After much thought, some video analysis and discussion with a few people I decided to change my setup at the crease as I did not feel completely free and comfortable. Over the past few seasons I have been setting up with my bat in the air somewhere around hip height. My dad, who watches my games quite a bit, had been telling me for about two seasons to tap my bat on the ground in my set up. He kept telling me that when I batted my best which was as a young kid I used to tap my bat on the ground. I can’t believe I ever changed what was working well for me back then. The reason why I changed was because as I grew taller it felt like when I tapped my bat on the ground my head was leaning over too much and consequently I would fall over to the off side at times. At the start of this off season I decided to change and began hitting balls a little earlier than I had expected. One of my goals has been to create more flow in the back lift and swing. I have found that starting with my bat lower creates better awareness from the ground up through my feet, torso and upper body so I feel free and more relaxed at the crease and as a result seem to move better.
The flow of the back lift also helps to get my hands higher which helps me play better of the back foot. If you look at the best cutters and pullers in the world they all have high hands and a high back lift. Because they get their hands up high and early it gives them more time and also allows them to get on top of the shot for more power and control. Ricky Ponting, Virender Sehwag, Brian Lara are some of my favourite to watch and even though they start and bat very differently from each other they get their hands up nice and high.
I heard Matthew Hayden talk about this idea of starting with bat lower to create more “flow” or fluidity in the back lift. He encouraged coaches who worked with young cricketers just starting out, to have their bat near or on the ground in their set ups. In theory I agree with Haydos but I do feel as coaches we have to be careful that we do not impose our own ideas on any player. I feel batting is such a personal thing and whatever feels most comfortable and natural is going to work for that particular individual. If we look over time at all the successful batsman of the game and compared them, you would find that they all have slightly different ways of doing things. This is what makes the game so exciting to watch! Whether you start with the bat up like Shane Watson, down like Brian Lara or in between like Martin Love did towards the end of his career, it is important that you follow the basic principles of batting. The best players in the world do the basics the best. Simple as that!
Anyways below is a clip of a session I did the other day. I am falling over a bit but have been working on staying a little bit lower in my stance since then to keep my head and eyes level and still.