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Thread: Appreciating good techniques

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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    Appreciating good techniques

    An idea I was tossig around. Cricket conversation in general, and certainly on here, makes regular reference to the strength or weakness of a player's techniques. I suspect I can't be the only one here with a less than encyclopedic knowledge of what exactly, in technical detail, constitutes a sound technique for a batsman or an ideal technique for a bowler. For me at least, it's a bit like trying to define pornography - I feel I know it when I see it, but couldn't write it out for you. On the other hand, there are some real experts here who I'd love to learn from in terms of what to consciously look for when assessing a player.

    A couple of caveats:
    1) by all means please do use particular players as examples, but can we not turn this into debates relating to specific players?
    2) I make this thread conscious that there is no consensus as to the importance of having a textbook technique (indeed, SJS' article regarding Sehwag a month or so ago prompted this line of thought for the thread), and
    3) I also recognize there aren't hard and fast definite "best" methods.

    To kick things off I'll ask a specific question - what exactly constitutes a theoretically "good" technique batting against swing bowling?
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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    The obvious one is playing the ball late. This has been diluted quite a bit over recent times due to the use of ball machines, where people get themselves still and throw their hands at the ball. They get into a rhythm with their batting, and often "meet" the ball out in front of them, and muscle it down the ground.

    Hayden was proof of this post-2000. He was a real devotee of the ball machine, and on pitches where there wasn't a great amount of side movement, it wouldn't matter how quick it was, where the ball pitched, Hayden could stroke it down the ground; in the air or along the ground, it didn't matter. It did, however, make him vulnerable to the swinging ball as he wasn't necessarily playing the ball "under his eyes".

    If you rewatch his innings at the Oval (2005), you'll see how he played the ball a lot closer to his body, and under his eyes. It took away his fearsome driving power, but it allowed him to counter any movement generated by the English bowlers.

    EDIT: please don't take this into a Hayden vs quality bowlers thing. But it was the most obvious example to think of.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Uppercut's Avatar
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    Latest thinking seems to be that a keeping a still head is the single most important factor.
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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    Latest thinking seems to be that a keeping a still head is the single most important factor.
    Basically the premise of all technique though, not just "playing swing bowling".

    Simply, if your eyes are moving, and the target (ball) is moving, then you are simply making it harder for yourself to hit the target with the bat. This is further exaggerated if there is horizontal movement from the ball.


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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    Footwork becomes more important? To put yourself in a position where you can adjust to cover late movement without becoming unbalanced or leaving a gap between bat and pad?

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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    Jack - by diluted, you mean less commonly seen or less important? I suspect the former, although conditions have made swing a but less common.

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt79 View Post
    Jack - by diluted, you mean less commonly seen or less important? I suspect the former, although conditions have made swing a but less common.
    I guess a bit of both; not seen as often because (as you allude to) swinging conditions aren't that common.

    Footwork becomes more important? To put yourself in a position where you can adjust to cover late movement without becoming unbalanced or leaving a gap between bat and pad?
    Definitely. To take some Australian examples, the following players base their technique around being balanced, and often at the expense of footwork: Martyn, Haddin and Hodge. All three are prone to getting out to outswingers, wafting away their body, because their head isn't in line with the ball. They tend to look like pretty ordinary, "soft" dismissals. Herschelle Gibbs is another example, although further exaggerated as he almost moved away from the ball on occassions to free his arms and stroke through the ball, even in Test cricket.

    Basically, getting your head in line with the ball allows you to better perceive any movement. If the ball moves outside the line of your eyes, then there is a good chance of it going past the stumps. Moving your head and keeping your eyes level involves moving your feet to get yourself into that position. If your head isn't in line with the ball at any stage, and it moves, you make it more likely that you are going to edge the ball.

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    Hall of Fame Member honestbharani's Avatar
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    Awesome thread.. Loving the inputs from Jack here.. Real quality stuff, mate!!!
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    In the end, I think it's so utterly, incomprehensibly boring. There is so much context behind each innings of cricket that dissecting statistics into these small samples is just worthless. No-one has ever been faced with the same situation in which they come out to bat as someone else. Ever.
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vic_orthdox View Post
    I guess a bit of both; not seen as often because (as you allude to) swinging conditions aren't that common.


    Definitely. To take some Australian examples, the following players base their technique around being balanced, and often at the expense of footwork: Martyn, Haddin and Hodge. All three are prone to getting out to outswingers, wafting away their body, because their head isn't in line with the ball. They tend to look like pretty ordinary, "soft" dismissals. Herschelle Gibbs is another example, although further exaggerated as he almost moved away from the ball on occassions to free his arms and stroke through the ball, even in Test cricket.

