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Bat well soon

Kunal Ashar: I am only a 20-year-old club cricketer, but I am always trying to improve on my game. I have always used a heavy bat and it helps me with my drives. I used to be able to pull pretty well, but now with the quicker bowlers I find it difficult. I have thought of using a lighter bat, but I think it will affect my overall batting (the drive is one of my favourite shots). What would you suggest?

WV Raman: Dear Kunal, while the weight of your bat is definitely your preference, it also does to some extent hamper your batting. A combination of probably your heavy bat and the inability to get into position quickly is impeding you from pulling the quicker bowlers. By cutting down on the weight of your bat, you still can play your favourite drives without any problems. A lighter bat need not affect your overall batting.

Jaymesh: I play for my club and school in London and I am not in form at the moment. It seems as if my timing is not good enough. Do you have any tips on improving my timing? Maybe I should change my stance? Please reply. Thanks.

WV Raman: Dear Jaymesh, you are going through a phase which occurs in everyone's career. As you are out of form, it would be best if you can practice harder on your basics. It will definitely help in the long run. There is no need to try and alter your stance or grip just because you are out of form unless of course you can pinpoint that is where the problems are emanating from.

Kdr: What's the best way to play a yorker? I am not sure if I want to play forward and take it as a full toss or go backward and play it in defence. In the meanwhile, I lose my wicket.

WV Raman: Dear Kdr, first of all, if you are up against a good yorker, you will not have enough time to go either forward or back. The best way to keep a yorker from hitting the stumps is by digging it out or squeezing it out, the moment the ball lands just round your feet. A good yorker would neccesitate a quick downswing of the bat in line with the ball.

Vijay Rajamani: How are you, my friend? I love reading your column on CricInfo. Those under-15 and under-19 days were fun, huh? So, here's my question -- how do you setup and play the reverse sweep?

WV Raman: Dear Vijay, great to hear from you. Of course those days were fun. As regards your question, a reverse sweep is more or less a pre- determined shot. It is played more on line rather than on length. One has to ensure that the line of the ball is outside the off-stump while playing a reverse sweep. It is normally played to try and upset the bowler when he is bowling a nagging line.

Ankit Bhargava: I am playing cricket for a team called BACA youth in California for 3 months now. We are practising for our next league which is just going to begin this weekend. I wanted to ask you how to keep my nerves when I am out there batting as I am the opening batsman and also how to face those fast bowlers? I haven't even seen them bowl once. So I am kind of nervous.

WV Raman: Dear Ankit, as an opening batsman, the main pre-requisite is courage. First of all, take a few deep breaths to ease the tension and secondly I assure you that you will be able to play if you concentrate and try and watch the ball. You can watch the ball no matter however quick a bowler is. With regard to your uppish drives it could be due to a lot of reasons. You may be playing the shot without reaching the pitch of the ball, or you may be playing the drives predominantly with the bottom hand or you may not be leaning into the drive. In other words, you may be too upright while playing the drives.

Satprem: How to play good length balls just outside the off stump?

WV Raman: Dear Satprem, why do you want to play at good length deliveries outside the off stump? Leave them alone unless of course the ball is nipping back onto the stumps. In that case try and come across with your foot beside the line of the ball and the bat ready to meet the ball.

Rodney Simon: I am a left handed bat like yourself. My problem is I want to improve my defensive techniques on the offside. How can I do this in practice and what guard would you recommend I take?

WV Raman: Dear Rodney, to improve your basic technique, there is no real need to change the guard. To become a good player on the off side you need to be side-on and also get across in order to cover the stumps. If your off stump is seen while you are either defending or attacking, it is an indication that you have to move a bit more across the stumps.

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