Feet movement and distribution of body weight in a balanced stance
When you watch matches on TV or at the ground, you must have noticed many batsmen shuffling and moving about in the crease before the ball is delivered. These batsmen feel that by doing so they get that split second extra to play a shot off the back foot and that it helps them to keep their feet moving. Others are of the view that they should keep the body and head absolutely still until the ball is delivered, and then with quick movement get into the correct position to play a defensive or attacking shot.
One theory about movement of the feet that is very popular is the one which says that the batsman, against pace bowling, should get his back foot back and across early so as to gain that extra yard to play the ball off the back foot. To understand what is right and what is wrong, let’s discuss the basics of feet movement while batting.
In an earlier lesson we have seen that in the stance, the body weight should be evenly distributed on both feet and that the batsman should feel the body weight on the balls of the feet. The body weight should ideally be neither on the back foot nor on the front foot, and neither on the toes nor on the heels.
A balanced stance is the first step towards correct feet movement while batting.
Checking Balance in the stance
To check whether your body weight is evenly balanced in the stance, get into your normal batting stance. Now, close your eyes and focus your attention on the point where your diaphragm meets your abdomen, or on the navel. Keeping your eyes closed, slowly move your head towards the non-striker’s stumps and then back towards the striker’s stumps. You will become aware how it feels internally when the heads rocks back and forth in the stance. Now, move your head slowly in the direction of point. You will feel the body weight shifting to the toes. Moving your head backward towards square leg will shift your weigh to your heels. The balanced stance is the one that does not put a load on anything but the balls of the feet.
Another way of checking whether the batsman has a balanced stance is by asking him to close his eyes in the stance. A gentle shove will give you an idea whether he has a balanced stance. Then, the above exercise will make him aware where he is wrong.
We will learn more about feet movement in the coming weeks.
Eyes level and the head still & straight
Why are keeping the eyes at the same level important?
If you draw a line through both the eyes, joining pupil to pupil, then while in the stance, this line has to be parallel to the ground. If the eyes are at two different levels, which is caused by the tilt of the head, it may send two different perceptions to the brain about the line and length of the delivery, causing a confusion in decision-making. As a result, a false stroke may be played.
Remember that all our judgments are made when our eyes are at the same level. I have yet to come across a person – unless he is a handicapped – who tilts his head while standing, walking or running.
Why the head should be still and straight
Remember that one third of your body weight is carried by the head. If the head is tilted while in the stance, then the weight carried by the head falls on the off side, creating an imbalance in the stance. Also, the eyes will not be at the same level when the head is tilted thus causing a perception problem as we saw in the last session.
It is also important to ground the bat lightly. If you lean heavily on your bat, you may lose balance and stability in the stance. You may have noticed that some batsmen like to tap the bat lightly when preparing to face a delivery. Now, this has to be done using only the arms, while your upper body remains still. Beginners unknowingly tap the bat by moving the upper body thus creating an imbalance. This may also be one of the reasons why the body weight falls away on the off side.