    Basically, getting your head in line with the ball allows you to better perceive any movement. If the ball moves outside the line of your eyes, then there is a good chance of it going past the stumps. Moving your head and keeping your eyes level involves moving your feet to get yourself into that position. If your head isn't in line with the ball at any stage, and it moves, you make it more likely that you are going to edge the ball.
    Yes. Peripheral vs foveal vision; I posted a link about this a few months back as it relates to baseball. The fovea has the greatest concentration of retinal cones in the eye and is for precise perception. Peripheral vision does more guesstimating, far lower acuity, etc. As the ball swings away from the bat, the perception of not only its position but also the degree and direction of the swing by the eye relies more and more on calculation/experience/guessing. Basically, not only do you lose your ability to track and predict the ball's path, your eyes can even perceive movement which isn't there, compounding the chances of a mistake/nick. Even the direction/speed/wobbliness of the seam as the ball comes down can impact on your perception of what the ball's doing and/or about to do. It's pretty freaky if you manipulate it enough in, say, a lab setting.
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    One wonders at how much heavier bats have contributed to players not playing the ball as late too. Basically, with a 2lbs 4oz bat, you could play a lot later and if the ball ended up in a hitting zone, throw the wrists at it off front or back-foot and still get good power, especially through square. Guys using 3lbs bats makes this far harder to achieve. Lack of swinging conditions means it might not have been exploited as much.

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vic_orthdox
    Definitely. To take some Australian examples, the following players base their technique around being balanced, and often at the expense of footwork: Martyn, Haddin and Hodge. All three are prone to getting out to outswingers, wafting away their body, because their head isn't in line with the ball. They tend to look like pretty ordinary, "soft" dismissals. Herschelle Gibbs is another example, although further exaggerated as he almost moved away from the ball on occassions to free his arms and stroke through the ball, even in Test cricket.
    Just wanted to say, that there isn't that much wrong with such a technique. What it does require is a greater level of circumspection in terms of what balls to play and what balls to leave - you aren't going to be in position to hit as many balls as others with more active feet.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Seems to look much worse if you're not hitting them sweet and reckon its perceived differently. Guys who move their feet more, even if they're nicking out as much as a Martyn/Hodge type, are saved by "Well, at least he's getting a decent stride in" in selection stakes. Other guys just look lazy even when they're just having a run of outs.

    EDIT: Unless your name is Mark Waugh.

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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vic_orthdox View Post
    Just wanted to say, that there isn't that much wrong with such a technique. What it does require is a greater level of circumspection in terms of what balls to play and what balls to leave - you aren't going to be in position to hit as many balls as others with more active feet.
    Yeah, all techniques are a combination of different factors that need to work together - but different combinations can work for different people.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat View Post
    One wonders at how much heavier bats have contributed to players not playing the ball as late too. Basically, with a 2lbs 4oz bat, you could play a lot later and if the ball ended up in a hitting zone, throw the wrists at it off front or back-foot and still get good power, especially through square. Guys using 3lbs bats makes this far harder to achieve. Lack of swinging conditions means it might not have been exploited as much.
    One of the biggest reasons it's so frustrating that ball technology has, if anything, regressed while bat technology has improved.

    Would be great to see bowlers being given the same improvements as batsmen.

    All the posts so far have talked of batting technique, incidentally - as a swing bowler, one of the things I've come to appreciate a hell of a lot is something which seems so obvious when you think about it, but the combination of the position of the shoulder and the wrist. I've finally done some analysis on my bowling in recent years and have finally realised why I can bowl such massive outswingers despite never having really made a conscious decision to try - my action, which is relatively round-armed, has simply ended-up, by luck on my part, one that gets the seam into absolutely the perfect position for the outswinger. And by using a slightly more and less snappy flick of my wrist at the moment of delivery, I can bowl one that goes early and keeps going at the same rate, and one that goes early then sort of starts to go more as it keeps going down.

    The real trick, of course, is not knowing how to do those things but being able to produce them to order with regularity - something that only comes through one thing, practice practice and more practice. Something I've never exactly been top-notch at bullying myself into doing, nor have I been fortunate to have much in the way of facilities.
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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    So, if I'm not irritating people by trying to reduce this down to simple criteria, what then defines good footwork to a pace bowler who's getting it to move a bit? If I were to try and define it, based on my very much armchair appreciation (my footwork in real life is absolutely tragic), it consists of:
    - remaining balanced, in terms of being steady and with your weight able to be smoothly transferred without lurching or stretching;
    - being definite: some guys seem to break this rule with elaborate trigger movements etc, but generally it seems that being able to pick a line and length early (not footwork, but again related) AND then making a definite move to either go forward or back;
    - from what Jack and Corey have been saying, the other aim is to get yourself in a good 'viewing' position to watch the ball to the bat, ie. head level and as close to still as possible, while attaining those other factors.

    Is that a fair summary?
    Last edited by Matt79; 09-03-2010 at 05:51 AM.

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