Reverse sweep is one of the ways to reflect the ball in cricket, the opposite of the standard sweep. Taking the ball to the bat, the batsman redirects it not to the Leg side, but to the Off side, towards the Backward Point/ Third man. It is allowed to change the grip (the left hand over the right and vice versa); in addition, when performing a Reverse sweep, the player has the right to change the supporting leg in order to give the ball a trajectory close to the traditional one.
A reverse sweep is considered a rather risky strike since its execution significantly increases the probability of Leg before wicket. On the other hand, it allows you to confuse the field team, so even the most radical critics recognize its effectiveness.
To perform the Reverse sweep correctly, the player takes a low stance with a lunge. The bat is located in a horizontal plane close to the pitch, but at the moment of contact with the ball, the batsman abruptly turns it over, thus changing the direction of the projectile to the opposite.
An interesting feature of Reverse sweep is that even with the perfectly correct execution of this kick, the player does not always manage to cut the ball into the right angle because it requires serious physical effort. That is why even the masters do not always manage to issue Six using Reverse sweep, although this is the optimal result.
The actual author of Reverse sweep is recognized as the Pakistani batsman Mushtaq Mohammad, whose career flourished in the 70s of the last century. He later recalled:
“In one of the matches, we faced Middlesex, for which the great Fred Titmus played. We already had a big gap in the score, and Freddie, an unsurpassed off-spinner, had to serve. I couldn’t make a single run. And then I looked around and saw that the only gap remains near the Third man. Of course, I thought of this blow, but Titmus appealed! Poor old Freddie, he was literally tearing his hair out. But the umpire said, “You had a ball in your hand, and he had a bat. He has the right to do whatever he wants with her.” It was 1964.”
The main popularizer of the new strike was coach Bob Woolmer. The Reverse sweep was successfully used at various times by Andy Flower (Zimbabwe) and Javed Miandad (Pakistan). And although this blow is generally considered difficult and unorthodox, some players were able to make it their calling card (for example, Englishman Paul Nixon, who repeatedly used Reverse sweep in the 2007 World Cup final). However, there were also overlays: for example, at the 1987 World Cup, Mike Gatting decided to perform a Reverse sweep to reflect a relatively non-aggressive serve, but was inaccurate and sent the ball straight towards wicket-keeper Gregory Dyer. This wicket cost the English national team very dearly: its Run rate dropped sharply, which eventually led to defeat a step away from the trophy.
Reverse sweep does not lose its popularity, so the lists of masters of this blow are regularly updated:
- Andy Flower (Zimbabwe). Even though his main role on the field remained as a Wicket-keeper, Andy invariably received an invitation to the national team throughout the 90s and 2000s. He not only perfectly mastered the Reverse sweep, but also noticeably improved this blow, thanks to which he repeatedly helped his team out in the most difficult situations. Flower’s real benefit was the 1999 World Cup and the Nagpur series, where he scored 232 runs in one inning.
- B. de Villiers (South Africa). This player is not for nothing considered one of the revolutionaries of modern cricket: in addition to an impressive arsenal of strikes, he was also famous for his ability to quickly change tactics, switching from a regular Sweep to a Reverse sweep, hitting balls into any part of the playground.
- Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh). One of the most difficult opponents for any spin bowler, Rahim became famous primarily for his footwork. And although he tends more to sweep than to Reverse sweep, he manages the second blow at least as well.
- Sachin Tendulkar (India). One of the greatest batsmen of all time, Tendulkar was particularly good at sweeps of all categories. It is not for nothing that he is called a “living textbook for young people” since there is not a single stroke that he would not master. Sachin was equally good both in defense and in attack, and even injuries did not force him to abandon one of the basic principles – not to go beyond the crease.
- Younis Khan (Pakistan). Khan has always been proud of the high quality of his Reverse sweep. It is significant that he made his ten thousandth run and the only triple hundred just with the help of this blow; moreover, his last out was also a consequence of Reverse sweep. Some representatives of this list (in particular, A.B. de Villiers) called Younis their idol and role model in the world of professional cricket.
This is interesting: even though the inventor of Reverse sweep is considered to be Mushtaq Mohammad, some cricket historians believe that in reality, this idea belongs to his brother Hanif.