What’s the best shot you have seen?

The Cricket Paper - - COMMENT & VIEWS - Alex Narey @anarey_NLP

The look on Chris Woakes’ face said it all.With Eng­land’s at­tack on the wane and with In­dia chas­ing down their tar­get of 351 with rel­a­tive ease fol­low­ing an early wob­ble in the first ODI last Sun­day, there was a mo­ment of sub­lime skill that even the most ob­du­rate of purists would have ac­knowl­edged as bril­liant.

It came in the 33rd over and with the score on 233-4, when Woakes dropped a ball short of a length and ex­tracted some ex­tra bounce from an oth­er­wise docile Pune pitch. Twenty two yards away stood Vi­rat Kohli. At the re­lease point of the de­liv­ery, the In­dian cap­tain may have been look­ing to force a back­ward cut past gully, or sim­ply move across his stumps to tuck the ball away on the on-side for a sin­gle. His trig­ger move­ment sug­gested the lat­ter tac­tic would be em­ployed, but at the last mo­ment, and with the ball now al­most un­der­neath his eyes, Kohli drove his bat through the line.

With a lack of space to free his arms and with his el­bows tucked up, he re­lied on his bat speed – clocked at 117kph – and the power of his shoul­ders, to help him project the ball 79 me­tres and into the crowd. There was no mar­gin for er­ror in the shot’s ex­e­cu­tion, and so good was the tim­ing that any­thing less than per­fect may well have re­sulted in a vic­tory for the bowler and an un­com­fort­able and ugly-look­ing dis­missal for the bats­man.

I’ve seen some cricket shots in my time, but when one forces you to hit the sky re­mote’s rewind but­ton while you change a two-year old’s nappy, you know it must have been some­thing pretty spe­cial.

I am not re­ally one for the ‘ramps’ and the ‘scoops’ of this world be­cause I ac­tu­ally be­lieve they can be mas­tered by a rel­a­tive novice with the right amount of ded­i­ca­tion, and they are largely pre-med­i­tated any­way. But Kohli put Woakes over the rope al­most by in­stinct – per­haps see­ing that the War­wick­shire man had taken a frac­tion of pace off the ball with a cross-seam de­liv­ery.

It got me think­ing about other great shots that mere mor­tals could not play. Along with Kohli’s, there are two that stand out for me: one was a straight six by Carl Hooper at Head­in­g­ley against Eng­land in 1995. It made lit­tle dif­fer­ence that Peter Martin was the bowler (Martin was, in my opin­ion, a most un­der­rated seam op­er­a­tor) as Hooper ad­justed his feet late to hit a good length ball straight back over the bowler’s head. Un­like Kohli’s ef­fort, Hooper’s bat speed was min­i­mal. It was pure tim­ing.

As for the sec­ond, it was a pull shot played by Michael Vaughan dur­ing his 183 in the sec­ond in­nings of the fifth Ashes Test in Syd­ney, 2003. A sim­i­lar length de­liv­ery to that of Woakes’ to Kohli but from a much live­lier Ja­son Gille­spie,Vaughan, in im­pe­ri­ous form that se­ries, moved into the stock po­si­tion for de­fence be­fore whip­ping his hands across the ball: the re­sult was a one-bounce four that flew be­tween mid-wicket and mid-on. I could watch that shot time and time again.

So what are your per­sonal favourites? Send us your 1-2-3 and we’ll make a record of it.Who knows, there may be a fea­ture for us here…

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