April 2, 2008

Footwork my foot

In the light of Sehwag's latest blitzkrieg, it is worth asking: what value does technical correctness in general, and footwork in particular, hold these days?
84



Dravid and Sehwag: same generation, different schools © PA Photos

Watching Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid bat together in the Chennai Test, it was difficult to shake off the feeling that the old order was yielding to the new, and that cricket was completing a technical revolution that might be as far-reaching as the financial one currently underway. While Sehwag went about busting the myth of footwork, Dravid hinted that he might be the last of the great technicians.

One of cricket's most enduring stories concerns a coach telling his ward who has just played a shot, "That's terrible. Look where your feet are." The immortal reply is, "Yes. But look where the ball is." While coaches deal in processes, players such as Sehwag deal in the product.

The basic tenets of batsmanship involve bringing the bat down straight, getting the foot to the pitch of the ball, playing with bat and pad close together, head over the ball, driving with the elbow high, following through to complete the drive - a whole accordion of dos and don'ts. Batsmen like Sehwag, and before him Sanath Jayasuriya, compressed that accordion to play a kind of music not heard from opening batsmen. Only one thing matters: balance.

There have been batsmen who followed their own rules. Garry Sobers wasn't much of a one for footwork - his 254 for the World XI in Australia, which Don Bradman considered the finest innings played in that country, was remarkable for the scant regard for footwork for the most part. The argument then was that Sobers could get away with it because he was a genius.

Such disregard for footwork is already the norm now. So what has thrown a bridge across the genius and the journeyman in just a couple of generations? The quality of bats, for one. Some of them seem to be one extended "sweet spot", capable of sending the ball screaming to the fence from the merest push. Smaller grounds, better wickets, lighter equipment, superior fitness, and better physical protection as provided by the helmet and body padding, have all made it easier for the batsman.

In the 1980s, Barry Richards observed that batting technique was changing. He was met with howls of protest from the traditionalists, who said that technique could never change; the accordion must remain. Yet if Sehwag can stand still and deliver in the manner he does, thus conserving energy and time, why would his style not replace the coaching manual? The two ways of batting, traditionalists will aver, are the right way and the wrong way. The former is a system written in stone while the latter is anything that breaks those rules.

The modern batsman feels the two ways of batting are the effective (or productive) way and the ineffective (or unproductive) way. For don't forget, fitness levels have improved all round; the perfect cover-drive is often easily stopped. Yet if the fielding captain is uncertain whether the batsman will drive to cover or point, or even midwicket, nothing is easily stopped. In fact, the essence of modern batting has to be its unpredictability. As the South African bowlers showed on a wicket not particularly helpful to them, bowlers can keep a technician quiet for long periods because he is predictable. Similar questions provoke identical responses, and the accordion, far from providing a range of sounds can actually get stuck playing the same notes over and over again.

 
 
All batsmanship can be reduced to the moment when the bat actually meets the ball, and then the only rule is: balance is all. Watch the great players - bats may come down from second slip, the ball might be met on the rise or away from the body, the wrong hand might lead the shot. Yet at the moment of contact, there is perfect balance
 

Thanks to one-day cricket Dravid introduced an element of unpredictability into his batting over a major portion of his career. He still surprises with his ability to move across the stumps and turn the ball past square leg, for example. And when that opens up gaps in the field, he gets his runs in the orthodox, "approved" manner. When he slips from his considered orthodoxy, he does it almost apologetically. The next generation will do the reverse - sacrifice orthodoxy for effectiveness, and apologise only when forced to follow the manual.

Of the six batsmen who have made 10,000 runs, the three Indians are technically superior to the two Australians and the West Indian. This is no coincidence; our players pray at the altar of orthodoxy, and even some of our internationals have shown signs of being over-coached.

If once coaches destroyed our players, that role is now being played by commentators. Perhaps this is the downside of having former internationals on the panel. Obsessed with the manual, they pay little attention to effectiveness. You can hear the cry, "Poor footwork", for example, at regular intervals. Sadagoppan Ramesh, the left-hand opening batsman, had a middling record, and there was promise of better things to come when he nearly scored a century against Wasim Akram and Pakistan. Yet so persistent was the cry of "No footwork" that he paid the price.

There is more than one way to be successful. More than one way to be effective. All batsmanship can be reduced to the moment when the bat actually meets the ball, and then the only rule is: balance is all. Watch the great players - bats may come down from second slip, the ball might be met on the rise or away from the body, the wrong hand might lead the shot. Yet at the moment of contact, there is perfect balance.

Although both Dravid and Sehwag are of the same generation, they belong to different schools of batsmanship. The success of the latter, and the manner of it, might render the textbook of the former obsolete. Let us enjoy the last of the great technicians while we can, and before Twenty20 makes all technical discussions irrelevant.

Suresh Menon is a writer based in Bangalore

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vladtepes on April 4, 2008, 12:30 GMT

    Sehwag's cheap dismissal in the second test match was because of his lack of positive footwork. Had it been the batsman's paradise of Chennai the ball would not have turned into him and taken the edge onto the stumps.

  • steveb3277 on April 4, 2008, 3:13 GMT

    If I was a youngster I would be reading this and thinking that I might be potentially wasting my time with coaching. As a few people have mentioned, technique becomes vital where anything less than a perfect batting surface is served up. Sehwag is a great eye player and his career record reflects this. However, the current Test is an example of how technique becomes important where the surface is not a road. 99% of cricket is played on less than perfect batting surfaces. Move away from the technical aspects of the game at your on peril.

  • Wolfie on April 4, 2008, 2:37 GMT

    I guess India's batting performance in Ahmedabad proves that when the ball starts doing something, without technique you are not going to go anywhere.

  • GODLAVER on April 4, 2008, 2:24 GMT

    I hope everyone got any idea how the India batting line up baffled on the seaming pitch of Ahmedabad. All the top order wickets were fell because of lack of footwork. It is easy to play upon the flat tracks, but yesterday the grassy wicket showed the old story of Indian cricket.

  • Fab4_cricket on April 4, 2008, 2:06 GMT

    Seems like you spoke too soon. The value of footwork is realized only when the going is tough not when there are tracks like the one seen in Chennai. A good thing about having proper footwork is, it acts as an insurance during the times when form deserts a batsman. If he starts failing for 10-15 innings, which is quite common, the so called experts in the media box would be quick to pounce on the lack of footwork, which clearly was the case with S Ramesh.

  • ABQOOL on April 3, 2008, 21:32 GMT

    No footwork = 76 all out. The basic fundamentals of any game never change. Its ironic that India posted this score right after this article.

  • TeamAB on April 3, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    Any comments now, seeing what happened at Motera? Flat wickets don't need footwork as most people would agree, but land on a 'slightly (if only)' green wicket, and that's the most important ingredient, without which you are doomed!

  • mustufa on April 3, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    I guess the difference is there to see, the value of footwork, though it did not help Dravid survive in the second test, but it needed a special ball to get him out, so stop thinking that the foot work my foot works, it does not, the reason guys can score faster is the standard of bowling and the standard of pitches.

