All save the clearest technician must rein themself in when essaying a cover drive, lest they founder betwixt active and passive. Wise words and worth remembering when attemping this shot for this is almost entirely wrong.
Should a delivery pitch six inches short of overfull and a similar distance wide of an outwardly curved line drawn at 2 o’clock, starting from the off stump, then by all means play a cover drive.
Bring the bat down with pace, remembering that strength does not equate to power, which in turn does not equate to bat speed. Watch not the ball, but your upper elbow thanks to which you should already have calibrated the ball’s trajectory.
Strike straight and without, bethwart an imagined line drawn between your feet if they were midway through describing an oblate spheroid of which the tip would be the midpoint of the popping crease and the countertip would be the equivalent in reflection.
When playing the on-drive, always remember the following mantra. The batsman whose shoulder rolls counter-topwise places undue emphasis on hip position and will often play bethwart the intended line.
Yes, of course we all know the dangers inherent in a counter-topwise rolling shoulder, but are we always aware of it? Do we slip into lazy habits? What should we do instead? Is there a way of guarding against this?
The answers are yes, yes, place our feet better and remember the mantra.
As a footnote to this, there is an argument against combating the counter-topwise rolling shoulder. It was said that on occasions no less a batsman than the Don himself would deliberately roll his shoulder counter-topwise specifically so as to play bethwart the line.
Any enthusiastic counter-topwise shoulder rollers buoyed by this revelation, might also like to note that he would only ever do this against left-armers when the ball breached the full by under an inch and swung semi-late to leg, however. Try it to a ball swinging fully late and you’ll end up with a certain amount of egg on your face. Obviously.
A side-on game of angles, the square cut is to cricket what a near-miss on a red is to a bad game of snooker played by Pagans.
Square everything. Square your footwork; square your bat stroke; square your follow-through. Should time allow, a counter-squaring of extraneous footwork will balance the batsman better and allow for him to play the ball bethwart the point fielder.
If you have a well-balanced bat, midway through your arc and counter-arc, you will reach a point at which it will unquestionably feel a fraction more comfortably weighted. It is at this point that you should completely blank your mind and simply allow the bat to mesmerise the ball. Failure to do this will result in successful execution of the stroke.
Practise this in the nets without a bat, ball or trousers, but ONLY bethwart you or you risk undoing all your good work in an instant.
Witness the greats play the pull shot and you will learn nothing. A good pull shot is played instinctively after careful deliberation and many hours of practice.
Whether played off the front or back foot, your weight must be even, progressing and at once forward-moving and retreating. The central pivot of the pull is the ball and your bat must describe a weak parabola bethwart it.
Make good contact and you will feel marginal and overwrought. This is not to be sniffed at and almost entirely incorrect, so keep practising and remember this memorable and helpful mantra:
“Height over waist, ball bethwart bat. Width beyond knee, bat bethwart legs.”
Bring the bat down, clean and true, angled topwards but vertically horizontally. Aim to strike the ball while moving into a stationary position.
A good forward defensive stroke will be soft-yet-firm, played late at the earliest opportunity with supple hands that caress the bat handle in a vice-like grip using only the fingertips.
Played correctly, you will get a shimmer of atonal somnolence from the willow. This is a sign that you have NOT played the shot correctly. Continue practising.
As the bowler runs in, lift the bat backwards in the direction of the stumps. Keep raising the bat until you feel glad. If you start to feel depressed and resentful, your bat is too high.
Ensure your shoulder rolls counter-topwise at the moment the bat reaches its highest point and adopt a relaxed tension and detached concentration. As the ball is delivered, you should be swift yet static overall.
A good, textbook backlift feels comfortable but only within the bounds of discomfort. Unqualified comfort indicates a major technical flaw, so if you find yourself in this position, find written instructions as to how to execute a textbook backlift and try and identify where you are going wrong.
The problem is likely to be that you are lifting the bat in a manner outside the bounds of discomfort, so pay particularly close attention to any advice surrounding this aspect.
Space your feet roughly shoulder width apart. Stand side-on to the bowler on the balls of your feet but evenly balanced, pressing forward with your weight moving counter-crosswise while remaining perfectly still.
Bend your knees to the extent that you feel euphoric. Try and project a high-minded yet magnanimous air to the bowler. Histrionic overtones could lose you your wicket.
We’ve just watched the fourth one-day international between Australia and England. England won, but we still haven’t got anything to say.
We’re assuming this situation will persist, so to ensure that we can put up a post each day, we’re starting a new section of the site which is called Cricket School.
Anyone who has ever read an old book that was designed to help youngsters learn to play the sport knows how clear and unambiguous cricketing instruction can be. We’re hoping we can produce something similar.
We’ll be starting with batting stance later today.