In this session we will discuss the various types of batting grips and hand positions that cricketers have employed to be successful. There is hardly any cricketer worth his salt who has not experimented with different batting grips and hand positions since the day he first picked up a bat.
The grip depends mostly on one’s style of play – the way one wishes to express his or her cricket. But the most important thing for a batsman to remember is that the grip should feel comfortable. It should give them a secure feeling and build confidence. You will see all these ingredients in the grips of great batsmen, though they may not be using a grip recommended by the coaching manuals. The whole purpose of discussing various grips is to make you, up and coming cricketers, know what style will suit you and why?
Grip : Hands at the bottom of the handle
Hands at the bottom, behind the handle and close together – made popular by Sachin Tendulkar. His popularity and amazing stroke making ability has made all youngsters wanting to hold the bat like him. Sachin’s grip developed more out of habit rather than choice, for when he was a kid, and the bat was too long for him, he had to use this grip. His coach, Ramakant Achrekar, who incidentally was my coach too, must have initially told him to hold the bat from the middle. But when he saw that Sachin is comfortable and has the control to play shots all around the wicket, he must have let him carry on with this grip.
This grip adds power to the shots, since it makes a heavy bat feel lighter, thus increasing the speed of the bat (more of this later) and hence control over the shots. But since there’s no room for the bottom hand to slide down in defence, having soft hands in defence is difficult. Hence batsmen, sometimes, push the bat forward a little more than necessary, thus snicking it to slips or leaving a gap between bat and pad. But it has the advantage in playing horizontal strokes, since one’s reaction of sliding the hand down is reduced.
This grip facilitates transfer of power at the point of impact from the guiding top hand to the bottom hand. The batsman who loves to punch the ball and hardly has any follow through can experiment with this grip. Be careful if you are a tall player. This grip might make your body fall over to the off-side and become off balance, with the incoming ball of a fast bowler causing you trouble.
Grip with Hands apart :
Batsmen with the ‘hands apart’ grip like Aravinda D’Silva of Sri Lanka, are good at playing the cut and pull shots. But they have to be careful while driving the ball, as the chances of playing the drives in the air are more. Because of the gap between the hands, if they do not work in unison, then a false stroke results. This usually happens when the ball ‘stops’ or comes slower of the pitch or a batsman is deceived by the slower ball of a fast bowler.
While driving, good players with the ‘hands apart’ grips are quite efficient as they over-learn the skill. They time the impact close to the body and at the right moment, so that the ball stays on the turf.
The gap in the grip enables them to defend well, both of the front and off the back foot, and helps to drop the ball close to the body and out of reach of the close-catcher.
Grip : Hands at the top of the handle
With this grip, you got to have good eyes and quick reflexes to get you in a position for shots played with the horizontal bat. Most of the cricketers using this grip are good at driving the ball off the front foot with lots of power behind their strokes.
The batsman who uses this grip has high a back-lift. The high grip on the bat makes it feel longer, and also having high a back-lift sometime makes it difficult for the batsman to control the down-swing of the bat, forcing him to play away from the body when driving the swinging ball.
The swashbuckling batsman, Sandeep Patil used to hold the bat right at the top with his hands together and behind the bat handle. He was a powerful driver of the ball. In a one-day game at Jaipur, against Pakistan in1983, he drove the ball so hard back to the bowler, Mudassar Nazar that the bowler was lucky to get his leg out of way in time in his follow through or he would have had to nurse a broken leg. He played the cut, pull and hook with equal authority.
I saw Sandeep hooking Jallaluddin, a medium-fast bowler in a test match against Pakistan at Lahore during the 1983-84 series. He started with hooking the first ball to deep square leg, the next to mid-wicket, the third between mid-wicket and long-on and the last, a tennis serve-type shot over the bowler’s head, all for boundaries.
And to top it all, skipper Imran had posted four fielders on the leg boundary after the first two shots. And his grip never changed while playing the cut, pull or hook shot, with both the hands at the top of the handle.