Cricket has witnessed a very few complete batsmen in its history. No matter how brilliant a batsman is, he has some sort of a weakness which the opponents exploit at some stage. This is where the attitude and determination of a player is tested to the hilt. While some players rise from the ashes and make sure that they don’t play that false shot which leads to their dismissal, few works on their flaws and come back strong to make it big.
With the advent of T20 format, technique has taken a backseat in the modern cricket. But there are still a few traditional batsmen who have lighting up the sport with their crisp batting. Their textbook shots mesmerise the fans, especially those who love Test cricket. Also, some of the top cricketers love the longest form of the game where one needs resilience, patience and this is where a batsman is found wanting.
Here we bring you top five current batsmen and their weaknesses:
5. Joe Root – Gets lbw to incoming deliveries
England’s Test captain Joe Root is a part of the fab four comprising of Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. But he has been struggling to match the rate of 100s they are scoring. While Root is still regarded the best batsman in England which he recently proved as well with a double hundred in New Zealand, he is often guilty of not converting his starts.
Rather Joe Root boasts of a worst conversion rates after crossing the 50-run mark among the quartet. He is prone to lose his balance while facing the incoming deliveries and tends to get out leg before. Pat Cummins, during the 2017-18 Ashes, found out this weakness in him. He set up with a series of outswingers and then later in the day, delivered a full inswinging ball.
Root played for the outswinger and was trapped in front of the stumps. And the pattern of similar dismissals began. All the teams across the world picked it and in the space of 18 Tests since then, England’s Test skipper had got out nine times lbw, most of them to being inswingers. His front pad seems to stay inside the line of the ball and while the bat is yet to come down, the ball comes and hits his bat.
Though he has made a minor adjustment to his technique to get rid of this weakness, there are a few areas of improvements still. He hasn’t become a complete batsman yet and the teams are getting him out early. Having said that, Joe Root is a brilliant batsman and will be itching to iron out his weakness soon.
4. Babar Azam – full pitched outswingers
Babar Azam averages a staggering 54 in the ODIs after playing 74 matches. But he is taking time to settle down in Tests. Though his average reads 45 after 26 Test matches, it has shot up recently after a decent Australia series and then a run-filled home season. Babar, like most of the subcontinent batsman, likes to drive the ball on the up and for the same reason, is prone to getting out to swinging deliveries.
When a bowler delivers an outswinger pitching it full enough (in an area 6 metres or less from his stumps), then Babar Azam struggles. According to the Cricviz, Babar, until 2018, averaged only 10.42 against full deliveries in Tests while the same average shots up to 38.44 in the 50-over format.
He is only 25 years old at the moment and must have understood areas of improvement in his batting. He has already made an adjustment in his batting which was evident in Australia recently. Moreover, Babar is definitely the next big thing in Pakistan cricket and looks destined to lead his country in all formats of the game. Currently he is only the leader of the T20I team.
3. Rohit Sharma – Gets out to inswinging deliveries often
Rohit Sharma is one of the best modern day batsmen in the limited-overs format. But it has taken him years to cement his position in Test cricket. He was the Man of the Series in his maiden series as an opener in Tests against South Africa last year at home. However, when it comes to his weaknesses, Rohit struggles facing the inswinging deliveries, especially against the left-arm seamers be it ODIs or Tests or T20Is.
The likes of Mohammad Amir and Trent Boult among other seamers have troubled Rohit more often. Even in the home series against Bangladesh, he was trapped in front of the stumps against the incoming deliveries. He tends to not move his feet more and lets his hands do all the work while playing lofted shots.
However, when it comes to facing a swinging delivery, Rohit stutters a bit. He foot movement goes nowhere at times that leaves him vulnerable and it leads to him getting lbw or bowled. The man must have definitely worked against this flaw in his technique and would’ve been tested in New Zealand in Tests. But India’s limited-overs vice-captain was injured in the final T20I of the series only to get ruled out the subsequent ODIs and Tests.
2. Virat Kohli – Outside off-stump deliveries
Virat Kohli is the best batsman in the world across the formats. In the ODIs, he is simply invincible it seems. Also, in Tests, a set Virat Kohli is almost impossible to get out. Give him the toughest conditions and he will come up trumps. So what is his weakness? Now, everyone knows that he is vulnerable to the line outside the off-stump. James Anderson exploited it to the hilt during India’s England tour in 2014.
Kohli himself admits that it was the lowest point of his career. But with sheer hardwork, he found an alternative to score runs in 2018 England tour and emerged as the highest run-scorer with almost 600 runs in a series where almost every other batsman struggled. Then how one would get Kohli out?
Simple. Virat Kohli is the most vulnerable during the early part of his innings. As a bowler, one has to keep bowling in that channel of uncertainty and wait for him to drive the ball. It would need to some consistent bowling in the same area like how New Zealand did in the recent series against India. Kohli faced 7, 43, 15 and 30 deliveries during the four innings against the Kiwis and it took sustained pressure and consistent bowling to get him out early every time.
1. Steve Smith – Short ball directed at his body
Steve Smith was not getting out at all in the Ashes last year. He plundered runs for fun and England tried all kinds of tricks to dismiss him but all in vain. However, in the home series against New Zealand, Smith couldn’t get going. No, there is no technical fault in his batting. It is a well directed short ball at his body which ruffles him up the most.
Even while facing Jofra Archer in the Ashes, Smith was vulnerable after he was hit just below the neck in the second Test. Against New Zealand, it was Neil Wagner who came over the wicket and kept bowling at his body to eke out a pull shot out of frustration from the batsman.
It was clearly a trap as a leg-gully was in place and the deep square leg fielder was always waiting for the catch to come. Wagner turned out to be Smith’s nemesis in the three-match series as he got him out four times in five innings. So a consistent short ball barrage without conceding much runs could frustrate Smith and eventually, a pull shot can get him out.
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