Batting (cricket)

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A professional cricket match
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A professional cricket match

In the sport of cricket, batting is the act or skill of hitting the cricket ball with a cricket bat in order to score runs without getting out.

Each team usually consists of eleven players, and all the players are expected to bat. A person either skilled at batting or presently taking his turn at batting is called a batsman, and a batsman's main aim is to try and score runs for the team without getting 'out'.

At a given moment only, two batsmen from one team can bat (the other team all take the field as fielders). A batsman can bat in each innings until he is 'out'. Once a batsman is 'out', he is replaced by a team mate until ten out of eleven players in his team are 'out' and their innings is closed.

Contents

Goals of batting

In terms of strategic importance in a game, the priorities of a batsman are, in order of importance:

  1. Do not get out.
  2. Do not get injured.
  3. Score runs.

Just like baseball, the prime objective is to score runs quickly, even in Test Match cricket but self preservation will allow the batsman to score runs for longer, but in terms of the team's goal in winning the game it is more important not to get out. This is because an injured batsman can leave the game temporarily and resume batting in the same innings once recovered, whereas an out batsman cannot bat again in the same innings.

This contrasts with baseball, in which the primary goal of batting is scoring runs. This is reflected in the difference in terminology of attack and defence between the sports. In baseball, batting is considered the offensive role, whereas in cricket batting is primarily a defensive role. This used to be the case about 15 or 20 years ago but teams like Australia have made aggressive batting a must if you are to compete with them.

Batting skills

Given the goals of batting, a batsman must possess good hand-eye coordination, reflexes, strength, running speed, sound judgment, and of course knowledge of cricket rules and an understanding of cricket strategy and tactics.

These basic skills are put to use in specific actions such as:

  • Preventing the ball from hitting the wicket (which would result in the batsman being out bowled).
  • Avoiding being hit in the legs in front of the wicket (which may result in the batsman being out leg before wicket).
  • Avoiding hitting catches to any fielders (which would result in the batsman being out caught).
  • Avoiding being hit by the ball in a way that might cause injury.
  • Hitting the ball with the bat with precise placement, timing, and strength to avoid fielders.
  • Judging when it is safe to take a run, and taking the run.

Types of batting shots

The act of hitting the cricket ball is called a shot or stroke. Batting involves knowledge and skill in several different types of shot. These have different names:

Missing image
Cricket_forward_defensive.jpg
Having taken a long stride, a batsman blocks the ball with a forward defensive shot.
Block 
A purely defensive shot designed to interpose the bat in front of the wicket so as to stop the ball from hitting the wicket. This shot has no strength behind it and merely stops the ball moving towards the wicket. Also known as a forward defensive or backward defensive, depending on whether the batsman plays the shot from the front foot or the back foot.
Cut 
A cross-batted shot played at a ball wide on the off side, slapping the ball as it passes the batsman so that it is hit in the region square or backward of square on the off side. Also upper cut, deliberately cutting the ball over the slips, and Chinese cut, accidentally cutting the ball with the inside edge so it escapes to the leg side.
Missing image
Cricket_cut_shot.jpg
A batsman plays a cut shot. He is near the end of the follow-through, having hit down onto the ball, so that it travels along the ground.
Drive 
A shot played by swinging the bat in a vertical arc through the line of the ball, hitting it in front of the batsman. Depending on the direction the ball travels, a drive can be either a cover drive, off drive, or on drive.
Hook 
An aggressive, cross-batted shot played at a bouncer aimed at or near the batsman's head. The batsman must step inside the line of the ball and swing his bat around his head, hooking the ball around behind square leg, usually in the air and sometimes for six runs.
Leg glance 
A delicate shot played at a ball aimed slightly on the leg side, using the bat to flick the ball as it passes the batsman, deflecting it to the fine leg area.
Pull 
A cross-batted shot played to a ball bouncing around waist height by swinging the bat in a horizontal arc in front of the body, pulling it around to the leg side.
Sweep 
A cross-batted shot played to a low bouncing ball, usually from a slow bowler, by kneeling on one knee and swinging the bat around in a horizontal arc near the pitch, sweeping it around to the leg side.
Reverse Sweep 
A cross-batted shot played to a low bouncing ball, by kneeling on one knee and swinging the bat around in a horizontal arc close to the pitch, but reversing the blade of the bat half-way through the swing and sweeping the ball around to the off side from the leg side. The reverse sweep is a potentially valuable shot to play because it effectively defeats the field positions, but it is considered an unorthodox shot by cricket purists. It was first regularly played in the 1970s by the Pakistani batsman Mushtaq Mohammed. Two cricketers who are considered to have played the reverse sweep very well (it has been described as their signature shot by some) were Andy Flower of Zimbabwe and Javed Miandad of Pakistan. The reverse sweep requires good timing and coordination in turning the blade over and also requires considerable arm-power in driving the ball to the off side. It has been known to backfire, for instance in the case of Mike Gatting of England against Allan Border of Australia in the 1987 World Cup, when Gatting, attempting a reverse sweep off a fairly non-aggressive first delivery off Border, edged the ball with the top edge of his reversed bat straight to wicket-keeper Gregory Dyer. This subsequently proved to be a very expensive wicket for England, whose run rate dropped sharply and caused them to lose the 1987 World Cup Finals.

