In the sport of cricket, batting is the act or skill of hitting the cricket ball with a cricket bat to score runs or prevent the loss of one’s wicket. A player who is currently batting is a batsman, while the act of hitting the ball is called a shot or stroke. The term specialist batsman is also used generically to describe players who specialize in batting (as opposed to e.g. bowlers who specialize in bowling), and the term bowler is also used in this context.
During an innings two members of the batting side are on the pitch at any time: the one facing the current delivery from the bowler is the striker, while the other is the non-striker. When a batsman is out, he is replaced by a teammate. This continues until the end of the innings or until 10 of the team members are out, whereupon the other team gets a turn to bat.
Batting tactics and strategy vary depending on the type of match being played as well as the current state of play. The main concerns for the batsmen are not to lose their wicket and to score as many runs as quickly as possible. These objectives generally conflict – to score quickly, risky shots must be played, increasing the chance that the batsman will be dismissed, while the batsman’s safest choice with a careful wicket-guarding stroke may be not to attempt any runs at all. Batsmen have to adapt to various conditions when visiting international pitches; this is because the type of pitch usually changes. Therefore batsmen have to also have a good sense of decision making.
The different types of shots a batsman can play are described by names:
A defensive shot played with the bat vertical and angled down at the front, intended to stop the ball and drop it down quickly on to the pitch in front of the batsman.
An offensive shot played with the bat sweeping down through the vertical. The ball travels swiftly along the ground in front of the striker. A drive can be an on drive, straight drive, off drive, or cover drive, depending in which direction it goes.
A shot played with the bat close to horizontal, which hits the ball somewhere in the arc between cover and gully.
- Edge, or Glance
A shot played off the bat at a glancing angle, through the slips area.
- Leg Glance
A shot played at a glancing angle behind the legs, so that it goes in the direction of fine leg.
A horizontal bat shot which pulls the ball around the batsman into the square leg area.
Like a pull shot, except played with the back most knee on the ground, so as to hit balls which bounce low.
Like a pull shot, but played to a bouncer and intended to hit the ball high in the air over square leg – hopefully for six runs.
- French Cut
An attempt at a cut shot which hits the bottom edge of the bat and goes into the area behind square leg.
- Reverse Sweep
A sweep with the bat reversed, into the point area.
Most of these shots can also be lofted, in an attempt to hit the ball over the close fielders (or the boundary). The batting strokes can be divided into two categories: Straight bat and cross bat. The straight bat shots are played with the bat held close to the vertical, and are the blocks, drives and glances. Cross bat shots are played with the bat held more horizontally, like a baseball bat. These include cuts, pulls, sweeps and hooks.
The following terms are used more informally and are not standard:
A wild swing intended only to hit the ball as hard and as far as possible, usually with little or no control.
- Agricultural Shot:
Any shot played with very little skill.
More Weird Names
If a bowler completes an over without any runs being scored from it, it is termed a maiden.
If a batsman gets out without scoring any runs, he is said to be out for a duck. The origin of this term is unclear, but commonly rumored to be because the ‘0’ next to his name on the scorecard resembles a duck egg. A batsman out for a duck while facing his first delivery of the innings is out for a golden duck.
The runs scored while two batsmen bat together are called their partnership. There are ten partnerships per completed innings, labeled from first-wicket partnership to tenth-wicket partnership, in order.
A night watchman is a batsman who comes in to bat out of order towards the end of a day’s play in a multi-day game, in order to ‘protect’ better batsmen. To elucidate, the batting order in an innings is usually arranged with two specialists’ openers who begin the innings, then the rest of the batsmen in order of skill, best to worst. The job of the openers is to bat for a while against the new ball. A brand new ball is very hard and bouncy, and fast bowlers can use this to great advantage and can often get batsmen out. So it is harder to bat against a new ball. It is also somewhat difficult to begin batting. A new batsman is more likely to get out than one who has been on the field and scoring runs for a while.
Now, in a multi-day game, it sometimes happens that a team’s innings will have only a few men out towards the end of the day’s play. If a batsman gets out with about half an hour or less until stumps, the batting captain will sometimes send in a poor batsman next instead of a good one. The idea is that the poor batsman (the night watchman) will last 20 minutes and so protect the good batsman from having to make a fresh start that evening and again the next morning. It is essentially a sacrifice ploy.
A sight screen is a large screen positioned on the boundary so that it forms a backdrop behind the bowler, so that the striker can see the ball clearly. Sight screens are white when a red ball is used, and black for a white ball.
A rabbit is a player (almost invariably a bowler, but sometimes a wicket-keeper) who is a very poor batsman. A ferret is an extremely poor batsman (so called because he “goes in after the rabbits”).
Stay tuned for more fundamentals of Cricket – with a special focus on the adjudicators (umpires) – in the next article.