It is often said that cricket is a batsman’s game. One of the reasons for the same is the plethora of options available for the batters. From front foot and back foot defences to drives, pulls and sweeps, batsmen can play it all. In this feature, we look at one of the most admired strokes to execute in cricket – the straight drive.
What is a straight drive?
As the name of the shot suggests, the straight drive is a stroke that is played by the batter straight down the ground. Most cricket purists consider the straight drive as one of the most classical shots a batsman can possess in his repertoire of shot-making.
When a batter hits one straight past the bowler, presenting the full face of the bat, he is bound to frustrate the bowler. The batter, however, derives immense satisfaction from a straight drive. Not only does it look elegant, it is also a shot that pleases the coaches, for they mostly encourage their wards to hit balls with a straight bat.
Things to keep in mind while playing the straight drive
Usually, the straight drive is played by a batter to an over-pitched delivery, which is mostly on or outside off stump. Some quality batters are able to play the straight drive even when the delivery from the bowler is closer to the middle stump.
The shot is mostly played against pace bowlers. When a batsman sees an over-pitched ball and wants to play a straight drive to it, he must get on the front foot and punch the ball down the ground past the bowler. Depending on the timing and the length of the delivery, the ball can sometimes be driven through the mid-off region as well.
One of the most crucial aspects to keep in mind, while playing the straight drive is to get the front foot as close as possible to the pitch of the ball. If the batter doesn’t do that, he can end up hitting the ball in the air, since his feet is not to the pitch of the delivery.
The batsman must ensure to have his head over the ball when he plays the drive. By doing so, he transfers weight in the forward direction, which reduces the chances of the ball going in the air.
Unlike some of the other strokes in cricket, the drive down the ground depends on finesse as opposed to power. The top hand is prominent in a straight drive with the bottom hand giving support. As the shot is completed, if successful, the batsman ends up presenting the full face of the bat. Some often like to hold their pose in the follow-through.
Best players of the straight drive in world cricket
1. Sachin Tendulkar
No one played the straight drive better than Sachin Tendulkar in world cricket. And this is no exaggeration. When the Master Blaster punched the ball down the ground, it was a sight to behold. Everything about Tendulkar’s straight drive was pitch-perfect. After moving into position quickly, he used to bring the bat down in typically classy style and just give the ball a delightful push. To date, players try to replicate Tendulkar’s straight drive, albeit minus the grace and technical brilliance.
2. Jacques Kallis
The South African legend had a wonderful technique, which aided him in scoring supremely all over the globe. Like other legends, he could play most strokes in the book. And, like most other greats, the straight drive was one of his most productive strokes. He judged the ball brilliantly and very rarely missed out on the straight drive, often pouncing on over-pitched deliveries.
3. Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid was a master technician. Whether it was going on the back foot or the front foot, the Indian legend rarely erred in judgement. While he could play the cuts, pulls and lofted strokes as well, the straight drive was the most aesthetic weapon in his batting armoury. With a straight bat and high elbow, Dravid added his own touch of class to the straight drive.