    Sehwag as good as he is, is no where near greatness.

  • Shash28 on April 3, 2008, 16:19 GMT

    There is more than one way to be successful but... success at the highest level, in the toughest conditions... might be more likely by the greatest technicians. And after watching a great first session at Ahmedabad - good footwork on a placid pitch would have still got you a good total, footwork on a green top could have got you more than 76. Batsmen were caught in two minds and ever caught in the middle

  • dgjohnson on April 3, 2008, 8:44 GMT

    Just to add to my earlier post on the importance of footwork when there is lateral movement (seam or spin) see India's effort today - 76 all out. Sehwag bowled off an inside edge reaching at a wide delivery...need I say more?

  • vladtepes on April 4, 2008, 12:30 GMT

    Sehwag's cheap dismissal in the second test match was because of his lack of positive footwork. Had it been the batsman's paradise of Chennai the ball would not have turned into him and taken the edge onto the stumps.

  • steveb3277 on April 4, 2008, 3:13 GMT

    If I was a youngster I would be reading this and thinking that I might be potentially wasting my time with coaching. As a few people have mentioned, technique becomes vital where anything less than a perfect batting surface is served up. Sehwag is a great eye player and his career record reflects this. However, the current Test is an example of how technique becomes important where the surface is not a road. 99% of cricket is played on less than perfect batting surfaces. Move away from the technical aspects of the game at your on peril.

  • Wolfie on April 4, 2008, 2:37 GMT

    I guess India's batting performance in Ahmedabad proves that when the ball starts doing something, without technique you are not going to go anywhere.

  • GODLAVER on April 4, 2008, 2:24 GMT

    I hope everyone got any idea how the India batting line up baffled on the seaming pitch of Ahmedabad. All the top order wickets were fell because of lack of footwork. It is easy to play upon the flat tracks, but yesterday the grassy wicket showed the old story of Indian cricket.

  • Fab4_cricket on April 4, 2008, 2:06 GMT

    Seems like you spoke too soon. The value of footwork is realized only when the going is tough not when there are tracks like the one seen in Chennai. A good thing about having proper footwork is, it acts as an insurance during the times when form deserts a batsman. If he starts failing for 10-15 innings, which is quite common, the so called experts in the media box would be quick to pounce on the lack of footwork, which clearly was the case with S Ramesh.

  • ABQOOL on April 3, 2008, 21:32 GMT

    No footwork = 76 all out. The basic fundamentals of any game never change. Its ironic that India posted this score right after this article.

  • TeamAB on April 3, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    Any comments now, seeing what happened at Motera? Flat wickets don't need footwork as most people would agree, but land on a 'slightly (if only)' green wicket, and that's the most important ingredient, without which you are doomed!

  • mustufa on April 3, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    I guess the difference is there to see, the value of footwork, though it did not help Dravid survive in the second test, but it needed a special ball to get him out, so stop thinking that the foot work my foot works, it does not, the reason guys can score faster is the standard of bowling and the standard of pitches.

    Sehwag as good as he is, is no where near greatness.

  • Shash28 on April 3, 2008, 16:19 GMT

    There is more than one way to be successful but... success at the highest level, in the toughest conditions... might be more likely by the greatest technicians. And after watching a great first session at Ahmedabad - good footwork on a placid pitch would have still got you a good total, footwork on a green top could have got you more than 76. Batsmen were caught in two minds and ever caught in the middle

  • dgjohnson on April 3, 2008, 8:44 GMT

    Just to add to my earlier post on the importance of footwork when there is lateral movement (seam or spin) see India's effort today - 76 all out. Sehwag bowled off an inside edge reaching at a wide delivery...need I say more?

  • tmdumela on April 3, 2008, 6:45 GMT

    The article is about 'processes and product', which in my view has nothing about pitches - covered and/or uncovered. The example of Rahul Dravid and Virenda Sehwag is classic - they are both indian. In South Africa, Herschelle Gibbs and Jacquis Kallis play for the same franchise but have a completely different approach to batting in terms of technique. You get taught to play like Kallis and Dravid - text book shots - You adjust that knowledge to suit your personal strengths like Gibbs and Sehwag. Add Graeme Smith to the picture - try batting holding the bat the way Smith does its intricatley difficult.

  • ramesh_sound on April 3, 2008, 6:31 GMT

    A lot of comments on the nature of pitches and that is true. At the same time, one should also not ignore the fact that cricket was the only game that allowed fast bowling into the body of the batsman without protecting the head for a long time. The classic technique was to also make sure the batsman ends up not getting hurt, as far as possible. With helmets, batsman does not care about a potentially lethal injury to the head. As long as that threat is not there, it becomes a game of getting into position and freeing your arms. Can you even imagine Sehwag playing like this, against the 1980s West Indians without a helmet? Of course, one man did make a 100 in 90 balls against Marshall, Holding and co. It did help to be as technically accomplished as Sunil Gavaskar.

  • demon_bowler on April 3, 2008, 3:42 GMT

    It's one thing being able to play without footwork on a flat wicket in perfect conditions, quite another doing it against the swinging ball or on a turning wicket. Look at Sehwag's 4th innings average compared with his career average (29.00 vs. 53.48). I'd like to see Sehwag batting in England in May.

  • chembu on April 3, 2008, 1:04 GMT

    Sehwag gave India some good opening partnerships in Australia apart from scoring 180+ and 150+ scores in grounds like MCG and put too much pressure on the aussies by scoring the runs quickly, if you guys remember he also scored couple of centuries in the last one-day series India has played in NZ when every other so called technically equipped batsmen failed miserably, without technique one may score a quick 20s or 30s or may be 50s but not big hundreds like he did, his last 10 centuries are above 150, you can't survive for that long without technique, he is an extraordinary batsman with his own technique, cricket technique books are not written by God, it is written by human beings who are cricketers, if Sehwag can uppercut the short ball outside the offstump consistently and successfully, better write this in the so called technique books becuase even Sachin playes this shot, not every tom, dick and harry can play this short without technique.

  • nag88 on April 3, 2008, 0:56 GMT

    Examples of exceptions can't make rules.I am not at all convinced that a 20 format or a 50 over situation is a perfect example for judging what's is the basic essentials of good batting is. These two versions have a different risk levels and the batsman is encouraged to take extra risk and send the ball into stands either aerial root or down the ground. This comes with equal risk of your survival at the crease. Just a triple hundred and we make Sehwag a hero. We all know how fragile he looks all the time and wondering is it this ball he is going to get out. Wonder why the author compares great technique with a couple of good knocks? The ability to make runs consistently is what is important,technique makes it more certain.

  • samshanthi on April 3, 2008, 0:54 GMT

    Suresh Menon is correct as for as foot work is concerned, but, that is restricted to dead wickets or flat pitches where the ball does not rise above your knee. Any half decent bowler on a decent wicket, who can swing, can take out the likes of Kapil or Sehwag. Menon's article is an instant reaction to Sehwag's triple hundred on a docile wicket than out of any sensible cricketing knowledge.

