For those who have been following my posts on batting, there has probably been a lot to take in. In this post, I have distilled the art of batting into a concise but thorough list of cricket batting tips and techniques for quick reference. Don’t hesitate to look through the previous posts for more in-depth discussions into each of the points.
Batting is a crucial part of the game of cricket. The best cricket batting techniques are so important to learn and practice. For a definitive list of free cricket batting tips read on…
Grip the Bat Properly
The handle should first be gripped firmly with both hands. For a right-handed batsman, the left hand should be placed at the top with the dominant hand below. The principle is the same but reversed for a left-hander. The non-dominant, or lead hand, should grip the bat tightly for control, while the dominant, or lower hand, should have a looser grip with thumb and first two fingers for directing the shot. For precise control, the hands should be placed between the middle and top of the handle and the thumb of the upper hand and forefinger of the lower should form a ‘V’ pointing down between the outside edge and the middle of the back of the blade.
- Tip – Batting gloves should be worn to protect the fingers so you don’t break them when struck by the ball!
Adopt the Correct Stance
Stand sideways on to the bowler with feet shoulder width apart or approximately 12 inches apart and either side of the crease. The knees should be bent slightly and the weight evenly distributed between front and back foot to enable maneuverability in shifting to the pitch of the ball. Stay on the balls of your feet and stay relaxed. A right-handed batsman will stand with the left elbow pointing towards the bowler, reversed for lefties. Some batsmen (like Rory Burns of England) like to stand more square on, facing the bowler, to give them a clearer view of the ball as it is delivered, but this is less common.
- Tip – For stability, rest your top glove on the inside of the leading leg batting pad when preparing to play.
- Tip – For maximum reaction speed, always keep your weight evenly distributed and on the balls of your feet.
- Tip – For more on the basics of stance and grip, read Cricket Batting Shots – A Brief Explanation of the Various ‘Textbook’ Shots Employed by Batsmen.
Shift Your Weight onto the Back Foot for Short Pitched Deliveries
When the ball is pitched short, shift your weight onto the back foot to quickly get into position for the higher bounce and execute a pull or hook shot.
- Tip – Staying behind the ball also reduces the chance of the ball hitting your pads and you being given out lbw.
Shift Your Weight onto the Front Foot for Fuller Deliveries
When the ball pitches full, closer to the feet it will not arrive so high at the batsman, having not so much time to get up. Move your weight onto the front foot to get into the correct position to execute a vertical swing of the bat.
- Tip – You should try to move your foot to the pitch of the ball, keeping your eye on the ball at all times.
Swing the Bat Properly
As the bowler runs in, begin to lift the bat backwards. When the ball pitches, roll the forward shoulder down slightly, keeping the head as still as possible, and swing the bat backwards in a straight vertical line.
- Tip – The toe of the bat should be raised above the wicket. The back swing delivers power to the shot.
Follow Through with Your Swing
To hit the ball a long distance, a good follow-through is paramount. Strike through the ball and twist your hips in the direction of your swing. Swing the bat upwards in a continuous arc.
- Tip – Even if you miss the ball, continue to follow-through on the shot every time. This will instill the habit of consistently following through.
- Tip – An extravagant follow through imparts power and distance on the drive shots but is not necessary when playing a block.
- Tip – For more on the basics of swing, read Cricket Batting Shots – A Brief Explanation of the Various ‘Textbook’ Shots Employed by Batsmen.
Swing the Bat Horizontally if the Pitch is Short
When the ball is pitched short it will arrive high at the batsman. Shift your weight onto the back foot and, keeping your eye on the ball, swing the bat in a horizontal arc (cross bat shot). At waist height this is known as a pull shot. At head height it is called a hook shot. This shot will take the ball high over short leg or mid-wicket on the on side and a chance to score runs. It is also considered a dangerous shot as it is difficult to control the height of the shot.
- Tip – As you make contact, roll the wrists to bring the bat face over the top of the ball and keep the ball low in the shot to reduce the chance of being caught out.
Hit the Ball Before it Has a Chance to Spin
When facing a spin bowler who is pitching it up, step forward and try to hit the ball before it pitches or just after. The former will be a full toss (when a shot is struck before the ball even pitches) and the latter most likely a sweep. This will nullify the effect of turn.
- Tip – Even when the ball is pitched short, with good foot work it is possible to advance down the pitch and hit the spinner over the rope for a six.
- Tip – For more on advanced batting techniques, read How to Play Cricket Shots – Hit Like a Pro!
Watch the Ball All the Way!
