October 11, 2008

Low blows all around

In my biggest match ever since I was dropped from the Indian team, I failed to make an impression, thanks in no small measure to the low bounce that did me twice
20

Hi guys

I've just come back from a literary festival in Kovalam, Kerala. I read out a few pages from my book, and that was followed by a Q&A session on sports writing, which included Boria Majumdar and Suresh Menon as the other two panelists. It was an altogether different kind of experience. Being surrounded by all the great authors, writers, poets, etc. could be quite intimidating, and I must admit that it was so for me to begin with. But I'm glad that I not only managed to hold my own but also made a few friends.

It was refreshing to be away from the game for a couple of days, especially considering the way the match against the Australians panned out in the end. I got a start in the first innings, but couldn't capitalise. The good thing was that I batted confidently, and even though this was the first time in nearly four years that I was playing against an international attack, after initial butterflies I felt at ease. Actually I'd started enjoying my batting till that particular ball from Mitchell Johnson kept just a tad low.

Usually, I'm my biggest critic, and would always find a fault in myself whenever I get out, but in the last two seasons I've started looking at things objectively. Well, the ball wasn't a half-tracker but since Johnson's previous deliveries were regularly hitting the splice of the bat, I decided to get rooted to the crease instead of lunging forward. Going forward is a safe bet on Indian tracks, but not when the guy at the other end is bowling consistently at around 90 mph.

That particular ball was slightly short of a good length but kept a little low. The funny thing about such balls that keep low is that they skid and reach the batsman a fraction quicker and at that pace, a delay of just a fraction is all you need for your demise. The ball might have missed the off stump, but the way it looked from a distance I knew that I was doomed.

During the Australian innings, I teased Punter about the lack of bounce in the track. He'd tried to pull one ball, which was just short of a length and the ball bounced a few times before reaching the wicketkeeper. I told him sarcastically that this track wasn't like the tracks in Australia where you could trust the bounce. He laughed!

The IPL has helped bridge a few differences. Both Punter and I were in the Kolkata Knight Riders, and now share a more cordial relationship. Please don't get me wrong, we wouldn't give each other an inch on the field but off it, it's very light-hearted.

Little did I know that soon it would be Punter's turn to return the favour. Let me brief you a bit on the field placements and the tactics used by the Aussies in the second innings. The bounce was on the lower side so their bowlers bowled within the stumps with a heavy on-side field. Playing a bouncer on a track with low or uncertain bounce is a little difficult as you can't duck under the ball, trusting the bounce, and even playing any kind of shot isn't that easy either.

They had a leg slip for me because I like to go back and across on the balls pitched short to get in line with the ball and play it fine. The idea is to get on top of the bounce and just nudge it round the corner for a single or more. Stuart Clark was mixing the bouncers and full-pitched deliveries nicely, and was using his height to good effect. One such bouncer pitched halfway, but bounced only a few inches. I went back and across as usual, but instead of feeling it near my ribcage, I felt it hitting my shoe!

This was a first for me. Not that I'd never been hit on the shoe while batting, but I really can't remember being hit on the shoe off a bouncer. I could only manage a smile when the dreaded finger went up, but Punter was quick to remind me of what I'd said when he was batting… a typical Aussie track, mate! This was my turn to laugh, but laughing doesn't come naturally to me while taking the long walk back to the pavilion after getting out.

I wanted to blame myself for getting out, but however hard I tried I couldn't. My biggest match ever since I was dropped from the Indian team was over. I failed to make an impression, but there's little I could've done differently.

It was interesting to read the match report in some national newspaper the next day. It stated that I didn't do myself any favours by getting out for 6. That is true, I must admit. I, honestly, didn't do myself any favours by getting out for 6, but isn't that rather obvious? Scoring 6 in an important game against the touring side would never help my cause, all right. But astoundingly, the fact that the ball didn't bounce at all seemed to have been surprisingly neglected.

But let me assure you that this isn't the first time that such reporting has surprised a cricketer, and it probably isn't going to be the last time either.

Ta ta...

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Somo Banerjee on October 16, 2008, 18:32 GMT

    Hi Aakash I have been reading your columns since last year, and I have found them immaculately detailed and dripping with the technicalities involved in playing cricket. I cannot comment on your playing career and whether or not you get to play for team India again, but one thing I am pretty sure of - you have a great career ahead as a coach/batting expert and you should start working towards that. I have read very few articles which can capture and explain the mechanics of batting as yours do.

    Good luck

  • Milind Dovhal on October 15, 2008, 20:08 GMT

    Akash.. I've been following Indian cricket for the past decade or so and I've seen lots of openers come and go.

    What you did in Australia was commendable.. u provided the base that people like Sehwag could feast upon and take things forward.. sadly, i feel that u just took way too many deliveries for a 30 or a 40...take for instance Justin Langer.. he is in a similar mould.. he 'grafts' his runs and is not really a known aggressor (like Hayden for instance)...but the still gets the boundaries ticking ...i guess with people like Gambhir and Jaffer around the corner you would need to start scoring at a faster rate .. i mean, thats what cricket is all about now (sadly).

    but i do enjoy reading your blogs...

    and thank u for your wonderful show in Australia..u were pivotal in that series (no doubt).

  • S.R. SHANKAR on October 15, 2008, 18:11 GMT

    dEAR aKASH Me and my sons watched you in Neo Sports. We were extremely impressed with your diction and clarity of thoughts. But to be candid we were less impressed with your cricket. But nevertheless you have stuff lest you can't score so many runs in domestic. Our humble suggestion for you change your style to aggressive one;After all you have nothing more to prove and you may get one last chance yet again Love to interact more with you as a journalist/ player

  • sai on October 14, 2008, 14:11 GMT

    Hello Aakash Why are you not playing in the challengers trophy due! I thought you are one of the strong contender anytime.

  • Anil on October 14, 2008, 14:00 GMT

    hi pl get fired up. play few good domestic matches. we can play in tests against England. in the first tests India was clearly missing a close in fielder. may be 3-4 catches missed. if you perform good opportunity to replace gauthy, your mate or even saorav

  • Proud Leo on October 13, 2008, 16:22 GMT

    Akash, Don't 4get all the other 21 players played on the same pitch. Earning back the Indian cap is not easy and instead of finding excuses you must do well to analyse what went wrong.

    Don't 4get there are already players like M Vijay, C Pujara and the eternal comeback man W Jaffer waiting in the wings.

    So the fact of the matter is you got a chance and blew it away. SIMPLE.

  • Goutham Chakravarthi LS on October 13, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    And many congratulations on the book. Hopefully you'll reveal more of the inside-the-dressing-room-stories, more on the accomodation and transport mishandlings by the DDCA and so on. I have added it to the my list of 'books to read'.

  • Goutham Chakravarthi LS on October 13, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    You didn't have a good time of if in the 2 most important games for you insofar this season - the Irani Trophy and the BP XI match against the Australians. Hopefully, there are better times for you ahead in the season.

  • anne mcgrory on October 12, 2008, 12:04 GMT

    Dear Sir, Like Andy & Raghu, I'm a fan & have been following your written work since you posted from Rochdale. So I'd like to treat myself to your book, & for that I need the publisher, ISBN number & publication date please. And as for the comment about Jaffer & Gambir, I really dont think either of them have covered themselves with glory inthe test arena. And it Gambir's case he "can't field for toffee". All the best for the future & good-luck in captaining Dehli Anne

  • Rahul on October 12, 2008, 6:17 GMT

    Hi Aakash, Hang in there buddy. There are lots of vacancies that are going to be open in the indian middle order. Unfortunately you are a opener and we have settled combination in veeru and gautam but just keep scoring the runs. Hopefully kris shrikant and his team will take notice. Hope to see you real soon in indian whites. Our team could do well with thinking cricketers like you. Also would like to have more articles from you about that tour down under in 03-04 and that incredible catch you took close in of a no ball if i m not wrong. All the best.

  • Somo Banerjee on October 16, 2008, 18:32 GMT

    Hi Aakash I have been reading your columns since last year, and I have found them immaculately detailed and dripping with the technicalities involved in playing cricket. I cannot comment on your playing career and whether or not you get to play for team India again, but one thing I am pretty sure of - you have a great career ahead as a coach/batting expert and you should start working towards that. I have read very few articles which can capture and explain the mechanics of batting as yours do.