  • US_Indian on April 2, 2008, 23:56 GMT

    Well lets think in right perspective, Sehwag has tremendous daring, power, eye and limbs cordination, and to certain extent he has been successful. He has lots of limitations and weaknesses which opposing captains and bowlers have time and again exploited and made him fail. Thats it period. Comparing him with Jayasurya is incorrect because apart from being a powerful hitter, player of unorthodox strokes he had a full array of strokes and good player of short ball and also he had copybook strokes in his repertoire. Players like Azharuddin, Richards,Aravinda, Inzamam, Sachin, Gower, Border etc were copy book cricketers but innovative ones, they had everything,footwork,balance,eye limb co-ordination, placement etc. And there are purist like Gavaskar, Boycott, Zaheer Abbas etc. Most other players fall anywhere between these three categories. But having said that cricket like any other game has certain techniques, basics.Footwork is one of them to succeed at the highest level or else fail

  • jollyjugg on April 2, 2008, 23:27 GMT

    The technique and such things matter only to the purists. To a strategist it is how many runs a batsman scores that matters. If the basic technique is right then it does not matter if a guy has high or low back lifts, balancing of weight while playing the shot and all such crap. He is the only guy who has score triple century at international level in 75 years of indian cricket. If he can bat through all day like the way he does then all those who talk about technique can take a leave and go home. We should stop being hypocrites and start appreciating the talent and genius of sehwag, coz he too is a once in a life time kind of player. You cant find another of his type soon. How many fearless batsmen can you point out in the whole world, who dont give a damn to the game situation and take the attack to the opposition. The only other name that comes to mind is Adam Gilchrist. As long as sehwag continues in this fashion and entertains, i wont mind how he scores those runs. Goodbye purists

  • rity_rocks on April 2, 2008, 23:15 GMT

    I believe that the main reason why footwork was developed was because of uneven bounce and laterel movement (swing and seam). In a pitch where there is little uneven bounce and laterel movement, like in Chennai in the last Test match, it is possible for a player of extremely high hand-eye coordination like Sehwag to score lots of runs. However, when there is uneven bounce and swing, we see players that are more technical succeed (such as Dravid) and less technical players (Sehwag) fail.

  • Dhar40 on April 2, 2008, 23:02 GMT

    The real comparison is not the Chennai test. There Sewagism is king but like others have said before.. what is the true test of a batsman's mettle? If you had Roberts, Holding,Garner and Marshall on a fist day pitch at Kensington in 1980. Who would your money be on to get a 50. My $$ is on Dravid.

  • MasterClass on April 2, 2008, 20:28 GMT

    There are a thousand amazing observations one can make about Sehwag but I did want to make one point about his mental toughness. However his concept of toughness is not to simply survive out there (like Dravid) but to dominate. How else does one explain his record of last 10 tons being over 150 (with several double & triple tons!). To him nothing less than dominance & victory is acceptable. I think he would be an awesome captain for India

  • MridulM on April 2, 2008, 20:26 GMT

    Foot work or no foot work, important point is what all these techniques have been derived for? Making runs, defying conditions and staying on the wicket. Even staying on the wicket as such has no value if one is not scoring runs (might be helpful in drawing matches but not in winning them). To say this way is right or that way is wrong is totally conservative point of view. The whole purpose of batting is making runs in all conditions. Process are meant for achieving goals, they are not something to hold dear to life. True! it's good batting technique that helps a batsmen when he is not in good form but if somebody can come out of bad form without any need of it why should one bother for such a process. Important thing is to realize which path suits you more, which way you can be more productive and more consistent rest else is our blind faith. A few odd examples for good technicians also can be found as Sehwag in seaming conditions.

  • vaidyar on April 2, 2008, 20:23 GMT

    Watch Sehwag's innings in Perth. There was not that much of an unorthodoxy as to write an article. The main difference as many pointed out was the wicket. For something like the one laid out in Chennai, you really don't need footwork. Also, watch Dravid's innings in Sydney, although he was woefully out of form he ground his way to a 50. Imagine an unorthodox flashy player doing that? There are 2 sides to every coin. And we need both for cricket to be as thrilling as it is.

  • MasterClass on April 2, 2008, 20:21 GMT

    Everyone missed the most important point made in the article. I wouldn't be surprise if even the author didn't realize that it was the most important point. Here it is: "..bowlers can keep a technician quiet for long periods because he is predictable..."

    If one cares about scoring then the discussion about technique is moot. One should employ whatever method that works to accumulate runs (preferably at a decent clip). I do agree that more important than footwork is balance. It's not that batsmen like Sehwag use no footwork! What they do is use just the amount needed to get them into a position to execut the shot in perfect balance with power and placement. I also disgree that Sachin is a technician or is too concerned about technique. Most times (test or ODI) Sachin scores at near run-a-ball. He does so by using every weapon in the batsmen arsenal including some very unorthodox (but high %) shots. Even VVS is the same using wrist work to place shots.

  • cricamateur on April 2, 2008, 20:06 GMT

    Quite a few of the comments have given the perfect explanation for the need for good footwork as a key to success in all batting conditions, particularly difficult conditions. The factual example given by DGJohnson is really telling, and this explains why Dravid has a more successful record under trying conditions compared to Sehwag, and why he is more consistent irrespective the conditions. Like many other media people without hands-on experience, or for that matter like many non-traditional & aggressive cricketers like Tony Greig, Suresh Menon has fallen into the trap of analyzing results in a very superfluous manner. But we must give him credit for providing the platform for such good analysis of a very interesting issue.

  • Sumit_G on April 2, 2008, 19:33 GMT

    I dont think footwork is overrated at all. I just have one statement to make . "Sehwag" is what you are born with, "Dravid" is where your hardwork, persistence and discipline can get you

    Both are equally lovely , cherishable and legends in their own right

  • mcmenon on April 2, 2008, 19:11 GMT

    Looks like the author never watched a David Gower cover drive or he simply forgot to mention it. Foot work matters on a seaming or turning pitch, it matters a great deal. Sunil Gavaskar's innings at Bangalore v Pakistan, GRV's 97 at Chepauk, Mohinder Amarnath's 100's against Imran & Co/ Marshall & Co - were all classic examples of 'good foot work winning.'

    That said, Sehwag is a special batsman; how many such special talent are there in Indian domestic cricket? When in trouble, method helps - always.

  • MVEE on April 2, 2008, 18:27 GMT

    I am amazed that someone like you (with so much knowledge of the game) also got carried away with Sehwag's innings on a dead track (to put it mildly). You cannot compare Dravid and Sehwag. Dravid is an all time great and has played match winning knocks on tough conditions and situations and has been a pillar of consistency. Sehwag's average looks good only because of his big scores .....except for the series in Australia and to a certain extent in Pakistan where he was in a zone......his batting techniques have been exposed. Coming to Dravid and his ability to make fast runs......it is like asking a Bhimen Joshi to sing pop music because it is more popular. Commercialisation and money will rob the beauty of the game and the only thing left is the excitement or depression of victory and/or defeat. Why 20:20 we can also try for 10:10 with each batsmen getting one over to hit the ball out of the park that would make it more faster and exciting.

