The most important thing is to work out what’s going on in the game when you come in or when you look to move up through the gears. If someone is smashing it everywhere at the other end, your role is to get singles and not waste deliveries. If it’s a tough pitch and you’ve got yourself in, you can afford to be more selective and make sure you bat out the overs, as it will be tough for batsmen to come in and get after the bowling, even if this means taking singles regularly and giving up strike. Working out a score to aim towards can also be handy if batting first – on most wickets going at 8-9 an over at the death is doing well.
2) Know your game and plan accordingly
Once you’ve worked out what you need to do, you need to have a method to get it done. Like bowling at the death, you don’t have to have 15 shots like Morgan for example, but you do need to be able to play 3-4 shots well and Kieron Pollard is a good simple example that non-pros can try to emulate. He kills the straight and full ball, pulls the shorter one and looks to get quite far across his stumps so he doesn’t have to go through the offside so much unless its’ really wide and he can free his arms. It’s not just boundary options as well, but make sure you have a couple of get out single options so you can get down the other end if it’s what needs to be done. If a spinner is bowling, again, make sure you have some shots you can go to to both attack spin and hit boundaries and also get off-strike. So basically, work out what shots you are good at and then set up in order to maximise your chance of playing those shots.
3) Pick your ball and don’t panic
For most players that it’s easier to hit your 10th ball than your first ball for six, and even easier to get six from your 30th. If you have some time, then give yourself a few balls just to get in and have a look before trying going into full flight – Chris Gayle in T20 is the best example. When you are looking for the boundaries, make sure you pick the right ball. A perfect yorker has to be respected, and if you’re someone who’s not so good against the short ball then try to get some bat on it and get a single rather than waste the delivery. But when the ball in your hitting arc comes, take full advantage, and this can take the pressure off with a much needed boundary. If you do face a couple of dots, don’t panic either, as it’s going to be easier for you to hit the next few deliveries than someone who’s just come in.
4) Keep still on contact and keep your head over the ball
The guys who hit the ball the furthest are completely still when they hit the ball and maintain a decent technique – they have a strong base like they are set up for a drive, with their head down, and let their arms do the work. I’m all for movement in the crease, or charging the bowler but at the moment of impact make sure you are still with your head over the ball, as this will enable better contact and less chance of wasting deliveries.
The best end of innings hitters all practice their skills regularly, so as they can better execute them in games. It’s important to take a few minutes at the end of a net to practice your death shots, but make sure you practice properly – let the bowlers know, get a field sorted and set yourself a target to replicate a game.
PHOTO / Jack Kelleher