Martin Crowe
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Former New Zealand batsman and captain

It's all down to the feet

The cornerstone of batting technique is foot position and movement

Martin Crowe

March 12, 2014

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar had the ideal natural stance: poised and ready to move © PA Photos

Every year, as I watch and marvel at the finest batsmen on view, new insights emerge. The art of batting provides subjects for a mighty debate. Allow me to share my latest observations.

The first advice I recall getting when I started as a lad was to line up "side-on" to the bowler, feet shoulder-width apart, shoulder tucked into the head, bat placed behind back foot. I was taught to get the front elbow up, and to play in the V. Everything was about hitting the ball, but I could only do it through mid-off, as that's where my body aimed. Today, batting successfully is, from a technical viewpoint, with the odd rare exception, really about one vital thing - footwork.

Batting, in a nutshell, is about moving the body in reaction to a moving ball. Once in the right position, it is only then that relevance to hitting the ball applies, to stroke the ball into a gap in the field. The emphasis is to focus on what is required to execute proper movement to a moving ball. Therefore, the essential role of the stance is to be poised and ready to move athletically.

To move athletically, you must use your feet. To get the best out of your feet, the weight must be on the ball of each foot, for that is where the energy, the springy muscle, is, not the arch or the heel. Often the toes are referred to, yet it is in fact the ball of the foot, the round, sinewy area at the base of the big toe, that is the most vital part of the body when it comes to batting.

As you stand awaiting the bowler's delivery, the balls of the feet are priority, poised, ready to move quickly and efficiently. The best way to get on to the balls of the feet is to flex the knees. Straight legs send the weight to the wider part of the foot, including the heel, a sure way to slow movement. By flexing the knees and feeling the pressure on the balls of the feet, the body has its engine room fired up and ready to pounce. When I think of quick footwork I think of Don Bradman. He, better than anyone, showed that fast, efficient foot movements that facilitated getting into the correct body position was the key to batting.

What is the correct head position? In the modern day, with so much analysis, greater fitness levels, reverse swing and the 15-degree chucking toleration, it is critical for batsmen to play straight for long periods. Bowlers and coaches spend their time focusing on hitting the top of off stump. Therefore, more than at any time in history, I believe the position of the head has a key role in knowing where your off stump is at the moment the ball is released, aiding the ability to play pitch-straight.

It is my strong view that the outside eye (right eye for a right-hand batsman, left for the lefties) should be level with the other one and in a position to see the ball leave the bowler's hand, and not aiming at mid-off or looking over or past the nose to see the ball. The outside eye ensures the batsman is getting the best view of the ball release, knows where his off stump is, and provides an overall feeling of total balance and poise, allowing for the potential to play straight. This analysis of the outside eye is a lot different to the old days, when playing back was more the norm, mainly due to uncovered pitches and no protective equipment.

With the outside eye looking at the ball release, the shoulders will be slightly open towards the non-striker. As we work down the body, if the eyes are level as the ball is released, the hips will be slightly open also. From the hips to the flexed knees, to the weight on the balls of the feet, you have the ideal natural stance, poised, ready to move. Think Sachin Tendulkar.

At this point, with the body in the correct poised position, the bat can be placed into the mix. Imitating top batsmen who hold their bats aloft can be a dangerous exercise if not understood correctly. When the bat is positioned up high behind the body as the bowler runs in, there is potential for the hips, shoulders and head to all close off and for the outside eye to aim at mid-off. Also, if standing too tall, the weight can easily shift on to the heels. With respect, recall Nick Compton last year, when he was struggling. It is the balls of the feet that the weight must be on, not the heels; flexed knees, not straight-legged.

By holding the bat down low, with relaxed arms and soft hands, the bat has no influence on the ideal body position that has been set up. In fact, when the bat is held low, it encourages a slight crouch, enabling flex in the knees, weight on the balls of the feet. Often I see youngsters going into their stance with too much emphasis on holding the bat up high, not on getting ready to move. This is self-defeating because without the body moving into the correct position via the feet, the actual hitting will be flawed anyway.

