Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Freeing up the free hit

Back in 2006, when we were messing about with Merlyn, I remember a conversation with a coach about the need for a shot that got the ball past the wicketkeeper, as it was the one bit of the park that was guaranteed not to have a fielder on it. Then came Dilshan.

The new-tech game was here, and it continues to dazzle with the breadth of its invention: relay fielding, slower-ball bouncers, switch-hitting - all were in their infancy then. It goes on: Jade Dernbach, just called into the England squad, has different three slower balls. Fifty from the last five overs is considered a simple chase. The idea of the specialist four-over quick bowler has arrived.

Not everything has been thought of yet, though, the free hit being the most glaring example. While it always creates a stir in the crowd, it very rarely produces a major penalty for the fielding side. Bowlers know how to bowl it, but batters have yet to work out how to do it best.

Yet the batsman has one piece of knowledge that should be exploited: he knows, beyond doubt, that he is going to try and hit the ball. That knowledge needs to feed down into technique, just as the knowledge that there was no fielder behind the wicketkeeper did.

So if he knows for sure he's going to hit the ball, why take a normal stance which has been designed for all eventualities? In baseball, for example, the slugger must swing hard, and stands with the bat already drawn back. His feet are set to move less, but to give a huge striking arc. There might be a lesson there, because the bowlers are ahead of the batsmen on this one, and we can't have that, can we...

1 comment:

Reverse Swept Radio said...

The problem with free-hits tends to be ludicrous over-enthusiasm. In the knowledge that they won't get out, batsman attempt crazy mows and often fail to come anywhere near connecting.