Don’t we all love the sight of a cricket ball sailing high and long into the stands with the audience going bonkers around it? The nonchalance and carefree execution of big-hitting, by some players like Chris Gayle, is mind-boggling! But how do cricketers hit such big sixes in Cricket these days?
In order to hit big sixes in Cricket, you need to apply some basic cricketing skills correctly in unison. You need to have a stable batting stance, eyes on the ball, accurate movement in the crease, power, and timing the ball employed correctly to hit the ball beyond the boundary line.
In the modern-day cricket, with the advent of T20 Cricket, hitting big sixes are not rare anymore. There are batsmen in the league and International cricket today who hit sixes for fun.
But, don’t get fooled into thinking that it’s all power without technique. In fact, it’s all about technique and not very far from the basic batting technique. Surprised? Don’t be.
In the following article, we will talk in detail about the six-hitting technique with tips on how can you hit the ball in the stands at will!
Tips for Hitting Big Sixes in Cricket
There always comes a time in a match when the run-rate creeps up and you look to up the ante by hitting some big sixes.
Sometimes you get a bad ball but at times, just when you plan to hit the big six, the opposition’s best bowler makes an appearance for bowling. So, how should you deal with this situation? How can you manufacture sixes as and when needed? Here are some tips that you can follow.
Tip 1 – Plan Early for Hitting a Six
Planning to hit six is probably the most important aspect of the art of hitting sixes. There are times, such as death overs in limited over cricket, when you need to go for the big shots to put on as many runs as possible. Apart from these moments, a batsman needs to pick the bowler, spot on the field, and situation to hit the opposition bowler out of the park.
Hitting sixes becomes crucial in chases when certain batsmen prefer knocking the opposition’s fifth bowler out of the attack by hitting some big shots or chose an area of the field where there’s less protection.
In international cricket, it is seldom that you would get the ‘hit-me-for-six’ balls, and often you would have to plan to manufacture these big hits.
Players like MS Dhoni were excellent in calculating when to go for the big shots, whom to target, and to what side of the field.
Tip 2 – Watch the Ball
Now when you decided that you need some big shots, do not go after every ball. Trust that you will get your chances. Trust that the bowler will eventually make a mistake. And when he does, make him pay.
For that, you have to watch each ball intently right from the moment the bowler begins his runup. Many believe you need to watch the ball in the bowler’s hand right till the moment he delivers it.
While some believe that you can relax while the bowler, especially the bowler with longer runup, is running and switch to the bowling hand and ball once the bowler comes close to delivering the ball. The latter technique would save you some mental energy.
Goerge Headly, the great West Indian batsman, once said that throughout his career he had watched every single ball coming out of the bowler’s hand. Every single one of them.
Either way, both are tried and tested techniques and you should use the one that suits you. Make sure to practice the technique in the nets fervently. There is no alternative to watching the ball off the bowler’s hand al the way on to the bat.
Now, this might seem impossible to do, especially against the fast bowlers, but with practice, you can achieve it.
One trick that many great players apply is that, once they see the ball off bowler’s hand, they quickly move the eyes to the location where they think the ball would land before it actually lands. This gives them an extra fraction of seconds to react to the ball better. Easier said than done though.
Tip 3 – Keep Your Head in line with the Ball
One of the most basic techniques batsmen all over the world follow is to keep the head in line with the ball.
It helps you gauge the line of the ball properly and react to swing or spin, if any, appropriately. One of the major reasons for getting out in the slips is that a batsman misjudges the line of the ball and reacts inappropriately.
While you are trying to maintain the head position, make sure to concentrate on the seam of the ball. The seam and the shiny side would tell you where the ball is going to move.
Tip 4 – Movement in the Crease and Shifting Weight
One of the major characteristics of a good batsman is that he judges the length pretty early.
If the ball is on a good length, move your front foot in the direction of the ball and transfers the weight on the front foot to get the solid base for launching that big hit out of the park.
If the ball is outside off, try to hit it over cover or extra cover for a maximum. If the ball is on the middle or middle-and-leg stump, try long on or cow corner as the spot for the big hit.
For the deliveries that are short of a good length, you must rock back quickly, and transfer the weight onto the back foot while attempting the horizontal bat shots.
If the ball is wider outside off, try to cut is over deep point or third man for a six. For the ones on middle and leg stump, a batsman must swivel on the back foot and attempt a hook or pull shot in the mid-wicket or the square leg area.
For the very full deliveries, almost yorker length, some batsmen prefer to convert them into full tosses while some try to flick off the pads. Then, there’s the famous Helicopter shot, which you can attempt by staying or moving deep into the crease to deal with yorkers.
Remember that balance is the key to power in the shot. If you are not balanced or the weight transfer is not complete, you would not get the desired power in the shot which might result in a mishit straight to the fielder inside the boundary line.
Tip 5 – Swing the Bat Correctly
Cricketers spend hours in the nets in perfecting the swing of the bat and rightly so. Imagine someone like Rohit Sharma, pulling good length deliveries into the stands, who has a simple but perfect swing that meets the ball at the perfect moment transferring all the momentum generated by the swing.
Batsmen with high backlift need more practice with the bat swing. With high backlift, there is a larger distance for the bat to cover before it meets the ball.
