What is in a batsman’s stance? Perhaps everything..

Some people are not just gifted speakers but writers as well. It is a rare thing to have,

Mark Nicholas is one such person who does great cricket commentary and writes equally well. Here he writes about stance of current English top order batsmen. One can apply the different ways to other batters as well:

There are four tall right-handed batsmen in England’s front five: all appear much the same, all are different. The trend is to stand with bat aloft and the left hip slightly cleared. It is a set position and comes from the baseball-like requirements of the 21st-century game. In essence, it is an attacking set-up and can then be adjusted to allow defence. It reflects laws, pitches, equipment and bowlers: a sure sign of the age in which we live.

Batting is a craft that has evolved over a couple of centuries. Film of WG Grace tells us little, other than he played mainly back which suggests that pitches were tricky. Indeed, to the modern player and method they might have seemed impossible. In 1937, the lbw law changed so that bowlers could trap a batsman in front by pitching the ball outside off stump and bringing it back into his pads. Previously the ball had to pitch on the stumps and be going on to hit them, which takes some bowling.

In England, batting technique was driven by the need for defence first and attack second. Uncovered pitches played their part in this because it was near impossible to stride forward and drive on wet pitches. Thus, batsmen played back to manoeuvre the ball by using its pace, rather than go hard towards it and to strike. Photographs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground of Walter Hammond and Bill Ponsford remind us that many of the pitches of the day were barely identifiable from the outfields and therefore the balance between bat and ball was far less weighted in favour of batsmen than it is today.

This evolution had been slow and precise, until T20 cricket turned evolution into revolution. In T20 sixes are like confetti. In modern Test matches, hundreds are sometimes scored at better than a run a ball. At Newlands, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow put on 400 at seven an over. A few days later, a 15-year-old Indian made 1009 in one innings over two afternoons. Not even Sachin Tendulkar did that.

While Test cricket maintains its place at the top table, we can be reasonably assured of an ongoing reference to the techniques that have made batting an art form. A good, relatively orthodox method is adaptable for all forms of the game and is a reason why cricket remains aesthetically appealing, even as we have moved from touch and timing into this era of brutality. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are crossing this divide with élan. Others, such as Joe Root, are not far behind.


What is seen as an irritating thing for viewers is perhaps the mist important for a batter – get the stance perfectly right.

He then goes on to show how the four differ in their stances. Cook is missing from the analysis though who is onto become perhaps the highest run aggregator in Test cricket…


Here is Ian Chappel writing about  cricket speakers and writers who have inspired him.


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