Touch Play Replaced with Power in Modern Cricket
They said Barry Richards of South Africa seemed to be half at sleep as he played the ball so very late. Compare it with the exaggerated bat swing of Andre Russell. One all brain, the other all brawn. Cricket is no longer touch play. It is power play.
The lazy elegance of David Gower is passé. The grace of Greg Chappel is in the pages of history. Rather, we find Gayle storm in the ground. More like tennis where the deft touches of John Mckenroe can sometimes be seen from Roger Federer. Otherwise it is monotonous display of power from Rafael Nadal.
Raw power in cricket did exist in the 70’s and 80’s. West Indies had Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Gordon Greenidge – all would hit hard, high and handsome. They never resorted to lifting barbell or dumbbell. With their gifted body they were quintessential hard hitters. Kapil Dev and Ian Botham too did give the ball a big whack. However, the list was too short. Those were test cricket dominant days. Playing in the air was regarded as crime. Fitness trainer never existed. A few teams just had either physios or doctors.
There’s a deluge of T-20 in modern times. It demands just power, power and more power. For Barry Richards and David Gower hours of batting in the nets was their strength. These days right from the development stage youngsters are spending hours in the gym. That’s a ritual. You have to. Just watch Prithvi Shaw of India. In his debut test match he showed how much power he packs in his punch at 18 years of age. His body is trained in sync with modern times.
Sourav Ganguly, the former captain of India had a combination of grace, touch as well as power. Ganguly mostly trained under yours truly. In his earlier days and till 2004 he didn’t believe much in training. But with the advent of Greg Chappel as coach and then the T-20 league he transformed his belief. He really pushed himself both in the gym and park. To be precise, the prevailing situation compelled him to change his attitude to fitness training.
Like Ganguly, Rohit Sharma of India is a blend of touch and graceful power. Rohit is not the one to run the extra yard nor would he lift heavy stuff. But then he is as rare a species as Roger Federer is in tennis. You will find one such guy in a pack of 100. An Arron Finch, Jos Butler, Chris Lyn or Chris Gayle is omnipresent and outnumbering Rohit Sharmas.
The scoresheets in ODI cricket notches up 400 plus scores at regular intervals. The number of sixes hit in a test match, let alone an ODI is increasing in leaps and bounds. As Sunil Gavaskar says, a four is a four with a proper cricketing shot. You don’t need to slog. But most cricketers want to go the distance. Slogging is their mind set. Yes, that mind set tells them to lift more in the gym. They push and pump and add an extra muscle. Even the miss-hit clears the ground.
The story rests here. You will touch down to Melbourne or Lord’s and watch just power play.
© Cricket World 2018