There must be something that almost compels us to not look beyond the God of Cricket. Ironically, one gets so taken up by his sheer act of brilliance, that even the thought of ‘how he does it?’ doesn’t cross the mind. Perhaps, magnificence is best admired, not deciphered and understood.
It goes without saying that Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is the most consistent and successful batsman of the current era. It’s quite logical to assume that he would have modified his game to suit the demands of modern day cricket.
A lot has changed since he started this journey – The rules, the stakes and even the game itself. Innovations have been the order of the day and switch-hit, dilscoop have taken over traditional cover-drive, most definitely in the shorter format. But not-so-surprisingly, Tendulkar achieved the phenomenal success the old fashioned way, for he didn’t need to improvise, he wasn’t required to innovate. Not only did he reiterate the importance of technique but also proved that solid technique works as an honest servant which rarely lets you down. It empowers you to do things which others can’t achieve despite innovating.
That’s perhaps the reason that even after two decades, over 600 international games and 30,000 runs, teams around the world still haven’t found a way to get the better off him. There’re no obvious chinks in his armoury and his stroke-making is still very text book style. Sachin is a modern batsman carved in the classical mould.
To me, the shots which manifest it the most are the straight drives off both front foot and back-foot. He would take a stride forward leading with his head and shoulders, very text bookish, and then present the full face of the bat at the time of transferring the weight from back-foot to front-foot. The same goes for the back-foot drive. Front elbow high, arms close to the body and plays the ball right under his eyes.
Playing the technically correct shots are rarely extravagant. The very purpose of the technique is to provide maximum output with minimum input. The movements are very limited and simplistic but the results are always impressive. Some people get carried away with innovative shots to the extent that they think technique slows you down. Playing classical cricket may not be in vogue but Sachin has proved the importance of it time and again.
But there’ve only been a few men who’ve managed to hold their ground with Sachin-like belief. Most people are finding new ways to overcome their technical shortcomings. If you can’t play a great pull or hook, try Dilscoop. If you can’t score quickly playing along the ground or correct shots, there’s always the option of playing an Uthappa like cross-batted lofted shot over long-on/mid-wicket. T20 cricket is demanding such deeds from the players and soon, it will be an integral part of the cricket canvas. Switch-hit or Dilscoop may not be an aberration anymore but a norm.
Yet, there will always be room for orthodox cricket, at least in the longer format. And nowadays, even a 50 over match seems pretty long and allows players to express themselves in the old-fashioned way. And then there’s test cricket, for purists like me, who would appreciate a correct cover-drive more than a slog over mid-wicket for six.
But that brings us to a more important question. Is there a need to innovate more in this day and age or is it still possible to do it the old-fashioned way? Well, my answer to this question is that innovation doesn’t mean you need to play incorrect cricket. There can always be a method to the madness. Sachin does it effortlessly. His innovation is reading the bowler’s mind and even better playing with it. He would go deep inside the crease to create length or move across to change lines. Yet, he continues to play correct cricketing shots thereafter and that’s why he rarely misses. Unlike others who always run the risk of getting bowled while switch-hitting or getting hit while playing the Dilscoop.
Yes, muscle power might play a bigger role in the times to come but if you have the right technique and time, even the weakest of people can generate sufficient power, for the grounds haven’t become bigger or the ball heavier.
In my humble opinion, a lot of people embrace innovation easily because achieving technical brilliance is tough. But don’t they say that ‘It is difficult and that’s why it’s worth doing. Everyone can do the easy things’
This article was first published in MID-DAY
This entry was posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2012 at 5:07 am
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