Acquiring and Performing Movement skills
The forward defence
This stroke is the basis from which all other shots played off the front foot are developed. It therefore makes common sense to ensure that it is perfected BEFORE moving to other attacking strokes. Just like a house, the technique needs a solid foundation, and if a batsman cannot defend well, he will not progress to the next level.
The forward defensive shot is the basis of all forward play. It is played to the straight ball, which is not far enough up the bat to drive. The objective is to drop the ball dead in front of the bat.
It always seems so basic to play the forward defence with so many other options available. In any long innings played by a quality batsman, he cannot expect to attack every delivery bowled to him.
Preparation Phase- The stance and back-lift
A balanced stance is essential. The feet should be equidistant of the batting crease. If you feel more comfortable placing them wider apart go ahead though if you keep them too far apart it will affect your readiness of movement.
- The knees should be relaxed and slightly bent. If a your are right handed, your right hand should be near the neck of the bat as if you were to shake someone’s hand, the left hand or top hand should be above the right in the same way. The bat should rest lightly on the ground behind the little toe of the back foot. The top hand should rest gently on the front pad against the inside of the left thigh.
- Pick up the bat as the ball leaves the bowler's hand. The weight should be equally placed on both feet at the crease. It is wiser not to move your feet until the possible length of the ball is judged.
- The body should face point with the left shoulder pointing at the stumps at the bowler's end. The head should be still with the eyes as level as possible. Be relaxed as the bowler comes in.
- Eyes and head should be level so that they focus on the ball at the same time, this is crucial. If it is not straight you are likely to drag your bat across the line of the ball. A straight back-lift may not come naturally.