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It’s an attacking shot that can be very rewarding to the batter when it is played correctly. In this guide I’m going to take a closer look at the pull shot and how it’s played.
What is the Pull Shot in Cricket?
The Pull Shot is an attacking stroke played to a delivery which pitches on a short length. The ball will tend to get up at around waist height or up to shoulder height at the point where the batter strikes it.
The batter plays a horizontal shot from the off to the leg side with the objective of hitting the ball through that leg side region.
How to Play the Pull Shot?
It’s possible to premeditate the pull shot. If a batter is expecting the short ball, then you may see them sit deep back in their crease. However, if you are just starting out in the game, you will have to play it from your regular stance.
Get into your stance and remember all the key points such as balance and even weight distribution that I’ve covered elsewhere.
If the bowler pitches short and the ball looks ready to pull, push backwards off your front foot. Your body will now move backwards towards the stumps. Your feet will naturally be close together and, depending on the height of the delivery, you may be on the tips of your toes.
This is the optimum position from which you can move on and execute the stroke.
Remember to keep your head still and your eye on the ball. Your left shoulder should now fall down towards the leg side. The right shoulder should now move round to take its place. This type of rotation naturally produces a kind of swivel motion in the chest.
Those are the steps for a right hander. If you are left handed then the right shoulder collapses and the left one moves round.
The bat will now be horizontal with the face pointing towards the leg side. Now bring that bat through the ball in a horizontal, sweeping motion. The weight transfer should help to add power as the bat connects with the ball.
Hopefully, if you have executed this process correctly, you will now see the ball disappear towards the boundary on the leg side.
Greatest Pull Shot Players
It’s no coincidence that the best players of the pull shot are among the most attacking batters of all time. India’s Rohit Sharma is a man who fits the category perfectly and the stats tell us that the pull shot is one of his absolute favourites.
In fact, since 2018, it’s shown that around 18% of his overall runs come in this fashion. That’s a staggering number with almost one in every five Rohit runs coming via the pull.
The man who holds the records for the highest individual scores in test and first class cricket really used to like the pull shot. A left hander, Brian Lara could swivel on one leg and pull the bat down quickly and in a downward motion to ensure that the ball stayed on the ground.
It wasn’t a conventional pull shot in the true textbook sense, but it was certainly effective and it brought Lara a lot of runs in this region.
Former Indian captain Virat Kohli will probably be remembered more for his shots off the front foot. However, he’s definitely worth a mention in this section as the short balls were once a weakness in his game.
Kohli worked hard to develop the pull shot to the point where it is now one of his strengths. Keeping the ball on the ground is the key to his success with the pull.
The best batter of the modern era, Sachin Tendulkar was short in stature and that allowed him to pick up length extremely well. The pull shot was a particular strength and he could play it in areas where taller players may have struggled.
Of course, Tendulkar had a great all-round game, but the pull shot was definitely a strong part of it.
Sir Donald Bradman
The greatest batsman of all time, it was once perceived that Don Bradman was susceptible to the very short delivery. The Bodyline tour of 1932/33 saw the visiting English side pepper Bradman, and his teammates, with hostile, short pitched bowling.
England won that controversial series but Bradman remained effective at times, top scoring for Australia with 396 runs. Throughout his long test career, the pull shot was a very productive one and it contributed a significant percentage of the Don’s aggregate first class total.
For many, Ricky Ponting was the best exponent of the pull shot in the history of the game. He was exceptionally good at picking up length very quickly and, if the bowler dropped even marginally short, he could expect to see the ball heading towards the square leg boundary.
Ponting was a powerful player who would attack whenever the opportunity was there and he scored thousands of career runs using this stroke.
Unlike many of the players on this list, Ben Stokes is a very tall man. He’s a good judge of length and it’s difficult for opposition bowlers to find the perfect short length. He can play the pull exceptionally well and the power that he has means that the ball can often disappear over the boundary for six.
Since 2015, the statistics show that Stokes scores more than 13% of his runs while using the pull shot. That’s quite a significant figure where you consider how many strokes there are in the game, and it also underlines how productive the pull shot can be when you get it right.
Eoin Morgan has just announced his retirement from international cricket, but he will always be remembered as the man who led England to their first ever 50-Over World Cup trophy. Morgan played shots all around the field, but he was very strong on the leg side.
In terms of the pull shot, he liked to stay deep in his crease so he had more time to play the ball and he could play it to a fuller length than other batters. His run tally may have dropped at the end of his career, but Morgan was an effective hitter as well as a successful skipper.
Australia’s David Warner is a brutal hitter in all forms of the game and one of his most effective shots is the pull. Like Eoin Morgan, Warner is a left hander and this can be a particularly difficult shot to play to right arm bowlers who are delivering from over the wicket.
The angle here makes things tricky but it’s not a great problem for Warner who is estimated to score around 14% of his total runs with the pull. He’s a powerful man and exactly the type of player to be suited to an attacking shot of this kind.
What is the Difference Between a Pull Shot and a Hook Shot?
There are certain similarities between the pull shot and the hook shot so what is the key difference?
The two shots vary based on height. The pull shot tends to be played at waist height with the object of keeping the ball on the ground.
In contrast, the hook shot would be played to shorter deliveries that arrive in the batter’s arc between chest and head height. The ball is most likely to travel in the air so it’s important to play it into space or to hit with enough power to take it over the boundary.
The pull shot is tricky to perfect but it can be productive. It’s a valuable stroke when played correctly and the objective is to strike the ball towards the boundary ropes. It’s certainly no coincidence that the most attacking players in cricket can all play the pull shot well.
If you want to use the pull shot in your game, the best approach is to get into the nets and follow those step by step instructions.