You might have seen all the batters take some time before they face the first ball. But, do you know why? What are their finger signals and adjustments on the pitch? The batters are taking their guard. Let’s discuss what it means and why they need the guard.
The guard is the spot on the pitch where a batter takes the stance to hit the ball. The umpire helps them to adjust the stance correctly. The three common guards are, leg, middle and leg-middle. Almost all the batters use their shoe spikes and bat to mark their guard. You might think that it’s a small factor to consider. However, the guard can make the difference between staying on the ground and going back to the pavilion.
What is taking guard in cricket?
The batters need a batting stance at the crease, especially before facing the first delivery of the inning. Some batters take the guard after a break or any time in between the overs. The guard is a very important aspect of the game because it aligns your head and body position which helps you to understand the line of the incoming ball. Hence, you can easily decide whether to play or leave it.
Why is it necessary to take guard in cricket?
Batters do not hit all the deliveries for boundaries. They also focus on leaving the balls. Generally, they leave off stump deliveries because these balls might not produce runs. Instead, they can lead to dismissals. Hence, knowing the off stump’s position is necessary, and taking guard is crucial when the batter is on-strike.
The batters get respect not only for scoring runs but also for leaving the wicket-taking deliveries. It’s the reason why a batter stands in the same position during the practice sessions so that they can remember their stance.
Taking a guard helps the batters to forget about stumps and focus on the incoming. Hence, they can either play the deliveries for runs or leave wicket-taking balls. Some of the batters also change their stance as per the bowling attack.
Which batting guard should you take?
The guard determines your position in the crease and helps you to bat well. The stance depends upon your batting style. For the right-handed batters, the right eye must be in line with the off stump. Similarly, the left eye should be above the off stump.
Taking the guard depends upon your personal preferences. However, as a newcomer, you should pick your guard depending upon your height. Most players take the middle stump, but you can go for leg or middle and leg stump if you are taller than average batters.
Middle stump guard: Take the middle stump guard if you are in confusion. The middle stump guard keeps your bat in the middle, which keeps your right eye in line with the off stump. Ask the umpire to assist you to take the middle or center guard as you step onto the crease.
Advantages of middle stump guard
You can cover both leg and middle stumps, which helps you to deal with all the deliveries towards these two stumps.
play the leg shots more competently.
Perfect for newcomers who want to learn batting tricks.
Disadvantages of middle stump guard
Chances of LBW are higher because your legs cover two wickets.
Leg stump guard: Also known as one leg or one, the leg stump guard keeps your right eye in line with the off stump. Try this guard if you are a tall batter.
Advantages of leg stump guard
Help you to judge the outside off-stump deliveries.
Chances of LBW of low because you can focus on the leg side
Disadvantages of leg stump guard
You can edge the balls outside the off-stump if not careful.
Middle and leg stump guard (two legs)
Do not get confused with the name, the middle and leg stump guards are not separate. It’s located at the center of the middle and leg stump. This guard is also referred to as two legs and a lot of batters says two to use this guard. Taking this guard is your personal preference. However, it’s better for tall batters, so that they can keep their eye above the off stump.
Advantages of middle and leg stump guard
Suitable if you are a tall batter.
A combination of two guards, middle and leg. Hence, it helps you play deliveries on both sides.
Disadvantages of middle and leg stump guard
Chances of LBW are moderate
, be careful.
How to take guard? / How to ask the umpire about your guard?
Where do you need the guard? You should know it before you step up on the pitch. The umpires can help you adjust your positions but they cannot decide anything on your behalf. So, you have to show your stance to the umpire.
Step 1: Start with the leg stump guard: Stand near the leg stump or a bit of its outside and keep the bat upright at the spot where you need the guard. Keep the bat’s face towards the off-side boundary, so that the umpire can see only its side part.
Step 2: Indicate the required guard to the umpire: Signal the umpire about your guard. We have discussed all three guards, which helps you to pick the right one. Adjust your stance as per the umpire’s guidance to get the desired position.
Step 3: Mark your guard: Once you have the right stance, mark it. Otherwise, you might have to consult the umpire repeatedly. You can mark the guard using your shoes or the bat’s toe. Some batters like Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies) used to mark his guard using bails. Change the guard if you do not find it comfortable.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Why do batters scratch the pitch?
The umpire helps the batter to mark the guard. However, the former cannot do the same before every delivery. Such repeated incidents will eventually slow down the game. It’s why the batter scratches the pitch to mark the guard.
The studs on the batter’s shoes make a temporary scratch on the pitch, which helps the batters to maintain their stance. The guard marks might go away after a few overs. So, the batters are allowed to scratch the pitch again. The batter can check with the umpire for confirmation. However, the batter has to mark the guard within and outside the popping crease.
What are the different ways of taking the guard? Are there any rules or restrictions?
Most of the batters use their shoes to mark the guard. But, some of them also use bat and bail to mark it. The method varies according to the batter, but there are certain restrictions about taking guard. The batters cannot scratch their guards in the protected area. The protected area is a rectangle created around 5 feet away from the popping creases and two feet wide in the middle of the cricket pitch. Check the image for a better understanding.
Can the batters change their guard according to the bowler?
Yes, the batters change their guard according to the bowling. For instance, a right-handed batter moves the stance a bit towards the leg stump to deal with the left-arm fast pace. Some of the batters even open up their stance.
A lot of batters shift a bit towards the off-stump to tackle the bowlers who can spin the ball into the off-stump. Similarly, they move their guard towards the leg side to deal with spin-bowlers who can trick them around the legs.
We do not recommend you to change the guard repeatedly, especially if you are a beginner. Otherwise, you might forget or get confused about the position of the stump on the pitch, which could lead to a soft dismissal.
Can the batter’s guard affect the wide-ball decision?
The wide ball depends upon the batter’s position. A ball can be declared wide only if it’s unplayable, as per the umpire – from the batter’s original and movable positions. However, the umpires are strict about the wide ball around the leg stump. If you mark your guard outside the leg stump to force the bowler into the leg side, then move cheekily towards the off stump and miss a delivery, the umpire might call it a wide. So, try not to miss the ball when you play some tricks on the pitch.
Taking guard is a personal decision, and it varies according to the batters and their batting style. They also change it once or more than one time in their career. You might not notice as an audience, but the results differ once the batter changes the guard.
We recommend you choose a guard after trying all three stances in the nets. You will be able to find your stance shortly. Make your foundation strong, play in your style, and results will follow. Best of luck.
Mayank Chowdhary is a professional cricket player in domestic cricket in India. He is very passionate about cricket and knows ins and out of cricket betting. With this long experience, now he has decided to share his experience with other cricket lover like you. Know more at the about me page.