One of the most popular sports played around the world, cricket is often called the ‘Batsman’s Game’. Now, batting is an art which needs to be practiced well if one desires to see his/her name up there with the elite batters who have graced the beautiful game. With practice, comes versatility and one gets to learn how to play cricket shots. To be brutally honest, there are many shots in cricket which cannot be put on the official list of shots due to their inconsistency. The ‘Helicopter Shot’, invented by former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a perfect example of an unorthodox shot. The official list consists of shots which are orthodox and are consistently played by the cricketers.
Every cricketer possesses a unique style of playing a particular style but the basic remains the same. A batsman is often judged by his technique of playing a particular shot and also the execution. It is very important for a batsman to read the delivery and instantly select his shot which would get him the best result. Now, there are two main categories in which we can divide all the cricket batting shots, Front foot, and Back Foot.
FRONT FOOT SHOTS
A front foot shot requires the batsman to come forward towards a bowler. In case of a front foot shot, it is usually the front leg that moves first. Now, let us have a look at the types of front foot shots:
1) Straight Drive
The straight drive is one of the classiest shots in world cricket and is a worldwide favorite. The straight drive is a perfect reply to a good length or a full-length ball that are pitched on the middle stump or off stump line. It fetches the best result if the shot is played with a high elbow with the bat facing directly back towards the bowler. The straightness of the bat here is directly proportional to the chances of nailing the straight drive.
2) Cover Drive
The cover drive is another cricket stroke which is pleasing to the eyes of any spectator. It is as classy as the straight drive but the direction in which it is played is different. The name of the shot is such because it is played through the covers of the field. Usually, it is a shot to be played to a good or full-length ball that pitches on the off stump line or wider. The technique used to play a perfect cover drive is the same as that of the straight drive but in this case, your front leg should be pointing towards the covers. Unlike the straight drive, the main concern of the batsman here is to get his shot in the gap, past the two fielders which the opposition team usually have in the cover area.
3) On Drive
Somewhat similar to the above two drives, this one is played in the direction of the mid-on and long-on fielders. The on-drive is mostly seen as a reply to the deliveries that are sliding on to the pad or are on the leg stump line. The front leg should move towards the pitch of the ball and the bat must face the leg side. However, some batsmen do move their front leg towards the off-side before playing an on the drive but it puts them in a higher position of risk of getting LBW. Coaches should play a significant part in limiting this as the chances of the ball hitting the pads increases if you move across while playing the on a drive.
4) Square Drive
The square drive is the riskiest of the front-foot drives and is hit slightly squarer to the cover drive. Again, a good to full-length delivery outside the off stump would be a perfect match for this kind of a shot. As the square drive is played to deliveries that are pitched quite outside the off-stump, one should always make sure that your front leg is bent and is in the direction of the ball. A decent stride and good hand-eye coordination are necessary to master this kind of a shot. The main focus should remain on getting on top of the bounce of the ball which would reduce the chances of getting caught. This is one of the riskiest drives as the shot is played away from the body which automatically increases the chances of getting an edge.
5) Forward Defence
This is one of the most basic shots which every batsman should be playing well. This is a shot that can be played against all type of bowlers. This is not a scoring shot as the main motive behind the defense is to nullify the ball. There is no specific area for this shot to be hit and a good to full-length delivery that is threatening the stumps is perfect to execute the forward defense. The technique of a forward defense is almost similar to the drives but in this case, there should not be any follow-through. It is advised to keep the bat angled towards the ground as there are chances of the close-by fielders to take a catch if the shot is mistimed. There is no need to play forcefully at the ball while executing this one. One should try to go at the ball rather than letting the ball come onto him as it increases the chances of getting an edge.
6) The Sweep
The sweep is a shot that is marked by innovation and is usually played against spinners. It is played anywhere behind square in the leg side area and sometimes in front of square. A good to the full-length ball is perfect for the sweep, which is often pre-meditated. A large stride is the first thing that one needs to execute the sweep. Then the batsman needs to strike the ball with the face pointing towards the leg side. If one wants to get the ball squarer, it should be forcefully hit. If the intention is not that, then once can just glance the ball using its pace to beat the fielder. Unlike all the above-mentioned shots, the sweep is a cross bat shot that is usually effective against bowlers who do not get a lot of bounce.
7) Reverse Sweep
This is just the opposite of a normal sweep and is pre-meditated most of the time. Played to a good length or full-length delivery, this one is also an innovative shot. A bowler who is spinning the ball towards the off-side is perfect for the reverse sweep. Again, a large stride is needed first and then you need to sink down low and hit the ball towards the off-side keeping the bat face in the same direction. for a right-hand batsman, the right arm should be on top of your left while attempting the reverse sweep. Picking the gap is an important part of hitting the reverse sweep perfectly. The ball should be hit earlier and harder if you want to get it squarer.
