In late 2010 when Australia visited India, Mitchel Johnson seemed to have got Rahul Dravid’s number. He would slant the ball across Dravid’s body forcing him to fall for it. Dravid would then nick it to the wicketkeeper or to the waiting slips cordon. This was, perhaps, the first time Dravid’s technique looked fallible. Never before in Dravid’s career, had he fallen prey to identical deliveries. Experts had a field day in writing him off saying that age had finally caught up with him, since the reflexes were not as sharp anymore. Little did they realize that his lack of form had nothing to do with his reflexes or age but a minor technical glitch that had found its way into his impeccable technique.
His trigger movement (the initial movement before the ball is delivered) took him back and across, quite often, which was resulting in his forward stride going a lot more across than he would have preferred. Once the front-foot was planted far outside the line of off-stump, he’d be forced to play at deliveries that were meant to be left alone.
The easier and more plausible option for Dravid, back then, was to ignore the sequence of similar dismissals as a blip in form and stick with what had worked for him so far. But Dravid , the perfectionist wasn’t going to take inaccuracies in his stride. He went a lot deeper into the science of batting looking for ways to not only get rid of that particular problem but also add another dimension to his batting.
Today, Dravid has completely eliminated that trigger movement and instead remains still till the ball is delivered. Getting rid of the trigger movement, which is only a few inches, might not seem too much of an adjustment but believe you me, it takes a lot of time to do that. Trigger movement is supposed to get the body in motion and also initiate a chain of movements to allow the body and the bat to come in the right position at the right time. The moment you tinker with the first step, the timing of everything else goes awry.
Dravid did that and found a second wind to his career. He was no longer falling for the deliveries pitching outside off-stump while lesser movement provided him the room to free his arms.
Nowadays, he doesn’t get behind the line of the ball often, instead remains beside it, which allows him to play a lot more aggressively than he ever did in the earlier part of his career.
Unfortunately, the flip side of staying besides the ball is that the moment you get beaten by the lateral movement off the surface or misread the line, there isn’t a second line of defense. This increases the chances of getting ‘bowled’ manifold. Hence, Dravid’s recent dismissals don’t surprise me as much as they have bothered the entire nation.
Dravid is paying a huge price for his success in this second phase. His technical prowess has made the ‘bowled’ dismissal unfathomable. But, we must understand that getting bowled is not an earth-shattering event. A batsman gets out when he’s beaten by a bowler and hence reading too much into one particular mode of dismissal isn’t justified. You lose something to get something.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 at 1:28 pm
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