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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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I have repeatedly stressed so far the importance of cutting out unnecessary movement, and the time to concentrate hardest on standing absolutely still is when the ball is about to be delivered.

Some players never really think about when to start picking the bat up. They do it at the same moment in the bowler’s delivery stride, whether it is a fast bowler or a spinner. Then they wonder why they are halfway through a stroke – only for the wicket-keeper to be tossing the ball back to the fast bowler. It is only common sense to quicken the pickup against the paceman, and to wait just that bit longer against a slow bowler.

The vital difference between the average player and the good player, and the good player and the great batsman, is the apparent extra time the better players have to play their strokes. I will explain why this is not quite true, just as the theory that the great players play the ball later than other batsmen is only partly correct.

Both differences can be explained quite simply. That extra available time and the lateness of selection of stroke come because players like Viv Richards and Allan Border avoid any significant first movement of the feet when they start to pick the bat up.

If ever there is one real secret of batting, that is it. Even they cannot stand absolutely stock still, but whatever first movement either player makes is so small that it does not cut down his range of options to the same degree as with ordinary batsmen.

The sort of movement which is too early and too much is at the root of most batting faults, and I strongly advise the following check exercise being carried out regularly by all batsmen, no matter at what level they play the game.

At the start of a net session, ask the bowlers to help you by, without any warning, running in to bowl to you as normal but, instead of releasing the ball, to go right through with their usual action without letting the ball go. Just look at what you have done with your feet, and all will be revealed. Most English players tend to move their front foot forward as they pick the bat up just before the moment of delivery. This is because of our slower pitches. Conversely, the first movement of overseas cricketers tends to be either back or across their crease. This is because of the quicker nature of their pitches, and the extra bounce bowlers can obtain from the additional pace.

Next time you watch a big game, try to spot the first foot movement of the better players, and you will soon find that most English right-handers will have committed themselves to the front foot, by moving that left one at least 18 inches.

The disadvantage is obvious because they have reduced by the same distance how far on the back foot they can go, should the bowler decide the time is right to let a short one go.

This is another reason why we always struggle against the really fast bowlers, because they can only be coped with satisfactorily on the back foot. English cricket, because of its generally paceless pitches, does not produce many effective back foot players, and it never has. The number of batsmen in the last 20 years who could whack it off the back foot, are few and far between. Just think of our best batsmen in that time: Colin Cowdrey, Peter May, Tom Graveney, Kenny Barrington, Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch, David Gower and so on.

Of course, they were good enough batsmen to cope with the short ball, and even on occasions score runs off the back foot against the real quicks. But most of them were much more fluent when driving, because that is how they learned their cricket.

The obvious exception was Ted Dexter. I didn’t see much of him, but I am told that he stood stiller than most, and was equally happy to hook and cut, as well as drive. David Gower is another, although it must help that he is left-handed, and therefore playing to a different line.

Graham Gooch can also pull and cut with tremendous authority at times, but generally he looks to play forward if he can.

So try that test – have a look at where you have committed yourself to, and remember you’ve done that before you have any idea what length delivery you are trying to deal with.

Ted Dexter in full flow with the head still and the eyes following the ball.

The worst sort of movement with the back foot is away towards leg slip, because that destroys any real chances of getting into line against the quicker bowlers.

I will deal with these first movements again when I get on to bowling, but just remember that any thinking bowler will soon spot that first movement, and from that he can quickly sort out a player’s strengths and weaknesses.

The virtues of standing as still as possible are therefore many: you give yourself the chance to move forward or back; and you will cut out that forward, half-cock defensive push at a short of a length delivery, which is the only available option if you have got on to the front foot so early.

Also by delaying your footwork, you will be more able to establish the length and play a proper stroke with authority. It is not just coincidence that the batsmen who are most difficult to contain are those who can pull and cut as well as drive.

Another big plus is that the rhythm of the pick-up is not disturbed, and providing the top hand stays in control as the bat is brought into the hitting area, any sudden late movement or lift can be better countered if you are not too committed.

I realize that against real pace, everything has to be speeded up, and I admit that I then concentrate on a first movement back and across the crease. I do this because I know that not much is going to be pitched up to me, and anyway against quality fast bowling, every batsman needs a period of adjustment to the pace and lift at the start of his innings.

But that one exception only underlines the golden rule of batting. Stand as still as possible for as long as possible. Put that last sentence into constant practice, and many, many more problems will be solved than created.

I set out in this book to accomplish two things. I want to explain my attitude and approach to cricket, and hope that I can open up a new area of the game to cricketers whose approach is too restricted. I want them to take the blinkers off, and although a bit of eye strain might follow at first, it won’t be long before they discover just how rewarding and enjoyable the game can be.

At first it might be like that first dive into the deep end. Plenty of apprehension to begin with, but that is soon replaced by enjoyment born out of sheer exhilaration.

The other aim is to try to simplify a lot of the sort of coaching advice which has been handed down from generation to generation, without proper thought or explanation. A good illustration of this is the different guards batsmen take, and the importance of choosing the right one.


Like the points of preparation I have already gone through, I don’t think that the average coach goes into enough detail about the crucial parts of batting, including which guard should be adopted and why. For instance, a leg stump guard opens up the off side, while the further over a batsman stands – i.e. middle and leg or middle – the more deliveries he will have to play straight back to the bowler or on the leg side.

I now take leg stump, although I used to take ‘two leg’ until I found I was getting out l.b.w. a lot. Even then the penny never dropped, until my late dear friend and coach, Kenny Barrington, suggested I might like to try a change.

Don’t just pick a guard without thinking about it. Say: ‘Which area do I like to play to most of all?’

As a simple guideline, top hand right-handed players should take one leg, while those players with a strong bottom hand should stand further over towards off stump.

Colin Cowdrey once took off stump in the West Indies in 1959–60 against Wes Hall & Co., simply to get himself in line, and it worked for him. This sort of willingness to adjust to change again proves the value of a batsman working things out for himself, rather than automatically accepting the word of the coach who is only going by the book.

Knowing where your stumps are is very important. Shots like this become easier when you can quickly judge the line of the ball.


Off side opened up more – fewer shots need to be played to leg. Leg stump

Middle or middle-and-leg Need to play more shots ‘round the corner’ which may increase risk of being out lbw.

1 Make your mark clearly.

2 Fix in your mind where your stumps are.

Sometimes, the ‘book’ needs re-writing, and nobody should be afraid of making up his or her own mind, no matter what the so-called experts say.

Another thing to remember, is that just because two batsmen take the same guard, does not mean that they stand in the same place. I always ground my bat behind my right foot, which means I am virtually standing on the line of leg stump. As I have explained, that gives me extra width to play to my off side strength, but other players toe their bat in some way from their foot. I don’t like that because they have to move more and that is not a good thing. The whole point of a guard is to help you know where your off stump is, so that you do not play unnecessary defensive strokes at wide balls.

After all, if a ball is not going to hit the stumps, what are you defending? And of course, the wider the ball, the less of the face of the bat you are able to put to it, so either go for an attacking stroke, or leave it.

The other common fault which springs from grounding the bat away from the back foot, is that it actively encourages a crooked back-lift.

Until I started to explain the basics of preparing to face the music, I never realized how much there is to get right, and I suppose I have been lucky to find so much of what I have advised came to me naturally, without me having to think too much about it. Now I am as anxious as anyone to get the innings under way, so here we go.


A guard should enable a batsman to play to his strengths, and just how well this works for me can best be seen by looking at a few run charts of my big and best innings.

‘The one that reveals all is of my 118 at Old Trafford against the Australians in 1981. That innings was immeasurably a better knock than the earlier 149 at Headingley, because that was a death or glory slog in an apparently lost cause, but the Manchester innings was one I built so carefully that I only managed five singles in my first 33 deliveries.

‘I then cut loose against the second new ball with 47 out of 52 off 26 deliveries, and did not take much longer to get to three figures.

‘It seemed, even to me, that I had smacked the Aussies all over Old Trafford, but in fact only 18 out of my 118 came in front of the wicket on the leg side. There were two sixes, a four and two singles in that one 90-degree area.

Run charts can be valuable, but never let them affect your natural style.’

2 THE START OF AN INNINGS AND HOW TO BUILD IT (#ulink_c3eddf98-900a-52c5-b6fe-fd897474f9e7)
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