How to play the Reverse Sweep Cricket Shot?

Cricket is a sport that demands a diverse range of batting techniques to thrive in different game situations. If there’s a cricket shot that’ll always help you score runs, no matter how close and tightly the fielding is set, is the reverse sweep. There can be no fielding placement good enough to stop a well timed and placed reverse. The stroke's ingenious nature lies in its ability to change the direction of the ball, making it challenging for the fielding side to adapt quickly. So, in this chapter of Learn with ZAP, let’s understand how to play the reverse sweep cricket shot and be a pain in the lives of bowlers. 

A Batsman playing the reverse sweep with the ZAP Cricket bat in hand

What is the reverse sweep cricket shot?

Reverse sweeps are cross-batted sweep shots that are played in the opposite direction from a standard sweep in cricket. The ball is swept in the offside, towards the direction of the third man or the backward point rather than being swept towards the square leg. Every batsman's repertoire in the current game now includes it as a crucial element. 

For players like AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell and Rishabh Pant, playing it is not a difficult task even against pace bowling. But if you’re not among those with such skill and finesse, the shot can mainly be played only against spinners. 

Rishabh Pant plays an outrageous reverse sweep shot against James Anderson

Credit: Hindustan Times

Remember that Rishabh Pant reverse sweep against James Anderson? How outrageous was that! It was the first ball of 83rd Over on Day 2 of the England test at the Narendra Modi Stadium. James Anderson came in running fresh to bowl the first ball, and what Rishabh Pant did next was super audacious. Rishabh who was already smacking English bowlers all around the ground, reverse swept Anderson, and hit it over the slips for a four. What makes it even more commendable was the fact that it was the second new ball, with Anderson, one of the best new ball bowlers in the world, delivering it. Even the opposition captain Joe Root couldn't believe the shot and was left smiling. Pant got to his hundred in that match, but was later caught out out by Root of Anderson's bowling. The shot still is fresh in all cricket fans in mind, and shows how confident Rishabh is with the bat. 
You can get that confidence too, just get a ZAP Cricket bat and own the pitch with your confidence.

How to play the Reverse Sweep?

Though the shot appears fun to play and feels easy when you’re on the other side of the tv but it with the bat in your hand is quite a difficult task. Here’s a step by step guide of how to do it perfectly:

Have the right stance:

One of the most crucial components of batting is body equilibrium. Body balance is crucial and essential. Stay in a comfortable base that is neither too wide nor too narrow. Hold the bat at its outside edge while remaining attentive and posing your head correctly.

The Proper grip and balance:

With the stance, knowing how you hold your bat well and being in a balanced position is super important. 

  • Hold the bat with a slightly open face and a firm grip to control the shot.
  • Have a balanced stance, with your body weight evenly distributed.
    Read about how to hold a cricket bat and understand the various grips you can use. 
Joe Root shifts his weight and gets ready to play the reverse sweep on the right delivery

Credit: The Times

Select the right balls to play:

As said earlier, the shot can mainly be played to spin bowling. Usually those ones pitched at the good length outside the off stump. 

  • This stroke carries a significant amount of risk.  
  • Excellent timing and sound judgement are needed. Especially against straight deliveries, avoid playing the sweep and reverse sweep early in your innings.
  • Analyzing the bowler's line and length, pace variations, and field placements will help you anticipate the type of delivery coming your way.

It is not a good idea to play it unless you are aware of how the pitch is playing and the actions of the bowler. It would not be difficult for you to lose your wicket if the ball stayed low. This is something you definitely want to avoid. 

Executing the Shot:

Kevin Pietersen with a high backlift, ready to play the reverse sweep

Credit: Playo

Finally, once you’ve understood the ball well and it’s the perfect line and length, it’s time for you to play the shot. 

  • Get your front foot close to the pitch of the cricket ball
  • Bring your bat over the front foot and as the ball bounces off the pitch, just sweep it towards the off side away from your body. 
  • In this process, don’t just use your arm. Generate more power by using your upper body  to hit the ball away. 
  • Don’t forget to shut the face of the bat to avoid hitting it in the air. 
  • Also, one more thing to keep in mind is to play the ball into the gap, which you have already in your mind. 

The reverse sweep gives bowlers, fielders, and the fielding captain nightmares. It interferes with a bowler's line and length, and there is no way to make it up. The logical conclusion is that a right-hander should play it like a left-hander, and vice versa. If there's a complete change of grip and not only the way you swing your bat, the shot will turn into a switch hit, which is even more aggravating for the bowling side. 

Common mistakes to avoid:

You cannot always play the reverse sweep if you feel there’s too much pressure because of the fielding team. The stroke is a makeshift way of scoring runs and releasing pressure, so you cannot completely depend on it. There are certain things to always know so that you avoid mistakes. 

  • Trying to hit the ball with too much force is not a wise move.
  • A proper length is crucial since playing the shot to either overly full or short deliveries is a terrible idea, as if you miss the ball, you could lose your wicket. 
  • Don’t premeditate and decide to play it even before the bowler has bowled the ball. Before opting to play the shot, wait until the bowler releases the ball from his or her hand.


Q - Is the reverse sweep a reliable shot to depend on for scoring runs?

It can be an improvised method of adding runs and relieving pressure and also be beneficial when used correctly. But you should not rely primarily on it and instead play it carefully depending on the circumstances of the game and the bowler's deliveries.

Q - What is the difference between a reverse sweep and a switch hit?

If you are a right-handed batsman, you play a switch hit by switching the positions of your upper and lower hands and acting as if you were a left-handed batsman (or vice versa if that is the case).

You don't change the grip on your hands when hitting a reverse; you simply rotate your bat.

Q - Who was the first cricketer to play reverse sweep?

Even though it efficiently dismantles the field positions, this stroke is seen as an unconventional shot by purists of cricket. Nevertheless, it can be a useful shot to play. Mushtaq Mohammed, a Pakistani batsman, introduced it to widespread use in the 1970s.

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