When I was new to Cricket, I just came across a star cricket commentator who was also a former International Cricketer. Like any kid, I asked the question “Can you give me any batting tips?” And the tip from the great man was “Watch the Ball” and that’s all, nothing more and nothing less he told. I thought what a dumb tip it was but anyone who has played cricket for a long enough time does know the true value of “watching the ball” while batting.
The basic of batting is to have a well balanced and relaxed stance with the head in a steady position. The eyes need to be focused sharply on the bowler’s hand. The mind should be very clear, a batsman shouldn’t think of what is going to happen in the next few moments or shouldn’t recollect of what had happened before. Cricket for a batsman is a ball by ball game. While the bowler can always comeback after bowling a lousy full toss to bowl a wicket taking delivery, a batsman has only one chance! One mistake and the batsman is back in the pavilion cursing himself of committing it! So essentially the mission of a batsman is to watch closely the release of the ball from the bowler’s hand. The batsman has to carefully follow the ball right till it meets the bat.
Watching the ball means watching it at the release and then most importantly watch it after pitching. Now the second part is equally important as well. Let me give you an example why it is important to follow the ball after pitching. A batsman may not be good enough to pick a googly or a wrong one off the bowler’s hand. But he can change his shot accordingly or react accordingly after watching which way the ball is turning after pitching. A good batsman is one who can judge what’s coming at him by watching the release itself. By that, a batsman gets himself into a quick position to play his desired shot. This is very vital when it comes to picking up the short rising deliveries and of course any other variations that the bowler is going to employ. So the batsman has extra time on his hand to tackle the quick bowlers and also has enough time to pick his placements in his shots against any type of bowlers.
From my experience I can dare to say that any cricketer who has a proper defence, drives and other shots can rely on his mind-body co-ordination to do the work for him. In other words, a batsman will automatically try to play the right shot (frontfoot or backfoot, vertical or horizontal) looking at the line and length of the delivery. So the key is definitely to pick the line and length early by watching the ball like an eagle off the bowler’s hand and then off the pitch and leave the rest to your reflexes. However one needs to have a decent game which is having the right approach in shot making to various lengths and lines.
When a capable batsman is struggling to make good scores, mostly it will be because he is not focused or there could be a technical glitch in his game. In this topic, we are talking about the focus that is required. A batsman has to avoid watching here and there when a bowler is about to run in to bowl. A batsman should avoid hearing to all the nonsense that goes behind him from the wicket keeper and other fielders. He shouldn’t think that he is going to fail or how he is going to make a good score but instead play one ball at a time and collect runs.
Another important thing for a batsman is that he has to learn how to switch on and switch off his focus after every ball. The outside world has to be thrown out of the mind while facing a delivery. But once he has played a ball, the batsman can take a small walk to his left or right, take it easy for a few seconds and then regain the focus to face the next one. Most batsmen around the world mark their guard quite often to regain their concentration levels which is a good practice. May be you guys should try these above points and I am sure there will be a difference in your batting.