The crisp sound of the bat perfectly meeting the ball. The batsman’s perfectly still head. The high elbow. Knees bent. The ball skimming over the blades of grass. Fielders give up on the chase. The crowds oooh and aah in delight.
Few shots elicit as much delight - both in essaying the shot as well as watching it as the cover drive. In fact, if numbers are anything to go by, it has been the shot that has been consistently delivering for batsmen in Test cricket over the last few years. Fair to say then that is quite possibly the favourite shot for most batsmen across the various formats of the game!
And over the years there have been many magnificent exponents of this shot. While some have been all silken elegance like David Gower and Kumar Sangakkara, some are all about clinical efficiency like a Rahul Dravid or Jacques Kallis. In early 2021, in a poll run by the ICC on Twitter, Pakistan’s Babar Azam was voted the Cover Drive King, edging out India’s elegant batsman Virat Kohli by the slimmest of margins - 0.1%!
So how would you define a cover drive? At its simplest, a cover drive is an attacking shot that can be played both on the front as well as the back foot. As the scoring area is through the cover region, hence the name.
And how do you play an effective cover drive? Here are a few basic instructions:
- As always, get your feet in position - whether you are playing the shot off the front foot or the back foot the first thing you need to do is get your foot slightly inside the line of the ball. Usually the front foot cover drive is played to full length deliveries, while back of length deliveries can be dispatched with a cover drive off the back foot.
- Remember, the key is to get into position quickly. For a front foot cover drive, take a comfortable stride down the pitch - remember balance is important! Once your foot is comfortably planted, you will need to bend your front knee a bit so your body weight is on top of it. This is important to ensure you don’t hit the ball in the air.
- For a backfoot cover drive, push your weight backwards with the help of your front foot. Simultaneously, with your back foot, take a small step in the direction of the stumps. As with the front foot cover drive, balance and comfort in the stride is key. Get your feet together, stand tall and then punch the ball through the covers!
- Some of the other key things you need to keep in mind are:
- Keep your head down and still, looking at the ball
- Your batswing should be clean and unhindered
- Your elbow should be high and the bat face pointing in the direction of where you want to play your shot (ie the covers)
- Top hand should be in control of the bat handle while the bottom hand should be loose. This is important for maintaining balance as well as getting the perfect timing.
- Don’t lunge at the ball, play it as late as possible
- Play the bowler and the conditions - a lot of swing and seam? Maybe best to not play an extravagant drive!
Follow your coaches tips, watch videos of your favourite cricketers playing this shot and practice, practice, practice.
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