When you are a child, and you head to cricket practice for the first time, you will be taught how to hold a cricket bat properly. This is one of the very basics of cricketing knowledge.
There is a recognised “correct” way to hold a cricket bat. But rules are there to be broken. Some big-name cricketers actually grip the bat in a way that wouldn’t necessarily be deemed right by a cricket coach. There aren’t any rules about how you old the bat, particularly, but hundreds of years of evidence tells us that most people find that there is one method that gives you the most control.
Why Bat Grip Matters?
There are many reasons why you need to pay attention to your grip. It’s important to use the same grip each time, and one that feels comfortable and natural for you.
The way you grip the bat forms a huge part of your batting technique and method. A grip can impact on which your strongest shots are, and whether or not you can react in time to play your shot.
Once you start using a certain type of grip, it can be incredibly tough to change. This sort of thing plays a huge role in defining your style as a cricketer.
The Traditional Bat Grip
If you are wondering how to hold a bat properly in cricket then there is a grip that is taught as being the right way, the “V” grip. It’s recognised by the ECB.
It’s called this because of the fact that the fingers and thumb form a V as they wrap around the handle. As both hands should wrap around the bat, they should form two V-shapes, one above the other. Your strong hand should go closest to the back of the blade.
These should also line up in the centre of splice and handle, and the leading edge of your bat.
Something a lot of cricket coaches tell people is to pick up the bat as if you were picking up an axe. You won’t go far wrong.
It helps if you have someone to show you how to hold the bat. The next best thing is to pick up the bat in a way that feels natural to you.
The two V-shapes of your index finger and thumb should line up to give you the most control. Your strong “leading” hand gives you more power.
Closed Face Grips
Not many batsmen choose to have a naturally closed-face grip. It focuses more on the bottom hand. Ordinarily, the bottom hand would be left a bit more flexible and loose to allow a lot of movement and rotation. This grip is tighter on the bottom hand.
The face naturally “closes” and it is very, very hard to bat towards the off side. Batters with this technique tend to play off their pads a lot.
This grip often comes from an overcompensation, but if it is what you get used to then it is not necessarily harmful, even though it can limit your repertoire of shots.
Graeme Smith is an example of someone who used this grip to great effect.
Open Face Grips
The open face grip is a simple approach. It just means you should rotate the bat as the bowler approaches, showing more of the face of the bat towards the off side.
This is a pretty simple adjustment. You don’t really change the grip, though you might hold the bat a bit higher, trying to access more of the field.
This is the sort of grip you might see as Jos Buttler or Chris Gayle approach the closing overs of a T20. It prepares for the big hits of a 360 player, but it can be a risky approach. It doesn’t lend itself to defensive shots.
The Don Bradman Grip
Bradman was more or less one of a kind. For that reason, we don’t really recommend trying to replicate his grip.
Maybe there’s something to be said for the unorthodox technique he used. He did average almost 100!
However, it seems to take that something extra to be able to pull this technique off.
You should follow the steps for the traditional V-grip, but then rotate your bottom hand. It goes under the bat handle. The outside of the fingers is inline with the bat face.
This grip will leave the bat facing towards roughly second slip. If you watch Bradman’s batting technique in the rare footage that exists, you may see that it looks incredibly rounded and involves a lot of rotation of the arms.
How High Up to Grip The Bat?
This is another question you need to answer when you’re looking to grip a cricket bat properly.
Luckily, the answer is pretty simple: Whatever comes naturally.
Some batters hold the bat higher up, with the theory that it gives a bit more leverage to play huge shots. Some hold closer to the face thinking this provides them with more control. The truth is that there isn’t a lot of evidence for any of this, and batters have been successful holding higher up or lower down on the bat.
Don’t overthink this. Hold the bat in the way that comes naturally to you.
The ECB recommended grip is a great place to start. However, there are so many different variants of how people approach cricket and their technique, and it is one of those sports that allows for the odd outlier. The greatest batsmen are often those who stray a little from the norm.
The lesson? While it is a good idea to get a grounding in the traditional techniques, cricket can allow you a bit of space to do what feels right for you as you develop your own style.