Cover Drive in Cricket: The Art of Elegant Batting

Cricket has so many shots that you can use to score runs from. Some are filled with power, some just an elegant flick of the wrist and there are so many shots for a batsman to master. But one stroke that feels extremely pleasing to the eyes is Virat Kohli’s trademark, the cover drive. It stands out as one of the most classical shots and displays the testament of how technically able the batsman is. Along with Virat who might possibly be the best cover drive player, there are some batsmen who played the shot elegantly, like Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Babar Azam, and if you want to join this list, read and learn from this Guide which ZAP  has made by collaborating with batting experts and learn - How to Play Cover Drive

Virat Kohli plays one of the best cover drives in a test match vs England
Credit: DNA India

What is the Cover Drive?

The cover drive is a delightful cricket shot played by batsmen, predominantly by shifting their weight on the front foot, aiming to hit the ball through the covers. It requires precise timing, impeccable footwork, and a solid technique to execute this stroke to perfection.

The shot is extremely important to have in your arsenal to counter the out-swinging deliveries bowled during the power plays overs and with the new ball in Tests. You can even play a lofted stroke to hit sixes at the death in T20s and ODIs. You’ll get to learn it all in this guide, so stay tuned. 

The Technique and the Mechanism:

The cover drive is mainly played to ball pitched at full length outside the off stump. From here. You have the decision to make whether to hit the ball along the ground or to loft it in the air to clear fences. If the ball is pitched shorter, at good length, you can even play the backfoot stroke. The basic technique for all these shots remains the same, just a little change in footwork, bat swing and timing and you’re good to go. 

A ZAP athlete displays the right grip and stance to prepare to play the cover drive

🏏Grip and Stance:

The way you hold a cricket bat influences how well a shot will get executed. Have a firm grip by holding your hands close to each other on the handle. When playing, keep the bottom hand a bit loose and the top hand tight. 

The bottom hand has the elasticity to your bat and the top hand gives it the right direction. 

You should be in a stance to be able to reach the bounce of the ball with your front leg with the tip of your front leg and your front shoulder in the direction of the gap between fielders in the cover direction. 

Check Out ZAP Cricket Bats to up your batting to the next level and dominate the game from the pitch. 

The Right Execution:

A Player demonstrates the perfect balance, footwork and backlift and swing to play the cover drive

Now that you know how to bat and the right stance before playing the shot, let’s begin with the right way of executing the perfect one. 

🏏Judging the Line and Length:

This part is the most important aspect of batting. You should decide which shot to play when. You cannot play a cover drive against bouncers, so judge where the ball is pitched, the line, the length and the pace of the ball. 

🏏Backlift and swing:

Once you judge the ball, start with a high backlift and ensure that the bat is close to your back shoulder. Get your front foot close to the bounce of the ball, with a stable head position and get ready to drive the ball by a controlled and a stable bat swing in the line of the ball towards covers. All this, keep your eyes stuck to the ball and never lose focus. 

🏏Timing and balance. 

When you take your front foot towards the bounce, don’t forget to firmly ground your front leg and shift all your weight on it to ensure the right amount of power in the stroke. 

To keep the ball grounded, play it just as it crosses your front foot line, with an incomplete follow through and it’ll go to the boundary like a tracer bullet. 

To play a lofted shot, play the ball a miniscule earlier, when it just reaches the front foot line and try getting the ball exactly at the middle of the bat. Have a complete follow through after your bat swing and see the ball clear the fences. 

Variations of the Cover Drive:

The Backfoot Cover Drive

Sachin Tendulkar shifts his weight onto the back foot to play a backfoot cover drive

Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

This stroke, as stated earlier is very similar to the front foot one, the only difference being that it is hit to balls that are shorter mainly at the good length and by transferring the weight to the backfoot. 

The technique, the grip and the stance almost remain the same. Here’s what you need to look at when you play a backfoot stroke:

  • Judge the line and length of the ball, if it is outside the off stump, pitched at good length, or shorter that it’ll bounce to your waist level, it’s the perfect delivery. 
  • Now with your backfoot, come close to the line of the ball and take your front foot back, closer to the backfoot to shift weight onto it. Keep your bat lifted high and be ready to swing the ball. 
  • As the ball reaches the closer, at the perfect point where you have enough space to comfortably play the shot with power, swing your bat down and perfectly time the ball towards the boundaries.
  • The back foot stroke might be a bit difficult for some people to execute, but once you get it right with continuous practice, you’ll surely master it.

The Off Drive:

Ellyse Perry plays a picture perfect off drive in a test match vs England

Credit: Wikimedia Images

The Off Drive is a very similar shot to the cover drive, similar to the extent that the technique, the timing everything is the same. The only difference between the shots is that it is hit straighter, down the down towards the mid off region on the cricket ground. 

Square Drive:

Joe Root with the right stance, footwork and follow through after playing a square drive

Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

The square drive is also very similar to the cover drive but the shot is played to balls that are way outside the off stump, near wide lines and are played towards the extra cover and the covers regions.

The technique remains the same, but just take care that you play it a bit late to keep it along the ground. 

Common mistakes to avoid:

There are some basic mistakes that you need to avoid while playing the perfect stroke:

  • First, don’t lunge too far with your front foot. Going too far with your front foot can cause you to lose balance while playing shot. 
  • Second, make smart choices. Adjust your body well to play the cover drive, don’t get over excited to play all over pitched deliveries, play as per the line and length. 
  • Thirdly, don’t lose your patience and focus. Rushing the shot or becoming disoriented might lead to poorly timed hits or complete misses. So take your time, focus on the ball, and confidently make the shot.

Read More about Cricket Batting Tips and Technique to master the skill of wielding the willow and score invaluable runs for your team. 


The Cover drive is one of the most beautiful shots and one of the more difficult ones to master. But once you get it, you can easily dominate the off side with the variations. To also learn about batting techniques, you can read these expert articles by ZAP. 

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