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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Explained: Why does Jos Buttler crouch low against the spinners?

The Englishman is not the only batsman who does it. South African AB de Villiers too has employed this tactic.

Written by Sriram Veera , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
April 30, 2021 10:38:10 am
Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals plays a shot during a match of the Indian Premier League between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, in New Delhi, Thursday, April 29, 2021. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for IPL)

What’s Joe Buttler’s set up at crease to spinners?

He crouches, bends his knees that much more as if he is doing squats. He then springs up as the knee unflexes and he uncoils into a blur of violence.

During his breezy 41 against Mumbai Indians, Jos Buttler smashed three sixes and a four against the spinners Jayant Yadav and Rahul Chahar – all powered by his crouch-low at stance while waiting for the spinner to release. The commentator Nick Knight brought it up and suggested that it allows Buttler to unfurl his sweeps – slog, reverse, and conventional and pulls. Knight also pointed out that Buttler doesn’t do it against pacers; that he only crouches for the spinners.

Is he unique in doing it?

No, a few others like AB de Villiers too do it to spinners. The reason isn’t solely to stay low for sweeps of all kinds but primarily it allows batsmen to play the ball late. de Villiers explained the rationale thus: “I get low because I feel I am forced to play late when I do that. When I am upright, I feel I am not able to do that,” he told T20stars.com. “When I am low, I feel I know if I am early on this one (ball). Head is nice and down, and still, and you sort of delay the power-force as long as possible. The lower I am against spin, I feel I play it late.”

By staying close to the trajectory of the ball, relatively speaking, the batsmen are also able to determine the length better. “I feel I can sense the length better. I am definitely lower than how I am on against seam,” de Villiers said.

How does staying low help in sensing the length?

Sunil Gavaskar had explained it to this newspaper. “Just like a great wicketkeeper who gets up with the bounce, a batsman, if he crouches just a little bit – not too low – where his head is more in line with the delivery angle, he would get to know which one to play. How far to go forward or is it better to go on the backfoot. Standing upright does not give that advantage.” Gavaskar was talking about how it helps batsmen when batting on rank turners. These days, some batsmen use it to be more aggressive against spinners on normal tracks.

How did Buttler use it against Mumbai?

The offspinner Jayant Yadav went around the stumps and slanted it across him. Once, he caught on to the plan, Buttler stopped trying to step down the track to Yadav. He had tried it once and nearly miscued it to backward point. Instead, he stayed low at the crease and flexed his knee to pump short-of-length skidding anglers to the deep midwicket boundary. It wasn’t all that short but by staying still and low, he was able to pull it effectively.

Does it also help one move better?

According to de Villiers, it certainly does. “I also feel very mobile on my feet,” he had said about the effect of staying low. It’s like the knee flex that many batsmen do these days. It helps them to spring up and about. For some, it helps not only in sensing the length but gets him down the track quickly. However, as seen in Buttler’s dismissal it doesn’t always work. He was out stumped off the legspinner Rahul Chahar.

But it wasn’t due to his low stance but because it was a real gem from Chahar. Buttler had not rushed out before release, he had just taken the forward press when the ball left Chahar’s hands. But as Buttler came down, he saw the ball drift and land outside leg stump. He tried to adjust by side-stepping to the legside but by then the ball had gripped and spun past him.

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