  • Jawz on April 2, 2008, 17:38 GMT

    The author seems to have lost balance while praising Sehwag's style of play which has succeeded more often than not on the placid pitches of India and Pakistan. One would have expected more balanced analysis from an experienced writer like Suresh Menon. Dravid is indeed an unlucky man. It seems he should have been more selfish than selfless. Dhoni played a dirty hand in England and now is trying to bask in glory by not acknowledging the contributions of players like Dravid and Ganguly. How Dhoni is silent on Tendulkar is amazing. Dravid you have immortalized by your performances.

  • ajayarora on April 2, 2008, 17:37 GMT

    Not long ago same Sehwag was not able to score on dead Indian pitches against domestic opponents and there were all questions when he got selected for Australia. Everybody was raising fingers on the selection. Yesterday cricinfo carried an article on Sehwag around opportunities and challenges motivating him. I like Sehwag as a player but he is in league of Ganguly and not Dravid and Tendulkar. I believe it is the state of mind and the challenge that brings the best. Tendulkar hardly delivers when chasing large totals(barring a couple including C&B final) Sehwag can think of 700 when looking at score of 540 instead of avoiding follow on. The attitude converts into footwork/balance or whatever that brings success. I remember India disastrous tour of NZ before South Africa world cup where Sehwag returns with two centuries in ODI while the indian team never crossed 300 in their entire stay there. It will be interesting to see Sehwag as a captain given his approach towards the game.

  • AkashVijay on April 2, 2008, 17:35 GMT

    Fortune favors the brave -- especially on pitches that don't have much in it for the fast bowlers

  • Light-House on April 2, 2008, 17:16 GMT

    Well the irony is Old School Chap has complete a unique double of 10K in ech form of the game while Sehwag seems to be struggling in ODIs and Dravid has fallen out of favour for the ODIs. I hope Dravid returns back to ODI fold.

  • putrevus on April 2, 2008, 17:03 GMT

    I dont think Sehwag was a failure in NZ and England the sample is too much , in NZ in 2003 the pitches were so under prepared the matches were over in less than 3 days.In england he scored a century when it was seaming all over the place, and Sehwag avg against in England is 26 in India, he has scored centuries in all the countries, yes it helps if the pitch is flat but Sehwag has scored tons in all countries except NZ where he played 2 tests and those were horrible pitches.

    Sehwag can score century in a test match if he plays for 80 balls the condition of pitch doesnt matter as long he is good state of mind which he was not in South Africa in 2006.He can get out on first ball on flattest of pitches too, but he is very consistent in avg over 50 in tests, which many so called technicians have not achieved.

  • JogeshPanda on April 2, 2008, 16:45 GMT

    Technique has its own place in cricket and nobody can survive witout it.Thats why,an out touch sewhag might look horribly silly whereas a out of form dravid can pull off couple of fighting half centuries in down under in pressure situation by sheer application. But shorter version of cricket's batting demands more improvisation and applications resulting in sachin playing a pull to long on or Dhoni swinging the bat like sword to connect the ball and send it to out of the park. Batting for some guy might be just meeting the ball with bat but for some it might be moving a brush on a canvas.

  • aphenomenon on April 2, 2008, 16:06 GMT

    Mr Menon has certainly forgotten to mention that this formula works mainly in the subcontinent...also I am not sure why there has been no mention of V.V.S Laxman. Off course, he is not Dravid nor a Tendulkar but a technician of his own right.

    Is it not evident that, it is these so called technicians who hold & perform better.

    Take nothing away from the likes of Sehwag, they will make the 5 day game more appealing to the coming generations (if it is still aroun by then).

    But it need not always work.!!

  • r1m2 on April 2, 2008, 15:07 GMT

    Suresh, a very excellent article. I agree with it all. For me both styles orthodox or unorthodox batting is okay as long as it's effective to bring about a good result or setting a match up in a good way. Just one thing is, I believe a lot of times much improvisation is necessary from the batsman. There are a few batsman incapable of improvising at times. One particular example would be Kallis in the last world cup, first and the second match against Australia. While in the first match he needed to change his orthodox way to concentrate on hitting the ball, in the second he needed to steady the ship first. He made a mess on both occasions. Yet, Kallis in some other matches have improvised well. Same thing applies to Dravid and Sehwag. Dravid may have to give way to orthodoxy at times and Sehwag may have to adhere to the manual. Being versatile and to improvise according to different bowling or match situation will make their batting more effective. Dravid's already shown that ability.

  • cmac on April 2, 2008, 14:36 GMT

    Steve Waugh and Allan Border scored about half of their 10,000+ runs through sheer determination - though Waugh had a beautiful cut shot (which the Poms bowled to almost exclusively in the 89 ashes series). The guts of those two champions are what made them the players that they were. A good eye will only get you so far - it's why Sehwag has been intermittently dropped from the Test team. The exception here is Brian Lara - his footwork was neither good nor bad, but there truly was no-one better to watch in full flight. Otherwise, the best players have always been and will remain those with the best footwork (Tendulkar, Dravid, Jayawardene and perhaps even someone like Greg Chappell) and temperament (Waugh, Border etc.)

  • UKoorella on April 2, 2008, 14:24 GMT

    Sadagopan Ramesh's best shot was edge to slip that fell short and raced to the boundary he had nothing else in his armoury. So stop talking of Ramesh like he was the next Sobers who was put down by the media.

    On technique and adaptability : I am doing research on using kinematics in sports i have posted my views on this before in a blog :

    http://udi-potentialenergy.blogspot.com/2008/01/cricket-technique-and-grace.html

    Probably that will give you a perspective of what Technique is before thinking of sticking to it or changing it.

  • harishkumar8006 on April 2, 2008, 14:00 GMT

    A batsman's technique doesn't matter if it can be as productive as seen during Sehwag's innings in Chennai. It's always pleasing to watch. We should not forget cricket exists at this level only because of the entertainment it provides to its fans. If a batsmen bats for two days with the correct (textbook) technique and scores only a century, I don't think anybody would watch cricket and that won't be good for the game. If cricket has to gain more popularity than it has today, we need more entertaining innings like the Sehwag's in Chennai.

  • masterblaster666 on April 2, 2008, 12:01 GMT

    I don't know how people can dismiss this innings as a flat-pitch wonder because Sehwag has scored two huge centuries in Australia and he has been there only twice. Like aditya87 pointed out, the classical Jaffer was at a loss against Lee and Johnson but Sehwag took the attack to them and it paid off. You only need to move as much you need to to make contact, some people need to get right in line, others will reach out and still middle it 9 times out of 10. Of course, there is the chance the ball will swing away and they will get out but that's why such players also score runs at a better strike rate and also seem to have lulls between big innings; they are prone to getting out early on and Sehwag certainly is. Thing is, even Dravid for all his perfection can be had early on on the odd day, so Sehwag just rides his luck and has wound up with a Test average that compares quite favorably with Dravid's. Anyway, hardly any batsman misses out on flat pitches, so that's not an issue.