    Good luck

  • Milind Dovhal on October 15, 2008, 20:08 GMT

    Akash.. I've been following Indian cricket for the past decade or so and I've seen lots of openers come and go.

    What you did in Australia was commendable.. u provided the base that people like Sehwag could feast upon and take things forward.. sadly, i feel that u just took way too many deliveries for a 30 or a 40...take for instance Justin Langer.. he is in a similar mould.. he 'grafts' his runs and is not really a known aggressor (like Hayden for instance)...but the still gets the boundaries ticking ...i guess with people like Gambhir and Jaffer around the corner you would need to start scoring at a faster rate .. i mean, thats what cricket is all about now (sadly).

    but i do enjoy reading your blogs...

    and thank u for your wonderful show in Australia..u were pivotal in that series (no doubt).

  • S.R. SHANKAR on October 15, 2008, 18:11 GMT

    dEAR aKASH Me and my sons watched you in Neo Sports. We were extremely impressed with your diction and clarity of thoughts. But to be candid we were less impressed with your cricket. But nevertheless you have stuff lest you can't score so many runs in domestic. Our humble suggestion for you change your style to aggressive one;After all you have nothing more to prove and you may get one last chance yet again Love to interact more with you as a journalist/ player

  • sai on October 14, 2008, 14:11 GMT

    Hello Aakash Why are you not playing in the challengers trophy due! I thought you are one of the strong contender anytime.

  • Anil on October 14, 2008, 14:00 GMT

    hi pl get fired up. play few good domestic matches. we can play in tests against England. in the first tests India was clearly missing a close in fielder. may be 3-4 catches missed. if you perform good opportunity to replace gauthy, your mate or even saorav

  • Proud Leo on October 13, 2008, 16:22 GMT

    Akash, Don't 4get all the other 21 players played on the same pitch. Earning back the Indian cap is not easy and instead of finding excuses you must do well to analyse what went wrong.

    Don't 4get there are already players like M Vijay, C Pujara and the eternal comeback man W Jaffer waiting in the wings.

    So the fact of the matter is you got a chance and blew it away. SIMPLE.

  • Goutham Chakravarthi LS on October 13, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    And many congratulations on the book. Hopefully you'll reveal more of the inside-the-dressing-room-stories, more on the accomodation and transport mishandlings by the DDCA and so on. I have added it to the my list of 'books to read'.

  • Goutham Chakravarthi LS on October 13, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    You didn't have a good time of if in the 2 most important games for you insofar this season - the Irani Trophy and the BP XI match against the Australians. Hopefully, there are better times for you ahead in the season.

  • anne mcgrory on October 12, 2008, 12:04 GMT

    Dear Sir, Like Andy & Raghu, I'm a fan & have been following your written work since you posted from Rochdale. So I'd like to treat myself to your book, & for that I need the publisher, ISBN number & publication date please. And as for the comment about Jaffer & Gambir, I really dont think either of them have covered themselves with glory inthe test arena. And it Gambir's case he "can't field for toffee". All the best for the future & good-luck in captaining Dehli Anne

  • Rahul on October 12, 2008, 6:17 GMT

    Hi Aakash, Hang in there buddy. There are lots of vacancies that are going to be open in the indian middle order. Unfortunately you are a opener and we have settled combination in veeru and gautam but just keep scoring the runs. Hopefully kris shrikant and his team will take notice. Hope to see you real soon in indian whites. Our team could do well with thinking cricketers like you. Also would like to have more articles from you about that tour down under in 03-04 and that incredible catch you took close in of a no ball if i m not wrong. All the best.

  • Sriraj on October 12, 2008, 4:52 GMT

    Hi Aakash,

    Nice article from you and really unlucky that you had to be a victim of the odd bounce. I like your batting alot. Its really solid and the opening partnerships you did in Pakistan and Australia were really good. I also like your mindset. I became a bigger fan of you after reading your interview with cricinfo once.

    You surely deserve to be in the Indian line-up. All the best with your future!

