The Art of Batting – A transition
The sight of a cricket stadium during a match is one of high intensity. It’s a constant tug of war between the two teams in the middle, the situation being made even more dramatic by the thousands of eyes transfixed on them from all ends of the arena. An up close and personal view shows a more fierce battle between the batsman and bowler; the bowler with his piercing stare after getting the better of his opponent with a surprise bouncer, and the batsman retorting with a glorious drive through the covers. This along with the camaraderie and enthusiasm of fans of the sport give birth to the spectacle of a great match. An ever changing multitude of moods are on display at any such event – many of them happy, some of them gloomy and dejected.
What never changes though is the level of excitement and tension that each match brings with it. A last ball six, an unexpected hat-trick, a surprising upset – these are the stuff high-selling blockbusters are made of. What has been changing, though, is the way the game is being played, especially by batsmen of the modern game.
Just in the Cricket World Cup 2015 alone, we saw that batsmen were always looking for new ways of playing shots, whether technically correct or just plain flamboyant. We witnessed batsmen who make batting look so easy, men who always look in some sort of a hurry. Gone are the days when batsmen will hang around to play a cool and calculated innings. These, although not yet extinct, are slowly becoming out of fashion.
A treasure trove of new, inventive shots
The Dilscoop, the reverse sweep and the switch hit – just some of the more innovative shots that are applied by the batsmen nowadays to achieve their objective of scoring more runs. Players are moving a lot in their crease to make the bowler think twice. The thought of taking it easy after scoring a boundary in an over is now backward. The concept of what comprises a bad cricketing shot has been somewhat muddled. Batsmen just want to hit each ball, and hit it hard. This philosophy, so to speak, of all-out batting is one of the primary reason scores in excess of 300 are now commonplace. The World Cup itself had seen 400 plus scores being posted on three different occasions.
Also, a change in the fielding restrictions has favoured the batsmen. This gives the license to players like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli to go berserk and slap the balls to the fence, much to the joy of the closely watching audience. The simple change in mentality of attacking more than defending helps batsmen score runs in abundance. Not good news if you’re a bowler.
Merging the old and the new
It is interesting to think how the game would be had players like the great Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, and Sachin Tendulkar been acquainted with this school of thought. To be honest, Sachin Tendulkar has learned from both institutes, and he has been as effective. As if it weren’t already tough for the bowlers facing Sir Viv Richards, the West Indian with the modern approach would just spell the death of everyone.
It is no big news that the value of each run has decreased over the years. Individual scores of 200 have been attained, and the barrier of a team total of 300, even 350, ceases to exist. The 2015 World Cup was a prime example.
Now whether this means that the art of batting has deteriorated or that you no longer need excessive technical correction to bat in the modern form of the game is a debatable question. What it definitely means, though, is that it’s going to be much more enjoyable to watch the “Gentleman’s Game”!
Do leave your thoughts, opinions and suggestions in the comments section below.