Also:

Slog 
A powerful shot, usually hit to the leg side in the air in an attempt to score a six, often without too much concern for proper technique. The classic example of a slog is known as a cow shot, a massive swing across the line of a ball of good or full length, attempting to hit it over the area roughly between mid-wicket and long-on, known as cow corner. Slogs must be timed perfectly, as the batsman is swinging across the line of the ball rather than through it and it is very easy to hit the ball straight up, get a leading edge or to miss completely. It is generally safer for a batsman's wicket to hit the ball straight over the bowler's head than towards cow corner, but it is often harder to generate the same amount of power from a shot played straight than from a swing to leg.
Slog sweep 
A cow shot played from the kneeling position used to sweep. Slog sweeps are usually directed over square-leg rather than cow corner. It is almost exclusively used against reasonably full-pitched balls from slow bowlers, as only then does the batsman have time to sight the length and adopt the aggressive kneeling position required for the slog sweep.

Strategy of batting

Strategies vary between the two main forms of international cricket, Test cricket and One-day international cricket.

One-day international cricket

As one-day international matches have a limited set of overs, batsmen try and score quickly. Scoring quickly means trying to score at least one run per ball bowled. Most batsmen manage to score at an average of four runs an over.

When a team goes out to bat, the best players bat first. The first four batsmen (number 1, 2, 3 and 4) are known as the top order; the next three (numbers 5, 6 and 7) form the middle order, and the last four (numbers 8, 9, 10 and 11) are the lower order or tail.

The first two batsmen are called the openers and are supposed to play a quick innings (more runs in fewer balls), reflecting the fact that the fielding side is subject to restrictions on the placement of fielders in the first 15 overs which makes it easier to score runs. The next three players (3, 4 and 5) are capable of playing an anchor role. The best batsman of the team is usually put at number 3 or 4, to protect him from the difficulties of batting against the best bowlers on a fresh pitch.

The best batsmen of a team usually bat at the top of the order, so as to score more runs. The lower order consists of the bowlers of the team, who are not known for their batting prowess and so bat as low down the order as possible. However, there are no restrictions as to the batting position. The batting line-up is flexible and it can be changed as the scenario of the game demands it. For example, a lower-order batsman can come in at number 3 and pinch-hit (playing aggressively in an attempt to score more runs in fewer balls) to score quick runs and shield better players, as his wicket (as less accomplished lower-order batsman) is less valuable anyway.

Test cricket

In Test cricket, the real aim is to score as high a total as possible. As the overs are unlimited, a batsman can take his own time to score runs. If the batting innings of the team begins after the last two hours of the day, the team can employ a nightwatchman (cricket) to bat after a batsman gets out. The nightwatchman is usually a lower-order batsman, but not a complete rabbit.

In the third innings, the batting team may score quickly to set a large target to the opposition. This scenario usually occurs on the fourth day's play. In general, 90 overs have to be bowled per day in Test match cricket. The batting captain decides how many overs he is preparely to allow the opposition to chase his total (say 110, 90 20) and can declares his innings at the predetermined time on the fourth day so that the he can bowl 20 overs in that day and 90 overs in the last day. To make the target as difficult as possible, the batting side speeds up the run rate (runs per over) till the captain declares.

See also

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