DEFENSIVE STROKES - Play this stroke to a ball that is pitched in

Of Defence and Drives

- By Ashok Mankad    


Forward defence:

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 bat.

Backfoot defence:

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.

Cover drive:

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 ball.

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 bat.