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sweep off feet

Batting (cricket)

In the sport of cricket, batting is the act or skill of hitting the cricket ball with a cricket bat in order to score runs without getting out.

Each team usually consists of eleven players, and all the players are expected to bat. A person either skilled at batting or presently taking his turn at batting is called a batsman, and a batsman's main aim is to try and score runs for the team without getting 'out'.

At a given moment, only two batsmen from one team can bat. A batsman can bat in each innings until he is 'out'. Once a batsman is 'out', he is replaced by a team mate until ten out of eleven players in his team are 'out' and their innings is closed.

Goals of batting

In terms of strategic importance in a game, the priorities of a batsman are, in order of importance:

  1. Do not get out.
  2. Score runs.

Whereas in one-day cricket, the prime objective is to score runs quickly,you have 50 overs (300 balls) and 10 wickets in hand while in Test Match cricket you have unlimited overs. Self preservation will allow the batsman to score runs for longer, but in terms of the team's goal in winning the game it is more important not to get out. This is because an injured batsman can leave the game temporarily and resume batting in the same innings once recovered, whereas an out batsman cannot bat again in the same innings.

This contrasts with baseball, in which the primary goal of batting is scoring runs. This is reflected in the difference in terminology of attack and defence between the sports. In baseball, batting is considered the offensive role, whereas in cricket batting has a defensive role. However, the growth of the modern game over the past two decades has made batting in its aggressive form more popular, there are usually a batsman or two in each of the top teams who specialise in attacking play.

Batting skills

Given the goals of batting, a batsman must possess good hand-eye coordination, reflexes, strength, running speed, sound judgment, and of course knowledge of cricket rules and an understanding of cricket strategy and tactics.

These basic skills are put to use in specific actions such as:

  • Preventing the ball from hitting the wicket (which would result in the batsman being out bowled).
  • Avoiding being hit in the legs in front of the wicket (which may result in the batsman being out leg before wicket).
  • Avoiding hitting catches to any fielders (which would result in the batsman being out caught).
  • Avoiding edging the ball to the keeper (which would result in the batsman being caught behind) be)
  • Avoiding being hit by the ball in a way that might cause injury.
  • Hitting the ball with the bat with precise placement, timing, and strength to avoid fielders.
  • Judging when it is safe to take a run, and taking the run.
  • Completing bye run, even when the ball reaches straight into the wicket-keeper’s gloves after leaving the bowler’s hand. This method to generate runs can be made free of any risk with pre-planned strategy.

Types of batting shots

The act of hitting the cricket ball is called a shot or stroke. Batting involves knowledge and skill in several different types of shot. Good batsmen usually also have what is called "balance", which more or less involves stability of the body with synchronised movements of the shoulders and feet. There are a variety of shots a batsman can play.

"Textbook" strokes

Cricket has both a prevailing tradition of orthodoxy and a strong under-current of departure from the orthodox. This section details the batting shots included in the world's greatest batsman Don Bradman's The Art of Cricket.

Block

A block stroke is usually a purely defensive shot designed to interpose the bat in front of the wicket so as to stop the ball from hitting the wicket. It can also be used to let the ball stay near the wicket or move into a gap in close-in fieldsman, so that the wicket-keeper, bowler and fieldsmen can field the ball and attempt a run-out before the batsman can run a quick single. This shot has no strength behind it, usually played with a light or "soft" bottom-hand grip and merely stops the ball moving towards the wicket. A block played on the front foot is better known as a forward defensive, and a block played on the back foot is better known as a backward defensive.

Cut

A cut is cross-batted shot played at a ball wide on the off side, slapping the ball as it passes the batsman so that it is hit in the region backward of square on the off side. A square cut is a shot hit into the off side at near to 90 degrees from the wicket. A late cut, as it name suggests, is played as or after the ball passes the batsman's body, hit deep into the off side.