  • InLahore on April 2, 2008, 11:32 GMT

    I think this is just one of those pieces where the media creates a mountain of a molehill. Just one innings of 300 on flat pitch and there are talks of a new technique. What kind of record does he have on pitches where the ball is moving?

  • sportsfan on April 2, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    I totally agree with you. The technical manuals need to be rewritten. For example, the manuals tell you that you need to move your front foot close to the line of the ball when playing on your front foot, so there pad and bat are close together when you play the shot. but what if the ball moves in late? You would have to play the ball around the front pad which delays your shot and you get out lbw. Again, when you play your shot around your front pad, you are playing the ball across the line, which is against the coaching manual which contradicts itself. There are many anomalies in the conventional coaching manuals. The game is changing. The manuals need to change as well.

  • Shaju.K on April 2, 2008, 10:32 GMT

    Interesting article. Sure, Menon will have to hear a lot from the conventional footwork pandits. If Sehwag gets out to poor balls, it's because of his bad footwork. If it is Sachin, it's because of pitch issues, poor umpiring or otherwise he simply just gifted his wicket to the bowler.

  • The_other_side on April 2, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    The importance of foot work is not over rated. But in my opinion it works for some while few dont require a perfect footwork. There have been brilliant players who are unorthodox like Kapil, Sehwag from India. Great players like Viv Richards got away playing across. I think whether a player relies on foot work or not is decided at an unconscious level during evolution of technique at younger stages. I mean Sehwag never felt the necessity of moving feet due to possible excellent hand eye coordination where as Dravid has followed and digested the purist technique. However a technically correct batsman usually gets out to a good delivery and is easily adaptable to various playing conditions in general.(I dont know if this matters looking at Sehwag and Dravid Record both of which are very good)

  • dgjohnson on April 2, 2008, 9:14 GMT

    No footwork may be fine on flat wickets in subcontinent and elsewhere, but against a seaming ball on pitches with lateral movement, they are exposed: see Sehwag's record in England, NZ and SA as an example - 515 runs @27. Dravid by contrast scores 1871 @ 52. A classical batsman will prosper in difficult conditions, one wihtout footwork will fail.

    Perhaps the author should spend more time bemoaning flat test wickets instead?

  • Zahran_F on April 2, 2008, 8:43 GMT

    Your theory looks fine as long as you are playing on dead wickets in India or Pakistan. But otherwise - the old school still prevails. Just compare Shewag's record outside India and Pakistan against the bulk of his runs scored in India and Pakistan. He would have scored a few runs outside of India and Pakistan but nothing extra-ordinary. Case closed.

  • chetsGame on April 2, 2008, 8:34 GMT

    Excellent Point taken up! I've always believed that the "Balance" is important. Be it of the body Or between techniques. Now, if we see Sehwags innings, there havn't been too many chances (except for the slog sweep of Ntini) but, in terms of quality of shots played and the footwork involved, we've a debate on hand. I've never really been a great fan follower of Sehwag ,not because I doubt his ability, but due to his tenancy of taking the opposition for granted and forgetting the basics of the game. Dravid, on the other hand has always been a consistent performer(apart from the poor patch he's going through), and as rightly put the real test comes when the conditions are unfavorable. For Example, Sachin's 140 at Perth, Dravid at South Africa, also, I'd involve Sehwags latest 100 in Australia. Yes, we're at the end of watching the footwork legacy, so lets just Enjoy!

  • harsh4 on April 2, 2008, 8:29 GMT

    ...cont'd...Suresh is talking about improvisation. Past greats have displayed memorable stuff with nearly zero footwork - Azharuddin, Majid Khan and some others come to mind. But there's no way any of that can be sustained in a predictable fashion. Cricket batting is extremely sceintific. What Tendulkar does is one step ahead of the sceintific mastery rather than dismissing the fundamental realities of how bat should strike a moving ball. All great champions in any sport have shown us magic thru their improvisations but mostly only after mastering the basics of technique. John Mc Enroe or Maradona or Muhammad Ali were all innovative , daring and near genius in their execution as is Sachin. Let's ask them how many hours they had to put in to reach where they got. Footwork is central to the art and craft of batting and not peripheral as the article implies. Watch Roger Federer and see what happens when he's a step slower mobilitywise. Sehwag or anybody else is no exception.

  • albion1 on April 2, 2008, 8:08 GMT

    Don't agree totally. The movement to covered pitches has allowed those without footwork and a superb 'eye' to prosper. However these players are normally exposed on surfaces (or in atmospheric conditions) where the ball moves - Aus in 2005 for instance. If pitches continue to be made easier for batsman, by groundsman with 5 days cricket and resulting receipts in mind, then good footwork may indeed become a dead art. The fact that Sobers was able to play the way he did on uncovered pitches simply demonstrates he was a genius.

  • thenoostar on April 2, 2008, 8:06 GMT

    Even the best players dont have time to move their feet against the genuine fast bowlers. On a flat pitch Sehwag can be an awesome sight, on a seaming pitch (remember them?) He gets found out. The one day series in NZ in 2003, 2 Belters, 2 centuries, the rest were sporting pitches and he was rubbish.

  • Namboodiripad on April 2, 2008, 8:01 GMT

    Techique helps to improve the percentages. Which doesn't mean that the unorthodox won't work. But when the reflexes are down, the ball is doing something or your form is iffy, definitely the technician has always a better chance. Also don't forget that the purists have always had a problem with bowlers of quirky actions, which we have in plenty these days - Murali, Malinga, Paul Adams to name a few

  • sisonke on April 2, 2008, 7:57 GMT

    But the one point this whole article misses is the point about the type of picth they were playing on. In india and some of the subcontinent wickets, sehwag can get away with batting like that. But if he were to employ the same style in any one of south african pitches. Where the pitches are hard, quick and there is a bit of lateral movement, he would be found wanting. There is still room for technically sound batsman in this game.

  • ShanthaR on April 2, 2008, 7:12 GMT

    Very good article about this important issue. I think this is an universal issue. If you try to teach a kid to drive a car, they may say "that is not how so and so drive the car". I think the answer should be "you can do it when you are a prefessional driver, but now learn it in the correct way"

  • chennai_super_king on April 2, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    Did you say Sadogopan Ramesh ? He did not have the stuff to cut the mustard at international level. Period. Please do not compare him with footwork less genius and no his career was not halted by commentators.

  • George11 on April 2, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    Let's accept the fact that the two mentioned(Sehwag & Jayasuriya)are exceptionally gifted with natural ability of hand-eye coordination which enables them to get away with their lack of footwork against the quickies.And then there aare the purists' delight like Sachin,Dravid,Mahela - there are few more, who are gifted - Footwork & technic comes naturally to them.For those who are not that gifted, should still play copy book cricket and work harder to be successful over a longer period of time.

  • sri1010 on April 2, 2008, 6:32 GMT

    You will need a class ball to get technically correct batsman out. With the stand and deliver batsman its just any delivery that will get him out. For such batsman there is no such thing as a good delivery, as any delivery could reach the fence and so also any delivery can take his wicket.

