Wednesday, February 28, 2007


What makes a cricket shot so splendid to watch, so exhilarating to ponder and so difficult to forget? Is it the technical brilliance with which it is executed or the sheer power of it? Or rather the context in which it is executed? Or the impact the shot has in the game? Javed Miandad’s last ball six of Chetan Sharma in the Australasia cup final is a part of the cricket folklore because it did win the match and more importantly established a psychological edge over India for years. And so is Mike Gatting’s ill-fated reverse sweep against Australia in the World Cup final of 1987 when England was cruising to victory even though it is cruel to accuse Gatting of England’s failure.

The beauty of a cricket shot is unique. Cricket is the only game in which the most of the actions are sideways. Both bowling and batting are sideways actions, which are quite opposite to the natural orientation of human body. To play a straight drive in an international match you need to play it 1000 times in nets. The co ordination needed between mind and body to play a cricket shot is immense. And most of the time batsmen need to rely on their instincts, which are honed through the hours spent in the nets. Endless hours of playing time and complex rules make cricket a hard game to learn. A Tendulkar straight drive is awe inspiring to watch. You can admire its beauty, drop your jaws and watch it 100 times but you can’t reproduce it from your bat. I didn’t know the meaning of the word perfect before I saw that shot. The body right behind the line of the ball, front foot to the pitch of the ball, head standstill, full face of the bat meeting the ball and the ball speeding past the bemused bowler with 10 times the velocity he delivered. Aaahhhh… Pure pleasure!

Talking about cricket shots, one still boggles in my mind. Rahul Dravid’s pulled four against a Bret Lee bouncer in the Adelaide Test match of 2003. It was the second new ball of India’s first innings and the Australians were looking for a breakthrough. Lee thundered in and fired a lethal bouncer. It is said that it takes around .6 of a second for the ball to reach the batsman when Lee is operating in full tilt. Within this time Dravid’s mind calculated the line of the ball, spotted the length as in the shorter side, rocked on the back foot, bottom hand grip became loose, upper hand looser and pushing the bat handle down as the loose bottom hand acted as a fulcrum, the bat making a curve and its end pointing towards thirdman, as the bat reached a horizontal level his left hand started giving power and right hand direction, eyes on the ball, head right behind the line, body twisted, gap between legs according to the height of the ball, just what MCC coaching manual says. And still he had enough time to play that shot and dispatch that ball to deep square leg fence.

But when you think about the big picture it gives you a better perspective. A young bowler steaming in and firing a bouncer and the batsman willing to take the challenge. That is the essence of Test match and more importantly that is the essence of life, meeting challenges and facing them. And that makes cricket a unique game and cricket shot a beautiful moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment