We’ve often been told it is considered to be a sign of supreme batting technique if a batsman is difficult to get out bowled. However, even the great Donald Bradman was out bowled 23 times in his career. Which is nearly 33% of the total times he was dismissed
In fact, on the list of the 5 highest run-getters in test match cricket which includes Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis, Dravid, and Cook. All of them are great batsmen in their own right. However, what we see is quite astonishing. On average they got out bowled every 17% of the time they were dismissed.
As compared to this, Virat Kohli has gotten out bowled only a total of 7 times or 5.4% of the time. A remarkable statistic when compared to the giants of the game we’re talking about.
So, Why is it then that the entertaining and enigmatic Indian captain is rarely out bowled?
In this post, we explain how through a combination of supreme batting technique, faster bat speed, fitness, and discipline, Virat Kohli has managed to make it almost impossible for bowlers to get him out bowled regardless of bowling conditions.
Reason 1 - The Virat On-flick Drive
Most right-handed batsmen get out to the ball that swings or spins in to hit off stump. They’re usually attempting a cover drive to a ball that was too straight or a straight drive towards mid-off, leaving a gap in their bat and pad.
This is where Kohli is unique. Kohli rarely chooses to cover drive a straighter ball but rather waits for the ball outside off stump to execute his trademark cover drive more towards cover than towards extra cover or mid-off.
But even more interestingly, Kohli rarely straight drives these straighter on and around off stump deliveries through mid-off. Instead, he chooses to often flick his wrists at the very last minute to drive through mid-on or even mid-wicket.
While playing against the line like this can leave him open for an LBW shout or a top edge, his strong wrist work means he’s already closed the gate between bat and pad for him to get bowled.
Being one of his favourite shots also means, bowlers must take the risk to get punished severely in trying to chase for his wicket in this way.
Most bowlers opt instead to attack Kohli wide outside off stump for the edge on his cover drive. The reduced attack on stumps significantly lowers his chances of getting bowled.
Reason 2 - Reaction Time & Bat Speed
Another major difference between Kohli and the other greats of test cricket is his bat speed & reaction times.
Historically great test batsmen have chosen to play late with a greater emphasis on punching the ball close to the body, rather than a fast bat speed throughout their swing.
While remarkably effective, it does also mean that when they’re caught out of position - the bat usually comes down slower, leaving a gap between bat and pad open for the bowled dismissal.
Kohli is a batsman who’s perfected his trade in the modern era of T20 and ODIs that demand faster scoring rates and therefore faster bat speeds. His faster bat speed throughout his swing and faster reaction times means he’s able to close the gate quicker than other batsmen in the past. Even when he’s misjudged the ball, he rarely leaves a bat-pad gap for him to get bowled.
Reason 3 - Fitness / Endurance
Finally, while only time will tell if Kohli is a better batsmen than others on the list, what is undoubtedly clear is that Kohli is the fittest athlete on the list.
It is this dedication to being the ultimate athlete that means Kohli has far more endurance than other batsmen on the list. From his regulated diet to his intense training regime, his fitness sets him apart. So while 200 balls into their innings or towards the end of a day you could see fatigue in foot movement and weakness in muscle control emerging in batsmen of era past, Kohli’s fitness ensures he can stay fit at the crease for longer. At the elite level of cricket, it is these fine margins that determine if there is a sufficient gap between bat and pad for a batsman to get bowled.
As he once said in his own words - “the opportunity I have been presented with is to motivate how cricketers should aspire to play for their country in terms of fitness, discipline, and diet … take it to the absolute peak of professionalism."
In an era when many purists argue that Test cricket is dying, one of its current greats through a combination of modern technique, application and fitness seems to have cracked the oldest of cricketing issues…. How to rarely get out bowled!