I have heard many times cricket commentators referring to players driving the ball 'on the up'. By the context, this is taken to be a difficult and risky thing to do and makes a good shot even better as the batsmen is displaying some boldness by playing the shot to that delivery. As in "that was a fine cover drive, and he was playing the ball on the up".

Why is this confusing to me? Anytime that you play a drive, the ball is 'coming up'. The only exception would be a full toss, but that is an unusual delivery so it would be hardly remarkable to play any shot to a non full toss.

There are many examples of nonsensical phrases in sports commentary and the viewer just needs to learn what a particular nonsensical phrase means. In this case I've never understood what is being meant by this. My best guess is that the ball is fuller or shorter than a delivery that you would normally expect to see a drive played against (one or the other, it couldn't mean both). Any ideas?

3 Answers 3


According to the weighty cricket coaching tome Bob Woolmer's Art and Science of Cricket, driving 'on the up' means "hitting the ball as it rises off a good length" (p.134). On page 138-139 there is a discussion of the technicalities of doing so.

The key point appears to be that it is played to a good-length ball, rather than a half-volley, and thus requires excellent timing: it is "risky, but to the well-set batsman on a good pitch it can pay excellent dividends" (p.138).


This is really a good question. As per wikipedia:

On the up: a batsman playing a shot, usually a drive, to a ball that is quite short and has already risen to knee height or more as the shot is played.

Usually the commentators refers it as the shot played when the ball is pitched on a good length where it is difficult to drive the ball as the ball would have already risen to knee level. Batsmen will be usually confused on what shot to play for these kind of balls as the length will be in between full pitched ball and short pitched ball. So it is not an easy shot to play it on the up.

Here is a commentatory from cricinfo which indicates this:


Chigumbura to Mominul Haque, OUT, guess what's happened again, won't be too hard, another one has given it away, Mominul tries to punch a good length ball through extra cover, instead, he's scooped it for the man at extra cover to take a dolly, Mominul had got across and was close to the line, tried to slap it away on the up in the end but it bounced Mominul Haque c SW Masakadza b Chigumbura 23 (66m 41b 2x4 0x6) SR: 56.09


I have found only this from link-


This term refers to hitting the ball when the bat is on the upswing in the follow through of the shot. It is heard often, but rarely explained.

and this from link here

Making contact with the ball before it reaches the top of the bounce - hitting it on the rise. Viv Richards was a prominent exponent

and lastly this from here

When a ball is rising from the ground after bouncing on it, if the batsman hits the ball before it has completely reached the top of the bounce, it is said that the batsman has hit it “On the up.” One famous example of such a type of batsman is Vivian Richards of West Indies.

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