Over time the development of cricket has led to a standard batting technique being used by most players in the game. Technique in this case refers to the batsman's stance before the ball is bowled as well as the movement of the hands, feet, head and body in the execution of a cricket stroke.
The actual movement of the batsman for a particular delivery depends on the shot being attempted. Front-foot shots are played with the batsman's weight on his front foot (left foot for a right-handed batsman) and are usually played when the ball is pitched up to the batsman, while back-foot shots are played with the batsman leaning his weight onto the back foot, usually to bowling that is pitched short. Shots may also be described as vertical bat shots, in which the bat is swung vertically at the ball (e.g. when playing a drive or leg glance), or horizontal or cross-bat shots, in which the bat is swung horizontally at the ball (e.g. when playing the pull or cut shot).
While a batsman is not limited in where or how he may hit the ball, the development of good technique has gone hand in hand with the development of standard or orthodox cricket shots played to specific types of deliveries. These "textbook" shots are standard material found in many coaching manuals.
The advent of limited overs cricket, with its emphasis on rapid run-scoring, has led to increasing use of unorthodox shots to hit the ball into gaps where there are no fielders. Unorthodox shots are typically—but not always— more high-risk than orthodox shots due to some aspects of good batting technique being abandoned.
The stance is the position in which a batsman stands in order to have the ball bowled to him. An ideal stance is "comfortable relaxed and balanced," with the feet 20cm apart, parallel and astride the crease. Additionally, the front shoulder should be pointing down the wicket, the head facing the bowler, the weight equally balanced and the bat near the back toe.
Although this text-book, side-on stance is the most common, a few international batsmen, such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, use an "open" or "square on" stance.
Names of orthodox cricket shots and the directions in which they are hit for a right-handed batsman. The batsman is standing at the centre point facing south. The positions are mirrored for left-handed batsmen.
Leave and Block
The leave is sometimes considered a cricket shot, even though the batsman physically does not play at or interfere with the ball as it passes him. The leave is likely to be used by batsmen during the first few balls they receive, to give themselves time to judge the conditions of the pitch and the bowler before attempting to play a shot. Leaving a delivery is a matter of judgement and technique. The batsman still has to watch the ball closely to ensure that it does not hit him or the wicket; he also has to ensure that his bat and hands are kept out of the path of the ball so that it cannot make accidental contact and possibly lead to him being out caught.
A block stroke is usually a purely defensive stroke designed to stop the ball from hitting the wicket or the batsman's body. This shot has no strength behind it and is usually played with a light or "soft" bottom-hand grip and merely stops the ball moving towards the wicket. A block played on the front foot is known as a forward defensive, while that played on the back foot is known as a backward defensive. The application of these strokes may be used to score runs, by manipulating the block to move the ball into vacant portions of the infield, in which case a block becomes a "push". Pushing the ball is one of the more common ways batsman manipulate the strike.
Leaving and blocking are employed much more often in first-class cricket, as there is no requirement to score runs as quickly as possible, thus allowing the batsman to choose which deliveries to play at.
A drive is a straight-batted shot, played by swinging the bat in a vertical arc through the line of the ball, hitting the ball in front of the batsman along the ground. Depending on the direction the ball travels, a drive can be a cover drive (struck towards the cover fielding position, an off drive (towards mid-off), straight drive (past the bowler and sometimes mid on), on drive (towards wide mid-on and mid wicket) or square drive (towards point). Drives can be played both off the front and the back foot, but back-foot drives are harder to force through the line of the ball.
A cut is cross-batted shot played at a short-pitched ball, placing it wide on the off side. The batsman would make contact with the ball as it draws alongside or passes him. A square cut is a shot hit into the off side at near to 90 degrees from the wicket (towards point). A late cut, is played as or after the ball passes the batsman's body and is hit towards third man. The cut shot is typically played off the back foot, but is also sometimes played off the front foot against slower bowling. Apart from defensive technique, the cut is typically considered the most important stroke a batsman must master.
