Like formula racing game, the game of cricket also has some exceptional drivers who can drive with an exquisite technique. Cricket is certainly not a car racing game but driving a ball into covers is also an impeccable art.
If you are a 90s kid and a cricket lover, then my friend you have already known what sort of majesty and charisma is produced when a batsman strikes a ball into the covers. For, cricket lovers, it is like a moment that we have all waited for in the game.
Some best drivers of the cricket ball
Though it is a tough comparison, still we can say the cover drive is considered as the best cricketing shot. Players like Kumar Sangakkara and Sachin R. Tendulkar have made this shot more splendid with their touch.
However, a cover drive is like a treat to watch for a cricket lover. Simultaneously, it is not quite easy to have mastery on the shot. It seems pretty easy when we watch a batman/woman placing the ball into the covers. But have you wondered how difficult can this shot be?
The judgement of the ball, dynamic foot movement, great head position, a good wing on the bat with pure timing and elegance, and a good presence of mind for finding gaps is all that you need to execute your cover drive into the fence. So, if you are a beginner or a cricket fan who wants to know or play cover drive like a professional, then you have landed on the right page.
What is a Cover Drive shot?
We know that you are quite familiar with the shot but have you ever wondered what the technicalities behind this shot are! Maybe no; dont worry, we will tell you. A cover drive shot is mainly an attacking shot towards the direction between point to mid-off. It can be played both on the front and back foot. Though, it depends on the bowl length.
Ideally, a cover drive is performed on the line between 4th to 6th stumps or delivery which is outside the off stumps.
The deliveries which are bowled back of a length (delivers that are termed as short of a good length or pitched 7 to 8 meters away from the stumps), should be considered for back foot drive or punch. And those are bowled at good length (pitched between 4 to 7 meters) from the stumps, should be treated with front foot drive with the full face of the bat.
For a good illustration, you can go the YouTube store and watch the cover drive video compilation of Sachin or Lara, and if you are left-hander, then Sangakkara or Graeme Smiths video would be best for you.
How to Play a cover drive shot – The Technicalities of shot
The cover drive is one of the gracious shots that are known for timing and elegance. For executing a shot with perfection, you need to figure out some imperative aspects that need to be done quickly.
Here, we will break down the technicalities that you must understand for desired results-
The Foot position is the first and most imperative step that you need to understand for learning any shot in the game. For a pure cover drive, you need to have more excellent foot position- the position that allows you to have excellent and smooth bat swing. A foot position gives you the freedom to go on the backfoot for the drive or punch.
A good foot position for a cover drive requires that a player must keep his/her front leg inside the line of the ball slightly. It means a player must keep her front feet a little inside and close to the line of the stumps. It will give you the excellent bat swing and space to play the ball. On the other hand, if you are not moving your feet or getting your front feet on the line of the ball, then you will gradually be blocking the path for the bat, and the ball will come straight on your pad.
Front foot drive position
While going for the front foot drive, you need to take a stride outside the crease and need to get your foot inside the line of the ball. The stride should be a comfortable one that can give a good balance on your feet. After getting stride forward, make your front leg knee slightly bend and move your bodys weight on the knee. This foot position will help you to strike the ball on the ground. But if you have carried your bodys weight on the back foot, then there are more chances that you will hit the shot in the air.
Back foot drive position
While playing the back-foot cover drive, all you need to do is get your weight backwards with the help of front foot push. Then take a step backwards towards the stump with your back foot to get inside the line of the ball. After placing your back foot at the right position, make your front foot little closer to the back foot to get the tall stance to hit the top of the ball. This will help a player to hit the ball along the ground.
All these are the imperative steps you need to practice regularly to get the stance and foot positions correctly.
While playing a shot, players head position matters a lot. And especially, a shot like cover drive requires precise body position to get absolute control over the shot. A good head position also helps a player to hit a shot along the ground.
When a player decides to play the cover drive shot, he/she needs to make sure that her/his heading position is going towards the line of the ball or is in the line of the ball. This is because your body gradually moves towards the same direction of where the head is going.
Bat grip and elbow position
The bat grip position and elbow stance are quite imperative for the perfect execution of cover drive. A player should have a strong grip of top hand instead of bottom hand while playing cover front or back foot drive. The top handgrip gives the balance and timing to hit along the ground.
The elbows should be high and not-tighten to achieve timing and desired placement.
Area to target for the cover drive shot
There is no massive difference between the area because both front and back foot drive go in the same direction. However, often people get confused between the cover drive and inside out. So, when a shot is played from the crease without using the footwork on the cover region is called cover drive. And when a ball is played by stepping out of the crease, in a lofted manner, it is called inside out.
So, coming back to the topic, the targeted area is the same, and the name of the shot has driven from the cover position. It means, usually a player stands on a position of cover region to collect the ball that is placed between the point and mid-off. And when a ball beats him and goes towards the boundary, it is called cover drive.
Some additional tips for playing a cover drive
You can quickly learn things mentioned above from the coaching manual, but as they say, cricket is the game of strategies and lessons. As we have discussed earlier that watching the videos and analyzation can make your game stronger and technically sound than just doing the same shot practice.
