Batting is all about having a still head, decent foot work, keeping eye on the ball, getting on top of the bounce, execution of stroke and proper follow through. Doesn’t matter which era you are talking about, the basics of the batting always remain the same but there have been quite a few players who have broken this myth and have gone with their own innovative and fabricated style of batting. Among these players, few of them are the greats of the game and others are the one who could never develop solid batting technique. Some of them were brilliant with their unorthodox nature and some were way too awkward. Some were pinch hitters and some were defensive walls.
1. Shivnarine Chanderpaul
One of the greats of the Caribbean with over 11000 runs in tests and eight thousand plus runs in Odi cricket has one of the most uncharacteristic batting stances of all time. With all three stumps exposed to the bowler before the delivery and then cunningly walking across the stumps to cover them up and executing the stroke to perfection makes him a unique batsman. It looked quite ironic that a batsman with so much advance movements could still keep his eye on the ball. Surely he will be remembered as one of the West Indian greats.
2. Ab de Villiers
He is Mr. 360 degrees, yes Mr. AB de Villiers. This man has absolutely changed the definition of innovation and improvisation. It is said that laws of physics and gravity become irrelevant when this man is at the crease. He is a man who can play the ball outside the leg stump towards third man and ca very easily deposit a ball outside the off stump or rather on 5th stump over fine leg for a maximum.
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He has mesmerized the entire cricketing world with his stunning batting and that too at a strike rate of 100 and average of 50 plus. He is blessed with impeccable timing, impressive hand and eye coordination, swift feet movement and above all the uncanny ability to change his shot at the last second. His prodigious impact he in the world cricket can be estimated by the fact that he holds the record of the fastest 100 in odi cricket in just 31 balls.
3. Shahid Afridi
The madness was redefined when this man stepped on the international scene in 1996. In only his 2nd one day international, he smashed the likes of Chaminda Vass, Muralidharan and Sanath Jaysuria all across the park in Nairobi and set the then world record of fastest 100 in 37 balls. To him it didn’t matter whether the score was 77-5 or 277-5. He only knew one way of batting and that was to hit the ball out of the park. In 2005, he scored 100 of just 45 balls against India in Kanpur and took the likes of Balaji, Kumble and Zaheer Khan to the cleaners. It was after that game that the commentators, media and fans started calling him “Boom Boom”.
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It was not just that he used to hit sixes rather he used to hit gigantic sixes. For him once Harsha Bhogle famously said in a game at Dhakka, “Push the boundaries in Chittagong at one end and Cox’s Bazar at the other end and that still would not be enough”. More often than not his unorthodoxy had costed his team the match but all this couldn’t stop him from going over the top right from the word go. He was an enigma from start till the end of his career. For him there was no such thing as getting used to the conditions and this makes him one the most unorthodox batsmen of all time.
4. Brian Lara
Arguably the most stylish, flamboyant and charismatic batsman of all time, Brian Lara brought that elegant bat lift and trigger movement in to the play. This iconic batting giant from Trinidad reached the heights of popularity after scoring 375 against England in 1994, which was at that time highest individual score in an innings. However 10 years later, he scored 400 against the same opposition to regain his world record which was broken by Mathew Hayden in season 2003-04. This modern batting master could elegantly play the leg glance and was equally strong through the covers. He was swift in his movement against fast bowlers and was equally good in coming down the track against the spinners. All these traits make him an essential member of this list.
5. Kevin Pieterson
6 feet 3 inch tall flamboyant batsman from Surrey is again one of the icons of modern day cricket. It was in 2005 season when he made his debut and announced his arrival in no uncertain terms. He took on the likes of Brett Lee, McGrath and Shane Warne in the Ashses series of 2005 and hit towering sixes to become a hero of England. Talking about his unorthodox batting style, well as you would expect that the tall batsman are a completely different package in terms of technique in comparison to the men of small height like Tendulkar and Ponting. He takes a long stride in to get to the pitch of the ball and occasionally he would stoop a great deal to play his shot. Then there is his flamingo shot with straight bat towards leg side. But apart from all this, nothing beats his audacious switch hit which gives the crowd their money’s worth.
6. MS Dhoni
He is known as captain cool due to his nature and temperament. But his batting is not as calm as his temperament. Coming from the Indian state of Jharkhand, MS Dhoni solidified his spot in the team as a wicket keeper batsman in 2005. He may not have a classic technique but he is mighty effective in his own style of batting. He is strongly built and gifted with tremendous power. He hits the ball hard and when he hits, it stays hit. The most unorthodox element of his batting is his helicopter shot which has become an eye catchy part of his batting.
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While executing the helicopter shot, his bat goes high behind his back and then he swings the bat with full force and after hitting the ball, the bat swing continues and in follow through the bat ends up on the other side of the shoulder and it is an absolute treat to watch. He averages over 50 in odi cricket which is a testament to his quality.
7. Glenn Maxwell
The Aussies are known for their bold and courageous attitude on the field and this characteristic is evident in the style of their play. One primary example is Glenn Maxwell who is exceptionally talented and amazingly innovative. His scoop shots, switch hits and slog sweeps are absolute delight to watch. He is a player who can improvise his strokes without any trouble and can easily make the bowler forget his line and length. He always attracts the franchises in T20 leagues all around the world due to his high octane batting and no wonder why he gets those high bids.
8. Abdul Razzaq
At his peak from 2003 to 2007, Abdul Razzaq was being placed among the best all rounder in the world at that time along with the likes of Jacques Kallis and Andrew Flintoff. He was a decent medium fast bowler who could pick up crucial wickets in the middle of the innings but the most fascinating aspect of his game was his unusual batting style. Like many other in the list, his batting style also didn’t belong to any classic school of thought.
He was one of the very few players who had long handle batting grip. His long handle approach coupled with strong arms helped him in becoming an exponent of batting in final overs of the innings. He was exceptional in hitting straight down the ground. He fancied playing against pacers and had won memorable matches for his team.
9. Virender Shewag
Shewag has had the honor of opening with the all time batting legend Sachin Tendulkar. In the days when everyone in India would be glued to the television to watch Sachin’s batting, this man made sure that he is not taken for granted and worked his way in becoming one of the most destructive openers of modern day cricket.
He used to play with a slightly higher bat lift and used to muscle the bowl through the covers and he was equally good in dismissing the leg stumpish deliveries towards square leg. To him it never mattered which format he was playing. He was equally destructive and ruthless in test cricket as well and he has couple of scores of 300 plus.
10. Fawad Alam
Unlike many of the unorthodox batsmen mentioned in this article, this man is not as destructive or power hitter as rest of them, but he has a flavor of his own. It is normally said that left handers are always elegant to watch. But Fawad Alam had a coaching manual of his own. Shuffling across from leg stump to the off a bit like Chanderpaul, and head never staying still makes his technique look very awkward. But none the less, he has his ways of crafting shots and scoring runs and hence has been able to maintain his stature as a fighting batsman.