Direct remedies

In an earlier post, I’d linked to a Chandrahas Choudhury article that offered a rare peak into the workings of the batsman’s mind. Now, courtesy Suresh Menon and Tehelka, an anecdote guaranteed to make you wonder, the next time Viru hits a ball out of the park:

What kind of man is this innocent assassin who has elevated batting, and thinking, to a level of such simplicity? The story that captures him best has been told often enough, but it bears repetition here. England batsman Jeremy Snape pointed out in a match where they were batting together that he was having a problem with the reverse swing. Perhaps it was the ball that was aiding it? Don’t worry, Sehwag told him, I will hit this ball out of the stadium and then they will have to find another ball. And he proceeded to do exactly that. The replacement didn’t swing as much.

This was not arrogance so much as a desire to help out a colleague. It is entirely possible that if Snape didn’t have a problem, Sehwag might have merely pushed the ball for a single. Or not. After all, unpredictability is the cornerstone of his batting. As soon as the bowler thinks he has figured out Sehwag, he does something so unexpected that it is back to the drawing board again. Sehwag only needs to hear the sound the bat makes when it meets the ball to know he is on track. When he is going well it is a treat to the ears as well as to the eyes.

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20 thoughts on “Direct remedies

  1. Yeah- very correct. Coaching shud come into place only when a player’s caliber has been assessed initially . Only then shud his natural instincts be honed, & skill levels improved. The basic nature of the game is very simple. The bowler has to get the batsman out & the batsman has to score the maxm no of runs- the one who scores the most wins. When technique & training come into place it has to be built around the basic tenet of the game. If the basic concepts of the game r confused, and a player starts giving more importance to complexities built around the basic tenet, then he will always be confused later also about what is required to be done in difficult situations. A batsman will start giving more importance to proper technique rather than scoring runs while a bowler gives more importance to a proper run up rather than taking wickets. A budding batsman has to be taught that scoring runs is primary in nature & technique has to be adjusted/ towards enhancing his scoring ability, the same shud be with bowling. Any confusion created in the initial years, will result in complications as the player grows in years- simply because he will give importance more to technique than scoring runs- same with the bowlers

  2. Another thing is the ability to get to the main point/important thing through a maze of conflicting & confusing other things. These r hallmarks of great personalities, they can avoid complications in approach as well as thinking. As the former General Asafa Powell of the US army once said- ‘Great leaders r great simplifiers & not great complicators’.

  3. I remember something similar being said about Kapil Dev as well – another jatt who played pure cricket with a lot of natural ability. And this reminds me of Kapil’s recent article on Sachin Tendulkar, whom he chastised for not really living up to his true potential for complete domination! Sounds like Veeru would agree, no?

    • I don’t think that Kapil and Sehwag can be bracketed together. Now, I never saw Kapil play, but what I can make out from the stats is that either he did not have the ability to be as successful a batsman as Sehwag or he was not intelligent enough to convert his ability into something more substantial i.e. scores. That has been the difference between Kapil and Sehwag and Tendulkar. Sachin was found out by Fannie De Villiers in South Africa by slower deliveries and he has adjusted accordingly. Similarly, early on in his playing career Sehwag was considered susceptible against short-pitched bowling. But, he is quite reliable, if not the best. Kapil had a batting average of 31 and Sehwag 52. There must be a reason for the difference. So, while I agree that Kapil’s mindset might have been the same , I don’t really agree that the two can be categorized together. And regarding the second part , I think Veeru is more intelligent than Kapil to agree to disagree that a style which works best for him, might not work as well for others. He has come a long way since being called a Sachin Clone , and now, even he might agree that Sachin has no need to go the other way around.

      • You cannot compare Kapil & Sehwag as batsmen. But then, you can definitely compare their styles. Kapil was in the team predominantly as a bowler. So, he could afford to treat his runs as a bonus to the team and never took batting seriously. He was a much better batsman than what his figures suggest. And in terms of strike rate, he was way ahead of his times just like what Sehwag is now. And yes, I have seen Kapil bat (quite a lot).

        • To quote you, ” he could afford to treat his runs as a bonus to the team and never took batting seriously. ”

          That’s what I mean from intelligence. With due respect, Sehwag is evidently much more intelligent than Kapil. And I am using “intelligence” in purely cricketing particularly batsmanship terms . No disrespect intended.

          • I think you’re using the word “intelligence” a bit loosely in this context. The difference in averages between Sehwag and Kapil cannot be attributed to intelligence or the lack of iit; rather it is about the role each plays in the team and their position in the batting order. Sehwag is as much a free spirit as Kapil (so was Krish Srikkanth) was when it came to batting, so it is a little difficult for you or anyone to claim that Sehwag is more intelligent than Kapil or Srikkanth. Players like Sehwag, Srikkanth and Kapil knew only one way to play and they stuck to it no matter what the situation was.

            Kapil’s contribution to the team cannot be measured merely by statistics. His ability to pull India out of trouble with bat is incomparable. No one, in the past or present, can match him on that count and he did it with his cavalier approach. For all you tweens out there who have never seen a genuine allrounder play for India, here is a dose of history. http://www.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/154470.html

      • @Sumit You do Kapil a great disservice, particularly since you have never seen him play. The man was a marvel. He fits the classical definition of an all rounder – a person who can walk into a side as BOTH a bowler & a batsman.

