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Cricket My Way
Cricket My Way

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Cricket My Way

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2019
Добавлена: 21.04.2020
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A fair example of that is one of my first games in 1974 in the Benson and Hedges quarter-final on June 12th at Taunton against Hampshire.

‘What a glorious twelfth it turned out to be, even though it cost me a few broken teeth from an Andy Roberts bouncer. Needing 183, we were 113 for 8, with Roberts still to bowl seven overs.

‘The game was gone – nearly. I notched a 45 not out, we won the game, and the lesson is there for all to see.’

PART TWO BATTING (#ulink_1e02ca83-2b42-5050-99aa-bd997bf1be36)

1 HOLDING THE BAT (#ulink_f125d67a-bc54-55fa-b74d-aaa3c8c2125d)


The most important part of batting is for a batsman to find out for himself the most comfortable way of holding the bat and standing at the crease. Grip, stance and back-lift are the key to everything, and if they are not mastered, the rest of batting becomes more and more difficult.

There are one or two golden rules, but not half as many as the average coaches say. If they were right then everyone would hold the bat and stand at the crease in exactly the same way.

But they don’t – just think for instance of the different stances of Peter Willey and Graham Gooch. Or Viv Richards and me, Mike Gatting and Allan Lamb, and so on. They have all worked out what suits them best, but although there are huge differences, certain basic details are common, and it is these I want to explain.

The orthodox grip should always have both hands together on the handle. Any photographs of me batting, whether hitting the ball hard and high or, much more rarely, playing defensively, invariably show how close together both hands are.

Ideally they should not be either at the very top or bottom of the handle, but if that makes you feel more comfortable, then don’t be put off by a coach telling you to move them up or down.

If they stay together, there is a much better chance of them working together under the guiding control of the top hand, rather than letting the bottom hand take over.

Obviously the higher up the handle the hands are, the wider the arc that is created for the bat to swing through, and some batsmen move to the top later in an innings, when they are trying to accelerate.

Even if the hands are at the very bottom of the handle, although some power might be lost, there is a compensatory increase in control because the bat has effectively shortened. This is what golfers do when they sometimes ‘choke down’ on a particular club to tighten up control. Sticking with golf, the driver is the most difficult club in the bag to control, because it is the longest club; so always remember that the nearer the top the hands are, the greater will be the power factor – but at the expense of a little bit of control.

So don’t hold it at the top, just because your particular hero does. I am pretty near the top – not quite all the way – simply because from the time I developed my first and only grip, that is what suited me best, and nobody tried to change me.

Once Ken Hibbert found out I naturally got hold of the bat in a reasonably correct way, he left me alone; so as soon as a batsman finds out by trial and error what suits him best, he must stay with it.

Of course, some good players do have their hands apart, but as with any successful orthodoxy, the batsman concerned succeeds in spite of, and not because of, any particular quirk.

Derek Randall comes to mind. He built a fine career with a grip based on his hands being further apart than any other top player I can remember. It helped his great strength of cutting, because that stroke is entirely governed and controlled by the bottom hand. But he could still drive with the best of them because he had the ability to relax the bottom hand and let the top hand take over when he attacked on the front foot.

Derek is a good example of how slavishly rigid coaching would have ruined a potential England player – what fun we would have missed!

Sport is choc-full of performers who apparently defy all the rules, and yet still deliver the goods. Lee Trevino in golf and Alex Higgins in snooker apparently ignore the coaching manuals in much of what they do, but look at the results they have produced. Much of their set-up and preparation seems all wrong, but in spite of that, everything is right at the moment of impact through the ball; and cricket is no different. As long as the bat is accelerating straight through the line of the ball at impact, it really doesn’t matter how you arrive there.


Hands nearer the top of the bat handle – the bat is now longer, provinding greater swing, more power but less control.

Hands nearer the blade of the bat – the bat is effectively shortened giving more control but slightly reduced power.

