Having spent some time out of the side, Luke Wright announced his return to the fold by bludgeoning 99 not out against Afghanistan in England’s first match at the World Twenty20. Here, the Sussex allrounder talks us through his technique for finding the boundary in the early overs and keeping it tight with the ball at the death.
Role: Hard-hitting batsman primarily used up top or at the death; skiddy medium-pacer with a deceptive change of pace
Stand-out Twenty20 performances: Broke the record for the fastest century in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 competition, blasting a hundred in 44 balls for Melbourne Stars in January.
Are you ready to unfurl any shot right from the start of your innings?
I’m always looking to be positive, even on green seamers and if it’s nibbling around, looking to put the bowler under pressure and stop him hitting an area. My strength is probably hitting straight and going over the top of the fielders. I often want to walk at the bowler early on, just to stop him hitting a length and to get a bit of momentum going through the ball. Most bowlers just want to hit a nice length with the new ball and get it to swing or to nibble, so you’re trying to walk at the bowler to make him dig it in short or catch it on the full. I’m often trying to get it on the full and then it’s just a case of putting my hands through the ball.
How does your approach differ coming in early to batting at No.6?
Early on if the field is up you only need to check drive it almost to get it up and over and you’re just looking for four. Especially against the new ball because it might nibble a little bit so you’re looking to be a little more careful. It’s later on when the fielders go back and you’re going at a bowler that you have to take risks. That’s when you have to go that little bit harder. Ideally you’re looking to go to the side of the fielders but sometimes you’ve just got to back yourself to go over their heads, especially in Twenty20.
Talk us through your technique for hitting big…
One of the biggest things for me is to get my bat to come down at the ball from as high as possible, almost like a golf swing. If you ask a golfer to try and hit the ball as far they can, they wouldn’t just pick up the club and swing off the tee, they’d naturally use the full range and I’m trying to do exactly the same thing with a cricket bat. I’m looking to get my hands up so I’ve got that full swing of my arms and from that height it’s then about bat speed to give me the distance.
Tips For Bowling At The Death
Put your hand up…
You’ve got to enjoy being in that situation and there are a lot of bowlers around the world who love doing it. Someone like Alfonso Thomas at Somerset takes control of everything he’s doing. He backs himself. As soon as you don’t want it and don’t commit, that’s when you get into trouble.
Nail the yorker…
Option No.1 is always going to be the yorker. If you’re getting that in then you’re going to get the batsman doing something different and make them go to their Plan B or C, whether that’s flipping it or moving around the crease.
Get a grip…
If the ball’s reversing I’ll try and hold it seam up for the yorker. If it’s not I like to angle the seam in a little bit as it helps me feel like I’m pushing the ball into the batter’s toes.
Mix it up…
Nowadays batsmen like the Eoin Morgans of this world are so good at playing these flip shots you might have to go to your slower ball or slower ball bouncer. That’s where analysis comes in and you’ve got to pick what to do to each batter.
Slow it down…
The slower ball bouncer comes in useful. It’s natural instinct that as soon as a batsman sees it’s short to get their hands up ready to pull it because it’s coming at their face. It’s so hard to stop once you’ve committed to the shot and then hit it hard again; your hands have already gone up and you end up patting it. People say ‘Why don’t you just reload and go again?’ but it’s not slow enough to be able to go back and go again.
Best to avoid…
Most batters now are so trained in Twenty20 that anything length or that little bit fuller will get smacked out of the park. Length generally goes the distance.