Drive

A drive is a straight-batted shot, played by swinging the bat in a vertical arc through the line of the ball, hitting the ball in front of the batsman. Depending on the direction the ball travels, a drive can be a cover drive (stuck towards the Cover fielding position , an off drive (stuck towards Mid Off) or an on drive (stuck towards Mid On). A square drive is less common. It involves opening the "face" of the bat with the bottom hand to guide the ball square on the off side. Drives can be played both off the front and the back foot, but back-foot drives are harder to force through the line of the ball. Sachin Tendulkar of India is well-known for his signature straight drive, which is similar to an on drive but is played straighter down the ground, past the bowler.

Leg glance

A Leg glance is a delicate straight-batted shot played at a ball aimed slightly on the leg side, using the bat to flick the ball as it passes the batsman, deflecting towards the square leg or fine leg area. The stroke involves deflecting the bat-face towards the leg side at the last moment, head and body moving inside the line of the ball. This shot is played 'off the hip' and is sometimes called the hip glance.

Sweep

A Sweep is a cross-batted shot played to a low bouncing ball, usually from a slow bowler, by kneeling on one knee, bringing the head down on the ball as in a forward defensive stroke, and swinging the bat around in a horizontal arc near the pitch, sweeping it around to the leg side.

Pull

A Pull is cross-batted shot played to a ball bouncing around waist height by swinging the bat in a horizontal arc in front of the body, pulling it around to the leg side. It is different from a hook shot because it involves swinging the bat down onto the ball so as to keep it along the ground.

Hook

A hook is an aggressive, cross-batted shot played at a bouncer aimed at or near the batsman's head. The batsman must step inside the line of the ball and swing his bat around his head, hooking the ball around behind square leg, usually in the air and sometimes for six runs. It is a dangerous shot to attempt, but can be very productive.

Unorthodox Shots

From Cricket's first inception, batsmen have not limited themselves to orthodox strokes. The upper cut (deliberately cutting the ball over the slips, point, or over the gully region) and Chinese cut or French cut (unintentionally striking the ball with the inside edge of the bat, so that it narrowly misses the stumps and escapes to the leg or off side) are Cricketing terms of long standing.

Paddle-scoop

A paddle-scoop is a modern type of cricketing shot often used at the end of an ODI innings due to its riskiness. The shot is performed by scooping the ball of the batsman's shoulder in order to find a boundary in the fine leg region and the region directly behind the wicket-keeper.

Paddle sweep

A Paddle Sweep is a type of sweep shot (see "sweep" above) directed to the fine leg area. The paddle sweep is a cross-batted shot played on one knee, usually at a slow ball on or wide of leg stump. Involves bringing the bat "down on top of the ball" in order to play it away to fine leg.

Reverse sweep

A Reverse Sweep is a cross-batted sweep shot played to a low bouncing ball, by kneeling on one knee and swinging the bat around in a horizontal arc close to the pitch, but reversing the blade of the bat half-way through the swing and sweeping the ball around to the off side from the leg side. The reverse sweep is a potentially valuable shot to play because it effectively defeats the field positions, but it is considered an unorthodox shot by cricket purists. It was first regularly played in the 1970s by the Pakistani batsman Mushtaq Mohammed, though Mushtaq's brother Hanif Mohammed is sometimes credited as the inventor. England batsman Bob Woolmer has been credited with making the reverse sweep more popular during his coaching career . Two cricketers who are considered to have played the reverse sweep very well (it has been described as their signature shot by some) were Andy Flower of Zimbabwe and Javed Miandad of Pakistan. Damien Martyn of Australia has been said to have "the most brutal reverse-sweep in the game" . The reverse sweep requires good timing and coordination in turning the blade over and also requires considerable arm-power in driving the ball to the off side. It has been known to backfire, for instance in the case of Mike Gatting of England against Allan Border of Australia in the 1987 World Cup, when Gatting, attempting a reverse sweep off a fairly non-aggressive first delivery off Border, edged the ball with the top edge of his reversed bat straight to wicket-keeper Greg Dyer. This subsequently proved to be a very expensive wicket for England, whose run rate dropped sharply and caused them to lose the 1987 World Cup Finals. It has also been often used by England Wicket-Keeper Paul Nixon in the 2007 World Cup Finals, to such an extent that it has seemingly become his 'trademark' shot. The shot has become more popular due to one-day cricket, where fields without slips are often set later in the game and quick runs are required.