Back of the top hand facing towards the extra cover area.

Bottom hand – the ‘V’ between the forefinger and thumb is facing middle stump.

1 Try to follow the basic rules

2 Don’t be too rigid if things aren’t working out

3 Feel free to relax and find your own grip

So to sum up the grip, do what I did. Lay a bat down on the ground, and just pick it up with hands together as though you are picking up an axe to chop wood. Remember that because the real power in wood-chopping as well as batting comes from both hands working together. The position of the top hand can vary a little, but as a general rule the back of the hand should face out towards extra cover.

A little variation either way won’t hurt, but all sorts of problems arise if, for instance, the hand is turned round too much, with the back facing gully. As a check, the ‘V’ between forefinger and thumb should face back on to middle stump; whereas if the hand comes round further, it ends up facing fine leg, and it is almost impossible to drive off the front foot with that sort of set-up.

If the top hand – the left for the right-hander and vice versa for the ‘caggies’ – is turned round too much the other way, then the back of the hand faces the bowler, and it is impossible to get all the fingers round the handle.

Regarding the bottom hand, try and keep it as relaxed as possible, even if it means not wrapping all the fingers round the handle. I know a lot of players who just concentrate on holding the bat lightly, but firmly, with only the thumb and forefinger of the bottom hand on the grip. You need to be a real touch player to carry it that far. As a general rule, as long as the ‘V’ is in line with that of the top hand, you won’t go far wrong.

If all four fingers are on the handle, and it feels right, don’t alter it, because the grip is the starting point of so much that is right or wrong in batting.

I have spent more time on the top hand than the other one because although I don’t agree with much of the orthodox coaching teachings, I realize that cricket is mostly a sideways game, with the opposite hand and arm the governing influence. By that I mean, for the right-handed batsman, his top, leading left hand and arm is the most important one. Again there are plenty of top-class players with strong bottom grips – Allan Lamb comes to mind as one example. He has worked out what suits him best. Because he is shorter than me, he clearly cannot drive the same length deliveries as I can, and so that strong right hand has given him extra power for back foot strokes, like cutting and pulling.

A good illustration of top hand ‘V’ between forefinger and thumb, facing offside.

Derek Randall’s unorthodox grip with the separated hands.

A good illustration of the value of a correct grip. The leading left arm and top hand have totally controlled the stroke and kept the blade open to the offside. The right hand has supplied the power at impact and nothing else.


When I spent my two years on the Lord’s Ground Staff in 1972 and 1973, one of the coaches who never tried to alter my batting approach was Harry Sharpe. He would stand behind me in the nets, and would make the odd comment, but his general view was ‘nine times out of ten you hit it where you want – so why change?’ Exactly, and if more coaches were as far-sighted as Harry, then fewer promising cricketers would be spoiled by the interference with their natural ability that over-coaching produces.

I’ve dealt with the grip, so now to the stance. Again I repeat, that what happens before the ball is bowled, settles much of what happens when the real action starts.

Let me explain the advantages to me of my own stance, which is quite ‘spread’. By that I mean that my feet are further apart than the coaching manuals indicate is the ideal position. I stand that way because that is how I feel most comfortable, and that last word governs so much of my approach to batting, although it doesn’t appear too often in the official teaching books.

Anybody who ever offered me any advice as a kid – including Dad, Ken Hibbert, Dave Burge and Ivor Twiss – all used to accompany a particular tip with ‘as long as you feel comfortable doing it’.


The body is side on but with both eyes facing the bowler Slightly flexed legs but not a crouching position – try to ‘stand tall’.

The view from square leg Feet close together do not provide enough option of movement, especially against faster bowlers.

Feet slightly apart give better balance and allow for quicker movement onto the front foot.

1 Try to follow the basic guidelines.

2 In the end, do what feels best and works for you.

Graham Gooch, England and Essex. An unusual stance, but the raised bat and straight legs work for him. A perfect position of head and level eyes.
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