Batting Stance : Taking Guard
Before you commence your innings, it is necessary to mark the position where you will take your position to face the bowler, either with your shoe spikes or your bat. Shivnarine Chandrapaul has even made it fashionable to use a bail to do so. In cricket parlance, this is called ‘ taking guard ‘. To many batsmen who do not know why a guard is taken, this is a ritual followed by their favourite batsman! For example, if Sachin takes the leg-stump guard, then everybody else asks for leg-stump guard.
It isn’t as simple as that. You need to take guard to know where your off stump is in relation to the point where you are standing before you receive the ball. While taking guard some batsmen prefer leg stump, some middle stump and others take leg and middle stump (or two legs, as this position is popularly known). Most batsmen find it convenient to take a leg stump guard, because then their head is in line with the off stump and judging the line of deliveries from that position is easier.
Traditionally, when you walk down to the crease, you request the umpire, loud and clear, which guard you would prefer – leg stump, middle stump or two legs. You will then hold the bat vertically, resting it on the popping crease with the face of the bat either towards you or towards the off side. The umpire will then tell you the exact position of your guard in relation to the stumps. During a practice session, you can request one of your colleagues to give you guard. This done, you mark the position with the help of your spikes, or by hitting the bottom edge of your bat on the crease.
To keep the bat vertical, and perpendicular to the pitch while taking guard and mark the exact position of the guard given to you.When in doubt about the guard, ask the umpire to give you a fresh guard.
It is cricket’s tradition to be polite when asking for the guard.
And, it is most important to use the same guard in matches as you use in the nets.