The Most Important Shot You’ll EVER Learn…

When you first start to learn how to play cricket one of the first shots you will learn is the forward defence, it’s a fundamental shot which is the foundation of your batting and should be mastered to help reach you potential, as you can’t score runs when you are out and sat in the pavilion.

What’s not quite right with this forward defence?

The forward defence is the best way to protect your wicket from accurate deliveries which you can’t score off, as you need to remember your primary aim as a batsmen score runs of every delivery if possible.

The forward defence is simply a defensive shot which is played in response to a ball which you can’t score runs off or where it would be very risky to try and hit for runs. Usually it’ll be of a good line and length that will hit or come close to hitting the stumps.

Main Points

  • Take your backswing and step forward with your front leg to make a comfortable stride towards the pitch of the ball.
  • Try to establish a strong, well balanced and relaxed base/stance, over the leg which has stepped out towards pitch of ball and you should have a bent front knee.
  • Bring your bat down to ball using your top hand to control the movement, speed and direction of the bat. Slow down your bat speed into contact with the ball and keep your top elbow high.
  • Aim to contact the ball under your eyes and play the ball with the full face of the bat. Always remember to play the shot with your bat against pads (your front leg) so that there is no gap between the two which the ball could pass through.

Common problems:

There are a number of common problems, which with good practise can be easily solved e.g.

  • Having a gap between you pad and bat. To help solve this have a friend pr coach watch you play the shot to identify whether this is a problem for you. If it is, get in a net and have throw downs and consciously practice getting your bat next to your pad. Ensure that you try to get your foot out towards the pitch of the delivery.
  • Playing with a strong bottom hand, causing the ball to pop up in air. If you are doing this, try loosening your grip on your bottom hand and control the bat with your top hand. Practise with a tennis ball and try to make the ball drop dead and not bounce off more than a meter from the bat, this is quite hard with a bouncy tennis ball!
  • Not bringing the bat down straight from high position in backswing, so causing the bat to come down at an angle and not through the line of the ball, which will result in you missing the ball. To help solve this, put up a set of stumps as normal, then remove the middle stump. Now stand closer to the stumps than you would normally and practise your backswing, bringing up and down between off and leg stumps, you’ll quickly find out if you backswing is straight or not.

Advanced tips:

Try playing with soft hand, whereby you loosen you grip slightly with both hands, not so much that the ball will cause the bat to move in your hands, but just enough to ensure the ball drops straight to the floor. If you try the tennis ball drill above you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. This also helps have the effect of causing the ball to drop quicker if you edge it and will often hit the floor before reaching the slips.

You can also try angling your bat to defect the ball away for a single to fine leg or third man, almost becoming a leg glance.