Horizontal Bat Strokes - Part I
- By Ashok Mankad
Two primary horizontal bat strokes are the sweep
and the cut. The sweep is played off spinners,
while the cut can be played off pace as well as
The initial movement of the sweep is the same as
that for the forward-defensive stroke, but the
sweep is played with horizontal movement of the
This stroke is played to good-length balls that
pitch in the line with or outside the leg-stump. A
right-handed batsman should 'sweep' the bat around
his body from right to left to despatch the ball
square on the leg-side, or behind the wickets.
How to play the sweep -
(A) Lift the bat straight behind you. Lean forward,
towards the line of the ball as it pitches.
(B) Keep your eyes on the ball and try to determine
its line and length.
(C) Hold the bat predominantly with your left hand,
and use the right hand only for support.
Left-handers should do the opposite.
(D) Swing the bat horizontally to make contact with
the ball in front of the pad. The ball should hit
your pad if it misses the bat.
(E) Your timing must be spot-on. Do not hit the
ball too hard because it will not allow you to roll
your wrists at the right time.
(F) Bend the front foot to 90 degrees and allow the
back leg to trail at the time of contact with the
ball. Roll the wrists anti-clockwise, so that the
bat does not fly out of your hand.
Pakistani maestro Javed Miandad was one of the best
'sweepers' in the history of the sport.
Sachin Tendulkar is brilliant at playing this
stroke. A paddle sweep sends the ball very fine
behind the stumps, almost as if the batsman has
played a 'reverse-drive'.
This is one of the most prominent unorthodox
strokes in cricket. To put it simply, it is a
left-hander's sweep played by a right-handed
batsman with a right-handed grip, and vice versa.
Some right-handers even change their grip to a
left-hander's (and vice versa) while playing this
The reverse-sweep can be a very effective and at
the same time, embarrassing stroke. Effective,
because it can fetch the batsman a lot of runs,
embarrassing because if he is unable to 'time' it
well, he can get out and make a fool of himself.
Hence, it should be attempted only by batsmen who
have practised it in the nets and are reasonably
confident of connecting properly.
The reverse-sweep is said to have been 'invented'
by K.S. Duleepsinhji, who represented England in
Test cricket in the late 1920s. In later years,
Mushtaq Mohammed of Pakistan and Ian Botham of
England essayed it often, as did former English
skipper Mike Gatting, with disastrous consequences
in the 1987 World Cup final. But the best exponent
of this stroke is the Zimbabwean Andy Flower.
THE SQUARE CUT
The square-cut is a back-foot stroke. It despatches
the ball on the off-side at a right angle to the
pitch. It is a stroke fraught with risk, and should
be practised in the nets before being essayed in a
This stroke should be attempted to balls that have
pitched wide outside the off-stump.
How to play the square-cut:
(A) Lift the bat and observe the line and length of
the ball. Your left shoulder should point towards
the ball before making contact for right-handers).
(B) Focus on the ball over your left shoulder while
(C) Move the right foot across, towards the line of
the ball. The foot should be parallel to the stumps
with the toes pointing to the off-side. Flex the
(D) Lift the bat straight behind your head.
(E) Turn your front shoulder towards the off-side
(F) Swing the bat downwards, with your arms
extended (as if you are using an axe to cut a
tree). Roll your wrists to keep the ball down. The
right hand should control this shot for
right-handers, and the left hand for 'lefties'.
(G) Keep your head steady.
(H) Transfer your weight onto the right foot as you
make contact with the ball.
(I) Follow through with the body-weight on the
right foot. As you finish the shot, your head
should stay still and the hands and bat should
The late cut is literally, played 'late'. If a
square-cut sends the ball in the region of point, a
late cut sends it in the direction of third-man.
Gundappa Vishwanath, India's batting great of the
1970s, was an outstanding 'cutter'. The late Vijay
Merchant was a fine exponent of the late cut.