Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and the art of hitting in women’s cricket

As Harmanpreet Kaur demonstrated throughout her 143 towards England, a mixture of fluid bat-swing and ending the shot has elevated batting in girls’s cricket lately

It was a mishit actually, off the fifth ball she confronted on Wednesday night towards England, however it mentioned a lot about Harmanpreet Kaur’s bat-swing, the soul of her batting. It was a mild size supply from the left-armer Freya Kemp – who would cop it from Harmanpreet in the long run overs – and it appeared a regulation push, however her arms bought away from her, as if on a thoughts of their very own; she nearly checked it and appeared up with a contact of concern however even that handcuffed stream had chipped the ball over the mid-on fielder for a few runs.

Not many swing it like Harmanpreet Kaur. Catch the highlights of her mayhem on the finish of the knock. She doesn’t carve over off; she fluidly scoops. She doesn’t heave to leg; she swings them. One in every of Indian cricket’s massive hitters of yesteryears Salim Durani has a beautiful verb to element his sixes. “I lifted him for a six, I lifted him over long-on and such …”; Salim bhai by no means makes use of ‘hit’. Harmanpreet can proudly use the identical lingo.

However the bigger image right here, past Harmanpreet, in girls’s cricket up to now decade or so is that this evolution within the bat-swing. Within the 80’s, the batting of the Indians and abroad batters was marked by the absence of a fluidity within the bat-swing. As if the bulk would react after the ball lands to do their factor, yanking, dragging, heaving on the final on the spot. There have been exceptions in fact however it’s the norm that one is taken with. The shortage of bowling pace and high quality of fielding have been comprehensible however this bat-swing would irk. Not, in fact.

Healy and Sciver

Test the highest three ranked girls ODI batters. Let’s contemplate two of them: Australia’s Alyssa Healy and England’s Nat Sciver. Healy pounces on the ball in a lot the identical approach Ricky Ponting would; not in type of the photographs however within the game-sense, in her busy-ness.

And is there another top-order batter who hits the ball as exhausting as Sciver? It’s one factor to gasoline the massive aerial hits with energy, however Sciver appears to pack the standard floor photographs with extra energy than most; she does actually ‘crunch’ her drives. As an apart, Sciver has the ‘Natmeg’ shot too, the place she ever-so coolly nutmegs yorkers between her legs.

A typical factor about all these batters – and one can embrace Smriti Mandhana, who hit a beautiful 91 within the first ODI towards England – is the fluidity within the bat-swing and the way they appear to really prep up for it, earlier than the ball.

Staying with the shot

Second issue is how they stick with the shot, end it, not get forward of themselves, be it with the considered operating between the wickets or no matter. We frequently see it within the newbie cricket that we play; the true dadas end the shot; the remainder of us would hit it and are already making an attempt to scramble throughout. As soon as Suresh Raina learnt to stick with his photographs, end them (consider his aerial punch over covers off seamers), his white-ball cricket took off to a different stage.

A mixture of those two parts – the bat-swing and staying with the shot to its candy finish – has elevated batting in girls’s cricket lately.

Watch Alyssa Healy subsequent time she bats. When the spinners are on, she as a rule has her bat grounded within the stance. Towards the seamers although, she has it up and prepared, waist-high, and truly does a pendulum swing of types with the bat – a mock drill for the true one as a prep. Former Australia batter and coach Greg Chappell is a good believer of the pendulum swing and used to usually discuss it. He was towards cocking the hand too early and getting the bat up too early because it inhibits the free stream and likewise disrupts the protection, in case a batter has to dam. Alyssa’s focus appears to be on that bat-swing fairly early within the piece.

As does Sciver, who no matter tempo or spin, will get her bat into that pre-shot pendulum loop, if something with better vigour, and doubtless why she manages to ‘crunch’ her drives actual exhausting.

And all of them stick with the shot all the way in which until the post-impact extension is totally carried out.

Mandhana’s robust top-hand

Let’s cue up an additional cowl drive from Mandhana throughout her 91, when she was on 10. Issy Wong with a size ball and never a lot tempo too to work with (111kmph), however Mandhana doesn’t over-hit it. Stretches nicely ahead and simply caresses it, staying with the shot – and the push-drive has the ball plummeting between further cowl and mid-off.

Harmanpreet even practises with an precise golf driver earlier than any knocking at nets. “She makes use of the golf-swing simulation for hip-shoulder dissociation. It’s her personal distinctive factor,” the India physio Anand Date had informed this newspaper through the Commonwealth Video games. “Harman has a pure swing, and it helps her get into rhythm.”

It’s within the follow-through arc the bat cuts that her batting fluidity screams out all that extra. She finishes the shot, along with her bat traversing all the way in which up and over and behind her shoulders. She doesn’t maintain again in any respect. It’s most pronounced when she is in her attacking section as she was close to the tip of her hundred on Wednesday. Then there isn’t any doubt, no hesitancy in holding again, she tries to select size early and lets the bat-swing undergo unimpeded.

Mandhana is nonchalantly imperious in her lofted photographs to the seamers. Like Sourav Ganguly, the batter she at instances resembles, she was a pure right-hander who transformed to a left-handed batter. In her elder brother’s telling it was as a result of she used his previous left-handed gloves when she took up the sport and in her account, it’s as a result of their father had a factor for left-handers.

It’s straightforward to see why her high hand is the stronger one. There’s a concept going round in cricket that folks have gotten the batting grip all mistaken — historically, the highest hand is the weaker for the right-handed batters and most grip the bat extra strongly of their backside hand, their pure hand.

The speculation is that the highest hand needs to be firmer and the underside hand looser. You’ll be able to see that in Mandhana. She will undergo the road of the ball, sending it up and over mid-off moderately nonchalantly.

Ending the shot, fluidity within the bat-swing, even prepping for it in stance, weren’t commonplace in girls’s cricket within the distant previous. Not, although. It’s crash, bang, wallop time – all skilfully woven collectively.

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