One aspect of batting in cricket, where most batsmen struggle is playing against spin bowling. Facing spinners is a tough job, and their turn and bounce can easily put any batsman into a fix. While it is always best to play with a straight bat, one misjudgement of the trajectory of the ball and you’ll be out. So, many batsmen bring the sweep shot out of their arsenal and try to cover the entire bounce and turn and even score runs. But this comes with its own risk.
In this chapter of Learn with ZAP, let’s look into how to play the sweep shot in cricket well, the types and the risks involved.
What is the sweep cricket shot?
A sweep is a cross-batted front foot shot played against low-bouncing deliveries, that are usually bowled by spinners. It involves kneeling on one knee, and swinging the bat in a horizontal arc as if you were sweeping the floor to play the shot. It requires strong and precise batting technique, footwork, impeccable timing, and the ability to read the spin of the bowler. The stroke is advised to be played to on a delivery pitching on the leg stumps. But if the ball pitches outside the off stump, it can be difficult to play this stroke.
How to play the Sweep Shot in Cricket: The Proper Technique
Credit: Hindustan Times
Here are the basics that should be right before you play this shot:
Stance and Footwork:
The sweep shot does not require you to have a different or a special kind of batting stance. Be in a position that you would normally use against a spinner. Have a fluid, easy and stay low with your pose. Be in a batting stance where you can quickly react and move your leg out and stride to play the sweep.
The footwork needs to be very precise. When you play the stroke, you need to align your forward leg in the line of the delivery. But again, it should be very precise, not more, not less.
Bat Positioning and Backlift:
In the sweep shot, the backlift, bat's position and the downswing are essential. The face of the cricket bat should be open during the backlift. Hold your bat it horizontally, and perpendicular to the ground. As the ball reaches near you, swing your bat in a controlled motion and keep the stroke low.
Executing the Shot: A step by Step Guide
You must predict the trajectory of the ball and hit it with a full swing of the bat in order to play the sweep stroke well. A controlled downward swing makes sure the ball stays on the ground, which lowers the likelihood that you will get caught out in the outfield. But if you really want to go for it then powerhit it for a six out of the ground, swing confidently from the ground up into the air.
- Judge the bowler: You need to be able to evaluate the bowler. Even at the last second before delivery, a spinner has the ability to alter the variations of his ball. After the ball bounces, you should be able to predict the spin and variations it will take.
- Usually, the ball should be pitched at the leg stump at the full length. The stump line is a bit risky and outside off will be difficult to sweep, but you can still do it provided you’re confident and the length is proper.
- As soon as the ball is delivered and it's the right delivery to go for it, start moving forward. Wear a pair of lightweight batting pads that do not hinder with your footwork.
- Bend your front knee as if you are stretching. Make sure not to overbend your front leg, so that you can return to the original position if you are unable to transmit.
- Reach with your front leg while bending your front knee all the way. Bend your back foot knee till it touches the floor.
- Swing your bat like you're cleaning the floor. For a sweep shot, timing is crucial. Watch your timing carefully.
The bowler might have already noticed your footwork and decided not to let you play your shot. He would attempt to bowl a short ball at a faster pace in this circumstance, which would result in your defeat.
When the bowler makes a move like that, you should immediately come to your rear foot by bending your knees back to their original position and defend the ball.
Types of Sweep Shot:
A more modern and creative variation of this shot is the reverse sweep. The batter needs to switch grips and hit the ball to the off side from the leg side with the bottom hand. It is a great stroke in your arsenal to score runs in a tight fielding position and catch the fielding side off guard.
The paddle sweep is a delicate stroke used to score runs fine on the leg side. You need to use soft hands and glance the ball behind the wicket keeper or down to the fine leg region. The shot can be particularly effective against slow bowlers or spinners and has become an easy way to score runs due to its controlled and calculated nature.
The slog sweep is an aggressive version of the sweep shot. It is used to take on the spinners and hit the ball over the mid-wicket or long-on boundary. Use your sheer power and aim for maximum impact and hit the ball out of the park.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
The sweep shot can be rewarding and risky at the same time. If you hit it well, you can easily score runs on the leg side. But if the ball is in line with the stumps, and you miss, you’ll be out leg before the wicket or bowled. Another thing to keep in mind is that, if your footwork is not on point you can get in an uncomfortable position and your shot will not be fruitful enough. Also, your timing plays an important role. If you mistime the shot, the ball will fly straight up in the air and your innings will be over.
The sweep shot is one of the most important strokes in your batting arsenal. Every player needs to master this stroke that will help you take on spinners. Practice playing the stroke hard in your nets sessions and take your 360 degree game to the next level.