        If you recall Sehwag started out as a bowler who was given his head by Sourav. Kapil needed so such license. THis is not to belittle VS. He is a treat to watch. But please do not talk nonsense about things you dont know based only on numbers.

        Next you will be saying Gavaskar is better than Vishwanath!

        • Kapil was Kapil. Look no further than the 175 not out he scored against ZW. No, it is not the same ZW of now, but that one had some genuine allrounders and best fielders. That was in WC1983 which we won. I can talk of ‘n’ number of innings which he played against WI, Pakistan and Australia. The style was rustic same as Shehwag, but the batting lineup was not as powerful and pitches were far more lively for the pace and turners for spin. We have watched Kapil’s innings/listened when there were no telecasts, but the wait was the same as we waited for Sachin in his youth to arrive at crease.
          So, my dear friend, please do not belittle the great allrounder. Yes Shehwag is great but certainly not bigger than Viv the king—yesterday I heard kirti azad talk about this. And it pained me so much. Maybe Kirti is answerable in the God’s kingdom in heaven later.

      • I didn’t mean to imply a direct comparison of their batting (which wouldn’t make much sense anyway – comparing specialist/opening batsmen with a bowling allrounder), but more their mindsets. But even with the batting, read that recent article about Kapil’s ability to rotate the strike someone had pointed out here on one of Prem’s earlier posts. And I think you are sellling Kapil short on his intelligence too. For all the recent harvest of fast/medium fast bowlers we’ve had come up in India, there still isn’t one who can be considered in the same bracket as Kapil. Surely that bowling record took some intelligence! Aren’t you doing the same thing to him that Boycs has been doing to Sehwag?

  4. I think the roots of Sehwag unique thinking can be his Jat upbringing. He is as pure a Jatt you will ever find and unabashedly ,and quite to his credit remains so even after all the success he has achieved. I have had some Jat friends who while playing cricket think on similar wavelengths , but Sehwag being himself, has the ability and talent to execute them as well. As, they say , No iff, No but, Only Jatt.:D

    • I dont think it is a question of deliberate modes of thinking that Sehwag has developed. It is more a result of his cricketing upbringing during his formative years. As u know he grew up in rural surroundings, and did not have the benefit of a coach during his formative years. Whatever he learnt was by observation. In his village Najafgarh, there were no proper grounds or well laid pitches to play the game. Young cricket enthusiasts would convert any little space into a cricket ground. In his hometown the ground which is available for playing has been flattened & pruned for playing cricket by Sehwag himself. On such grounds there would be no pitches as such for playing, there would be uneven bounce and uncertain movement towards any direction. Young boys playing on such grounds would generally be playing without pads or other protective equipments. The only protection on such pitches would be your bat only. I have myself played a lot of cricket on such uneven grounds & no one is able to survive on such grounds beyond 20-30 runs. If any player goes on to hit a 50 then he is made for the bigger league. Sehwag was made for the bigger league from the beginning. Once a full speed ball hit me just above my right foot, I still carry the scar. You have to observe the ball until the last moment on such wickets, otherwise u could be hurt badly. Because Sehwag has learnt his cricket on such grounds, his basic technique is also modified by his original environment, u will rarely see him padding any delivery it is always the bat with which he plays . That is why if he has to play on a seaming wicket, he will be the only one to not only survive but play a big innings. There is no other player in the Indian team who has learnt his cricket in rural environs. All the current batsmen in the team have been coached by a proper cricket coach and have mainly come from metropolitan or other big cities. Sehwag’s coach Mr A N Sharma, who he met him in his 15th or 16th year is also not a qualified cricket coach, he was earlier a football coach. He never taught Sehwag to defend balls but only helped him improve his shot making.

      • Interesting observations. One doesn’t often think about any harm too much early coaching might do! Not to mention the importance of experiencing a variety of adverse pitches rather than the bowler’s graveyards all to commonplace even in international matches these days. Perhaps the coaches should send the Rainas and Rohits to bat on those Najafgarh grounds so they stop flinching or throwing their wickets away every time the ball does something other than sit up and beg to be clobbered!

        • Yeah- very correct. Coaching shud come into place only when a player’s caliber has been assessed initially . Only then shud his natural instincts be honed, & skill levels improved. The basic nature of the game is very simple. The bowler has to get the batsman out & the batsman has to score the maxm no of runs- the one who scores the most wins. When technique & training come into place it has to be built around the basic tenet of the game. If the basic concepts of the game r confused, and a player starts giving more importance to complexities built around the basic tenet, then he will always be confused later also about what is required to be done in difficult situations. A batsman will start giving more importance to proper technique rather than scoring runs while a bowler gives more importance to a proper run up rather than taking wickets. A budding batsman has to be taught that scoring runs is primary in nature & technique has to be adjusted/ towards enhancing his scoring ability, the same shud be with bowling. Any confusion created in the initial years, will result in complications as the player grows in years- simply because he will give importance more to technique than scoring runs- same with the bowlers

