What a visual treat it is to see Virat Kohli elegantly bringing his front foot forward and driving a ball through the covers. Or Sachin Tendulkar troubling fast bowlers just by showing the face of the bat to the full length deliveries and driving the ball down the ground. It’s a joy to watch them play, it’s poetry in motion. One of the most exciting aspects of cricket is the variety of shots that can be played by a batsman. From the classic straight drive to the unorthodox reverse sweep, there are many ways to score runs in cricket. So, if you want to become an elite batsman, you should understand which cricket shot you should play on which ball, how you should time it and what you call that shot. And for this, you’re at the right place. ZAP will help you understand every way to face and hit the ball and continue dominating bowlers on the field.
Batting in cricket can be very pleasing to watch for all spectators, if the willow is held by quality players. Batters who make the right decisions, pick the length of the delivery perfectly, and always time it to perfection towards the boundary by playing a silky smooth cricket shot are bound to become superstars of the game. Always remember, your technique to play a shot may not be the same as some other player. MS Dhoni does not have the same technique as Kohli, but both are uniquely successful in every way they play.
Before learning how to play any shot well, here are some basics that you need to understand:
So, with this guide, let’s understand how to play the various defensive, attacking and some new unorthodox cricket shots:
The most basic shot in cricket are the defences. Having a good defence is necessary, as it is what your innings and your batting technique is built upon. A good defence, both on the front foot or on the back foot will help you survive the swinging deliveries at the start of a test match, or break a spin bowler’s confidence by always successfully defending a delivery bowled on a turning pitch. A good defensive technique can help you be a wall for your team just like Rahul Dravid was and now Cheteshwar Pujara has become for India in Test Cricket. So let’s learn in detail about these defensive shots.
The Back Foot Defence:
Not every short pitched delivery can be pulled or cut away for runs. At many times, it's preferable to play defence. The backfoot defence is useful when defending against a short pitched delivery. The primary objective is to get on top of the bounce of the leather ball, absorb all its pace by using your bat as a shield nullifying the short pitched delivery effectiveness. Sachin Tendulkar had one of the best backfoot defences.
How to play the backfoot defence?
- Judge the line of the short pitched delivery and bring your body close in line with the ball.
- Pull your front foot towards your body and keep your feet close to each. Straighten up your waist and try to get on top of the bounce of the ball.
- It's preferable to react just a little bit late because the later you play, the less chance you have of giving the bowler or any fielder in the close position a return catch!
- As you make contact with the ball, be sure to keep your bat inclined towards the ground. This aids in ensuring that it is played towards the ground as opposed to upwards!
- Keep in mind that not every delivery needs to be defended! If you feel the ball will not hit your body or the stumps, it's best to leave it alone.
The Front Foot Defence:
Like you cannot hit every short ball and have to play the backfoot defence, not all good and full length deliveries can be driven away. If they’re bowled directly in the line of the stumps, it’s better to play the front foot defence, which every batsman should know. Your purpose is to defend so that it hits the ground safely.
But usually, if the delivery is outside the off stumps and it’s not a Limited overs match, it’s usually better to leave the ball alone on his patch towards the keeper.
How to play the front foot defence?
- Bring your front foot closer to the ball's pitch and line.
- Keep your head above your front knee while keeping it slightly bent.
- As you lower the bat, try to keep as little space as possible between it and the pad.
- To avoid popping up a catch, lean the bat slightly downward and towards the ground.
- Play the stroke with "soft hands" to help the ball come onto the willow; avoid playing it too hard.
- You'll observe fewer edges flying through to the keeper and slips if you do the front foot defence perfectly.
To play any shot well, get yourself a cricket bat that helps you become one of the best version of yourself on the pitch.
In the start of the innings in a match, the first thing the openers should focus upon is getting set on the field and then building their innings as they progress. But for those reasons, it is not necessary for them to attack or play every ball. Deliveries that are bowled well, outside the off stump, or are swinging away from you may catch an edge if you try defending them. So, it’s better you leave these deliveries if you’re not set to play attacking strokes.
Similarly, when the bowler bowls an unplayable bouncer, and there’s no way you can middle it or defend it, just let them go. If you try to tease the ball, it might take the top edge and fly straight up in the air.
The Cover Drive:
What better sight than seeing a batsman play a classic cover drive. It is one of the most elegant shots that a batsman can play. Played by driving the ball in the covers region, it is a testament to the class of a batsman.
How to play a coverdrive?
- The front foot cover drive is played against deliveries on a good to full length on an off-stump line or wider
- Bring the front foot in line of the ball closer to it, but with your head in a stable position.
- The head should be over the knee of the front leg while it is slightly bent.
- The gap between the cover fielders should be your target as you follow through while angling the bat face in that direction.
- Perfectly time the shot while keeping your front elbow raised and 'keeping the stance' until the end of the shot.
- Getting the ball past the fielders in the cover area is the hardest task, so always pick the gap as often as you can.
To have the best footwork, get yourself a light pair of batting pads, which add flexibility to your batting without compromising in the comfort.
An extension of the cover drive is the square drive, where you place it squarer, more towards the point region. The overall technique remains the same, the only thing is that you chase the ball that is full and outside the off stump, with your front leg and drive it by keeping it on the ground.
The Straight Drive:
Everyone tried to imitate the God of Cricket-Sachin Tendulkar’s Straight drive which was a thing of beauty. The shot speaks grace, by doing the most while doing the least. Just use the pace of the bowler against him and you’ll get an iconic pose
How to play the Straight Drive?
- The straight drive is played against deliveries that are bowled full in the same line as the stumps.
- Keep your head over your front knee and your front leg slightly bent.
- When you strike the ball, make sure the bat face is pointing back towards the bowler. Do not look to strike it hard, just time it perfectly and push it back and the bowler's pace will do the rest.
- Raise your front elbow to perfectly straight to be able to hit the ball down the ground as straight as an arrow.
Square Cut Shot:
The cut shot is one of the most used cricket shots. It is used to punish balls bowled outside the off stump against both, the pacers and spinners. The cut is usually played late, too short of length and the ones outside off stump. When the deliveries have reached your body and are played towards the point and backward point region.
Two other types of cut shots are the late cut and the upper cut.
The late cut is very cheeky and is played very late, and is used to hit in the third man area.
Upper cut is played to the fast bowlers when they bowl deliveries that are usually very short outside the off stump, and the only motive of playing the upper cut is to use the speed of the ball to guide it for a six above point.
One player that always comes to mind for having the best cut shot is Alastair Cook. He was amazing at punishing those deliveries outside off.
How to play the cut shot?
- Judge the line and length early. You must have enough space to spread your arms out and hit the ball in order to successfully score runs of the cut shot.
- Do not consider playing this if the ball is too close to your body or in line with the stumps.
- You can make space by taking a step towards the leg side if you see that there's enough gap to play the cut shot between the point and the third man fielders cheekily.
- Shift your weight back onto your back foot while maintaining focus on the ball.
- Try to play with a horizontal bat.
- The later you play the cut, the squarer the shot will go.
- Try and remain tall by getting on top of the bounce with a proper stance so that you have a better chance of playing the ball towards the ground and not in the air.
- When facing spinners, step laterally with your back foot towards the ball, to add more force to your strike.
- Against faster bowlers, just guide the delivery towards the square regions, using their paces, so moving the backfoot laterally to add force doesn’t make sense.
Credit: Republic World
Virat Kohli’s signature, the flick shot is a magnificent work of the wrists to effortlessly whisk the ball off from your legs and show it the road towards the boundary. The flick is played to deliveries at good or full length in the leg stump or outside the leg stump line. It involves a quick wristwork to play the ball towards mid-wicket.
How to play the flick shot?
- Judge the line of the ball, it should be angling from middle towards leg stump.
- Keep your head still while the bowler is running in, then move it towards the line of the delivery.
- Rotate your wrists when the bat makes contact with the red leather towards the leg side.
- Practise the wrist rotation and strengthen your wrists to avoid losing control and keeping the ball on the ground.
- Eventually, with more practice, you can add power to the flick shot and hit it in the air.
To play the flick, a good wrist work is extremely important. So wear a comfortable pair of cricket batting gloves and keep everyone in awe with your wristwork.
The leg glance is a similar cricket shot, but is played to those shorter in the stump or leg stump line. Just shift onto your backfoot and guide those deliveries on to the leg side.
The pull shot marks your domination on the field. Gaining control of the fierce short pitched deliveries and hitting them for boundaries can be a terrific method to score runs and increase confidence while playing the game. Rohit Sharma and Ricky Ponting arguably played the most elegant and the best pull shots, and made it look very easy.
How to play the Pull Shot?
- To play the pull shot, the ball should be between the waist and shoulder height.
- You can play the pull in all the areas on the leg side, from mid-wicket to fine leg.
- To play it effectively, pull your weight back on to the back foot and rotate your torso while bringing the bat through horizontally.
- The pull can be hit in the air or along the ground depending on the field placings.
- Rolling the wrists on contact can help the batsman hit the ball downwards.
- It's not advisable to play the pull shot to balls outside the off stump as it can result in top edges and getting out caught.
The Pull shot requires you to have your eyes stuck to the red leather ball. So wear a good batting helmet and never lose focus on the ball.
The hook shot is very similar to the pull and people often use the names interchangeably. When the ball short is outside the leg stump, play it over the long leg for six. The only difference between the pull and the hook shot is that the hook is meant to be played in the air while the pull should be kept on ground. Although it can be challenging to control, expert batsmen like Virendra Sehwag frequently use it to dominate bowlers by playing the shot.
Learn how to hit the ball out of the park with ease in this power hitting in cricket article.
The sweep shot is a cool and creative stroke used against slower bowlers like spinners. It's hit behind square on the leg side or slightly in front of square. You usually need to plan to play this shot before the bowler runs into the bowl. It's most effective when played against balls on a good to full length, usually pitching on the leg side of the off-stump or spinning towards the batsman's body, making it easier to hit to the leg-side. You can play the sweep shots to fast bowlers too, but you need to be super confident and have to middle it every time, like AB de Villiers did to all bowlers.
How to play the sweep Shot?
- Take a comfortable stride with your front foot to get close to the bounce of the ball and smother the spin.
- Sink low into your stance and hold the bat out in front of your eyes on the red leather.
- Look for gaps in the field and target them when playing the sweep. The sweep is a cross bat shot, meaning you can play the stroke even if there's a lot of turn.
- It is a useful stroke when playing on turning pitches but less advantageous on bouncy pitches or facing top spin bowlers.
- Sometimes you need to hit the ball early and hard, while other times just a gentle nudge is enough to beat the fielder at fine leg.
- It is an important shot to have in your batting arsenal when playing spin bowlers.
- The sweep shot can force the opposing captain to change their field and open up other opportunities.
Ramp Shot/ Scoop Shot:
Remember when the God, Sachin Tendulkar played a shot against Brett Lee’s bouncers which went for a boundary over the keeper’s head. We had never seen something like that, he just used Lee’s pace and bounce against him. This is the ramp shot. This has gained significant popularity in cricket, especially in the shorter formats, over the past decade. The scoop is also played in a similar fashion, just using the pace of the bowler and throwing it over and above the keeper. The difference between the ramp and the scoop is that the ramp is mainly played against bouncers and the good is played to deliveries at the good and full length.
How to play the Ramp Shot?
- The ramp shot is played to deliveries on a good to full length or full tosses and yorkers that are intercepted before they bounce.
- It is premeditated and requires you to get in position before the delivery is bowled.
- To play the ramp shot, back away from the bowler and get into a front on position yourself while extending the bat out in front in a face-up position.
- The willow face should be tilted slightly to the left or right depending on which side of the wicket you want to direct the ball to.
- Always make sure you’re wearing proper equipment, your helmet, pads so that you’re safe from any kind of scare.
- It is not about hitting the ball hard, but about positioning the bat properly and using the bowler's pace to your advantage.
- Overall, the ramp shot is an exciting and challenging shot that requires skill and precision to execute successfully.
Oftentimes, when people think of Kevin Pietersen, they think of the switch hit, a daring cricket shot that he used to play against spinners regularly. The batsman changes from a right-handed to a left-handed grip during to play the switch hit. Pietersen has been using it successfully, with Glenn Maxwell and David Warner also joining the bandwagon and playing the shot fearlessly on regular occasions in T20 matches. The switch hit is a planned shot primarily used against spin bowlers and exploits gaps in the field.
How to play the switch hit?
- Maintain your body balance when the spinner is getting ready with the run up.
- Quickly switch your stance and bat grip as the bowler delivers the ball. Your aim should be to be centred and balanced while switching your grip and stance.
- After swapping stances, get ready to receive the ball again.
- If the ball is on a good length, shift your front foot forward, drop your rear leg, and unleash a sweep or a slog sweep between mid-wicket and backward point.
- Try hitting with strength with the motive of clearing the boundary.
The reverse sweep is a common shot that is hit behind square on the offside and we're seeing more and more players adopt the reverse sweep in the arsenal. It is a deliberate stroke that is used frequently against spin bowlers. It is played to balls that are good to full length and can surprise the opposition because no captain can set a field for this surprise shot.
How to play the Reverse Sweep?
- Take a comfortable stride with your front foot and try to reach the bounce of the ball.
- Sink down into your stance, getting your eyes as low as possible while keeping them level.
- Lift your bat so that the tip points to midwicket and Extend it out in front of you, with the face pointing towards the off-side
- If you're a right-handed batsman, your right arm should be over the top of your left in the reverse sweep position.
- Analyze the field to pick gaps behind square on the off-side to strike the ball.
- To hit it down to the third man area, play your stroke later and glance it off the face of the willow.
- To hit it squarer, play your stroke earlier and harder.
Credit: The Cricket Lounge
MS Dhoni is one of the most loved players around the world. People admire everything that he does on the field, the way he conducts himself calmly in pressure situations, his presence of mind and intelligence, his captaincy and his lightning quick hands. One more loved thing about him was his Helicopter shot. Though it is just a quick wand of the wrist, an extension of the flick, Dhoni has made it a sensation which every player wants to play.
Here's how to play the helicopter shot:
- You need to quickly identify a yorker and have a high backlift to play this shot.
- Move your back foot slightly towards the stumps, and then open the front foot to get ready for the bat swing.
- Always remember that the helicopter shot requires timing, speed, and strength and is an attacking stroke that involves a circular follow-through of the bat, hence the name.
- Try to hit the yorkers up and beyond the boundaries, with power.
Batting in cricket can be tough, but continuous practice can help you get better with your craft. Even the greatest cricketers started as newbies, and it was their relentless commitment to continuous practice that propelled them to excellence. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, the key to improving your craft lies in persistent effort, dedication, and a love for the game. So, keep practicing, stay passionate, and never stop striving to become the best batter you can be. With time and perseverance, you'll find yourself making strides and enjoying the sweet rewards of your hard work out on the cricket pitch.
Now that you have read this article, here are some more articles we suggest reading: