Former Australian off-spinner and head coach and director of Elite Cricket, Jason Krejza, takes you through the pull shot batting technique.
The square cut is a great attacking shot designed for the delivery bowled short and outside the off-stump. It is both a back-foot shot and a horizontal bat shot. It can be played through a wide area on the off side, from a powerful slap between cover and point, to an elegant caress either side of the gully fieldsman.
Although it is a shot that allows you to free your arms and give it a good hit, technique is important, as the square cut gives you a lot of options as to placement and the way it’s executed.
To play this shot well with minimal risk, make sure the line of the cricket ball is outside off stump and at least short of a good length. If the ball’s line is closer to the body, you will be cramped for room. If it isn’t short enough to cut, you won’t have time to read the bounce of the ball
Keep side on, as it is a short ball, your first movement should be your back foot moving back and across. This puts your weight right where it should be. There should be little pressure on your front foot. Once you take that back-foot step, make sure your toe is just past the line of off-stump. Only go further across if the delivery is really wide.
The across movement is crucial. It brings your weight to the off side and to the line of the ball. If you move straight back instead, your weight will fall backwards when you are playing the shot. With any shot, head positioning is just as important as hands and feet, and moving across brings your head over to the line of the ball. Note how the head is leaning closer to the ball compared to the first movement.
As you slide back with your foot, lift your hands so they are above the ball’s expected height. I like to use the cue ‘hands to your ears’, so the player can get their hands high enough to play the shot. If your hands are low, and you hit from low-high, the ball will probably be hit in the air. Getting your hands high allows you to hit the ball from high-low, ensuring the ball gets hit into the ground to minimise the risk of getting out caught. Ensure the bat is lifted to the height of your shoulders before you play the shot.
When you execute the shot, extend your arms fully. The bat swings downward, and the wrists roll forward – that is, over the ball – to ensure the ball stays down. Note that, though the head has moved closer to the ball, it is always still when the shot is executed.
The follow-through is important, as it completes the correct ‘shape’ of any shot. With the square cut, you make sure your weight stays on the back foot, even as the bat swings over your front shoulder and proceeds behind your head.
It’s important to practice keeping the ball down as much as possible for great execution of the square cut. Once you have mastered it, the “low-high” technique used especially in the short-form games will send the ball over the in-field and to the boundary. Never begin practicing with this variation. It’s a difficult shot to execute well and needs practice.
Never try to over-hit the shot. You are more than likely miss out on runs or get out! Hit the ball in a downward motion. Facing a quick bowler, use the pace of the ball. Facing a spinner, get it into a gap and take two runs. You don’t need to break the fence to get runs.
When getting ready to hit the ball, imagine looking over your shoulder, pointing your lead shoulder at the ball. This creates power, as you are able to use the whole rotation of your torso to play the shot. It also allows you to play the shot finer, as it can be hit late, almost behind you.
There’s a simple drill you can do by yourself. Set up a plastic cricket stump with a batting tee on top. Rest a ball on it. A tee-ball batting tee is perfect, and you can use it for almost all back-foot shots.
Vary where you place the tee to simulate different areas of contact. Mimic hitting one in front of square, just behind square, behind square etc. You can get your positioning perfect, concentrate on various aspects like foot movement and wrists, and you can do it by yourself in an enclosed net, so you don’t have to fetch the ball all the time!
Jason Krejza applies his vast experience working with the world’s best players and coaches to his own coaching. Jason had a history-making Test debut when his 12 wickets for the match against India in 2010 included eight wickets in the first innings. For more information visit www.elitecricket.com.au