When it comes to the most bookish shots, square cut in cricket remains the most elegant yet menacing shot in a batter’s arsenal. Any perennial cricket aficionado would exemplify how the shot lets a batter gets in the groove and further settle on the crease. In simple language, it is when a batter hits a short-pitched ball or even spins deliveries by going on the backfoot for a sharp cut for a boundary.
It varies from batter to batter and even the delivery pitched by bowlers casts it between deep-point and third man for a boundary. The square cut involves a set of various stances and technicalities behind its successful implementation.
How to play a square cut shot in cricket?
To implement a perfectly-timed square cut shot, a batter must have control of his mobility and stance on the crease and ensure the following:
- Leap backwards towards the stumps (moving the backfoot for hitting stance)
- Raise the front arm to follow up with the anticipated delivery.
- Keeping the head balance in place
- Lastly, get over the ball and slice it horizontally towards the direction between the deep point and the third man.
Note: The ball comes behind the head, while the front arm remains the anchor and extends for a sharp cut.
The greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Damien Martyn, Brendon McCullum, Alastair Cook, and Rahul Dravid among others have remained the torchbearers of the square cut in cricket history. These batters with experience of playing in both pre-and post-modern eras of the sport, let the ball come in as they shifted the balance and waited for the ball to hit it for a boundary was an exceptional treat to spectators’ eyes.
For a batter going through a rough patch and struggling to get runs off his bat, playing a square cut shot with a timed perfection could work as an anti-dote and do wonders to his confidence.
Types of Square Cut shots in cricket
The key behind playing out such audacious shots calls for unprecedented hand-eye coordination lapped with aggression and having an anticipatory upper hand on the bowler. Here, it depends on the kind of bowler he/she faces. Usually, when it’s a fast bowler, then the batter immediately transfers his weight to the backfoot and raises his stance to slice the ball for an uppercut.
While in the case of a spinner, in which the ball is pitched a lot slower than a pace delivery, the batter tends to wait for the ball until the last moment while shifting his stance into backfoot. Then follows his/her feathery touch of the bat (if the ball is pitched a bit faster) to punch the ball at the very last minute as if it is about to get caught behind the wickets for a late cut. However, the timing of that punch for that late cut for an exquisite-looking shot requires tons of practice.
Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Babar Azam, and KL Rahul among others are the modern-day immaculate masters of the late cut shot in cricket.
Square Cut in Cricket Explained via modern-day greats
Square cut remains one of the most conventional yet lucrative run-yielding weapons for the batter. To understand how it is played, let’s analyse how the modern-day greats in the era of T20 cricket which has caused the invention of many unorthodox shots, still rely heavily on square cuts. On that note, let’s talk about some of the modern-day greats who have not only mastered the art of square cut but also lead as an example of how to play such shots.
1. Rohit Sharma
The current Indian skipper across all formats has been known for his flamboyant ball timing. And apart from his usual signature sixer of the short ball, the Hitman also has mastery in playing the square cut shot. Rohit encashes his timing to go down against both spinners and pacers and aggregate heaps of runs through square cuts and late cuts. Some even say that Rohit’s square cut gave an identical glimpse of former India skipper Rahul Dravid’s square cut.
2. Joe Root
- Enjoying the peak of his career in Test cricket, the former England Test skipper has been known to develop and keep his range of shots in compliance with the textbook. Root is one of the rare batters in the world to be technically sound and banks on classical cuts and drives. One of his keys, yet most effective run-yielding tools, is the square cut that usually rams towards the third-man for a boundary. His profound knack for using the crease to get the inflow of runs has also helped him have a place in England’s ODI squad.
3. Kane Williamson
The New Zealand skipper is known as the only non-sub-continental batter in the world to have the hold of every possible old-school cricketing shot. He is one of those rare batters to have achieved success in the shortest format of the game, all with the help of his range of shots old-school textbook shots. And when it comes to such shots, cover drive, straight drives, pull shot, and square cut remains of key armouries of a batter. Having said that, Williamson with his skilful flexibility yields tons of runs from a square cut.
One doesn’t forget his knock at the Gabba in 2015 wherein he scored his 11th century in Tests. He scored 140 runs, out of which 96 runs came from boundaries. He proved the theory of how Gabba is the ground that provides full value of the shots to the batters. The theory was indeed proven true as 11 out of his 24 boundaries came from cut shots including square cuts. Barely, a batter achieves laurels at Gabba with such audacity that even the likes of Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t hit a single century.
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