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 deft strokes to execute in cricket – the cut shot.
What is a cut shot?
A cut shot, as the name suggests, basically involves a batter cutting the ball, and he does so to stop the ball from completely its initial trajectory of reaching the wicket-keeper. The cut shot is played on the off-side, generally to a short of a length delivery bowled a little wide outside off-stump. The stroke is normally played on the back foot. However, on rare occasions, it can be played off the front foot as well, especially when a batter is facing slow bowling.
To play a cut shot, a right-handed batsman moves his right foot backwards and across towards the ball. A left-handed batter does the same with his left foot. This backward move normally features a prominent back-lift. The batsman has to wait for the ball to go past him on the off-side. Then, when the delivery reaches around waist height, he needs to bring down the bat in a horizontal manner and ‘cut’ the ball.
Things to keep in mind while playing the cut
To pull off the cut shot properly, the batter must ensure that he has created enough width to come down hard on the ball. As fans may have observed, when a batsman plays a ball too close to his body, he often ends up chopping the ball onto the stumps.
The cut shot can be played against both the pacers and spinners. It is important to get the timing right so that the gap behind the square region is pierced. Batters need to be especially careful against spinners because close fielders such as the slips and silly point are often in place. A mistimed stroke can end up in the hands of any of these fielders.
Apart from the traditional cut, batters can also attempt the late cut. This is usually safer against slow bowlers. Here the batter waits on the backfoot and almost allows the ball to pass him, literally cutting the ball off the keeper’s gloves towards the third man.
A new kind of cut short that has made its appearance in recent years is the upper cut. In this, the batter cuts the ball that is around the shoulder height in the upward direction so that it flies over the keeper and the slip cordon. If timed well, the upper cut can also gain the batter a maximum considering the shorter boundaries these days.
The best cutters in world cricket
1. Gundappa Viswanath: The name Gundappa Viswanath was synonymous with the cut shot in cricket. He was very elegant and wristy. Even though he could play all the shots in the book, the cut was his favourite. He brought it out against the best fast bowlers in the world and frustrated them. Short in height, Viswanath literally pounced on deliveries that were half-trackers.
2. Gordon Greenidge: The West Indian legend had a very good technique, which is why he could execute the cut to near perfection. Gordon Greenidge’shead used to be still at most times and he was gifted with the ability to pick the length early. So he rocked back on the backfoot and usually sent the ball racing to the boundary.
3. Adam Gilchrist: The Aussie great did not play strokes in the traditional mode but he knew how to hit boundaries. Adam Gilchrist had amazingly fast hands, which made him a wonderful exponent of the cut shot. Because he was so quick with his hand movements, the ball usually sped to the boundary, with fielders as mere spectators.