@TheKingsTweets 3 minute read
From Sir Viv Richards’ swat to David Gower’s lazy waft, Alex Bowden lists the best and worst signature shots in Issue 19 of Wisden Cricket Monthly.
If you have a shot named after you, it’s fair to say it’s quite closely associated with you. So it is with the dilscoop, the borderline-unhinged ramp-over-your-own-head shot played by Sri Lankan batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Others may have pioneered it, but it was Dilshan who perfected the scoop, playing it against even the quickest of bowlers with a satisfying sense of symmetry that meant the ball tended to pass directly over the wicketkeeper’s head.
‘Watch the ball’ they say, but the dilscoop relied on Dilshan ducking his head down at the exact moment of contact so as not to deflect it directly into his own teeth. In an ICC video explaining how to play the shot, he explained that it shouldn’t be played to full deliveries because “that’s dangerous”. Danger is a relative concept, it would seem.
Viv Richards’ swat
Sir Viv’s signature shot was not really a pull and not really a drive. It was a swat. It didn’t seem to matter whether the ball was quick or slow, swinging or spinning, full, short, straight or outside off, Viv would larrup it through mid-wicket without any apparent danger of a mishit.
Richards’ off drive was a scything thing of beauty, but the swat was something else entirely. Played across the line, quite often to the bowler’s best delivery, it was the act of a man who’d heard about playing the percentages but didn’t feel that the laws of physics necessarily applied to him.
David Gower’s lazy drive
If we’re talking aesthetics then next to David Gower’s cover drive, Helen of Troy was nothing to write home about. Never mind ships, the left-hander’s off-side play could justifiably have launched a thousand fleets. Rarely can so much force have been exerted with so little apparent effort. The front foot would inch over, Gower’s weight would shift, the bat would whirr and the ball would hit the fence. There was a spot in that bat that was sweeter than pure sucrose.
David Gower’s lazy waft
The Gower waft was absolutely identical to the Gower drive but for the location of the ball. Viewed from the bowler’s end, it typically arrived at the bat three inches further to the right and from there detoured to slip instead of the boundary. Poetry in motion cannot overcome even the smallest typo and every now and again Gower’s timing would be awry. ‘Why did he play at that?’ they would ask. ‘Why didn’t he restrict himself to playing only at all of those identical deliveries that he was middling?’
Shane Watson’s air-shot to leg across his front pad
Shane Watson’s front leg was hard to ignore. For one thing, he jabbed it into the foreground every delivery he faced. For another, the ball kept hitting it.
But if you felt Shane Watson’s leg was unnecessarily conspicuous, spare a thought for Shane Watson’s bat, which had to take a circuitous route around it in its forlorn bid to make contact with the ball. Again and again it would swish in front. Again and again the umpire would raise his finger.
Signature shots can only become signature shots through repeat airings and in this instance Watson can at least partly blame himself. In the latter stages of his international career the lbw was generally followed by an invitation to watch the footage again while the third umpire confirmed that yes, that really was going to hit middle halfway up.
Chris Martin’s forward defensive down completely the wrong line
Chris Martin is famed as one of the purest No.11s there’s ever been. What’s remarkable about this is that his technique was fairly reasonable, as was his shot selection. Where Martin was truly exceptional was in his complete and eternal inability to get his bat anywhere near the path of the ball.
First published in Issue 19 of Wisden Cricket Monthly.