India Uncut

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Shadow cricket

Many batsmen, when they come out, you see them sparring with imaginary balls, practicing shots. Most such shadow batting focusses around how they want to play a standard shot correctly. Like, here goes the off-drive or the forward defensive. Elbow up, head over ball, there’s the followthrough, once, twice, thrice. Sometimes after missing or mis-hitting a ball they’ll rehearse the shot they meant to play, as if saying to themselves, that’s what I should have done.

Virender Sehwag does this too, but the shots he practises are not the textbook variety. He came in, took his guard to play the first ball of the day, and then leant back and practised the slash through gully, once, twice, thrice. Later, between overs, he moved into what seemed to be the rehearsal of a straight-drive, but each time as his bat reached that part of the followthrough when it’s perpendicular to the ground, his wrists whipped into action, his bat turning over like a ladle putting whipped cream on a cake. One coating, then two, and three. Bowl it there, he seemed to say, and I’ll whip you a dessert. Sweet.

Update (April 14): Swapnil Shah points out in an email:
Even when Virender Sehwag came out as runner for Sachin Tendulkar, he was practicing his favorite shot, the upper cut/cut to third man. So it is not just "that’s what I should have done", but also a natural instinct when the batsman comes out to the middle. What's next? Ajit Agarkar practicising his swinging deliveries when he comes out with drinks for his team-mates?

Good observation. Bowlers, I have noted, don't do shadow cricket in the sense of practising their action, but they often like to lift their arm from the elbow upwards as if they're holding the ball, two fingers lifted as if around the seam, and extend it forward, as if to indicate the direction it will swing before seaming the other way. Heck, even non-bowlers do this all the time, even when sitting at Udipi restaurants waiting for dosas.
amit varma, 10:37 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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