Ross Taylor and the slog sweep story

Daredevils batsman decodes his trademark shot

Dubai 13 April 2014
At a time when coaches were preaching copybook cricketing shots from their manuals, Ross Taylor was busy playing another game – hockey. In the years to come, an aspect of that sport would become one of the biggest highlights of his batting. Taylor, with a smile on his face, claims that this particular trait comes naturally to him. We are, of course, talking about the slog sweep, which is a shot that he has made his own over the years.

When it comes off, it looks beautiful. But as Ross says, “Sometimes your strong point becomes your weak point.” And with time and maturity, he has felt the need to curb his favorite shot. Ross Taylor decodes the story of the slog sweep and he even explains why he would not attempt a switch hit like his Delhi Daredevils skipper Kevin Pietersen.

Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview with

As you grew up playing cricket, what was that one shot that fascinated you the most?

My favorite shot was always the slog sweep. I played a lot of hockey growing up and it just came naturally to me to hit on the leg side. Gradually, as I got older and more mature, I learnt to hit to the other parts of the ground. But it is definitely a shot I enjoy when it goes for a six.

How did you master your favorite shot?

I think a lot of practice makes you master your favorite shot. As I said, the hockey part comes naturally to me and it is an enjoyable shot. Anything that comes naturally and is played on instinct, more often than not, becomes successful.

Every batsman has his own strong point. Do you feel the slog sweep is your biggest strength?

I would have said that a few years ago, but right now, hopefully, I am a bit more versatile in the way I play. It is nice to be able to play it, but it is great to have some other strength as well.

Did any cricketer inspire you to play the slog sweep?

I remember watching Steve Waugh play it quite a lot and he was very successful at it. I have learnt to play the slog sweep from him and from a lot of other players who play it well.

You have made the slog sweep your own. What was the reason you decided to restrict using the shot?

It is nice to be famous or to be known for a shot, and at the same time, it is also nice to break that and be able to hit the ball to all parts of the ground.

Did the fear of becoming one-dimensional make you curb usage of the slog sweep?

People have their own perceptions about certain players. My natural instinct is always to hit the ball. To block and leave the balls is not my natural instinct. It has taken a while to groom that. But it is still nice and enjoyable to try and hit the ball as far as you can.

How did you train yourself to keep the slog sweep in the closet?

A lot of experience and playing Test cricket and one-day cricket makes it a lot easier to curb that intent to play my favorite shot. With new rules in one-day cricket and having an extra man outside the ring, you have to be able to hit to all parts of the ground, which is very important.

Does it require a lot of mental toughness to let go of something you are so good at?

Yes, it does. Sometimes your strength is also your weakness and you can get out to it. There was a period in my career where I did get out to it a few times. So, I guess, just putting it away was easier.

Has curbing usage of the slog sweep allowed you to discover other aspects and strong points in your batting?

Yes, definitely. Teams start working you out and put fielders in places of your strong zones. I have become more calculative with my slog sweep and it is nice to be able to hit the ball to other areas and have teams set different fields for you.

What does your Delhi Daredevils coach Gary Kirsten say about the usage of that shot? Has he given you the freedom to play your natural game?

Yes. We have discussed a few things, but it is still early stages in the tournament. But Gary has been really great, and I have been bouncing off different ideas with him with regards to accessing the off side and different parts of the ground. He has bounced a few ideas himself and I look forward to the next six-seven weeks of working with him.

Your captain Kevin Pietersen plays the switch hit well. Have you given that shot a try?

(Laughs) I tried hitting the slog sweep left-handed and it was difficult. I tried the switch hit at the nets and in the process, did my side in, and I haven’t tried it since.

Do we get to see the Ross Taylor slog sweep in the IPL?

We will just have to wait and watch, as I will try to play each ball on its merit. If it comes out, it comes out.

What do you rely on while playing a ball – brute force or timing?

I would love to say timing. (Winks).

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