    Just the question, why Sehwag could not go on to break Lara's record. He makes big hundreds and then gets out in the wierdest of fashions- just does not ad up.

    The sense of reliability is always there with technically correct batsmen. Though Sehwag's case of being in & out of the side, makes no sense. You need a balance of both in any side.

  • Supratik on April 2, 2008, 6:28 GMT

    Excellent article and points succinctly put. The most crucial reasons for this change of guard is in para five. The word "technique" is being churned over because of these reasons. One example from the Sehwag innings is the mis-timed slog-sweep of Ntini that sailed over square-leg for 6. Thats the modern bat for you! Another important factor is in this modern era, people are not just interested in a intense battle between bat and ball. We want higher strike-rates along with the number of runs, in a game where bowlers just make the numbers. So an "ugly" Hayden is being passed on as a semi-genius. All these factors of para 5 are applicable in his case too. However, quantity doesn't always mean quality. A test match with a conclusive result might have seen some ordinary cricket played. Cricket in that sense is becoming more of a physical game much like tennis has become. A Dravid will always lose out to Sehwag today and you are right, he is probably the last of the great technicians.

  • sid_red on April 2, 2008, 6:28 GMT

    Players like Sehwag are very instinctive in their batting approach. If the pitch suits their style and they get a good feel of hitting the ball well, they have a field day. But, this leads to inconsistency over a longer period of time.

    Players like Dravid, on the other hand, simply gut it out. They might not be as naturally talented as the swashbucklers, but they have the patience and the will power to frustrate even the most staunch opposition. Their technique helps them to be more consistent over a longer period of time.

    At the end of the day, both kind of batsmen are needed in the team to bring about perfect equilibrium and I sincerely hope that coaches all over the world continue to groom youngsters with an emphasis on technique.

  • masterblaster666 on April 2, 2008, 6:26 GMT

    @graphic23: true, but I think the title of his article is misleading, the issue is more about conventional technique and its relevance in present-day cricket. Sehwag used his feet to Paul Harris, to go inside out or reverse sweep him. Footwork or no footwork, Sehwag has scant regard for the textbook.

  • rnarayan on April 2, 2008, 6:23 GMT

    I don't necessarily see a contradiction. For a batsman to be consistently successful, a solid technique ("classical" if you want) is necessary before he CHOOSES to improvise. There is a story of a budding artist who asked Picasso for advice on abstract painting, and was told "first draw me a horse". Look at the early Sehwag and you will see a copy of Tendulkar. His is still a basically straight bat on the drive, though he may loft the ball. He may make room for himself when driving (the cut anyway needs room to play), but this has worked only when the ball is not doing much. The straight bat and a still head are based on sound physics, and a classical technique will still be the soundest option when the ball is moving around. The unorthodoxy, as we see it, is orthodoxy with optional extras added. I can't think of a single batsman who didn't get more or less in line who was successful in bowler friendly conditions.

  • vinjoy on April 2, 2008, 6:17 GMT

    Excellent article. However, I feel that the quest for enforcing a result of test match AT ANY COST (an idea infectous from Aussies) too is largely responsible for it. One point that the writer has not related is the Quality of Bowling. I wonder if Sehwag, Symonds, Gayles and Jayasuryas would have survived in 70s and 80s. Players like Dravid, Kallis are endangered species and the current media and so called experts (who derive pleasure watching Sehwags and company) too are responsible for this downgraded quality of cricket. If they say that Dravids and Kallis don't win too many matches, that is laregely because of lack of quality bowlers in the world today.

  • kapil_moondra on April 2, 2008, 6:11 GMT

    I think this article is hugely affected by the one inning on a flat pitch. Pure technician will always be in demand and better than non-technicians if at all we have a pitch like Sabina Park which India saw in 2006 or a pitch like Headingley, Leeds which india saw in 2002.

  • Chinnabhandar on April 2, 2008, 5:49 GMT

    Sehwag can score 300 hundred runs without footwork but if you see his dismissals, most of them will be because of a poor technique or footwork. Good footwork is important and becomes really necessary if you are playing on a difficult pitch and that is where you stand out as a great batsman. For instance Sachin's 114 at Perth. I cannot imagine what Sachin would have scored if he had had a footwork as good as Sehwag's! If somebody is batting on a flat pitch as the one in Chennai, he can easily score runs. I can still remember my coach shouting at me like anything if I got my footwork wrong. I firmly believe that having good footwork is mandatory without which a batsman will find himself in a very bad state when asked to bat on seaming and swinging pitches.

  • G111 on April 2, 2008, 5:44 GMT

    Brilliant article.Seeing the new generation of cricket , only Yuvraj has shown has good footwork.I liked the last line-In the age of Twenty 20 (which is about to arrive)footwork will be written off and coaching manuals re- written

  • vishosharma on April 2, 2008, 5:38 GMT

    Has the bat really been improved that much? If so, it should be equally more effective in the hands of the orthodox. I think it is a red herring; Menon has already told us that balance is all. In golf, Furyk looks awkward, but everyone knows that at the point of contact, his club face is as square as that of Tiger Woods.

    Dr. Visho Sharma

  • GavinWells on April 2, 2008, 5:38 GMT

    Today technique is not all encompassing. Do not put it in the dustbin as yet. All your talk of "Footwork - my foot" is crock! Geniuses are not regular guys - they happen once in a generation. Others have to learn the game the hard way. I am sure not a purist - but just like Shane Warne, there will arise a cricketer the world will sit and wonder. Learning to work the ball is a technique that has to be mastered, and has to come instantaneously from the subconscious. Perfect practice makes perfect. To play music one has to know the octaves and the ivory and ebony. One can become a Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (read Donald George Bradman) another Antonio Salieri (read Sanjay Manjrekar) and another Ludwig van Beethoven (read Sunil Manohar Gavaskar) and finally another Johann Sebastian Bach (Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards).

    When I was young my teacher always said "Do not generalize statements. Including this one!"

  • cricket_DD on April 2, 2008, 5:31 GMT

    If you look at the big picture.. all three indians scoring 10k runs have good techaniques.. what are the chances of a player like Sehwag being consistent for so many years and score more than 10k runs.. not that high and that is the reason he has been in and out of the team.. On his day he can take apart any team, Agreed! but he may also keep getting out because of poor footwork. Sachin, Sunny and Dravid were never left out of the test team, their solid technique meant they were never out of form for too long ...You dont want to tell youngsters not to look at their footwork, the ball may be at the boundary line this time but they may not get that lucky everytime....

