What’s the best shot you have seen?
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…