Pull and Hook
A pull is 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 towards mid-wicket or square leg. The term hook shot is used when the shot is played against a ball bouncing at or above chest high to the batsman, the batsman thus "hooking" the ball around behind square leg, either along the ground or in the air. Pull and hook shots can be played off front or back foot, with back foot being more typical.
A sweep is a cross-batted front foot shot played to a low bouncing ball, usually from a slow bowler, by kneeling on one knee, bringing the head down in line with the ball and swinging the bat around in a horizontal arc near the pitch as the ball arrives, sweeping it around to the leg side, typically towards square leg or fine leg.
Since a batsman is free to play any shot to any type of delivery as he wishes, the above list is by no means the only type of strokes that batsmen choose to play. Many unorthodox, typically high-risk, shots have been used throughout the history of the game. The advent of limited overs cricket has seen the increased use of unorthodox shots to hit the ball into gaps where there are no fielders placed. Unorthodox shots are rarely used in first-class cricket as there is commonly no need to score runs that quickly that would justify the extra risks taken.
A reverse sweep is a cross-batted sweep shot played in the opposite direction to the standard sweep, thus instead of sweeping the ball to the leg side, it is swept to the off side, towards backward point or third man. The batsman may also swap his hands on the bat handle to make the stroke easier to execute. The batsman may also bring his back foot to the front therefore making it more like a traditional sweep. The advantage of a reverse sweep is that it effectively reverses the fielding positions and thus is very difficult to set a field to.
It was first regularly played in the 1970s by the Pakistani batsman Mushtaq Mohammad, though Mushtaq's brother Hanif Mohammad is sometimes credited as the inventor. Cricket coach Bob Woolmer has been credited with popularising the stroke.
Damien Martyn of Australia has been said to have "the most brutal reverse-sweep in the game".
The most famous example of a reverse sweep backfiring was in the case of Mike Gatting of England against Allan Border of Australia in the 1987 Cricket World Cup final. With England on course for victory Gatting attempted a reverse sweep off the first delivery bowled by Border, top-edged the ball and was caught by wicket-keeper Greg Dyer. England subsequently lost momentum and eventually lost the match.
Slog and Slog Sweep
A slog is a powerful pull shot played over mid-wicket, usually hit in the air in an attempt to score a six. A shot would be described as a slog when it is typically played at a delivery that would not ordinarily be pulled. A slog is also called a cow shot. The slog is an effective shot because all the batsman's power and body weight can be put into swinging the bat at the ball.
A slog sweep is a slog played from the kneeling position used to sweep. Slog sweeps are usually directed over square-leg rather than to mid-wicket. 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 kneeling position required for the slog sweep. The front leg of the shot is usually placed wider outside leg stump to allow for a full swing of the bat.
A switch hit is a shot pioneered by Kevin Pietersen in 2008, and first used during the New Zealand series in England in 2008. In this shot, a batsman changes his handedness and posture to adopt a stance the mirror image of his traditional handedness while the bowler is running in to bowl. As a fielding team cannot manoevre fielders while the bowler is in his run-up, the fielding side is effectively wrong-footed with the fielders out of position. The legality of such a ploy was questioned during the series but the shot was cleared by the International Cricket Council as legal.
The shot is risky because a batsman is less proficient in the other handedness and is more likely to make a mistake in the execution of his shot.
A "scoop" shot (also known as Paddle scoop or Marillier shot or Dilscoop) has been used by a number of first-class batsman, the first being Douglas Marillier.
It is played to short pitched straight ball that would traditionally be defended or, more aggressively, pulled to the leg side - both shots "off the back foot". To play a scoop shot, the batsman is on the front foot and aims to get beneath the bounce of the ball and hit it directly behind the stumps, up and over the wicket keeper. This shot, though risky in the execution, has the advantage of being aimed at a section of the field where a fielder is very rarely placed - particularly in Twenty20 and ODI cricket where the number of outfielders is limited.