October 3, 2008

Gary's laboratory

A pre-series camp is like a laboratory, especially if it goes on for as long as five days, a place where the players experiment, observe, and try to make sure they are not taken by surprise when they go out to play the Tests. During their five-day camp in Bangalore, India tried their best to prepare themselves for Australia. There were nets, fielding drills, open-wicket practice, and other such routine stuff, and also a few innovative methods used in the practice.

The most interesting of them was Gary Kirsten’s way of getting the batsmen ready for short-pitched bowling. Kirsten got harder-than-normal tennis balls, and served them, like in tennis, for the batsmen to face. He managed to get the balls to bounce into the ribs of the batsmen. He could also go for the slice serves, which resulted in prodigious outswingers.

The other two innovations helped the bowlers. In the open-wicket practice, apart from the normal stumps, they were given a fifth stump so that they could aim at just-outside-the-off-stump line. So that they could become more certain of the corridor of uncertainty.

The other marker they got was for the bouncers. It basically was a pole placed just behind the stumps, with a red circle on its top. Roughly speaking, the marker started head-high for a batsman of average height. Anything higher than the marker would be a wide in normal match conditions. Another pole was placed just behind the off stump, with the marker starting at a height where the stump ended. This one served as a guide for the proverbial top of off stump.

The Indian team has worked hard over the last five days in the camp, and it should be interesting to see what kind of results they draw in the series.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo