On Drive Cricket Shot: Understanding the Technicalities

In cricket, certain strokes allow for striking a picture-perfect pose after execution. The "On drive" cricket shot is a prime example of such an elegant shot. It is one of the most pleasing cricket shots to watch as a spectator and is a major part of the technicalities of an expert batting technique. People usually confuse this stroke with the straight drive cricket shot, and rightly so, both shots are super similar, played to similar deliveries and with the same purpose. But there are some differences in batting techniques and how you play each shot, and we will explore exactly that in today’s article by ZAP. 

Virat Kohli plays the perfect on drive against Pat Cummins in an India vs Australia game
Credit: X.com

What is on drive cricket shot and how is it different that straight drive cricket shot?

The different length a bowlers can bowl on a pitch

Credit: COD

The on drive is a classic cricket shot that is played straight down the ground in the direction of the long on fielding position. It is a stroke that can be played to both fast and slow bowling, and it can be used to rotate the strike and hit occasional boundaries. The target deliveries to play the on drive are the full-length and good-length deliveries in line with the stumps. The stroke can be an alternative to the flick shot, which is a cross-batted stroke on the leg side, while the on drive is played with a straight bat down the ground. 

Jason Roy on drives a delivery

Credit: England and Wales Cricket Board

A straight drive is straighter and played to full-length deliveries in line and outside off stump. The stroke is a straight batted shot usually to counter against fast bowlers. 

How to play the On Drive Cricket Shot?

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the on-drive technique:

Batting Stance and Grip: 

Have your usual batting stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly distributed. Hold your bat in a normal V grip. Your shoulders should face the bowler with a still head and eyes on the bowler. Also, wear the right pair of batting gloves, that make you feel comfortable in your grip and keep you protected from unexpected finger blows against a lethal pacer. 

Trigger Movement and Footwork: 

A batsman get ready to play the on drive by shifting his left on to the front foot
Credit: BBC Sport

As the bowler approaches the pitch, you should shift your weight into a more comfortable position, by moving towards the off stump with your back foot and then balancing the weight with your front foot. This is known as the trigger movement. The trigger movement will help you to open up your stance and use your batting footwork well to play the stroke.

Now, as the bowlers bowls the ball, and it’s the right delivery, move your front foot forward and towards the leg side slightly, so that you open up your entire stance giving you enough space to swing your bat. This will help you to get into position to play the shot. Your batting pads and thigh pads should be very comfortable for you to be able to do this, so get the right pair. 

Body rotation: 

The batsman opens up his body and starts the downswing before playing the in drive stroke
Credit: BBC Sport

Rotate your body along with your footwork. As you make contact with the ball, you should be in a position as if you were directly facing the bowler. This will help you cover any swing or swing on the ball. Also, lean onto the front foot to add more power and direction. Important to thing to remember is to maintain balance the right posture to play the stroke perfectly. 

Bat swing and Follow Through: 

The Batter complete the follow through after playing the on drive cricket stroke
Credit: BBC Sport

After your backlift, bring your bat with a straight batswing as you make contact with the ball. This will help you to hit the ball cleanly and accurately. The follow though will help you generate power and control your stroke. Against a spinner, follow through completely with the use of your wrists and a full swing of the bat. For fast bowlers, just use the pace on the ball and middle it. Don’t follow through completely or you might end up hitting the ball up in the air. To score the maximum runs while playing any stroke, your cricket bat needs to be of the highest calibre. Get a bat with right balance, weight and enough punch to send the ball out of the park

Drills to Improve You On Drive Shot:

Here are some drills that you can do to improve your on drive:

Net Throwdown practice:

A Cricket Player does the dropball cricket batting drills

Have your friend at you cricket academy to give you dropballs with a tennis ball or throwdowns with a side arm thrower at the full length and good length for you to practice the stroke. You can focus on different aspects of the shot, such as your footwork, your body rotation, and your bat swing.

Watch and Learn

Learn from the best players who play this stroke. This includes payers like Sachin Tendulkar, Joe Root, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli. Look at how they adjust their body weight and balance to play the stroke against different lengths of deliveries. 

Shadow batting: 

Marnus Labuschagne shadow bats while he comes onto bat in the Ashes against England

Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

Shadow batting is a great way to practice the on drive without having to bowl. Simply go through the motions of the shot without actually hitting a ball.

Tee Cone Batting: 

A player doing the Tee Cone Batting Drill

Keep a ball on a tee cone a practice your footwork by reaching for the ball and then doing your batswing and follow through. This will give you confidence to play the stroke in real life match situations. 

Apart from these drills for this specific shot, your body need to be in top condition to do any wonders on the field. For that, you need to maintain top fitness. ZAP will help you achieve that with our Cricket Exercise and Workouts plan and stay way from any cricket injuries

Common Mistakes That You Need to Avoid while playing the On Drive:

Not rotating the body well: 

As mentioned above, it is important to turn your body so that your hips are facing the off side of the field as you make contact with the ball. This will help you to hit the ball through the line and generate power.

Not the Ideal Footwork:

It is also important to move your front foot forward as you make contact with the ball. The footwork must be on point, not much not less. If it’s more than what is required, you’ll not be able to time the shot well. If it’s more, you’ll not be able to reach the pitch of the ball and you’ll end up hitting the ball in the air undesirably. 

Other Versions of the On Drive and Similar Shots:

Lofted Straight Drive:

Suresh Raina steps out of the crease to play the lofted straight drive and hit the ball for a six

Credit: X.com

The lofted straight drive is a classic cricket shot known for its precision. You must look to hit the ball out of the park when you play this stroke. It requires a perfect combination of timing and technique, and you just have to time to shot over the bowler’s head. It's a high-risk, high-reward shot, often used to counter fast bowlers.

Straight Drive: 

Sachin Tendulkar playing his iconic straight drive cricket shot
Credit: India Tv News

The straight drive is one of the most fundamental and pleasing shots in cricket. This shot is all about perfect timing and balance, and it's a great way to accumulate runs with minimal risk. 

Off Drive: 

Ellyse Perry plays the off drive Cricket Shot in a womens ashes game

Credit: Wikimedia Images

The off drive is like the on drive but towards the long off instead of long on. It is a classic cricket shot used by batsmen to play deliveries that are outside the off-stump. To play this stroke, you need to lean into the ball and drive it through the off-side. The off-drive is all about placing the ball precisely and using the pace of the delivery to guide it through the field. The stroke requires impeccable timing, excellent footwork, and finding clever gaps in the field. 

Flick Shot:

KL Rahul plays his trademark flick pickup shot

Credit: Hindustan Times

The flick shot is played to similar deliveries as that of the on drive; full length, in line with the stumps or towards your leg pads. While the on drive is a cross batted stroke, the flick is cross batted and is played on the leg side rather than down the wicket. 


Q - Is the On-Drive suitable for all formats of cricket?

The stroke is a low risk stroke with a high probability of scoring singles and doubles. You can play the stroke in T20s but remember, it might not give your runs quickly. So it is best suited to be played in ODIs and Tests where you are required to play patiently and build up your innings.


Q - Can the On-Drive be played off both fast and spin bowling?

Yes, the stroke can be played off both, fast bowling and spin bowling, but the key is adjusting your footwork and timing according to the pace and spin of the delivery.


Q - Which players played the best on drives?

Players like Sachin Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane, Kumar Sangakkara played the most exquisite on drives.


Now that you've learnt about how to play the on drive cricket shot, here are some more articles we recommend you read which will help you take your game to the next level and Dominate the Game!

How to play the Pull Shot | How to play the Square Cut | Cricket Fielding Tips and Techniques | Wicket Keeping Tips and Techniques

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