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Advice to cricketers - Raina please note - Don't rely on the scoreboard
by Sunil Gavaskar
May 02, 2009
Suresh Raina's dismissal the ball after he thought he had got a century but had actually fallen two runs short brings to mind the advice given by the late Vijay Manjrekar when I was a schoolboy cricketer and dreaming of playing for India. Manjrekar was known as a street smart cricketer who was wise in the ways of the cricketing world and its ups and downs and who called a spade a shovel. This latter part of his character deprived him of giving his experience to Indian cricket because the authorities were afraid of his straight manner and did not know quite how to handle him and so did not use him as selector or coach or manager of the teams. He is not the only one for there have been others too whose experience has not been utilised for some reason or the other with the main one being that the person is a loose cannon and apt to say something true but unpalatable to those in charge.

Manjrekar used to discuss batting and its nuances and it was fascinating to hear him and that's why one feels that Indian cricket lost out by not using him more. He was one whose brains I picked regularly and despite me being from Dadar Union Sporting Club and he being a staunch Shivaji Park Gymkhana man he was generous not just with his cricketing experience but also in terms of giving cricketing equipment which was not easy to get in those days. One of the things I clearly remember him telling me was to always score a few more runs after getting to 50 or 100 because there was every chance that the scorers who operate the board may have mixed the runs for the batsmen at the crease and could also have added leg byes to a batsman's score while the main scorers who would read the umpires signals better would have got the correct score. Since the scoreboard operators were perched away from the official scorers it was perfectly possible for the operators to get the score wrong and so he said always make sure to get a few more runs so that the fifty or century is certain. Suresh Raina went by the scoreboard at the ground which had him on 100 when in fact the commentators and official scorers had him on 98. The crowd too went by the scoreboard and applauded him warmly for his century which Raina graciously acknowledged. Next ball he went for big hit and was caught and then realised that he was two short of a century.

It is not easy to get a century in limited overs cricket unless you are Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj or Virender Sehwag and a century in T20 is even more difficult so the young man will have learnt from this episode and will be a bit more careful next time around. Being the studious type and one who is constantly looking to improve he will also know that if he wants to play Test cricket for India and succeed in that then he has to practice a lot more against the short delivery. That one over from Fidel Edwards in the game against the Deccan Chargers showed that he has to tighten up that aspect of his batting. What has been good to see is the shrewd use of his bowling by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Raina bowls straight and without any pretensions to flight and loop and is hard to get away and so will always be a useful option if the main bowlers are having an off day. His fielding continues to be superlative and he is one of the brightest stars in India's limited overs scene.

Its not just him but many other Indian batsmen who have been struggling with the bounce in South Africa. The T20 format does not give any opportunity for a player to learn for there is absolutely no time to try and adapt for every ball is vital and cannot be wasted. Sadly though many are refusing to learn and making the same mistake over and over again which does not speak highly of their temperament. It was just last year that many were being talked about as prospects for India's limited overs team but the South African pitches have exposed the technical and temperamental shortcomings brutally.

There are of course some who have revelled on the true pitches and one such is Yusuf Pathan who has made batting look ridiculously easy. There can't be too many harder hitters of a cricket ball than Yusuf and Irfan is not too far behind either though being a left-hander he brings a lot more elegance to his hitting while the brute strength of Yusuf's shots takes the breath away. He is probably the only batsman in the world apart from Andrew Symonds who can hit a six over extra cover many rows back in the crowd. The arc for a batsman's bat swing is from mid off to square leg and that's where most of the powerful shots come from but Yusuf's angle extends from extra cover and that's what makes him such a devastating batsman and feared by the bowlers all over the world.

Its been hugely enjoyable so far and as the tournament enters the critical stage it should get even more exciting.

Unfortunately unless there is complete turnaround in fortunes Yusuf's team who were the champions last time around will be out and his big hitting will be missed.

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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