Marillier shot

A Marillier shot is a batting stroke played with the bat held parallel to the pitch in front of the batsman, with the toe of the bat pointing towards the bowler. The batsman attempts to flick the ball over the wicket-keeper's head. The most famous exponent of the shot is former Zimbabwean international Douglas Marillier.

Slog

A Slog is a powerful shot, usually hit to the leg side in the air in an attempt to score a six, often without too much concern for proper technique. The classic example of a slog is known as a cow shot, a massive swing across the line of a ball of good or full length, attempting to hit it over the area roughly between mid-wicket and long-on, known as cow corner (an area of the field so named because few balls land there and thus cows could in theory graze there perfectly safely, without getting hit). Slogs must be timed perfectly, as the batsman is swinging across the line of the ball rather than through it and it is very easy to hit the ball straight up, get a leading edge or to miss completely. It is generally safer for a batsman to hit the ball straight over the bowler's head than towards cow corner, but it is often harder to generate the same amount of power from a shot played straight than from a swing to leg.

Slog-sweep

A Slog sweep is cow shot played from the kneeling position used to sweep. Slog sweeps are usually directed over square-leg rather than to cow corner. It is almost exclusively used against reasonably full-pitched balls from slow bowlers, as only then does the batsman have time to sight the length and adopt the aggressive kneeling position required for the slog sweep. The former Australian Test Captain Steve Waugh was considered the master of the slog-sweep.

Strategy of batting

Strategies vary between the two main forms of international cricket, Test cricket and One Day International cricket.

One-day international cricket

As one-day international matches have a limited set of overs, batsmen try to score quickly. Scoring quickly means trying to score at least one run per ball bowled. Most batsmen manage to score at an average of four runs an over (i.e. six balls).

When a team goes out to bat, the best players bat first. The first three batsmen (number 1, 2, 3) are known as the top order; the next four (numbers 4, 5, 6 and possibly 7) form the middle order, and the last four (numbers 8, 9, 10 and 11) are the lower order or tail.

The specialist batsmen of a team usually bat near the top of the order, so as to score more runs. The openers or opening batsmen are the first two batsmen to take the crease. They are not necessarily the best bastmen, but are expected to negotiate the new ball and not lose wickets until the shine on the ball is considerably diminished (a hard and shiny ball bounces and swings more and is more difficult for the batsmen to face). In addition, they are supposed to play a quick innings (more runs in fewer balls), reflecting the fact that the fielding side is subject to restrictions on the placement of fielders in the first 15 overs which makes it easier to score runs. In a recent amendment to the rules of ODI cricket, fielding captains are given mandatory fielding restrictions for the first 10 overs and then two chunks of 5 overs each, also known as power-play overs, which they may impose at any stage of their choice within the stipulated 50 overs.

Following the openers is the No. 3 or one-drop batsman. His job is to take over from the openers and typically play a careful and prolonged innings, effectively tying up one end of the batting. This brings in some stability in the batting, as new batsmen find it difficult to settle down and it helps to have a settled batsman at the other end. The best batsman of the team is usually put at number 3 or 4, to protect him from the difficulties of batting against the best bowlers on a fresh pitch and to allow him to play a long innings.

The middle order is often considered the most valuable asset of a batting line-up in One-Day Internationals, because its members are responsible for consolidating the batting team's position through the middle part of the 50 overs. Characteristic of middle-order batting is the practice of taking many singles (or ones) and 'twos', with only the occasional boundary (a four or a six), as opposed to the more flamboyant openers who score primarily in boundaries.