This is perhaps THE most important tip and cannot be overemphasized. Watch the ball all the way, during the bowler’s run-up, as it leaves the bowler’s hand, through the bounce and all the way onto the bat.
- Tip – Imagine you have laser vision like Superman and keep that beam focused on the ball.
- Tip – For more on batting techniques and basics, read Cricket Batting Shots – A Brief Explanation of the Various ‘Textbook’ Shots Employed by Batsmen.
Set Your Positive Intent to Score
Pretty obvious but much overlooked, always have the positive mentality that you are going to score runs. Focus on a successful outcome to your innings.
Tip – See yourself scoring a 50 or 100 in your mind’s eye. Visualise this outcome over and over with positive expectancy.
Focus on Gaps in the Field
Always consider the areas you can score runs in and select your shots and game plan accordingly.
Tip – Don’t look at where the fielders are placed. Look into the spaces where they are not.
Manage Your Innings
Take it one ball at a time. Batsmen who make centuries focus on the game this way. Fully focus on each delivery.
Tip – Set small goals first. Get to ten runs, then the next ten and so on.
Decide Whether to Score a Run or Stay in Position
Knowing when to run and when not to is vital. Judge the distance the ball has been struck and whether the fielder can throw it to the bowler’s or keeper’s end in time for a run out. If there is insufficient time to switch ends with the non-striking batsman, don’t run.
Tip – Always call, even if there is no opportunity to run. Call, “Wait!” if no runs are available, “Run!” if you can score one run and rotate the strike, “Two!” if there is sufficient time to come back for two runs.
Stay Relaxed and Focused at the Crease
Have a routine at the crease. Stay relaxed and focused between each ball. Manage your mental energy to preserve your concentration for batting.
Tip – Step away from the crease between each ball, breath, relax then come back, set your guard and continue with the innings.
Score a Line in the Pitch to Mark Middle Stump
This is known as setting your guard and will impart some additional awareness of the stumps and help you judge the line of your shot with greater precision.
Tip – During indoor practice you can mark middle stump with tape.
Tap the Bat on the Guard Line
Tapping the bat on the ground signifies to the bowler you are ready to receive the next ball.
Tip – Don’t tap the ground too hard. Raising the bat into position helps to maintain good form.
Select the Right Cricket Bat for Your Style of Play
This is more extensively covered in my post, How to Choose a Cricket Bat. Selecting the right bat will depend on a number of factors: your height, weight, strength and whether you are a defensive or attacking player, and more. The proper bat will help you play well and contribute more runs to the team.
- Tip – Read How to Choose a Cricket Bat.
- Tip – Also read Cricket Bat Sizes – Blades, Handles and Varieties Explained.
Prepare the Bat Correctly
Cricket bats are made of English Willow, which is a soft wood that is hardened in a press during the manufacturing process. Further hardening can be achieved by denting and leveling out the face with a mallet (known as knocking in). This improves performance and longevity, preventing against cracks and wear.
- Tip – You can knock in the bat yourself but this process should be carried out by a professional.
- Tip – Rub raw linseed oil evenly onto the surface of the bat and allow to dry 24 hours before knocking in. This improves elasticity and protects against cracking.
Practice Your Number One
During practice, get in the nets and get a good bowling player to throw some balls at your favourite shot. Practice repeatedly to get that technique perfect and consistent.
Tip – Practice your next favourite shot the same way, then your third favourite and so on to build momentum and make progress on your overall performance as a batsman.
Practice in Front of a Mirror
Also known as shadow batting. Before practice or a match, watch yourself in the mirror as you swing the bat. This will reveal flaws in your technique and help improve batting technique, grip, stance and back swing.
Tip – Don’t do this in the Hall of Mirrors at the fairground.
Engage in Batting Drills with Your Team
Practice, practice, practice. Make sure to get to all the team training sessions. Practicing is the best way to improve on all aspects of your game and socialise with your peers to pick up on what they have learned. Grow as an individual player but grow and integrate with your team too.
- Tip – Focus on one area of your game at a time, e.g. drill for cover drives one week, pull shots the next, and so on. For more on batting drills, visit my series of posts starting with Cricket Batting Drills – Part 1: Best Practices to Improve Your Training Sessions.
- Tip – Listen to your coach’s advice. Listen to input from your teammates.
Keep it Simple
In conclusion, KISS (Keep It Simple Sid!). Never forget that the objective is to score as many runs as possible. Work hard in training to improve but don’t lose sight of this fact. Don’t over-analyse. Get a good, relaxed routine at the crease and enjoy the best sport in the world!