Have you ever wondered why players take so long to face their first ball? They use their fingers to indicate something to the umpires, after which they modify their position. Do they simply waste time?
The quick explanation is that they are actually marking their guard or taking a guard. What does that entail, though, and why should cricket players be on guard?
In order to modify their stance when batting, cricketers take guard to mark where on the popping crease they are in relation to the stumps. Typically, an umpire will assist a batter in taking guard. Leg, middle, and leg-middle are the standard guard positions. Using the spikes on the shoe is a simple way to mark the guard.
In cricket, taking guard enables the batter to precisely locate his stumps, which boosts confidence while batting! Even though this is one of cricket’s most basic elements, not much is stated or written about it. And as a result, not much is known about it.
What is “taking guard” in cricket?
In cricket, taking guard refers to the process by which a batter normally determines his position in the batting crease prior to getting ready to play the first ball. However, some athletes let their guard down after a break or sporadically at any moment during the game.
One of the most crucial aspects of batting is taking guard, particularly before a batter starts their innings. This is because taking guard gives them a sense of their body and head position at the crease, which is essential for judging the line of the incoming delivery and, in turn, for deciding which balls should be played at or left alone.
Why is taking guard in cricket necessary?
In addition to hitting the ball in the nets, batters also focus on leaving deliveries that might not result in any runs but could result in a dismissal. The majority of these births occur around the stump. Cricket players must be careful because understanding the location of the off stump is crucial when batting.
Particularly in Test cricket, a batter who is equally adept at leaving the ball is regarded highly. Because of this, batters insist on maintaining the same posture throughout practice in order to imprint the location of the off stump in their minds.
A batter is simply attempting to get into the exact same position so that the off stump is precisely where the mind’s eye believes it to be when he or she asks the umpire for a guard during a game. The batter might then put the stumps aside and focus solely on the incoming delivery, making an instant decision as to whether to play it or leave it.
Some batters choose to alter their guard depending on the bowler’s style; in this case, a guard should be taken as and when necessary.
How should a cricket guard be handled? How can you request a guard from the umpire?
Knowing where you want the guard to be placed in advance is the key to taking one. Although the umpire is not there to make your decision for you, they can assist you in adjusting your position. Therefore, one of the most crucial things you must do as a batter is to let the umpire know what kind of guard you intend to take.
Let’s go over the straightforward procedures to adhere to when taking the guard:
Step 1: Start with the leg stump guard
Don’t approach the batting end quite yet. Keep the bat upright where you want to mark the guard. Then stand close to or a little outside the leg stump. To ensure that the umpire can only see the side of your bat, maintain your bat’s face toward the boundary on the off side.
Step 2: Tell the umpire that a guard is necessary.
The next step is to indicate to the umpire the type of protection you choose. These guards often come in the form of a leg stump, a middle stump, or a middle-and-leg stump.
As the umpire advises, adjust your position until you are in the desired position. Then properly mark the guard. Typically, players mark a guard by using shoe spikes, stump nails, etc., to scrape the proper area close to the popping crease.
Step 3: Draw attention to the popping crease.
To avoid the need to repeatedly ask for the right placement of the stumps on your crease, it is crucial to mark the guard after taking it.
You can mark the guard on the popping crease by scraping the surface with the toe of the bat or the toes of the shoes. Some cricketers, including the West Indies Shivnarine Chanderpaul, had a special technique for using the bails to mark the guard!
What kinds of guards are there, and how do you request them?
Although there is nothing to restrict batters from taking strange and unusual guards, there are primarily three sorts of guards in cricket. There are extremely few instances where batsmen like Steven Smith or Shivnarine Chanderpaul take unconventional guards.
Let’s look at the three primary categories of guards and how to request each one.
1. Leg stump guard, signaled with one finger
To take a leg-stump guard, gesture with the number one with your finger or yell out “leg stump” to the umpire. Usually, the batters who play mostly off side adopt this precaution.
2. Middle stump defense
Batters who desire middle stump protection should call out “middle stump” or simply “center” for the umpire to comprehend.
Playing in the ‘V’ formation in front of the wicket on both sides becomes simpler with the middle-stump guard. However, you might end up avoiding the pads, which raises the possibility of an LBW expulsion.
3. Middle-and-leg stump (a two-finger call or signal)
Calling it out or making two fingers signal are both acceptable ways to request a middle-and-leg stump guard. The guard is located immediately between the center and the leg stump, as the name implies.
Choose this guard when you don’t want to commit entirely to the leg stump but still want to have the stance that will let you play in the “V” and off-side.
Do batters change their guards depending on the bowler?
In cricket, the batters do indeed alter their guard in response to the bowler. When a left-arm fast bowler approaches the wicket from behind, it has been noticed that right-handed players either shift their guard slightly toward the leg stump or slightly widen their stance.
Additionally, the batters might move their guard slightly to the leg side to counter spinners who try to spin them out around the legs. Or to stop the spinners who spin the ball into the off-stump from having contact outside the off-stump.
However, it’s best to avoid making too many changes to the batting guard because doing so could make it difficult for a batter to determine where the stumps are, which is crucial.
It’s crucial to have a lot of batting equipment if you want to be a top batter, so figuring out which guard is perfect for you is a pretty fantastic idea.
As time goes on, there’s a strong chance that you’ll modify your batting technique and style. And you might decide that when you hit a slump in your game, it’s a good idea to switch up how you take your guard.
A middle stump or a middle and leg guard is unquestionably something to take into consideration for novices. But you can adjust this based on your height, your own preferences, and whatever feels comfortable.
Read Next: What is the Weight of a Cricket Bat?