Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fear of fast bowling

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Not that I can ever claim to know this for a fact but anyone who is in the path of a cricket ball hurled at 95, 100 miles per hour is bound to have a moment where questions regarding personal safety crop up. While the ball is coming at your head, these safety questions are being addressed in the mind and an appropriate response; whether to duck, fend, hook, etc is being formulated; for that brief micro second, (the period before a response is finalized) there is bound to be a bit of fear.

I don't care if the batsman is the great Sir Vivian Richards, Sunil Gavaskar or Monty Panesar.

In one of the most candid recollections of India's World Cup win in 1983, Sandip Patil openly talks of the 'fear' of having to face the great West Indian bowlers. So the fear is real, acknowledged by all. And Patil knows a thing or two about giving it back to the fast men. Ask Len Pascoe and Bob Willis.

That facing fast bowling requires overcoming of ones fears is a given. 

Hence, I find comments by David Warner and Dale Steyn openly suggesting that English and Indian batsmen respectively are 'scared' of fast, short pitched bowling extremely distasteful. Because their statements imply 'fear' not as something batsmen are willing to overcome, rather something less manly and cowardly is implied.

Its not like England and India have not played and won games in Australia and South Africa before. These are not teams of untested amateurs. England and India are accomplished teams of proven performers. England have been the best Test Team in the world and India are holders of the Champions Trophy. A trophy they won, not in India, but in England, beating teams like South Africa, England, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Many of these teams have world class fast bowlers who weren't bowling spin. This team that won the Champions Trophy is the exact same Indian team that is struggling in South Africa. Shekhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma Ishant Sharma, et al included 

The ongoing Ashes series has been absorbing to watch. Mitchell Johnson has provided the kind of exhilarating performances not witnessed since the glory days of Wasim Akram. Yes Mitchel Johnson has left the English batsmen gasping for breath. They don't seem to know how to respond to his pace and accuracy. 

However, when Australian batsmen come to India and dance to the tune of Indian spinners does anyone taunt them, suggesting they are "scared"? They are afforded the basic respect that they simply do not have the technical expertise and training to play spin in conditions alien to them. Similarly, lets not question the English team's professionalism. When a David Warner says that he saw "fear" in Trott's eyes, let me assure you the player who falls in people's estimation is not Johnathan Trott, its David Warner. What kind of a player taunts an opponent like that?

When a Steyn says "Indian batsmen are scared" its his standing as a fair competitor that takes a beating. For everyone knows that there is nothing embarrassing about this Indian team. Yes they will struggle against fast bowling. Yes, they will close their eyes, get hit with a ball headed for their skulls, but they have the heart, the smarts, the will, to win Test matches in South Africa. Like the generation before them, these guys will learn to win Test matches in South Africa.

1 comment:

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