Of Defence and Drives
- By Ashok Mankad
Play this stroke to a ball that is pitched in
linewith the wicket at a good length, distance that
makes it difficult to decide whether you should
play forward or backward or to hit the ball.
Move your foot in line with the direction of the
ball and block it with the straight face of the
Play this stroke to balls that pitch slightly
shorter and bounce higher. Unlike the forward
defence, this stroke is played with the bat held
high. The body should stay side on during the shot.
Raise the bat making sure that backswing is
correct, keeping your head still keeping your head
still. Watch the ball as it leaves the bowler's
hand. Once you have determined the line and length
of the ball, bring the bat into vertical position
with your hands held high. Your weight should be
evenly balanced with your head forward.
Drives are not only the most attacking strokes to
learn, they are exciting too. They are played to
the balls that are pitched close to the wicket and
are hit as they come off the ground.
There are three types of drives: straight drive,
cover drive and an on drive.
The first step of a drive is like a forward defence,
so that you can switch between defence and attack
at the last moment.
The cover drive is the most elegant stroke played
by the batsman. It is played to balls pitching in
line with or just outside the off stump. You have
to lean your whole body forward in the line of the
ball , leading with your head and shoulder, to step
forward automatically. Strike the ball late, close
to your body. Raise the bat, watch the line and
length of the ball, keep your head still and keep
your eyes on the ball. To move quickly against fast
bowling bend your knees a little, transfer your
body weight from the heels to toe as you lift your
bat for playing the stroke. Lean towards the ball,
leading with your head and left shoulder. Keep your
bat high up till your body weight has begun to
transfer on your front foot. Aim your left shoulder
and head in the direction and bounce. To improve
your timing and cope with late swings and seam
movements, play the ball as late as possible. Bring
your weight onto the front foot and hit the ball
with vertical bat after it pitches. Keep your head
steady and eyes on the ball as it hits the bat.
Your front pad must be positioned very close to the
ball at the time of impact of the bat, body weight
on front foot. You must look down rather than up.
If your head stays down, so will the ball. You must
finish your shot with your hands high, holding the
bat equally with both hands and straightening the
back leg at the completion of the stroke.
The Straight Drive:
This powerful attacking stroke sends the ball
towards the bowler. Straight drives are played to a
full length ball pitching in line with off and
middle stumps. A correct backlift that brings the
bat down straight past the left pad is very
important. Raise the bat and keep your head still,
determine the line and length of the ball and bend
knees slightly. Lean towards the ball and bring
your left foot near the pitch. Bring the bat down
vertically accelerating it as you make contact.
Your body weight should be on the front foot. If
your right elbow stays close to your body, the bat
will come down straight. The bat should graze the
outside of your front foot. Play the shot with the
full face of the bat. The bottom hand carries the
weight of the bat upwards. Follow through and
finish with your hands high. Keep youe eyes on the
The On Drive:
This shot is played for balls pitched close to your
feet in line with or outside the leg stump. You
should not overstep with your leading leg. The on
drive is difficult and only the top batsmen can
play it peroperly. Raise the bat early when facing
the fast bowlers and make sure about your
backswing. You have to determine the line and
length by the time the ball reaches middle of the
pitch. Keep your knees slightly bent. Lean into the
ine of the ball leading with your head and left
shoulder and bring your left foot forward. Ball is
to be hit after it pitches with a vertical bat.
Keep your left shoulder low, front leg should take
your body weight . Hit the ball with a straight
bat. As you follow through, your body should turn
anti-clockwise. Your right shoulder should be
visible to the umpire when you complete the stroke.
In the subsequent article, we shall discuss
attacking strokes on the backfoot with horizontal