          • I remember the hue & cry raised when Sehwag arrived on the cricketing stage. Everyone cribbed about his technique. Now what is happening- everyone is praising. The man has redefined batting & in particular opening batting. I remember listening to Kapil on ‘Aajtak’ when asked about Sehwag’s batting, he said-‘It is not just difficult to bat the way Sehwag does, but it is impossible to bat the way he does’.
            By the way just see the stat’s on Sehwag’s 1st tour to NZ, Sehwag joined the Indian test team in 2001, the next year on his first tour to NZ, he was the only one to hit 2 centuries in 7 match ODI series. All the kiwi wickets were green tops, the ball would land on the leg and end in 1st slip, he was the highest scorer from both sides scoring 299 in 7 matches @42.71, the next highest was Fleming with 157 in 7 matches @ 26.16 . Sachin scored 2 in 3 matches, Dravid scored 116 in 7 matches @ave of 16.57.
            Just recall how quickly he mastered Mendis & scored the masterly 201 n.o. He got out to Mendis only once from then onwards it was a one sided contest betn the two. All the other batsman did a lot of study of Mendis before they could work him out. For ex Yuvraj discussed & took lessons from Sachin about how to tackle Mendis, the same with Dravid, whereas Sehwag tackled him then & there w/o doing a lot of home work. Just goes to show how technique has to be secondary & built around scoring runs. As far as Sehwag goes, he shows all the classical symptoms of geniuses -resorting to music to unclutter his mind & maintain focus.

    • I think Jats have a great history of sportsmanship as well as military service- be it the Jats in general or Sikh Jats (they participate actively in hockey as well as other sports). Sushil Kumar-wrestling, Vijender Kumar- boxing- readily come to mind & of course the great Kapil Dev. In both Kapil & Sehwag- the common thing I find is- great self belief, confidence & disdain for pressure- pressure is countered with greater counter pressure.
      Seeing his built & strength, many wrestlers in & around Najafgarh wanted to make Sehwag a wrestler too when he was young, but destiny decreed otherwise. Wrestling’s loss has been cricket’s gain. Wrestling is very popular in rural Jatland. Jat’s consider themselves to be born from Shivji’s ‘जटा’ & feel they r the descendents of the Pandavs. Worship of Lord Hanuman & Bhima is common in Akharas in rural Jatland.So sports, warfare & aggression are a part & parcel of there inherent nature. Inherent aggression could also be due to the geographical location of there lands. As Haryana & Punjab are the gateways to India- they were the first lines of defence against any foreign invasion on the country. As India has seen a no of foreign invasions over several centuries & as aggression has to be met with aggression, aggression has got into the DNA of the Jats. Haryana & Rohtak in particular has the distinction of receiving the highest no of Param Vir Chakras as well as other gallantary awards in the other country. In Jatland almost 1 in every other family is in military service. One of the greatest battles in the history of military warfare is the ‘Battle of Saragarhi’-which is also the Sikh regimental honors day. In this battle 22 jat sikh soldiers laid down there lives fighting about 1000 Afridi tribesmen, each sikh soldier killing nearly 20 tribesmen single handedly (this battle has been recommended by UNESCO to be made a part of school curriculum). The entire British Parliament when it heard about this sacrifice stood up together to pay there respects to the martyrs.

    • I think Jats have a great history of sportsmanship as well as military service- be it the Jats in general or Sikh Jats (they participate actively in hockey as well as other sports). Sushil Kumar-wrestling, Vijender Kumar- boxing- readily come to mind & of course the great Kapil Dev. In both Kapil & Sehwag- the common thing I find is- great self belief, confidence & disdain for pressure- pressure is countered with greater counter pressure.
      Seeing his built & strength, many wrestlers in & around Najafgarh wanted to make Sehwag a wrestler too when he was young, but destiny decreed otherwise. Wrestling’s loss has been cricket’s gain. Wrestling is very popular in rural Jatland. Jat’s consider themselves to be born from Shivji’s ‘जटा’ & feel they r the descendents of the Pandavs. Worship of Lord Hanuman & Bhima is common in Akharas in rural Jatland.So sports, warfare & aggression are a part & parcel of there inherent nature. Inherent aggression could also be due to the geographical location of there lands. As Haryana & Punjab are the gateways to India- they were the first lines of defence against any foreign invasion on the country. As India has seen a no of foreign invasions over several centuries & as aggression has to be met with aggression, aggression has got into the DNA of the Jats. Haryana & Rohtak in particular has the distinction of receiving the highest no of Param Vir Chakras as well as other gallantary awards in the other country. In Jatland almost 1 in every other family is in military service. One of the greatest battles in the history of military warfare is the ‘Battle of Saragarhi’-which is also the Sikh regimental honors day. In this battle 22 jat sikh soldiers laid down there lives fighting about 1000 Afridi tribesmen, each sikh soldier killing nearly 20 tribesmen single handedly (this battle has been recommended by UNESCO to be made a part of school curriculum). The entire British Parliament when it heard about this sacrifice stood up together to pay there respects to the martyrs.

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