Indeed, technology has generated a significant impact on games. The technology is now giving you the chance to watch and observe the techniques of your favourite players that you idealized in the cricket. You can view previous matches of Virat Kohli or training session on your smartphone and can learn cover drive Virat Kohli shots from them.
Observation is the most significant plus points of the players, and this aspect helps them to make their shot strong and learn from their past mistakes.
Observe the playing conditions
The presence of mind and adaptability is one of the biggest plus points of a player. You need to assess the situation and pitch before going for any shot. A cover drive is a run-scoring shot, but at the same time, you can also lose your wicket by giving the outside or inside edge of the bat into slips or at wicketkeepers hands.
So, if the conditions are bowler-friendly or bowl is still getting the swing, then it would be best for you to keep your cover drive aside and try to defend or play with the front face of the bat.
The art of playing late and beneath eyes
If you are not a kind of player who steps down to the pitch of the ball and then hit or defend it, then it would be wiser for you to play the ball late as long as you can. Playing late is the best way to assess the ball movement and generate little extra time to place the ball into the gaps.
While playing the cover drive, a player should play the ball late and beneath his/her eyes to get little extra time as well as have better control over the shot—for example, Rohit Sharma is known for his late elegance technique while hitting the ball.
Experts say Rohit Sharma has a one and half second extra time while hitting the shot as compared to other players. The sole reason behind the spare time is that he always waits for the ball to come towards the bat. He never anticipates towards the ball early. And this makes him an exceptional player of pure timing.
Training for placing a ball into the gaps
Indeed, striking the ball with pure timing and perfection and placing the ball into the gaps are two different things. No matter how great you are striking if it is going directly on the hands of fielders. And gaps finding ability is all that you need to be the best cover drive player.
Great players like Mahaila Jayewardene, who was known for his shot timing ability, but at the same time, he was also mastered in the art of finding gaps and placing the ball between the players. It would be best if you got the art of manipulating the field and playing with the mind of bowlers to hit the excellent cover drive.
For a creative yet useful training session, you can put cones or dumbles in the direction of cover regions to emulate the real field position. And then you can try out to place the ball between those cones or dumbles to get the best cover drive practice for the gap placement.
Practice against a Bowling Machine
Though the bowling machines are quite expensive to buy for the training; at the same time, these are quite significant for your game too. These machines are used to practice a specific shot on a particular region like cover drive or trying to defend the ball by moving down to the pitch at a certain speed. These machines offer great varieties of speed to practice. You can easily vary the speed and length.
Throw Down practice
It is yet another very prominent way to make your cover drive more technically sound. For this practice session, you must have a partner who can throw a ball from half of the pitch. He/she can use both under or overarm throw for throwing the ball. If you are quite comfortable with bounce and speed, then you can continue, but if you are facing some issues, then you can ask him/her to bowl underarm.
Real bowling sessions
Though throw down or bowling machine practice is quite an emphatic way to improve the cover drive shot, still none of these is as good as facing the real bowling in the nets. As they say, a one-match experience is far better than ten days of net practice session. As a beginner, it is not quite possible for you to come and play the match directly, but you need to face the bowlers in the net to get the better instincts of a cover drive.
Some cricketing heroes are there who have taught the lesson of perfection—players who ruled the game and have shown how to be master of cover drives.
We bet, if you are a true cricket lover, then you must have remembered the first ball back foot drive from the bat of Sachin R. Tendulkar against Shoaib Akhtar in the world cup semifinal, 2003. Or classic cover drives from the former Sri Lankan skipper Kumara Sangakkara when he used to place the ball between the fielders for the boundaries. Indeed, they were the best cover drive players in the history of the game.
So, these are genuine examples that show the beginners how to become a master from an initial level. Now, we will put light on some common errors done by the players while going for the front or backfoot cover drives-
Not playing with the full face of the bat
We all have been watching how Virat plays some exceptional cover drives with the full face of the bat and strikes the ball with pure timing. So, the point is that when you strike with the full face of the bat, you will get more chances to hit the ball cleanly without posing any additional risk in the shot.
The proper transfer of the bodys weight should be there while going for the front foot cover drive and transmission of weight at the back foot while playing the back-foot cover drive. The transfer of weight matters a lot while keeping the shot along the ground and in control.
Wrong grip position
Indeed, the bottom hand grip generates more power on the shot, but the cover is not a power-based shot that requires a bottom hand. Cover drive shot solely is a demonstration of top handgrip domination. The top hand provides more control balance to keep the ball on the ground instead of an aerial route.
Have you ever seen Indian middle-order player Ajinkya Rahane? He quickly gets into the position and makes his feet stable and in the right line to place the ball gently between the fielders. A little stride outside the crease and slightly bend on the front leg knee will give a great balance over the shot and can make your feet stable and error-free.
Head and shoulder position
The leaning of the front hand shoulder towards the ball will help to strike it under your eyes. Though it a bit technical, yet very imperative one to be considered. On the other hand, the head position must be on the line of the ball to hit along the ground.
You need to be equipped with every shot in the game of cricket for better control over the ball. Cover drive not only enhances the elegance of the batsman but also adds an excellent scoring option for the player. So, these were the technical aspects and techniques that define the concept of how to play the cover drive.
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