8) Front Foot Leg Glance
The front foot leg glance is the perfect shot to get a quick single or to put a bad ball away. There is no specific area on the leg side where this shot is hit. It actually depends on how early or late one decides to hit the ball. The leg glance should be played against balls that are in the middle or leg stump line. As far as the execution is concerned, the foot movement should be the same as the on the drive but in the end, one should just use the wrist to flick or glance it towards the leg side instead of a follow-through. This is a shot where one uses the pace of the bowler and a flick of the wrist ensures that the ball goes towards square or behind square.
BACK FOOT SHOTS
A back-foot shot is just the opposite with usually the back leg coming into play first.
1) Back Foot Drive
This is one of the most elegant back foot shots played to deliveries that are back of a length and either on the line of the batsman’s body, on the stumps or just outside the line of off stump. To play the shot in the most efficient way you need to move backward in line with the ball and stand as tall as possible. Keeping a high elbow is also advised while playing this shot as it helps to keep the bat straight. The back foot drive is more about timing than power. If the timing is good, a little push would be enough to fetch you a boundary.
2) Back Foot Defence
The one and only motive of playing the back foot defense is to get on top of the bounce of the ball and direct it towards the ground to nullify it. Deliveries which are back of the length can be well dealt with by the back foot defense. The technique for this one is similar to the back foot drive and the most important thing in both the cases is being able to get on top of the bounce by standing tall. Here the key is to play the ball as late as possible so that you do not offer a return catch to the bowler.
3) Square Cut
This one of the most frequently used scoring shots that punishes short deliveries outside the off-stump line. This is played square of the wicket also to balls which are back of the length. For the perfect execution of the square-cut, the line of the length of the ball should be judged early. Then it is all about freeing your arms keeping a horizontal bat. Sometimes, while attempting the square-cut against spinners, a batsman might choose to move towards the leg side before the release of the ball to perfectly time this shot. If the batsman wants to hit the square-cut up and over the fielders, the main target would be to get underneath the ball and produce more power.
4) Pull Shot
The pull shot is also a scoring shot which can be played in between mid-wicket to fine leg. The shot is perfect to punish balls that are back of the length, either in line with the stumps or on the batsman’s body. It is ideal for balls that are between the waist and shoulder height of the batsman. The risk of getting a top edge increases if a batsman tries to pull a delivery that is outside the off-stump line. Rotating the torso and the hand speed are the most important things while attempting the pull shot. Again, you need to judge the line and length early and while one hits the ball rotating the torso, the front foot might not be in contact with the ground. The more the ball is bowled on the leg side, the easier it is to play the pull shot. The pull shot can be played in the air and can also be kept downward. To keep it downward, the batsman should roll the wrist when the bat hits the ball.
5) Hook Shot
The Hook Shot is a shot played on the leg side, ranging from mid-wicket to fine leg. The technique for this shot is more or less similar to that of the pull shot. The only difference between the two is that the hook shot is played against deliveries that are above the shoulder level. Again, the rotation of the torso and judging the length of the ball early is the key to playing this one perfectly. The hook shot is mo0tly played in the air as it is difficult to get on top of a ball that is bowled above the shoulder height.
6) Back Foot Leg Glance
This shot is mostly played to steal singles or two’s during an innings and is effective for rotating the strike. It can be played anywhere in the leg side depending on how early or late we are hitting the ball. Back of a length or short deliveries that are comfortable enough to be played with a relatively straight bat are ideal for a back foot leg glance. Balls that are easy to direct towards the leg side can be dealt with this shot. It requires judging the line and length of the ball early and the batsman needs to push back of the front foot to get in line with the delivery. The batsman just needs to bring the bat down a straight line and flick the wrists on contact with the ball. No large follow-through or extra power is needed for the back foot leg glance. Also, the shot should be played as late as possible to help it towards fine leg.
7) Upper Cut
Innovation is the first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about the uppercut. You will witness an uppercut mostly in the shorter versions of the game. This shot is used to play the ball in the air over the slip fielders or behind square on the off-side. Back of a length or short balls that are outside the line of the off-stump could be played with an uppercut. Getting underneath the ball to get the elevation right is the key here. For this kind of a shot, one must wait at your crease for the ball to rise to a comfortable position when the batsman can get underneath. Then it is all about extending your arms and striking the ball in an attempt to get it over the close fielders. If there’s already pace on the ball, no extra power is needed. The uppercut should be played as late as possible but keeping the balance here is a major thing to get the best result.