so sideways there is a blind spot in the area of the right hander's left ear.
This means that some players will turn their head and take their eye off the ball, making them vulnerable to the short pitched delivery. This all happens because the player is closed off and the hands and bat are hidden behind them and it takes longer to get the bat to the ball. When a player is closed off it is particularly difficult to play the ball that swings or nips in to you.
Opening up will cure this problem.
When to stay sideways
The exception to the rule about staying is open is playing off the back foot to balls on off stump and outside off.
Here the back foot should land parallel and keep the body in a more side on position.
If the ball swings away or moves away off the seam the batter is in a good position to adjust and swing the bat through the line of the ball towards the off side with the full blade.
If you want to know more about how to learn to play effectively off the back foot, check out Gary's online coaching course: The Secrets of Successful Back Foot Drives. It contains exclusive drills and tips you can't get anywhere else.