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Playing the Backfoot Defence to handle the short deliveries

The Backfoot Defence along with the Forward Defence is another essential shot that has to be possessed by each and every batsman right from the top to the bottom.

The Backfoot defence is to negotiate the short pitch deliveries down safely. For this, the batsman will have to make ample use of the batting crease which is four feet long. This gives the batsman enough time to play the delivery.

For a short delivery that is rising anywhere between the waist and the chest, it is advised to play this defensive shot. For deliveries below the waist, attacking shots can be played while for deliveries above the chest level, it is better to duck under those or sway away from the line of the ball.

Backfoot defence is of three types which relates to the line of the delivery.

For a delivery that is around the off stump :

The first backlift like always is the first step in any shot and so also in this shot which is followed with the backleg moving back and across as and when the batsman judges the ball to be a short one. The frontfoot should be positioned in front of the backfoot so that its toe is in the line of the backfoot’s heel. Both feet should be facing the point region. The bat then comes down from a second backlift position (from the fine leg region) to meet the ball. Allow the ball to come onto the bat rather than pushing at it. Keep the bottom hand soft on the handle while the top hand holds it firm so that the ball never rolls back onto the stumps. The front elbow has to be pulled skywards to get the bat on top of the bounce. The best batsmen in the world always use the batting crease to good effect. They use the entire four feet length to play on their backfoot which gives that extra bit of time to handle the short and rising deliveries. At the same time, the batsman has to remember that he can’t go entirely back to play the short ones as there is the danger of getting out hit wicket.

For a delivery that is around the middle stump :

The first backlift in position as the bowler is about to deliver the ball and then as the ball is seen short, rock back in the batting crease. But unlike in the defence played for off stump bound deliveries, here the toe of the backfoot turns towards covers and not point. The entire body opens up (chest-on) in playing this shot whereas the off stump defence is played side-on. The frontfoot follows so that the toe of this foot is in the line of the heel of the backfoot. The rest of the basics i.e. playing the ball down with soft hands, high front elbow, the extent of moving back are all same like in the defence played for the offstump line deliveries.

For a delivery that is around the leg stump :

The defence for this line of deliveries is similar to the middle stump one. This is also played chest-on with both feet pointing towards covers. The position of the bat coming down obviously differs here. Right, the batsman needs to get back quickly on seeing the ball short with both feet should be facing covers. The bat then will come down from the thirdman region to meet the ball down and on top of the bounce with a high front elbow.

Well, that was all about how to play the backfoot defence. The shot is employed to wear the bowlers down. It is more than handy when the ball is hard and new, the bowling is hostile, a neat backfoot defence with the full face of the blade meeting the ball sends the message that the batsman isn’t perturbed by short pitch stuff.