  • Raghu on October 11, 2008, 19:26 GMT

    Hey Akash, For millions of readers like me, we enjoy your columns more than Suresh Menon's or any other journalist's columns. Coz what they gives is just describe extravagantly of what happened. But you give us the basic truth. Just the basic facts from up close including what goes on in the minds of the players on the field. Really up close. So please continue to write these columns and more often.

    (No ill feelings against other sports journalists.)

  • ANDY on October 11, 2008, 18:25 GMT

    Akash,i am a big fan of urs and was expecting u to score heavily in the said match.Though u have explained the circumstances and the situation,it's no use as the selectors at the end of the match r interested only in the scoreboard.The fact that wasim jaffer scored a near hundred must have been a disappointment for u too.And the middle order batsmen all made themselves hundreds,save badrinath.So there.Even in the irani trophy u didn't perform to the level that was expected of u.Your first class average is still less than 50 unlike messers sehwag and Gambhir.I am not trying to criticize u or discourage u.U have just turned 30 and still have a couple of years for making a comeback to the test team. The most important thing is to make sure that u remain ahead of jaffer,M.vijay,pujara and co. in case an injury or something else opens up a place. why did u have to play in the minor leagues in england when u should have got a place in one of the county sides is still a mystery for me????????

  • ANDY on October 11, 2008, 18:24 GMT

    Akash,i am a big fan of urs and was expecting u to score heavily in the said match.Though u have explained the circumstances and the situation,it's no use as the selectors at the end of the match r interested only in the scoreboard.The fact that wasim jaffer scored a near hundred must have been a disappointment for u too.And the middle order batsmen all made themselves hundreds,save badrinath.So there.Even in the irani trophy u didn't perform to the level that was expected of u.Your first class average is still less than 50 unlike messers sehwag and Gambhir.I am not trying to criticize u or discourage u.U have just turned 30 and still have a couple of years for making a comeback to the test team. The most important thing is to make sure that u remain ahead of jaffer,M.vijay,pujara and co. in case an injury or something else opens up a place. why did u have to play in the minor leagues in england when u should have got a place in one of the county sides is still a mystery for me????????

  • ramnath on October 11, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    Sorry Akash, everybody knows the harsh truth. If you were world class you would be playing for india right now. So please accept the reality and stop making excuses. I saw the match under question and even though you might be playing at your peak powers, you are still way below par when you consider the likes of Sehwag, Ghambir or Jaffer. Anyways I just thought you should know

  • Sidhanta Patnaik on October 11, 2008, 15:25 GMT

    Hi Akash, This blog of your's reveals the mind frame of a cricketer who has been on the fringes for a long long long time. Well I seriously feel you could have stayed on in the team till date. There have been so many players who have been axed from the team but two players who I feel have been wrongly kept out of the team are You and Shiv Sunder Das. But however Cricket is not fair always and there are only 11 who can play and who better than a cricketer like you who will share the same sentiments. And I like your approach of playing for enjoying as told by Micheal Artheton

  • sagar on October 11, 2008, 14:38 GMT

    Hi Akash, hope to c u soon in indian colors,u deserve it mate.keep up the spirit u will get through.btw Indian team needs ur fielding too , tkkr,brgds sagar

  • Nilangshu Nandi on October 11, 2008, 14:37 GMT

    Hi Aakash, am pretty sure that you would be soon back to where you belong--Indian Team. Your technique is awesome and i still remember your contribution in the Australia series. All the best for your future opportunities. "Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision." - Muhammad Ali

  • Aakash on October 11, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Dear Raghav, Many thanks for your feedback. Yes, you guessed it right. I'm indeed coached by Mr. Sinha. Hope all's well with you. God bless.

  • Raghav Mehra on October 11, 2008, 9:58 GMT

    Hi Aakash, hope to see you donning the blue soon (you deserve it probably more than anyone else in the domestic circuit). By the way, were you by any chance coached by Tarak Sinha? Wish you all the best.

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  • Raghav Mehra on October 11, 2008, 9:58 GMT

    Hi Aakash, hope to see you donning the blue soon (you deserve it probably more than anyone else in the domestic circuit). By the way, were you by any chance coached by Tarak Sinha? Wish you all the best.

