Fawad Alam and his selection has remained a controversial topic in Pakistan’s world of cricket for more than a decade, and ever since his resurrection in international test cricket, his batting style has further fueled debates surrounding his existence as a cricketer. Whether its fans, professional cricketers, or commentators, the Fawad Alam batting technique is always acknowledged and challenged. Its too dramatic to be ignored or unseen.
But we have seen it plenty now, especially during Pakistan’s recent tour of New Zealand. We have seen him get out under 10, and score a century against Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Kyle Jamieson.
Fawad Alam is not the first to adopt the front-on batting stance. We have also seen the great Shivnarine Chanderpaul become one of the most iconic batsmen of all time, not just because of his stance, but also his stats and match winning knocks.
So what makes Fawad Alam’s batting technique work?
Advantages of the Fawad Alam Batting Style
A display of great mental strength
At some point in his life, like we all have, he decided to experiment with Chanderpaul’s batting technique. While the rest of us did it for jokes and abandoned it, he embraced it realized its benefits. He obviously did his research. Realistically, if Fawad’s batting stance was detrimental to his shot making, he would not have played international cricket at all.
To adopt an unorthodox style of playing despite all the criticism one gets from fellow teammates, coaches, and fans is a demonstration of their strong belief in something. To copy another cricketer’s unorthodox batting style further shows the strength of that belief. So, even if this technique does negatively impact Fawad Alam’s batting, the sheer mental strength alone makes him threatening at the crease.
There is also the peculiar ritual of stepping away from the pitch and resetting before facing each delivery. While there may be no added benefits of this in terms of shot selection, power, and timing, it shows tremendous discipline and consistency of doing the exact same thing over and over again.
Gets into an open position with momentum
Batting coaches always remind us to shuffle a few paces to get on top of the ball. This is also helps us with our bat lift, and generates momentum in our bat when swung from a higher potential energy point.
When he quickly moves from front-on to side-on as soon as the bowler enters his delivery stride, you will notice that his bat is up high, and his front foot is forward. However, he is not completely side-on at this point and his body is facing towards the covers. This opens up the field and allows him to drive through tight lines with more comfort.
At the same time if a bowler balls down leg side or middle and leg, he as already come so far across that he will always be inside the line of the ball ready to flick, pull or hook.
The large shuffle also gives him a floating position at the crease and allows him to adjust his feet quicker than if he were to move them from a stationary position.
Makes targeting difficult for bowlers
Bowlers tend to work with targets. Whether its a spot on the pitch that they aim for, or towards a certain area of the batsmen. Naturally, when bowling bouncers, you would aim for the batsman’s head. Similarly, if you want to constrain their shot options, you would aim for their pads. When the batsman stands far outside leg stump and makes a large lateral movement, their head and pads are no longer in the area you were looking at during your run up. A bowler will have to make very late adjustments to account for a batsman moving so drastically at the crease.
Rather than waiting for the ball to come at you, Fawad Alam’s batting technique creates the illusion of him coming at the bowler. This is unusual for any bowler and can induce pressure on them. With great pressure comes great mistakes.
Reduces chances of LBW
To start with, his whole body is already so far outside the line of the stumps that even if he does nothing and gets hit in the pads, impact would be outside the line.
After the large shuffle and coming across the stumps, his front leg is outside the line of the stumps. This goes back to the point of a semi-side-on position discussed earlier. Against lefties or those coming from around the wicket, anything hitting his front pad will be going down leg side. For him to get hit on the back pad would require getting beaten by an unrealistic amount of pace. Against righties coming over the wicket, for him to get hit on the front pad means the ball pitched outside the line on his leg side. LBW gets eliminated here which is a very smart defensive feature of the Fawad Alam batting technique.
Fawad Alam or Chanderpaul
This should really be called the Chanderpaul batting style, but because Fawad Alam is in the spotlight these days, we shall see how he utilizes it and makes it a part of his identity, success, and legacy.
Watch some defensive batting practice at the nets.
Watch some aggressive batting practice at the nets.