  • Idol on April 2, 2008, 5:29 GMT

    I still feel that Virender Sehwag is too much of an exception to hope that his batting technique ( for the want of a better phrase) will define how batting will happen in future. Yes, it is probably goingto happen that 20-20 cricket will define how batting evolves in the coming days, but Sehwag's batting is a bit more than his willingness to play shots. Very few others are blessed with his mindset and clarity. And we are not even discussing about this talent itself. I do not see too many others in the horizon who can play that game. So, in all likelihood we will continue to have the traditionalists more than guys like Sehwag. But I do beleive that we will get to see new shots with every coming year like Ponting's short arm pull or Tendulkar's upward steer over the keeper. I do agree with your point though about the right technique being the one that is effective - text-bookish or not

  • SeenuSubbu on April 2, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    It was appalling to watch the Chennai test. While the purist grounded himself for a solid two days to get to his landmark, the impurist took off, partly entertaining and partly horrifying. You wouldn't invite "Gilli danda" folks to come belt the ball, in a test match. One can always watch that on the streets of rural India. Having said that, the most disgusting pitches are in India. The recent series in Australia was what re-kindled the interest in test cricket for me. Hope it doesn't die out by the time we wind up with RSA. Imagine the respect RP Singh and co generated in Australia with their swing, movement and bounce, here in Chennai they were belted worse than Bangladeshi bowlers. With mega billions in their kitty, why does BCCI play the Scrooge? Provide the right pitches and then see if footwork and techniques work or "pure gifted batting" thrives.

  • kumblesmen on April 2, 2008, 5:20 GMT

    The difference between traditional footwork approach and the modern hand-eye coordination approach is like comparing rap to classical singing. Both have their constituency to which they play. I am a traditionalist and have always appreciated sachin's straight drive or dravid through the covers. Yet I am not critical when sehwag slashes over third man. The pivotal issue is consistency. Sound technique ensures that you have your basics intact and it is easier to bounce back, while in the bang-bang version immortalized by the likes of afridi, its a matter left to chance. I think the difference in averages is testimony to this. Of course, Sehwag in tests has done well also because of the field placing, which for some reason remains a "test placement" rather than a ODI placement. Nothing should be taken away from Sehwag or players with his style of batting. They have redifned the game in many ways, but nothing can kill the skills required to reach the top. Not even God.

  • Subhash_M on April 2, 2008, 5:19 GMT

    What we witnessed in Chennai is not cricket. If the sea is smooth any idiot can sail through. Technque and skills won't get tested on lifeless wickets. Lets hope we get some sporting pitches and see how these so called "gifted players" perform.

  • harsh4 on April 2, 2008, 5:12 GMT

    With all due respect, it appears Suresh Menon has never played cricket before or surely not put in the hours to drill the basics to attempt to master the craft (and art) of quelling a delivery based on it's line, length, swing, swereve, turn, bounce and any physical variation or characteristic that it may posses (sp). Indeed, batting is all about contacting the bat with ball - an ideally at the pitch (or half volley or on the full) for front foot play and defensive or flicks and cuts or side strokes for back foot play (for shorter deliveries. It is for this very purpose that the MCC coaching manual was founded with exhaustive guidelines on how to achieve consistent bat and ball contact for desired results. Just like golf and tennis, it is indeed the precise contact moment that is crucial. All else (backswing, follow through, grip, stance, footwork etc.) is suggested to ensure that true contact occurs. It's quite similar with batting. What Suresh is talking about is improvisation..contd

  • Caveman. on April 2, 2008, 4:52 GMT

    Yeah... Let us enjoy the last of the great technicians while we can, and before Twenty20 makes all technical discussions irrelevant.

    After all, not for nothing did Ramachandra Guha so recently write "test match is Scotch ... T20 is the local hooch". But point taken - the way cricket has evolved, with the balance tilting more and more in favor of the batsman (both, in terms of laws of the game, and improvements in bats etc), cricket is no longer the purist's bastion.

    Wonder how long it will take before cricket merges into baseball.

  • Slash080 on April 2, 2008, 4:51 GMT

    Taking nothing away from Sehwag or from the views Suresh Menon holds, batting is still about technique & footwork constitutes to that technique in a big way. Stand & deliver kinna of batting technique is fine on docile tracks like the ones we've in the sub-continent or the new fast food of cricket, 20-20. Playing fast bowlers on bouncy tracks will be a nightmare as you are a sitting duck otherwise with no or proper footwork. Therefore it'd be inaccurate to dismiss the coaching techniques adopted to coach batting greats like Rahul,Sachin or Ricky Ponting. Youngsters learning to bat got to imbibe technique like Rahul/Sachin/Ponting & porbably imbibe agression like Sehwag or any other attacking, aggressive batsmen.

  • Gulle on April 2, 2008, 4:36 GMT

    Without taking anything away from the way sehwag has played, when he is in good form he will be able to play like this.He Destroyed the bowling attack. However When he hits a bad patch it takes much longer for him to come back when compared to other players who are technically superior. For example after the previous pakistan series, both Dravid and Sehwag hit the bad patch, dravid came back quickly when compared to sehwag and there are many instances like this in cricket.

  • Brainbird on April 2, 2008, 4:26 GMT

    I still think footwork is essential and that techique and skill are paramount. I am not disputing Sehwag's ability to strike the ball, but you have to admit that he has been found out on seaming tracks which assists swing and pace even though I admit that his 195 in Australia was superb. While Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman have been consistent abroad,on paceman friendly tracks Sehwag's inconsistency in dealing with swing both ways has left him vulnerable to the likes of Mcgrath, Pollock, Lee and Johnson, to say nothing of the pressure created by the absence of runs caused by the ramrod straight lines of Polly and Pigeon. Even though results should be a priority, I feel footwork and technique will help young batsmen fare better than blind hitting.

  • SPKay on April 2, 2008, 4:22 GMT

    I think we are all over-reacting to Sehwag's mammoth innings. Although he is a great player in his own right, his technique is not something one would prescribe to any youngster learning the game. Let's face it - this innings was played on a dead pitch: Not-so-celebrated batsmen got hundreds against the likes of Kumble. Sehwag was audacious, but he might not have been so successful on a seaming or bouncy wicket. On such surfaces, you need the Dravids and their technique.

    And to say that technique brings predictability may be extrapolating too much. Tendulkar is a classic example of someone with impeccable technique but he has the greatest record in one day cricket. Which means technique can be a means to achieve unpredictability, not a hindrance.

  • Percy_Fender on April 2, 2008, 4:16 GMT

    On wickets where there is no lateral movement of the ball as it was in Chennai recently, Sehwag will remain unstoppable. That is because he is very courageous physically, has all the run yielding strokes and above all, hits the ball very hard. The fielders have simply no chance. That apart, Sehwag's stance is very wide legged. This enables him to come forward or go back without any perciptible footwork and hit the ball with power and based on hand eye co-ordination. Srikanth before him also had a similar stance. The strange difference was that while Srikanth used to hook well, Sehwag has often been found wanting against the short ball on leg and middle. That could be because Sehwag's stance seems more rigid and inflexible which causes him to seem to be set in stone against this line of attack. I feel that without a good defence both on front foot and of the back foot is crucial for any batsman. That can only come about with a good technical approach.

  • Wolfie on April 2, 2008, 3:57 GMT

    I think it is all well and good when players are able to wallop the ball with their feet all over the place, but it is another thing when the ball starts moving around or turning. I feel that's the time one needs technique. Under those conditions I don't think Sewag, with due respect, can match players like Gavaskar or Dravid.