Graham Gooch had a very effective upright stance, bat held high. Yet he had slightly open hips, eyes perfect, knees flexed, weight on the balls of his feet. He worked on this exhaustively. Those who copied him didn't work on the subtle yet important aspects of eye position, balls-of-feet pressure, and on retaining the ability to move quickly and freely, as Gooch did. For a big man who had obvious balance issues at times in his career, he carved out an amazing legacy.

There are many unique examples of how to bat well with different stances. AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis provide examples of setting the stance nicely, with slightly open hips and front foot, bat held off the ground but not high, poised, ready to move. Virat Kohli stands with a great head position - quite tall, yet at the moment the bowler gathers, he flexes his knees enough to tap his bat and activate his ability to move. He is a wonderful example to all. Allan Border dipped his body at the last second to create flex in the knees.

The bat tap can be an important trigger for batsmen. It was for me. As I tapped the bat near my right foot, I felt the whole body spark into action. I once tried holding my bat up and couldn't get the same ready-to-move feeling. I preferred to flex and crouch a little. I liked the position of a boxer, of a tennis player. I marvelled at the stances of Don Bradman, Greg Chappell, Viv Richards, David Gower and Sunil Gavaskar, and the sublime movements they made. I liked, too, the way Javed Miandad stood at the crease, alert and ready. The best stance to spinners I have seen was his open one, suited to every possible line from well outside leg to well outside off. To see and then move accordingly.

 
 
It is the ball of the foot, the round, sinewy area at the base of the big toe, that is the most vital part of the body when it comes to batting
 

And now for the most important part, the actual footwork needed to scoring runs, to staying long periods at the crease. Remember, the stance is set to know where the off stump is and to be poised to move. Then the ball is released and the eyesight picks up the movement of the ball. As it does, the brain sends a signal to the feet and body, to move. The key here is the plural: both feet. With all the best players, both feet are moving in some way, even subtly, to every ball they face. Even when they leave the ball, the best players will use both feet to ensure that they know fully where the ball is in relation to the stumps.

When a ball is full, the back foot loads up and activates the front-foot step. For Chappell, he expected the full ball, loading up the back foot in preparation. As the front foot steps forward, the back foot joins in on the fluent movement, coming up on to the toes, even off the ground, to assist in completing the whole body movement, and shot. Think a Chappell on-drive, with back foot flicked up to balance and complete the fluent front-foot shot.

The back-foot release, as I call it, is critical to every front-foot shot. For some strange reason, throughout New Zealand, coaching demands the back foot stays still, heel on the ground, for supposed stability. This only encourages a half body movement, forcing the hands and bat to take over prematurely, leading to all sorts of problems. This, in my view, is completely wrong and a real concern as I go around schools and clubs. A more important view is from Bradman himself, as shown page after page in his book The Art of Cricket. Every frame of footage of him shows both feet activated and fluent.

To play straight off the front foot, past the bowler, the back foot must play a part in aligning the whole body, aiming everything down the pitch and to complete the movement and straight stroke. As the feet and body work in unison in completing the positioning, the bat comes through straight and late - the best shot in the game. When the feet and body stop short of proper positioning, there are problems. For instance, when the back foot is rooted to the spot, the front-foot step falls short and often to the off side, encouraging the bat to come through early and mistime, often lifting, or with the batsman playing across his front pad.

When a ball is bowled short, the front foot quickly presses down, sending the back foot into position. As the back foot lands square to the wicket, the front foot releases onto the toe, or even off the ground out of the way, hips open, to ensure the entire body movement is complete and the striking of the ball is easy below the eyes.

The front foot plays a huge part in all back-foot play - often it is just about getting it out of the way of hitting the ball - and also in providing balance to the body as a shot is played. When you imagine a pull or cut shot, think Gordon Greenidge or Brian Lara; their front leg lifts up into a fully flexed position off the ground, as they swivel on the back foot, striking the ball with balance and full force.

To spin, the best players, like Michael Clarke or Miandad, use their feet at all times, either coming down to the pitch of the ball or quickly pressing off the front foot to score off the back foot. To defend a good spinner off the front foot, think of Ross Taylor, who uses the back foot to always align his body and his bat, to play pitch-straight, making the bowler field the ball.

Footwork, the use of both feet for every ball, is the absolute cornerstone of batting.

In part two, next week: Mindwork

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

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Posted by jay57870 on (March 15, 2014, 12:33 GMT)

Another key insight about Tendulkar's eyes. He answers the question "Who blinks first" fittingly and consistently on the field. The Little Master has faced up bravely to the world's fastest pace attacks, even their verbal onslaught & sledging. If that's not courage, then what is? Not a word in retaliation - no "eye for an eye" - that's not his code of conduct! Instead he lets his batting do the talking. His eyes do all the work before the ball release. That's how he "outblinks" and frustrates the opposition. Usually with an elegant Tendulkar straight drive! Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!!

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 14:54 GMT)

I can see a lot more stumpings happening after this article ;P Just joking though, i'm definitely going to try out pushing off the back foot as well this coming season!

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 16:30 GMT)

Great analysis from a stylish batsman with a wonderfull technique - wished i had read it many years ago. I played cricket to a reasonable standard but had to give it up and now golf. Although i'm down around a single digit cap I've spent more time 'unlearning' cricket than learning golf. This article really helps me understand many of the unconscious habits from cricket that still retard my golf progress.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 13:53 GMT)

Always look forward to reading your articles MDC. You really are the cricketing equivalent of a chess grandmaster. Great analysis!

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 13:07 GMT)

insightful, education.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 12:54 GMT)

insightful

Posted by NVGRam on (March 13, 2014, 6:41 GMT)

Martin, Thank you for the lesson.Look forward to your thoughts on taking guard

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

how important is the technique! thanks martin sir for such details. I m 33 still playing at club level n learning from your article n improving my batting. wud luv to read more.

Posted by CricFan24 on (March 13, 2014, 4:41 GMT)

Another fine article. Thank you Mr.Crowe.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 1:25 GMT)

Great article and just in time for my last game of cricket as New Zealand's summer comes to a close. Have had a poor run of form in the last few games and this has really opened my eyes to what was wrong (footwork). Thanks Martin, can't wait for the next article.

Posted by Rukus_NZ on (March 12, 2014, 23:26 GMT)

The place Martin is talking about for balance is the MTP (metatarsophalangeal) joints, where your toes connect to the bones that create the arch of the foot (metatarsals, one for each toe). I x-ray people and this is anatomicly correct to get good posture and balance. Makes you think how hard work it can be for the likes of Martin Guptil,l as he is three toes short I think?

Similair rules apply in kick boxing, always keep your heels of the ground so you can move with better posture and more accurate balance. A terrific article once again Martin! Great read at work between patients ;)

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (March 12, 2014, 23:24 GMT)

Martin, could you please give your analysis on Afridi. Many are lost to find which cricket specie is he and how does his feet and body do it for him.

Posted by rick333 on (March 12, 2014, 18:57 GMT)

Great article once again! Thanks for shedding light on the intricate details. Most of the time natural players go through these motions subconsciously but i guess when form dips insights like these would help us to get back to basics my methodically practicing them.

Also valuable comments from @Vakbar & @Insightful2013.

Posted by GrindAR on (March 12, 2014, 16:57 GMT)

Timing is the key. Even a tough ball can be dispatched with less effort. Batsmen and close-in fielders have to be good in instincts and techniques to not get injured, when the short ball and bodyline balls screamers are considered greater skill. There are only handfull of brave batsmen Cricket have seen so far in international arena in the past 30 years... Like Viv Richards, Kris, Gilchrist, Sehwag, now Dhoni/Warner. Most of the great accomplishers (statistical) were not brave, but their skill levels on being beautiful stroke makers, different breed altogether... they were never match winners, but mere contributors to be in winning positions... The called out names are real match winners even when they do not stay until finish.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 16:56 GMT)

Insightful there is no such word as irregardless look it up

Posted by sk12 on (March 12, 2014, 16:50 GMT)

As an amateur batsman, the most difficult thing for me to master is sighting the ball early. I guess I just 'see' somewhere near where the ball might be released, rather than actually watching it exactly where it is released.. Any tips to improve this? Martin here talks about the head/neck position, I will try being more open in my stance next...

