Hitting big and staying composed with England Women batting all-rounder Nat Sciver, creator of the ‘Natmeg’.
Here are her six fundamentals of batting when the pressure’s on – plus how she developed her signature shot.
1. Give yourself time
At the death, there’s not much time to play with. But there’s always a couple of balls that belong to you, that you can hit under your eyes, to make sure you’re playing straight and getting a good contact on the ball. Then, once you’re set, you’re away.
2. Keep your head down
If I want to go big I can’t just let my body take over. When you’re looking to hit the ball in the air, it’s a natural feeling to fling your head back and try to hit it as hard as you can, but you don’t need to. That’s when you lose shape. I find if I try too hard it’ll go less well. Ali Maiden, my coach, usually says to me to swing at 80 per cent.
3. Finish the shot
I’ve been working on finishing off my shots. Trying to make sure I maintain my shape and I don’t ‘come out’ of the shot too early. I have a tendency to ‘hit and run’, because running between the wickets is a strength of mine and I’m always looking to sprint to the other end. But the drawback of that is that I don’t always complete the shot. So if I’m going big, I need to stay with the shot and not get ahead of myself. That way I should time it better.
4. Be prepared to premeditate
Bowlers are getting better. They have more options. It’s rare to get a rank bad ball that you can easily hit for six. So you’ve got to think on your feet. When the rate’s getting up to 10 runs an over, you’ve got to take risks. Avoid recklessness, but take on risk.
Being an all-rounder can be useful when you’re batting, because you can look around at the field and get a good sense what they’re going to bowl. You’re out there batting at the time but you’re also thinking from a bowling perspective. There’s guesswork involved. I often change my position on the crease. If a bowler is bowling wide of off-stump I’m going back and across and trying to play to my strengths, which are hitting straight and through the leg-side. But then, if you get a half-volley outside off-stump, I’m laying into that too!
6. Stay calm
Every batter has their basic drills. Words and actions to bring them back to zero, back to centre. Don’t get ahead of yourself if the rate starts to climb. You can always pull it back in the last few overs.
Creating the Natmeg
It came about because I was bowled a yorker in the nets. I fell over to the off-side, as my head sometimes makes me do, and I had to play the ball somehow or else I’d get out! I managed to angle the bat to send the ball between my legs. That was basically how the shot was born – out of necessity.
I didn’t think much of it. I saw it as a get-out-of-jail shot really. But then I played it accidentally in the World Cup – the shot only went for two – and suddenly it went viral.
It’s best to play the shot when it’s a delivery at yorker length, directed around about your heel. I’m quite tall and my batting stance helps to aid the shot because my feet are quite wide apart, so there’s a big space between my legs for the ball to travel between.
I tend to play it if I’ve gone leg-side to try and open up the off-side and the bowler spears it in to my pads. As long as I play it when the line is right, when there’s no chance of me getting bowled or lbw, then my coach is happy.