  • Aakash on October 11, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Dear Raghav, Many thanks for your feedback. Yes, you guessed it right. I'm indeed coached by Mr. Sinha. Hope all's well with you. God bless.

  • Nilangshu Nandi on October 11, 2008, 14:37 GMT

    Hi Aakash, am pretty sure that you would be soon back to where you belong--Indian Team. Your technique is awesome and i still remember your contribution in the Australia series. All the best for your future opportunities. "Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision." - Muhammad Ali

  • sagar on October 11, 2008, 14:38 GMT

    Hi Akash, hope to c u soon in indian colors,u deserve it mate.keep up the spirit u will get through.btw Indian team needs ur fielding too , tkkr,brgds sagar

  • Sidhanta Patnaik on October 11, 2008, 15:25 GMT

    Hi Akash, This blog of your's reveals the mind frame of a cricketer who has been on the fringes for a long long long time. Well I seriously feel you could have stayed on in the team till date. There have been so many players who have been axed from the team but two players who I feel have been wrongly kept out of the team are You and Shiv Sunder Das. But however Cricket is not fair always and there are only 11 who can play and who better than a cricketer like you who will share the same sentiments. And I like your approach of playing for enjoying as told by Micheal Artheton

  • ramnath on October 11, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    Sorry Akash, everybody knows the harsh truth. If you were world class you would be playing for india right now. So please accept the reality and stop making excuses. I saw the match under question and even though you might be playing at your peak powers, you are still way below par when you consider the likes of Sehwag, Ghambir or Jaffer. Anyways I just thought you should know

  • ANDY on October 11, 2008, 18:24 GMT

    Akash,i am a big fan of urs and was expecting u to score heavily in the said match.Though u have explained the circumstances and the situation,it's no use as the selectors at the end of the match r interested only in the scoreboard.The fact that wasim jaffer scored a near hundred must have been a disappointment for u too.And the middle order batsmen all made themselves hundreds,save badrinath.So there.Even in the irani trophy u didn't perform to the level that was expected of u.Your first class average is still less than 50 unlike messers sehwag and Gambhir.I am not trying to criticize u or discourage u.U have just turned 30 and still have a couple of years for making a comeback to the test team. The most important thing is to make sure that u remain ahead of jaffer,M.vijay,pujara and co. in case an injury or something else opens up a place. why did u have to play in the minor leagues in england when u should have got a place in one of the county sides is still a mystery for me????????

  • ANDY on October 11, 2008, 18:25 GMT

    Akash,i am a big fan of urs and was expecting u to score heavily in the said match.Though u have explained the circumstances and the situation,it's no use as the selectors at the end of the match r interested only in the scoreboard.The fact that wasim jaffer scored a near hundred must have been a disappointment for u too.And the middle order batsmen all made themselves hundreds,save badrinath.So there.Even in the irani trophy u didn't perform to the level that was expected of u.Your first class average is still less than 50 unlike messers sehwag and Gambhir.I am not trying to criticize u or discourage u.U have just turned 30 and still have a couple of years for making a comeback to the test team. The most important thing is to make sure that u remain ahead of jaffer,M.vijay,pujara and co. in case an injury or something else opens up a place. why did u have to play in the minor leagues in england when u should have got a place in one of the county sides is still a mystery for me????????

  • Raghu on October 11, 2008, 19:26 GMT

    Hey Akash, For millions of readers like me, we enjoy your columns more than Suresh Menon's or any other journalist's columns. Coz what they gives is just describe extravagantly of what happened. But you give us the basic truth. Just the basic facts from up close including what goes on in the minds of the players on the field. Really up close. So please continue to write these columns and more often.

    (No ill feelings against other sports journalists.)

  • Sriraj on October 12, 2008, 4:52 GMT

    Hi Aakash,

    Nice article from you and really unlucky that you had to be a victim of the odd bounce. I like your batting alot. Its really solid and the opening partnerships you did in Pakistan and Australia were really good. I also like your mindset. I became a bigger fan of you after reading your interview with cricinfo once.

    You surely deserve to be in the Indian line-up. All the best with your future!