Grip, Stance, Back-Lift
The three basic skills, which come of use prior to the actual devoir of a batsman to hit the coming delivery to feasible parts of the ground to score as many runs as possible, are (i) Grip, (ii) Stance and (iii) Back-lift. The minute details of these skills may vary as per the personal preference of the batsman, but the nitty-gritty is pretty much the same for all.
The term “grip” is used for how a batsman holds his bat with his hands. It’s actually one of the most important factors in being a good batsman, as a correct and more importantly comfortably viable grip can help him exploit a wide range of shots, with full flair.
There are essentially two types of grips: (i) ‘V’ shaped grip and (ii) ‘O’ shaped grip, the former being the more widely used. For the ‘V’ shaped grip, both hands are placed close together, with the left hand on the top for a right-hander, and vice versa. Ideally, the top hand should be held tighter than the bottom hand, whose back of the palm should face the stumps or the wicket-keeper. Both the palms should create a ‘V’ shape in the straight line running down the centre line of the back of the bat. This grip gives an easier opportunity of pouncing on straight and vertical-batted strokes. The ‘O’ shaped grip on the other hand helps in fluency of cross-batted shots, but as mentioned before isn’t used as proficiently as the ‘V’ shaped grip.
The positioning of the hands on the handle of the bat depends largely on batsman’s choice, however, leaving too much of the handle on the top, may hamper playing certain drives, or cause wrist injuries in the long run.
An ideal stance is one in which the entire weight of the batsman is distributed evenly on the two legs. Often batsmen develop foot, knees and back injuries because of a faulty stance, because of excessive load on either of those.
Starting with the leg position, the feet should be comfortably apart, neither too far nor too close, with the weight distributed evenly on each, and no pressure on the heels or the toes. The knees should be slightly bent, such that the weight is distributed uniformly throughout the legs.
Moving up, the back position of critical importance, since bending it too much might cause the weight to shift to it, and cause injurious troubles in the long run. The back position thus should be such that it doesn’t have to carry unnecessary load. The front shoulder should be pointing straight down the pitch in the line of the stumps at the opposite end, or Mid On, and the elbow not too stiff. The head should be still, and not tilt on either side, with the eyes focusing straight and leveled.
The top hand should be resting on the front thigh, while the bat should be grounded around the toes of the back foot. Alternatively though, modern-day Australian batsmen ground their bats around the center of the space between the two feet, and from the looks of how they have performed, it can be said that that method is definitely viable.
Like the grip and the stance, the back-lift has a few basics that need to be followed, but minute adjustments should be made by the batsman, as per what suits him the best. A major mistake that beginners especially make is lifting the bat either too late or with the wrong orientation.
The bat should be lifted when the bowler is in action. A little delay and it become too late to judge with what speed to bring it down to play the ball as per its speed. The bat shouldn’t be lifted either too straight, or pointing as far as the gully. It should slant towards between the first and third slips, to get the best resultant balance. However, when the bat is brought down to impact with the ball, it should come in a straight line.
The position of the hands is also of utmost importance. The bat should be lifted with the top hand, while the elbow should bend, and not be positioned too far from the body. Even while lifting the bat, the position of the eyes and head shouldn’t alter, and should be maintained in the straight line with the incoming bowler’s hand.