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In this section Geoffrey gives tips on how to improve your cricket.
These pages will be regularly updated and are taken from ‘Play Cricket the Right Way’ by Geoffrey Boycott, to be published in June by Great Northern Books. Order now here.
#1 GRIPPING THE BAT
It is important to have the correct grip to make sure that your hands work together.
Here is a good way to achieve this. Lay the bat face downwards on the ground and pick it up as if you were wielding an axe.
This should give you the natural grip with hands close together on the handle. The V’s formed by the first finger and thumb of each hand will be on the same line halfway between the outside edge and the splice.
When you face the bowler make sure that the fingers and thumbs of both hands are well round the handle and the back of your left hand faces towards mid-off and extra cover.
#2 THE STANCE
Every batsman must feel comfortable at the wicket and have a relaxed and balanced stance. This is how I faced the bowler.
See how my knees are slightly relaxed with my weight evenly balanced on the balls of both feet for quick and easy movement. My feet are roughly parallel, one on each side of the crease 4″ to 6″ apart. I found it comfortable to ground my bat just behind my right toes and rest my hands on my left thigh.
It is most important that the left shoulder should point at the bowler and the head should face down the pitch with eyes looking squarely at the ball.
#3 TAKING GUARD
1. When asking for a guard hold your bat upright with its face to the umpire. In this way the umpire can see which stumps it is covering.
2. Many players ask for a guard ‘from where the bowler bowls’ – this makes no sense at all.
3. I made sure the umpire gave me guard from behind and over the bowler’s wicket because this is the position from where he would make LBW judgements.
#4 THE BACK LIFT
1. A vital part of all batting strokes is the back lift. If you pick the bat up correctly it should go back towards first slip, then loop at the top before coming down straight.
2. The left arm and wrist do nearly all the work. Notice how my bat is taken back by my left hand and the face of the bat opens towards the point.
3. Lifting the bat back is not natural and it requires hard work to get it right. I used to practice my back lift in front of a mirror and it has helped me to keep a straight bat.
#5 KEEP A STRAIGHT BAT
1. Most youngsters have difficulty in playing the ball with a straight bat. It’s not easy and requires a lot of hard work to get it right but this simple exercise helped me in my early days.
2. Drill a hole in a composition ball and thread some wire through it. Fasten the wire to a beam or a tree so that the ball hangs about waist high.
3. Then concentrate on hitting the ball steadily bringing the bat down straight. If you hit the ball correctly it will return to its original position for you to hit again and again. If it goes off at all angles you need more practice.
#6 PLAYING FORWARD DEFENSIVELY
Every batsman must learn to play forward and stop the good balls from getting him out. Learn to play forward correctly and you are halfway to becoming a good player.
Left shoulder and head lead towards the ball.
Left foot moving to the pitch of the ball.
Let the weight of your body come forward so that the left knee bends slightly and allows the heel of the right foot to ease off the ground. Then as you bring the bat down allow the right hand to relax its grip into the thumb and first two fingers. Look at the angle of the bat as the ball is met just in front of the left foot.
Head over ball
The left hand is always in control so that the ball is met with a straight bat.
#7 PLAYING BACK DEFENSIVELY
Having played the forward strokes you must learn to play off the back foot if you are to become a consistently successful batsman. All the great players move their right foot well back and across the stumps to bring the head in line with the ball.
By keeping the left elbow high, it is easy to control the bat and allow the right hand to relax into a thumb and finger grip. I allowed my right hand to slide down on to the shoulder of the bat for more control.
Note the angle of the bat.