While the higher backlift generates more power, there’s more chance of missing the timing on the shot. Some batsmen have a swing that starts from the direction of the keeper to the bowler, while some, like Steven Smith, has a swing that starts from first or second slip. The latter is difficult to pull off but effective if done well. The practice is the key here.
Tip 6 – Focus on Timing the Shot
There are two ways in which you can achieve a hit for six runs. One is to follow the above procedure and focus on timing more than the power to hit the ball into the stands.
The balance, swing, the timing would generate enough power for the ball to reach its destination. The other school of thought the modern-day cricket is to build and use power to hit the ball for maximum. We will talk more about this in the latter part of the article.
However, it is preferable to stick to the basic cricketing approach of timing the ball as well as you can. It is less risky and the timing mentality would be beneficial while playing other shots as well. At times when trying to hit the ball too hard, batsmen tend to lose their shape and end up miscuing the ball high in the air rather than long.
Tip 7 – Do NOT Get too Close to the Ball
When the target is to hit the ball out of the park a certain elevation is needed to get the ball over the boundary line. If the shot is too flat and a fielder may interrupt the shot.
Too high and the ball may not go the distance. The elevation should be good enough to evade any fielders in the way and to get the ball far enough to cross the boundary lines.
To achieve this one must avoid getting too close to the ball. You need to have a certain distance between the bat and the ball to get underneath the ball. If the bat too close to the ball, the batsman may end up yorking himself or simply scooping the ball to the nearest fielder.
On the contrary, if the length is misjudged, especially with spinners, and the ball falls farther from the bat than expected then you would end up hitting the ball high on the air going for the big hit.
When going to for the maximum, try to hit the ball around the sweet spot on the bat. Too high or too low on the bat would both result in an ill-timed and false cricket shot.
Tip 8 – Do NOT Try to Overhit the Ball
This cannot be overstated and is one of the perils of trying to use too much power behind the shot. There’s only limited power you need in the shot for it sail over the boundary line. Trying to overhit that ball any farther than that would not result in more runs.
In fact, it would ruin the timing and more often than not, would result in mishits. Attempting to overhit the ball might also suggest to the opposition that you haven’t gauged the pace of the wicket yet and are to compensate for that by overhitting your way out of trouble.
Focus on technique and timing and use just enough power without compromising on the former two and you have a perfect recipe for a six.
How to Use Bowler’s Pace to get the Distance on the Shot?
Fast bowler pace provides interesting avenues for unusual shots that can be employed to get the ball to go the distance.
One such shot is the ramp shot where you use the bowler’s pace on a short ball to just nudge it, on its way to the keeper, so that it clears the infield and lands outside the boundary. It is a tough shot to mater and only masters, like Sachin Tendulkar, have been able to pull it off regularly. Here’s the video of him attempting a successful ramp shot.
Another one is the scoop shot, famously known as the Dilscoop, after the Srilankan cricket Tillakaratne Dilshan.
It is not only an unorthodox shot, but you would also have to be incredibly brave to play it against a genuine fast bowler. It another version of the scoop shot where the ball is very full and the batsman just scoops it after pitching, or on the full, to get it over keepers head for a six.
Here are some of the insane ‘Dilscoop’ shots from the man himself.
What is Power Hitting? How do Modern-day Bats Aid Power Hitting?
In the new era of T20 cricket, the big bats and power hitters are coming to the fore. The players, like Andre Russell, who bludgeon the cricket balls out the stadium are in great demand. It’s not easy to hit balls like that and there’s definitely a method to madness there, but it has more to do with power than timing.
Power Hitting is nothing but swinging through the line of an incoming delivery with such brute force that any lack of timing on the ball is compensated by the force of the shot and power in the bat.
Modern bats with the huge depth, that makes the edge of the bat look like the face of it, are aiding the power hitters in such a way that the even the edges are flying off over the boundary these days. The shortening of boundaries in T20 cricket especially has been of help as well.
Is Strength Training Important for Hitting Sixes?
The strength in your arm, core, and legs is of utmost importance to pull off these big hits in cricket regularly. The legs and core help a batsman have a stable base at the crease while the strength in arms is needed to get those extra yards especially when there’s some an error in timing the ball.
A stable base is like a launchpad for these aerial shots. Looks at the legs and hands of some regular hitters like MS Dhoni or AB de Villiers.
To strengthen these body parts players can use some basic techniques such as squats, lunges (for legs), crunches and sit-ups (for the core), and barbell and dumbbell curls (for arms).
Role of Practice in Hitting Big Sixes
Just like any other aspect of cricket, targeted practice is of utmost importance in mastering bit hitting as well. Not only does it help you perfect the skill of hitting the big sixes, but it also inculcates the confidence that you can pull it off as and when needed in crunch situations.
It is one of those aspects of training where once you know how to get there, you can easily go there again.
So keep practicing the big-hitting skills. Give equal attention to pace and seam bowlers. Develop the muscle memory for big hits so that when the time comes your body reacts just like any other cricket shot.
A piece of final advice would be to not be too eager to build the six-hitting ability if that is not your natural game. It is not worth affecting your natural game for something that does not come to you naturally. Also, consider the risk in the shot and use it judiciously as per your role in the team.
Virat Kohli deals in fours, not because he can’t hit sixes, but because he values his wicket a lot and being the backbone of the batting. He can and does hit sixes as and when absolutely necessary. Treat sixes as just another scoring option and do not go looking for it for the glamour of it. Remember, substance over style, always!