Posted by Cricketsasportnotproduct on (March 12, 2014, 16:43 GMT)

A lot of people critising Sehwag, Gayle etc suggesting that bowlers should focus on swinging the ball. Sehwag/Gayle might not move feet as much as other players but they pick up line and length so early that feet movement is irrelevant. That is due to their hand eye co-ordination and brain processing the information faster. Once they age, their career finishes very quickly.

Posted by Vakbar on (March 12, 2014, 16:06 GMT)

A great article and I will be using this in my next coaching session for the kids!

However, not to disagree with the great Martin Crowe, evidence suggests that footwork is important but there are too many batsmen from Gower to Sehwag and even Amla whose footwork is not as good as Crowe would like, but they still perform. What is more important, especially for front foot play is getting the head moving towards the ball...and the body will follow....in fact the best technical description (and demonstration) I've ever seen of this was from the much maligned KP on a masterclass with Sky where he openly discussed footwork vs head position...watch it and his "kiss the ball" comment...absolutely brilliant!

Posted by py0alb on (March 12, 2014, 15:58 GMT)

"For some strange reason, throughout New Zealand, coaching demands the back foot stays still, heel on the ground, for supposed stability"

This is still taught in the UK, I don't teach it, but I really have to bite my tongue when I see senior coaches demonstrating this technique. Its completely wrong and you will never see a professional batsman doing it.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (March 12, 2014, 15:36 GMT)

I know that Jack Hobbs use to advocate staying back and playing the ball late when it was moving around as it gave the batsman a fraction longer to react.

In the end its what works for the batsman, as they grow up they develope a particular style and it becomes ingrained in them, thats why significantly changing a stance it often has disasterous effects, just like bowlers delivery.

Posted by Insightful2013 on (March 12, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

I also think, that there aren't many analytical bowlers. Wasim, Snow, Marshall, Hadlee, Donald were thinkers. I think non foot movers would have failed miserably against them. Timing wouldn't have worked, Inswing, against above bowlers. Most bowlers, I see, have talent, honed by practice but little ability to assess stance, feet movement and intent. They commit to a style and and can vary little, except, the few, who can modify placement, trajectory and speed, when appropriate. A batsman blessed with great eyes, coordination and talent is extremely formidable. And, there are few of those around! Crowe was such! You also have a Miandad, who I think, really felt, he was better than any bowler operating against him. No doubts, whatsoever. And, except for KP, on his day, I haven't seen anyone else. Batsmen whose motto is, " Let's be having you, then" That's why cricket is so amazing because it's so challenging and hard and individualistic.

Posted by waspsting on (March 12, 2014, 14:38 GMT)

@Alexk400 - your featured comment gets to what I mean about footwork being part of style rather than the other way round - and you've added timing to it as well.

re: control and power - the rule of thumb is the gentler you hit the ball, the more control you have, but that's no good if you can't send the ball to the boundary.

A guy like Gower could tap the ball to the boundary, thus had marvelous control. Jayasuria couldn't, so he had to hammer the ball, thus losing control.

That's why the timers are usually better at placing the ball.

The exception is one of my favourite players - Brian Lara. No one hit the ball harder, but no one placed it better either. Right in the middle of the gaps he'd get the ball, but with such power that it would pass the inner ring fielder even if it past close to him.

Remarkable.

Posted by cheguramana on (March 12, 2014, 14:35 GMT)

Fascinating article. Shows the deep understanding of a great student of the game. I have a question, hope he can respond: over the years, bats have become heavier- how does this affect the batsman's preparedness/ posture/ stance at the crease ?

