Meet the ball with the full face of the bat
The position of the front shoulder and the downswing is important – not the backlift:
If a batsman ‘opens’ his front shoulder towards mid-wicket early in his stroke, he finds it difficult to ‘close’ it if required to play off-side strokes. But a batsman who already has a slightly ‘open’ stance can easily ‘close’ the front shoulder when required to play strokes on the off-side. Mohinder Amarnath employed this technique successfully during the tour of Pakistan in 1982-83 and easily negotiated the pace and swing of the Pakistani pacemen.
It is my observation that coaches lay too much stress on the back-lift being perfectly straight. When this is drilled into the minds of youngsters, they consciously try to lift the bat back straight, their muscles get tight, and the end result is ‘choking’. The bat doesn’t come down straight and it doesn’t meet the ball with its full face, giving rise to frustration. Hence, youngsters have to be told that the straight downswing of the bat is more important than lifting the bat back straight.
It has become a fashion to use a heavy bat these days. But many of the youngsters who try to ape their favourite batsmen do not realise the fact that they are not as strong or as experienced as their idols. The heavy bat forces young batsmen to use their stronger bottom hands to guide the bat. Thus, neither lifting the bat back straight nor bringing it down straight is possible. One possible solution to this problem is loosening the grip of the bottom hand, but then the bat should be of manageable weight.
As we have discussed earlier, the front shoulder plays a very important role in bringing the bat down straighter. By keeping the front shoulder in the direction of the pitch of the ball and arms close to the body, the bat will come down straight in the down swing. The movement pattern of the upper body, during the downswing of the bat is: Shoulder- Elbow- Wrist- Impact- and Followthrough in the direction of the drives played of the front and back foots.
That’s it. Keep practicing your downswing as we go into more details of batting next week.