This is because the fielding restrictions on the opposition are lifted in the middle overs, so that the percentage of boundaries scored decreases. Middle-order batsmen are often chosen for the ability to run hard and fast between the wickets (to maximise the number of runs not scored from boundaries) and for their endurance and patience. The middle order typically sets the stage for an aggressive assault on the bowling in the final 10 overs of the match. To achieve this assault, two things are necessary - a number of hard-hitting batsmen yet to bat or not out and a number of wickets in hand (since aggression means a greater likelihood of losing wickets). The last 10 overs of a one-day cricket match innings is often the most exciting part of the innings, because of the large number of boundaries scored and wickets taken. During the last ten overs of an ODI, batsmen often use shots that are riskier than shots played at the beginning of the innings. Examples of risky shots include the "reverse-sweep" and the "paddle-scoop". These shots are used to achieve a boundary which would not be possible when playing a safer, more orthodox shot. Finally, the lower order consists of the bowlers of the team, who are not known for their batting prowess and so bat as low down the order as possible.

However, there are no real restrictions to the batting positions. Captains have been known to experiment with the batting line-up to gain specific advantages. For example, a lower-order batsman is sometimes sent in at number 3 with instructions to pinch-hit (playing aggressively in an attempt to score more runs in fewer balls - a term borrowed from baseball) to score quick runs and shield better players, as his wicket (as a less accomplished lower-order batsman) is less valuable anyway. Examples of such batsmen that are sent early to "pinch-hit" are the likes of Albie Morkel (South African Cricket Team) and Irfan Pathan (Indian Cricket Team).

Test cricket

In Test cricket, the usual aim is to score as high a total as possible. As the overs are unlimited, a batsman can take his time to score runs. In general, 90 overs have to be bowled per day in Test match cricket. The openers or the starting batsmen in Test cricket are often chosen for their sound technique and ability to defend their wicket, because the first 1-2 hours of an innings, especially if it begins in the morning, are usually characterised by good conditions for bowling, specifically in terms of the pace and bounce of the pitch and the lateral movement of the ball in the air.

The one-drop batsman is usually also chosen for his sound technique, so as to stabilise his end in case an opener gets out. The middle order of a batting team in Test matches usually includes its most skilled batsmen in terms of shot-playing ability, because during the middle overs of a day batting is relatively easier than in the initial stages of the innings. If the batting innings of a team begins after the last two hours of the day, the team might employ a nightwatchman to bat after a batsman gets out.

The nightwatchman is usually a lower-order batsman, able to protect his wicket primarily by defending dangerous balls and leaving non-dangerous ones rather than looking to produce a large number of runs for his team, but not a complete rabbit, liable to expose other batsmen late in a day. This move prevents a regular batsman from having to face the last few overs left in the day or bat early the following morning; however, some teams do not employ a nightwatchmen for various reasons, including a belief that middle-order batsmen should be able to protect their wicket in poor conditions as well as good, or a lack of defensively minded lower-order batsmen.

In the third innings, the batting team may score quickly to set a large target to the opposition. This scenario usually occurs on the fourth day's play. The batting captain decides how many overs he is prepared to allow the opposition to chase his total in their fourth innings. He usually declares his team's innings at a predetermined time on the fourth day so that the he can bowl at least 20 overs on that day and 90 overs on the last day. A good number of overs to bowl at the opposition team in the fourth innings is essential because usually on the fourth and fifth days of a test match conditions are good for bowling (especially slow bowling), with the pitch having experienced a fair degree of wear and tear. Thus, to make the target as difficult as possible, the batting side speeds up the run rate (runs per over) till the captain declares.

If, however, a batting team is significantly behind the opposition in terms of runs going into the fourth day of a Test match, typical strategy by the batting team involves playing defensively in order to prevent losing their wickets. This ensures that they occupy the most time until the match draws to a close on the fifth day, because if a team's innings does not end on the fifth day then the match is drawn, or a stalemate is reached. However, in trying to do so, if the said batting team manages to overhaul its deficit and gain a substantial lead (an excess of runs) over the opposition, the captain may consider declaring the innings so that he can "force" a victory on the final day, depending on the size of his lead, the readiness of his bowlers, and the state of the pitch.

References

See also

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