Bat to Basics: Your guide to batting in cricket
It's been said that cricket is a batsman's game and after you've been watching for a few minutes, I'm sure you'll agree. It's the batsmen who are the centre of attention- hitting the ball, making runs, entertaining the crowd and getting the glory. But what exactly is it that they're doing? Why can't they hit big shots more often (and keep the game lively)? What are they doing when they hit the pitch with their bats? And what's all of this meeting in the middle of the pitch to have a chat with their partner? If you're anything like me (and are baffled by this strange behaviour), it's these sorts of questions that need answers.
Getting the runs
Googly Boy always says that when he captained cricket teams, he had a very simple strategy: score more runs than the other team. With this strategy in mind the batsmen had a critical role to play, they had to make the runs (like scoring points) and not "get out" (unfortunately for GB, his batsmen never seemed to make enough runs and always got out). So a quick word to help you understand how batsmen score runs: in a game of cricket, there are two batsmen at opposite ends of the pitch; the batsman who is being bowled to is said to be on strike. When the ball is hit, the batsmen will decide whether they should attempt to make a run. A run is scored for each time both batsmen reach the other end of the pitch without being dismissed (or "getting out").
Method to their madness
Each time the ball is bowled, the batsman will play one of two different types of shots: a defensive shot or an attacking shot. The aim of a defensive shot is to avoid getting out, while an attacking shot aims to score runs. A good batsman will play a balance between defensive and attacking shots. Batting tactics and strategies will vary from game to game depending on different factors but the best way to see different batting tactics is to compare a One Day game and a Test Match. Aggressive batting, where the batsman play more attacking shots, is frequently seen in One Day games where the overs are limited to 50 (or 20 overs in Twenty20 games). These games require the batsman to make runs quickly. They are exciting to watch as batsmen take risks by playing more attacking shots. Test matches, on the other hand, are slower games and can, quite frankly, be a bit boring to watch (so if you're just starting Cricket Appreciation 101 you may want to stick to the one-dayers). Since there are more overs in test matches, the batsman will try to stay in for as long as they can and build their runs over time. To stay in longer, they will be more conservative, take fewer risks and play more defensive shots.
In sickness and in health: the importance of partnerships
You'll often see batsmen talking together between overs and contrary to what some people may tell you it's not because they're bored. When in the middle of the pitch batsmen may be discussing tactics, the bowler, the pitch or the state of the game. Of course, they may indeed be talking about fishing or beer but the point is that they're trying to help each other to relax and win the game. While they're speaking you may also notice that they sometimes hit the pitch with their bat (sometimes called 'gardening'). When they do this they are trying to flatten the pitch as inconsistencies in the turf can cause the ball to react unpredictably, causing havoc for the batsman. Apparently Googly Boy often got out to "unpredictable" balls but I still can't get him to do any gardening.
Just the facts, ma'am
- 'Batsman' for one person batting, 'batsmen' for plural
- Batsmen score runs for their cricket team
- As a general rule the team with the most runs wins the cricket game
- One day cricket can be more exciting because the batsmen play more attacking shots
- Batsmen hit the pitch with their bats to make it easier to bat on
- Googly Boy's cricket teams often lost
"The whole point of batting is to miss the fielders."
Viv Richards, West Indies legend