Perhaps considered to be one the most majestic strokes in the history of the game, the pull shot is an elegant swing of the bat which is played generally off the back foot. The pull shot, during the 1960s and ’70s, was essentially considered to be an unorthodox shot, played by the likes of the great Sir Donald Bradman and a few others on the rarest of occasions. In recent times, however, it has become a symbol of power and aggression where batsman tend to use it to score runs through the leg-side. So, how do you rate Ricky Ponting Pull Shot?
Amongst the list of modern-day batsmen, Ricky Ponting is widely regarded as one of the best pullers of the game. Ponting, who is now the coach of the Australian men’s cricket team, was once a prodigy as well as the pioneer of executing the pull shot in a masterful manner. His obsession with the pull shot, combined with his aggression within the game, made him a force to be reckoned with and become trademark Ricky Ponting Pull Shot.
In this article, we aim to analyse the pull shot in an attempt to decode the batting technique which can help the current batch of youngsters in understanding how to improvise the perfect pull shot like Ricky Ponting.
1. Back Foot Control
The pull shot is generally played when a pace bowler attempts to bowl a short ball. The first foremost rule of executing a pull shot is to set up a proper back foot stance. There have been occasions when batsman have successfully attempted the pull shot with the front foot stance as well, however, this exponentially increases the risk of the ball getting a top edge thereby leading to an easy catch by the nearest fielder. Thus, in order to appropriately attempt a Ricky Ponting Pull Shot, the batsman must be able to judge the length of the ball effectively before getting the feet back and across.
2. Head Position
Once the stance has been set up, it is extremely important to maintain eye contact with the ball by keeping the neck straight. The pull shot is naturally executed on a short bowl that lands anywhere above the waistline of the batsman, including the head. Thus, it is essential to judge the speed and the length of the bowl which can only be done by keeping the eyes level and still. This step is particularly important for youngsters who aspire to play test cricket. Since the red ball is comparatively harder, as well as heavier than the white ball, the chances of incurring serious injuries are extremely high in case the batsman fails to interpret the delivery and hit the ball.
3. Arm Positioning and Shot Timing
Next, we move on towards the actual execution of the shot. Ricky Ponting’s was particularly renowned for his pull shot because of his strong arm positioning when executing the stroke, especially against fast bowlers. Ponting, whilst answering a question on twitter, stated
“when I’m coaching people how to play a good pull shot, I always tell them to hit the ball as early as they can with fully extended arms and to practice hitting it hard every single time”.
Thus, for a batsman, it is necessary to lift up the bat above the height of the ball after taking the back foot stance. If the bat tends to remain below the height, it will most likely cause the batsman to top edge the ball, thereby leading to an easy dismissal for the bowler.
At the same time, the arms should be kept firm and straight directly perpendicular to the line of sight. The positioning of the arms directly comes into the limelight when the bat makes contact with the ball. A straight arm position allows the batsman to swing the bat in a relatively quick manner, allowing him to take on the ball early on after the delivery. This straight arm position also generates momentum for the batsman who can fiercely swing without losing balance in the wrists. Once the momentous bat makes contact with the ball in such a position, the bowler is sure to get hit for a boundary at the very least, assuming he hits it in the gap!
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Despite of his legendary stature today, even Ricky Ponting was once considered a beginner at playing the iconic pull shot. No amount of theory can account for the effort and hard work an individual can put in the nets. The best way to comprehensively learn this technique is to keep on attempting to play it until the batsman can judge and control the shot through muscle memory. Practicing the shot can require an additional player whose job would be to toss short balls at the batsman as he tries to hit it over and over again.
Overall, playing a pull shot like Ricky Ponting requires both physical and mental fitness. One must have compassion as well as the skills in order to improvise this masterful stroke. So, to all the young aspirants out there, good luck!
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Recommended Reading for Ricky Ponting Fans
Ashes Diary 2009: Written by Ricky Ponting, 2009 Edition, Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia [Diary]