  • aditya87 on April 2, 2008, 3:45 GMT

    The fact is that on pitches that offer a bit to the bowler or where it is difficult to bat on, footwork is important. We say how Jaffer was getting caught on the crease in Australia whereas Sehwag had a lovely movement towards the ball. In the end, it's about moving your feet in the right way in order to get your head position right: footwork is a means to an end, but not the end.

  • Arsh on April 2, 2008, 3:41 GMT

    Footwork and technique is needed for someone who does not have a flair and is not as naturally gifted as others. This sort of player has to "learn" all of his cricket. Players like Sehwag don't need footwork because they are naturally gifted in hand-eye department.They just need to reinforce their natural over and over again. There are few exceptions in both cases though.

  • masterblaster666 on April 2, 2008, 3:30 GMT

    The thing to ponder is this question is being asked only now when Beefy in the 80s was already using his long hands to reach out and smash the ball rather than get himself into position which would take too long for a big man like him. Maybe the arrival of Sachin gave the purists hope, but Sachin was really an innovator in the guise of a classical exponent and as recently as Perth this year, he found an unorthodox way to render the short, nasty bouncer totally ineffective and even expensive. In fact, when I watched Sehwag going inside out to Paul Harris, I was reminded of the way Sachin belted Warne in 98. Sachin just does it elegantly enough for the purists to 'forgive', Sehwag has no such qualms. Surely, if you can win a Test by getting 150 in the final session of the match, the textbook ought to be consigned to the dustbin for the larger goal of conjuring a result. Is it any wonder that, except in India, Tests generally produce results these days and draws aren't honourable anymore.

  • Calavai on April 2, 2008, 2:57 GMT

    An article that matches the content in that effectiveness is more important than tradition as the latter is predictable & therefore unproductive.

  • graphic23 on April 2, 2008, 2:56 GMT

    Not at all. Sehwag is unique in this manner. I don't see him handling spinners in the same manner. I see him moving his feet a bit (every little bit counts against guys like Murali and Kumble). I think this article would've greatly benefited with a comparison with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as well because he moves his feet occasionally and also has Sehwag-like shots sometimes. But excellent article nonetheless.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • graphic23 on April 2, 2008, 2:56 GMT

    Not at all. Sehwag is unique in this manner. I don't see him handling spinners in the same manner. I see him moving his feet a bit (every little bit counts against guys like Murali and Kumble). I think this article would've greatly benefited with a comparison with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as well because he moves his feet occasionally and also has Sehwag-like shots sometimes. But excellent article nonetheless.

  • Calavai on April 2, 2008, 2:57 GMT

    An article that matches the content in that effectiveness is more important than tradition as the latter is predictable & therefore unproductive.

  • masterblaster666 on April 2, 2008, 3:30 GMT

    The thing to ponder is this question is being asked only now when Beefy in the 80s was already using his long hands to reach out and smash the ball rather than get himself into position which would take too long for a big man like him. Maybe the arrival of Sachin gave the purists hope, but Sachin was really an innovator in the guise of a classical exponent and as recently as Perth this year, he found an unorthodox way to render the short, nasty bouncer totally ineffective and even expensive. In fact, when I watched Sehwag going inside out to Paul Harris, I was reminded of the way Sachin belted Warne in 98. Sachin just does it elegantly enough for the purists to 'forgive', Sehwag has no such qualms. Surely, if you can win a Test by getting 150 in the final session of the match, the textbook ought to be consigned to the dustbin for the larger goal of conjuring a result. Is it any wonder that, except in India, Tests generally produce results these days and draws aren't honourable anymore.

  • Arsh on April 2, 2008, 3:41 GMT

    Footwork and technique is needed for someone who does not have a flair and is not as naturally gifted as others. This sort of player has to "learn" all of his cricket. Players like Sehwag don't need footwork because they are naturally gifted in hand-eye department.They just need to reinforce their natural over and over again. There are few exceptions in both cases though.

  • aditya87 on April 2, 2008, 3:45 GMT

    The fact is that on pitches that offer a bit to the bowler or where it is difficult to bat on, footwork is important. We say how Jaffer was getting caught on the crease in Australia whereas Sehwag had a lovely movement towards the ball. In the end, it's about moving your feet in the right way in order to get your head position right: footwork is a means to an end, but not the end.

  • Wolfie on April 2, 2008, 3:57 GMT

    I think it is all well and good when players are able to wallop the ball with their feet all over the place, but it is another thing when the ball starts moving around or turning. I feel that's the time one needs technique. Under those conditions I don't think Sewag, with due respect, can match players like Gavaskar or Dravid.

  • Percy_Fender on April 2, 2008, 4:16 GMT

    On wickets where there is no lateral movement of the ball as it was in Chennai recently, Sehwag will remain unstoppable. That is because he is very courageous physically, has all the run yielding strokes and above all, hits the ball very hard. The fielders have simply no chance. That apart, Sehwag's stance is very wide legged. This enables him to come forward or go back without any perciptible footwork and hit the ball with power and based on hand eye co-ordination. Srikanth before him also had a similar stance. The strange difference was that while Srikanth used to hook well, Sehwag has often been found wanting against the short ball on leg and middle. That could be because Sehwag's stance seems more rigid and inflexible which causes him to seem to be set in stone against this line of attack. I feel that without a good defence both on front foot and of the back foot is crucial for any batsman. That can only come about with a good technical approach.

  • SPKay on April 2, 2008, 4:22 GMT

    I think we are all over-reacting to Sehwag's mammoth innings. Although he is a great player in his own right, his technique is not something one would prescribe to any youngster learning the game. Let's face it - this innings was played on a dead pitch: Not-so-celebrated batsmen got hundreds against the likes of Kumble. Sehwag was audacious, but he might not have been so successful on a seaming or bouncy wicket. On such surfaces, you need the Dravids and their technique.

    And to say that technique brings predictability may be extrapolating too much. Tendulkar is a classic example of someone with impeccable technique but he has the greatest record in one day cricket. Which means technique can be a means to achieve unpredictability, not a hindrance.

  • Brainbird on April 2, 2008, 4:26 GMT

    I still think footwork is essential and that techique and skill are paramount. I am not disputing Sehwag's ability to strike the ball, but you have to admit that he has been found out on seaming tracks which assists swing and pace even though I admit that his 195 in Australia was superb. While Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman have been consistent abroad,on paceman friendly tracks Sehwag's inconsistency in dealing with swing both ways has left him vulnerable to the likes of Mcgrath, Pollock, Lee and Johnson, to say nothing of the pressure created by the absence of runs caused by the ramrod straight lines of Polly and Pigeon. Even though results should be a priority, I feel footwork and technique will help young batsmen fare better than blind hitting.

  • Gulle on April 2, 2008, 4:36 GMT

    Without taking anything away from the way sehwag has played, when he is in good form he will be able to play like this.He Destroyed the bowling attack. However When he hits a bad patch it takes much longer for him to come back when compared to other players who are technically superior. For example after the previous pakistan series, both Dravid and Sehwag hit the bad patch, dravid came back quickly when compared to sehwag and there are many instances like this in cricket.