Pakistan’s decision to recall Fawad Alam for the ongoing second Test against England in Southampton has shone a fresh light on cricketers with a distinctive batting stance.
The left-handed batsman is immediately recognisable at the crease thanks to an open stance that sees both pads facing the bowler as he runs in.
His unusual method has yielded plenty of runs at domestic level, while Alam’s three previous Tests had seen him average a highly respectable 41.
But the 34-year-old’s 11-year wait for a Test recall saw him lbw for a four-ball duck to paceman Chris Woakes in Southampton this week.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies)
One of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, the Guyanese left-hander managed an impressive average of over 51 during a 164-Test career that also saw him score 30 hundreds.
Crabbing across the crease, he appeared a perennial candidate to be lbw and rarely played in the ‘V’ between mid-on and mid-off as instructed by the textbooks and scored few runs off the front foot.
Yet a combination of clever deflections and a whiplash pull saw him become only the second West Indian after Brian Lara, one of the most stylish batsmen cricket has known, to score 10 000 Test runs.
Steve Smith (Australia)
Initially brought into international cricket as a leg-spinner, Smith is now arguably Australia’s best batsman since the outstanding Donald Bradman.
This is despite Smith’s bat coming down from the direction of third slip or gully – a characteristic he shares with Bradman -]- rather than running in a straight line as ordained by the textbooks.
Equally, most coaches insist on trying to remain as still as possible before playing a shot. Yet the fidgety Smith appears to be in a state of perpetual motion at the crease.
None of this, or indeed a year-long ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal during a tour of South Africa that rocked Australian cricket to its foundations, has stopped Smith from scoring over 7 000 runs in 73 Tests, including 26 hundreds, at a staggering average of nearly 63.
Rory Burns (England)
Alam is not the only batsman on show at the Ageas Bowl with an unorthodox technique.
The left-handed England opener has a quirky style that sees him bat with his chin rubbing against his right shoulder as he takes his stance before crouching at the crease.
Burns reckons all this helps him with his left-eye dominance to get a better sight of the bowlers and the ball.
England have tried several openers since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012 but Burns averaging over 34 in 19 Tests, including two hundreds, is now the man in possession of a coveted place.
Peter Willey (England)
A fine player of fast bowling, Willey made 15 of his 26 Test appearances against the formidable West Indies side of the mid 1970s and 1980s.
Both of his two Test centuries came against the Caribbean side, with Willey defying the celebrated ‘fearsome foursome’ of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft to score an unbeaten 102 at St John’s Antigua in 1981.
But he did this despite an increasingly eccentric stance that saw him face up chest-on to the bowler, although Willey was often in a more classical side-on position by the time he played a shot.