Posted by Insightful2013 on (March 12, 2014, 14:29 GMT)

Everything Mr. Crowe says! Strangely, he even picks the players I like. Miandad, Gooch, I thought were brilliant. Alexk400, I think is grossly wrong. Sehwag is awful and he doesn't move his feet. Which is where Martin comes unstuck. It baffles me how Gayle, Sehwag and co are allowed to make runs. Knowing there is no foot movement I would concentrate on moving the ball away from them, either through spinning or angling, as the ball pitches. Bat speed at ball pitch point, if close enough, means a result, irregardless of where the feet are. However, once stroke is committed and arc defined, little if any change is possible .This is the weakness of Gayle and co. Only a theory. Re table tennis, I played pen style but changed, moving my index finger. It took over 2 yrs to start winning again and perfecting the style and boy, did it work! Essentially, I now made ball contact at the earliest possible time, eliminating any spin and used opponents ball speed for return and placement. Result!

Posted by waspsting on (March 12, 2014, 14:27 GMT)

I think one tailors footwork to style, not the other way round - to paraphrase Bradman, "footwork is the servant, not the master".

Some very fine players - Sobers, G. Pollock, Gower, Sehwag - hardly moved their feet at all.

still, this is a great starting place for us ordinary mortals who don't have the kind of gifts of reactions those players did.

Front footwork has an extra dimension worth mentioning - the extent to which one goes across vs vertically.

you see guys who go across a lot, they negate the LBW, but the leg gets in the way of the inswinger while they cover the outswinger better. Also tend to be strong leg side players.

Pretty much the reverse for those who go more forward and less across.

Tendulkar has the smoothest footwork I've seen - you have to watch very carefully to even notice how he moves into position, but he's usually in the right one.

Loved watching Slater and now Clarke for their twinkling feet.

The no move style of Gower, Ramesh also has its own beauty

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 14:25 GMT)

@Alexk400, did you really mean to say "Sachin tendulkar had it all except courage." He was one of the most courageous batsmen. wonder where you got that idea?

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 14:08 GMT)

A technically well written article on one of the best subject on batting skills. I would recommend this to any budding youngster and any cricketer looking to improve batting skills, the only thing I think Martin Crow could probably have gone deep in to detail would be the grip ( I mean holding the bat, various types, perhaps he could cover that in detail next time ) I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article written by an experienced student of the game. Today the world is cerebrating 25 years since WWW web was invented and I wish I had read this article at least 25 years ago, many a student of the game like me would have benefited reading this article in those days. I am sure current generation would l read and develop by reading this. Well done Martin.

Posted by inswing on (March 12, 2014, 14:01 GMT)

"It's all about the footwork" was the conventional wisdom. Sehwag and a few other recent batsmen destroyed it. In recent years, bowlers adopted a "just outside the off stump" line, with very little swing, to restrict runs and build pressure (see McGrath). Batsmen developed "stand and deliver" to counter that. As long as bowlers don't swing a lot S&D works, you don't need footwork, you only need timing.

Posted by jb633 on (March 12, 2014, 13:59 GMT)

For once a lot of interesting comments on a cricinfo page. I think the article is correct on the whole. At the end of the day there will always be exceptions to the rules and if a player is scoring runs then there is no point in tampering with his technique. The point about head position is key. Even though Chanderpaul and Pitersen moved a lot they were still able to keep a still head and have a base from which they could play at the time of impact. Chanderpaul gets himself into great positions to play the ball once it actually arrives and there is no wonder he has scored the piles of runs. I think if you are teaching a youngster the basics though it is important you teach them the fundamentals of footwork. If they have the abilities to play without footwork, ie Sehwag/ Trescothick, then great, but these talents are very rare.

Posted by chinmay15 on (March 12, 2014, 13:56 GMT)

To all those, who feel M.Hussey should be here in this article, kindly do no comment because he is no where in comparison with Sachin.

Posted by vik56in on (March 12, 2014, 12:55 GMT)

Sehwag was the exception ! He never moved his feet ! Brian Lara had dancing feet, lithe and nimble !

Posted by chapathishot on (March 12, 2014, 12:43 GMT)

@ Alexk400 spot on .If you check most of current batsmen who are good as well as look good are medium frame players.Like AB,Kohli,Sanga,Umar,etc

Posted by Pathiyal on (March 12, 2014, 11:38 GMT)

interesting read! waiting for the next read from martin crowe.

Posted by Gzero on (March 12, 2014, 11:38 GMT)

What a compelling article this is! Martin Crowe is a genius.

Sourav Ganguly too had superb footwork. Footwork is not only important to play ground strokes such as drives but to face short deliveries as well. may be you can emphasize more on footwork for body-line deliveries in your upcoming articles. you surely can do that.

Posted by VB_Says on (March 12, 2014, 10:41 GMT)

Martin Crowe has been spot-on with this article. The main focus is foot-work, head stability and body balance. Most important is that each individual has his on style to attain these three pillars before playing any stroke. Also, apart from being a natural, one can practise and adopt them.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

I wonder how he will decribe batting stance of shivnarayan chandrapaul. Somehoe i feel one of the best batting stance for right hander was sachin tendulakr, rahul dravid,ricky ponting.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 9:00 GMT)

The great Martin Crowe always amuses with his thoughts. Perhaps Sehwag and Hafeez could take a tip out of his notebook.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 8:45 GMT)

Oh... and sorry Sehwag..... Mr. concrete boots.... I could go on....

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 8:44 GMT)

Feet and a good eye.... that's all you need..... sorry Marlon Samuels.... next time.

Posted by mondotv on (March 12, 2014, 7:31 GMT)

Martin Crowe was one of the best technicians I ever saw with the bat so anyone looking to be a successful batsman should weigh each word like gold. I was surprised he didn't mention an actual trigger movement with the feet and not just the bat. Nearly all Test batsman move their back foot slightly back and across towards middle stump as a trigger movement. Yes it moves again during the shot but that initial movement is all about getting the feet going as the ball is released. Martin was exceptional so maybe he didn't do that? Maybe he just moved his feet in reaction to the actual ball being bowled.

Posted by Arvind17 on (March 12, 2014, 7:20 GMT)

I am surprised you have omitted Mike Hussey from your article altogether Martin, coz I always felt he was one modern batsman with no weakness. Perfect stance to both pacers and spinners alike and successful in all conditions, in all formats. Add a wonderful temperament and the assurance he brought to the crease and we have a complete batsman. I myself am a HUGE Sachin fan but for me, Huss was the perfect batsman in the last decade or so...

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 7:18 GMT)

From genuine fast bowlers ball comes at the rate of knots & u don't have time to react with complicated stance. Exactly what happened with Dravid & Lara on their last tour to WI as both were bold/lbw 7 times in 8 inn for low scores........................A simple stance lets ypu cope with fast balls as u r already there but the downside is that it doesn't give u power in strokes so u have to rely mainly on timing like what Sachin did his entire carrier

Posted by AH_USA on (March 12, 2014, 6:55 GMT)

Javed Miandad's younger brother Anwar Miandad had the exact same batting style as Javed's. But I believe that because he was copying Javed's style, which was natural, he was not nearly as good as Javed and could not make it to the international level. The same is true for Zaheer Abbas's brother.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 6:15 GMT)

@ Ajit Kumar Panda - perhaps you should read the article, Javed Miandad is mentioned not once, but twice. Particularly in high regards to his stance and it's effectiveness vs spin bowling.

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (March 12, 2014, 5:49 GMT)

it was a long time ago and i was quite young but i remeber miandad's stance to be unique, his feet were very close together rather than shoulder width apart, i think this attributed to his success because it forced him to move his feet, i always wanted to bat like him, i adopted his stance and have played that way ever since not that it did me much good but it does make you move your feet, in some ways i think more unortidox stances like miandad, chanderpaul and the likes force you to move and there for get into better positions to play shots, maybe throw the coaching manuals away for better results, like crowe says kiwi batsmen are being coached all wrong.

Posted by Protears on (March 12, 2014, 5:43 GMT)

Technique does not equate to success nor does it contribute to failure. Technique is something that a player will develop at a young age and should not be tampered with. Stances and grips are things that should be back of the mind, if you think about them then you are not focusing on the ball. I have played baseball in Australia and the USA, from a baseball perspective if you are thinking of anything but the ball out the hand you are already beaten. People like Amla, Chanderpaul, Smith are all very unorthodox but they have their techniques as muscle memory and all have or had exceptional careers as international cricketers.

