Aakash Chopra starting a new column that looks at cricket from a player perspective is good news — cricket writing cries out for such a viewpoint. In fact, it is unfortunate that the many former cricketers who, post retirement, take up media assignments [and this is true not just of the Indians but even the British commentators] talk/write like journalists and not as those with the experience to interpret on-field events from an insider perspective.
Aakash’s mission statement in the opening column is therefore spot on:
The name for this series might suggest that you’re going to be treated to some juicy dressing-room gossip, but let me state straight off that this is nothing of the sort. Instead, I’ll be attempting to take you inside a player’s mind – how we think, what we think about, and how and why we do what we do.
This is an effort to take the reader beyond what is visible: how cricketers prepare for different kinds of pitches, different teams, different kinds of bowlers. It is not always obvious why certain batsmen feel comfortable against pace, why the feet of some go across while playing a left-arm spinner, why some players are able to concentrate for longer than others. I will try to give you our side of the story, drawing on personal experiences, and wherever possible, what I have assimilated from playing alongside others.
This series will not be merely a study of the technical aspects; it will look at mental build-up, emotional and psychological aspects too. I hope to look at different features of the game: concentration, visualisation, preparation, leadership, playing spin, playing swing, opening in different formats, among others.
Aakash starts off with the bouncer, and the inaugural column is all you want it to be. For the average bloke, it’s hard to figure out what the fuss is about — duck, you dummy, the damn thing is just so much waste of effort if you do, just about sums up our reaction when someone fends at a lifting delivery and gets out like a dork. See if from the point of view of the bloke facing it across 22 yards, though, and the ‘nasty, brutish and short’ weapon takes on a whole new dimension. Enjoy.