You can’t hit from batting position and can’t bat from hitting position: Power-hitting coach Julian Wood | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Julian Wood saw it coming before anyone else and the pioneering power-hitting coach reckons the role of cricketers with brute power will only increase in the rapidly evolving Twenty20 format, forcing the “touch and skill” batters to reinvent their game.
Wood, a former first-class cricketer from England, is in India for his maiden IPL stint with Punjab Kings.
It was an accidental meeting with the head coach of American baseball club Texas Rangers 12 years ago that changed the way Wood looked at the game of cricket.
With T20 games still at a nascent stage back then, Wood envisioned the significance of power-hitting increasing in the shortest format and fast forward to 2022, franchisees around the world are happy to pay a premium for batters who can clear the ropes with ridiculous ease.
The fact that he is now part of the IPL also indicates that teams want their players to hone their big-hitting skills.
“The time is right now where instead of having general batting coaches, you will see more of them having specialised batting coaches like me. Franchisees too have decided that this is the way we need to go forward,” Wood told PTI in an exclusive interaction.
“Cricket has always been very traditional, and it always takes time to change. I said five years ago, in T20s we will have hitting coaches more than batting coaches, it’s just starting to come through now.”
From baseball, Wood learnt how to generate power through the body and how science is at work when a batter makes the right contact with the ball to deposit into the stands.
“For lack of knowledge, former players and coaches feel that power-hitting it is just about keeping your hands up and clearing your front leg (to whack it out of the park). It is a lot more than that.
“It’s all about angles and contact points. It’s the angle of your front foot. If you get too close to the ball, you obviously restrict yourself, if you get too far away then you lose control. What I do is, I find out what’s important to the batter first and then we basically go from what he enjoys in his T20 batting? What gives him a buzz?”
The Punjab squad is loaded with power-hitters like Liam Livingstone, Shahrukh Khan, Jonny Bairstow and Odean Smith with the more traditional Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal expected to open the batting.
The modern game is meant for power but do proper batters have a chance?
“Oh Absolutely. I think the confusion comes to players when they try to hit from a normal batting position. You can’t hit from a batting position and you can’t bat from a hitting position, you must have that body awareness and understanding.
“The guys who generate power through rhythm, timing and balance, the key thing for them is really working on their rhythm, timing and balance. If they do that, they’ll get to the right place at the right time, which is the ball.
“You coach those guys differently than the bigger guys but the key thing is knowing what sort of player they are and adapting and working with them,” said the 53-year-old.
Wood feels during the first 10 overs, the focus should be on collecting fours and the next 10 has to be all about sixes. He also underlined the importance of minimising dot balls as “you can’t just hit sixes every ball”.
“If you have hit five sixes in 20 balls, you’ve done really well. You still got 15 balls to bat normally. I want the batter to be in a position where if the bowler doesn’t nail his skill, you can put him away, but if he does nail those skills, you get your singles and limit the dots which is a massive part of the game.
“You face three dots and then suddenly your whole mannerism changes because there’s pressure on you. You can only bat freely and flowingly when there is little tension in the body. When the tension starts to take over (hitting becomes tougher),” he said.
Wood has worked with the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Livingstone and even India’s Prithvi Shaw in his school days besides stints in England cricket and BBL.
Going forward, players will have to choose between red ball and white ball cricket and there will be very few who could play across formats, said Wood.
“Teams will become more and more power based. The game will keep evolving, the shape of players will change as well. They’ll get bigger and stronger. I think that has been neglected in a way. The S (strengthening) and C (conditioning) we have is more functional. We are always a bit behind in cricket I think (comparing it to other sports including Baseball).”

Indianshri

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