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Meet the man who taught the art of power-hitting

April 28, 2022 15:10 IST
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Julian Wood

IMAGE: Punjab Kings’ power hitting coach Julian Wood. Photograph: BCCI/IPL

If bowlers increasingly become cannon fodder in Twenty20 cricket, people like Julian Wood might be to blame.

For the former Hampshire batsman is constantly studying sports like baseball, tennis and even hurling for any input that can help a batsman hit the ball harder and farther.

Wood has joined Punjab Kings as their power-hitting coach in the Indian Premier League (IPL), bringing with him a decade of research into how batters can improve their chances of hitting the ball out of the park.

 

"The game is changing," the 53-year-old told Reuters.

"As a coach you've got to change with it, and as a player you have to evolve if you want to be playing at the top level."

By evolving, Wood means hitting more fours and sixes, and this is where specialised power-hitting coaches come into the picture.

"I've looked at baseball, hurling and tennis and I've looked at how they hit a ball," he said.

"I looked at their movements and I've married it all together so you can incorporate that into batting."

Wood's training tools typically include a bungee rope, a hurling stick and sometimes even a claw hammer.

The bungee rope tethers a batter's rear hip to a pole to get his torso more involved in shot-making.

Wood gets batters to swing the claw hammer sideways with their bottom hand so their wrists cock better when whacking the ball.

And the 'hurley' helps unlock a batter's wrist power.

"When I look at hurling, I realised you got a lot of energy stored in your wrists that we don't really use," Wood explained.

"The hurling stick is very thin and light, it encourages them to feel the energy stored in their wrists."

Punjab's batsmen hit a combined 93 sixes in 14 matches last season but have improved that rate by clearing the rope 65 times in eight games this year. They are third in the balls-per-six table.

But could training to be a more explosive batter for limited overs cricket potentially mess with a test player's technique, which often calls more for patience than power?

Wood says teams would soon have separate red and white balls squads anyway.

"It's starting already ... You might have the odd one who can play a bit of everything but these guys are very good, they should be able to adapt."

With the proliferation of franchise-based cricket, power-hitting coaches are likely to become the norm, he predicted.

"What I've done over the last 10 years is maybe I saw where the game was going a bit earlier than other people did. I could see that this was going to happen."

"I think it will be the norm now," added Wood.

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Source: REUTERS
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