Coaching Corner 7 - Defensive Back Stroke

This shot is played to a delivery just short of a length which pitches on the stumps or just outside the off-stump.  It is an essential shot against the faster bowlers especially.

Main points:

  • From a stable stance and backswing, take the back foot back and across, making sure that the toe of the right foot is pointing towards point.  In other words, make sure that the back foot is parallel to the crease.
  • Take the back foot as far back as possible, depending on the speed of the delivery, to give yourself more time to play the ball.
  • The front foot also moves back, but the weight is on the ball of the back foot.
  • The head remains forward in line with the ball, and the body stays sideways on.
  • Keep the left elbow high, with the left hand in control to bring the bat face down the line of the ball.
  • The grip of the bottom hand on the bat is lighter, just using the thumb and forefinger, with the elbow tucked in to the side.
  • Make contact with ball under the eyes, playing the ball gently with the bat angled to keep the ball down – no follow-through!


Take the back foot back to just inside the line of the ball.

Bring the front back and play the ball with an angled bat under the eyes.

Side view.

Side view.


Common faults

  • Failing to keep the back foot parallel with the crease.  This results in the right shoulder being turned round so that the batsman is chest-on to the bowler.  The sideways-on position is lost, with the bat consequently coming down from an angle (from the direction of the slips).  Playing across the line like this means that you are more likely to miss the ball, or edge it.
  • Not moving the back foot across enough if the ball is on the off-stump or just outside it.  Playing the ball away from the body makes it impossible to keep the bat vertical and control the shot.
  • Gripping the bat too tightly with the bottom hand and pushing too hard at the ball, so that it goes in the air.
  • Not going back, but simply transferring the weight.  This gives you less time to play the ball.
  • Not getting the left elbow high enough, especially when the ball is bouncing.  The left elbow should be bent to about a right angle.
  • Pulling the head back rather than making contact with the ball under the eyes.  Again, this will lead to the ball being hit up rather than down.


  • Be quick on your feet!  Get back quickly and make sure that the back leg is balanced on the ball of the foot.  Be a Billy Elliot!