IPL 2024: Jake Fraser-McGurk’s secret of success: He doesn’t move, waits for the ball, and predicts correctly (2024)

IPL 2024: Jake Fraser-McGurk’s secret of success: He doesn’t move, waits for the ball, and predicts correctly (1)Not many have bashed back-of-length and length balls as wondrously down the ground as Fraser-McGurk has done this IPL. (Sportzpics)

The batsman to watch this IPL has undoubtedly been Jake Fraser-McGurk. Explosive, yet so minimal. T20 batting in the last few years, as thrillingly exemplified by Suryakumar Yadav and AB de Villiers, is about body-positioning; getting into position to use the flexible wrists and the pace of the ball to areas barely accessed before. The head, feet and shoulders all seem to be yanked out of position by a Yoga master at the point of impact.

Fraser-McGurk doesn’t do such yogic poses. He hardly moves. Not many have bashed back-of-length and length balls as wondrously down the ground as he has done this IPL. In decades gone by, hitting on the up used to be the preserve of the great classical batsmen, a step higher than big hitters with regard to skill sets, romanticised by fans. Fraser-McGurk keeps walloping these notions to the point of bewilderment. It’s such a simple technique that the end result isn’t surprising – with the hindsight of the few games he has played.

The front leg probably moves a bit out, the weight resting on it as he transfers it, and the back leg gets on its toes. The rest of the body, including the all-important head, stays still. The body follows the head, as they say. The back-lift is high, and he knows how to wait that bit longer than most batsmen tend to do.

There was a slower ball from Avesh Khan during a manic run-fest in the fourth over of the innings that captured it. The bat lay suspended in the air at a considerable height and no muscle twitched visibly. It was a pretty decent slower one in terms of deception, but the temperament and skill to wait that bit longer did the job for Fraser-McGurk.

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By the time the ball traverses more than half its trajectory, the lack of pace must have become clearer to him. He waited. For a batsman who gets into positions early or has busy trigger movements, a change of pace can prove detrimental, but not for one who knows the art of waiting.

And when the ball bounced up, the bat came crashing down to thump it over long-off. A cute gesture propped up right at the end even as the ball was thrown back from the stands. Fraser-McGurk gestured that it was a slower one with his right hand. As if he had missed the ball or mistimed the shot.

Experience vs attitude

The third over of the innings, from Trent Boult, too was instructive. Unlike Avesh who kept bowling length, Boult kept changing his plans as he realised with each crunching sound that his Plans A and B were failing. It was a fascinating battle between an experienced crafty white-ball bowler, who has a few go-to plans, and a young man.

Just one back-of-length ball from round the stumps looking to cramp him for room, which was smashed onto the sight screen, was enough for Boult to switch to his second plan. Short pacy balls angling across from over the wicket, but with not much cover on the offside deep as it was in the Powerplay. Interestingly, Fraser-McGurk cottoned on to the plan almost instinctively and immediately, and moved outside leg in preparation to whack it over the offside. One flew over the lone slip, another crept over the flailing blade.


Boult tried to throw in a dummy next. He shifted to round the stumps but persisted with that short ball outside off. But Fraser-McGurk wasn’t fooled by the change of angle, predicted the ball correctly, and fiercely flat-batted it over cover point. The next was a bouncer at the body and it did strike him on the flesh, but his yell told a story: It wasn’t a cry out of physical pain, but a cry of missed opportunity. He had been too early on his pull and bottom-edged it almost. Boult heard the cry, and threw a glance at the batsman who was in his own bubble.

And as it can happen, the end came all of a sudden and off a full toss. Ashwin had once spoken about how he deliberately bowled “bad balls” to Virender Sehwag in the nets after some repeated bashing. Sehwag would apparently mistime or even get out to those bad balls. This time around, it wasn’t probably deliberate but the full toss surprised Fraser-McGurk into swatting it into the hands of the cover fielder. Ashwin slipped out his tongue as he ran towards his captain and the batsman winced as he realised he had to leave the park.

Another batsman, again explosive, shows a somewhat similar minimalistic technique as Fraser-McGurk: Heinrich Klaasen. The South African uses the knee-flex more prominently than the young Australian, deriving his power with this springing effect of the knees. But neither moves forward or back that much. But when these two are on strike, it’s the game that rapidly moves forward and it’s the bowlers who are on the backfoot.

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IPL 2024: Jake Fraser-McGurk’s secret of success: He doesn’t move, waits for the ball, and predicts correctly (2024)
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