Posted by vinjoy on (March 12, 2014, 5:37 GMT)

Quite an insightful article my MC. However when we talk about stance, it is about balance, focus, weight, and compactness. In these respects, I guess DRAVID deserved a mention at least.

Posted by .Raina on (March 12, 2014, 5:30 GMT)

Good pointers for youngsters who are just getting into cricket or who would like to improve on any of their short-comings, like the ball popping up or not able to play all the shots convincingly. <Br> But over the time cricketers (throughout the History) have developed techniques that work for them (e.g. Chanderpaul, Gooch, Kevin Peterson, Sehwag or even Steve Smith from the recent bunch). They may have exaggerated movement or no movement at all, and still they have been / are able to score everywhere. Sometimes we get over-coached and lose our natural ability, instead of working & mastering what works naturally for us (read Phil Hughes, Ghambir or even Yuvraj S). A very good example is Dhoni ( who hardly does anything from the book).....

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 5:28 GMT)

And what about one of the great: Javed Miandad ?...His famous squarish stance?..Was he not successful?

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 5:27 GMT)

@AshwinizXI - just look at the position Chanderpaul is in at the point of release. He is side on

Posted by IndianSRTfan on (March 12, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

Martin Crowe, take a bow!! It's amazing how he can make an article talking about intricate technical details of batting so visually stimulating. Not only it made me picture great batsmen playing wonderful shots with great balance & poise, I simply couldn't resist getting out of my lounge chair and analyze my own stance and footwork while standing in front of a mirror. All the while imagining a fire breathing Mitchell Johnson hurling down his thunderbolts!

But here's the amazing part: If you consciously try what MC has said, especially the bits about the level eyes & keeping the weight on balls of your feet, you'll immediately feel a sense of great balance and enhanced ability to quickly move both forward and back. Which in turn gives a batsman that crucial extra split second!

Few writers have the gift of evoking such a visual response, the feeling of experiencing the story first hand rather than reading it, in readers. An article as sublime as a Tendulkar straight drive Martin!!_/\_

Posted by MagpieGuy on (March 12, 2014, 5:19 GMT)

I used to get nervous watching John Wright hold his bat so high as he waited for the ball. (Did he do that more in his later years?) There seems to be so much opportunity for the bat to vary off line on the way down, especially starting from an unstable position in the air. But it obviously works for a lot of batsmen.

Posted by fayyaz03 on (March 12, 2014, 5:15 GMT)

Great Article Martin! I want more of it! Keep writing! It is actually online consultancy. Thank you so much. I think our Pakistani Batsmen should take a leaf out of your book. One out of your recent article about "Newzeland's chances in the next world cup" sorry to say was a total flop! But this one is gem!

Posted by India_boy on (March 12, 2014, 4:55 GMT)

Sir, Exellent article yet again. kindly shed some light on the stance of the likes of Ponting and Lara, the two greats, who make sudden movement right after the ball leaves the bowler's hand, as if some sort spring is recoiled.They bend for a very short while and then "get up" to play their shots, specially cover drives. Also, Faf Du Plessis has the same batting stance as that of AbDv and JK, bat held slightly above the ground but not too high, maybe it's in SA's coaching manual? Thanks in advance

Posted by vish2020 on (March 12, 2014, 4:48 GMT)

Mr. Martin Crowe I see you have master the art of getting your article famous too.. Put sachin's picture in the article and on thumbnail so indians will come running to your page and you will get your hits for the page. Love your piece but just want to say, i see you lol

Posted by AshwinizXI on (March 12, 2014, 4:41 GMT)

Amazing read. But, what about Shiv Chanderpaul, 11000 test runs and all? Or, Sehwag (2 triples), Sanath & the likes? I mean, many batsmen evolve their own way of negotiating the moving/ spinning ball.

Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (March 12, 2014, 4:25 GMT)

Good article, Martin. Chanderpaul seems to be a batsman with a really wierd stance, but extremely successful, though rarely thought of as a great batsman. He is, in my books. He seems to have broken all rules, and by big margins.

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