July 30, 2009

The art of staying in the present

Concentration is about living in the moment - which unfortunately isn't as easy as it sounds
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Ever since I started playing cricket I've been told about the importance of concentration and how it's the key to batting for a long time and scoring a lot of runs. There has always been plenty of emphasis on this aspect of the game. I'd often hear a commentator say that a lapse in concentration cost the batsman his wicket, or a coach telling me to concentrate harder whenever I couldn't put the bat to ball.

Though I understood the importance of concentration fairly early in my career, I didn't entirely understand the concept itself. And I wasn't the only one.

What exactly is concentration?
A few years ago I was selected to play in the Challenger Trophy (before I made my international debut). We had an interactive session with Geet Sethi, the billiards player, whose definition of concentration remains etched in my memory. He said that concentration is simply remaining in the present. The longer you can remain in the present, the greater your span of concentration. Sounds easy, right?

Nearly two decades of playing cricket has taught me that it isn't. The mind has the peculiar ability of wandering off at the first available moment, and it doesn't need any permission. You might be in the middle of an important match, playing an important knock or bowling the most crucial over, but the mind has a mind of its own. Two places it likes to wander off to are the past and the future.

I'd either start feeling bad or good about what had happened in the past - the ball before - and get disconnected from the present, or I would start worrying about or prematurely celebrating events in the future, getting away from the task at hand.

Whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future does not have, or at least should not have, any bearing on the ball you're going to bowl or play next. All that matters is what you do with that particular ball. Remaining in the present is the only way to concentrate.

One needs to start concentrating once the bowler starts his run-up and the concentration has to be at its peak from the time of delivery till the ball hits the bat. (Of course, this changes for fielders, who need to be alert till one of them fields the ball.)

How can you improve your concentration?
Most games of cricket go on for at least six hours at a time, with occasional breaks. Now concentrating for a few minutes at a time is quite difficult, let alone six hours. So the idea is to switch off after every delivery and then switch on before the next. Switching off means allowing the mind to wander away for a few seconds before getting it back on track. This is not restricted to only batting and bowling; fielders do it too. One needs to relax before starting to concentrate again.

Batting or bowling in the nets can be instrumental in improving concentration, since one needs to concentrate ball after ball in that situation, with very little time in between (as there are usually about six or seven bowlers operating at all times).

The trigger movement
Most players follow a set routine - adjusting the equipment, or something else - that acts as a trigger to snap them out of wander mode and back to the game. Greg Chappell would look at the crowd after playing every ball; MS Dhoni fiddles with his bat and gloves; I scratch the leg-stump mark on the pitch with my shoe; Jason Gillespie used to stop for a few seconds and take a deep breath at the top of his run-up.

Staying in the game
While it's important to switch off and allow your mind to wander, one still needs to ensure that it doesn't drift too far away. For example, a captain has to still think about the field placements and plan his course of action, like bowling and fielding changes. A fielder is supposed to always be looking at the captain or bowler for instructions on any possible changes in the fielding position before starting to concentrate again. A batsman weighs his options of scoring runs off the next ball. I call this not-so-focused form of concentration "staying in the game".

The zone
Then there are some - we call them geniuses - who seemed to get into the zone at will: the state of mind where everything flows automatically. You don't consciously switch on or off, your mind doesn't wander into the past or the future, you're constantly aware of your surroundings and almost always play the ball on its merit or bowl where you want to bowl. We all have times when we get into such states, but to do it on a consistent basis is an art that only a few have mastered. Sachin Tendulkar seemed to get into the zone more regularly than the rest.

How can one attain that state at will?
Honestly, I don't know for sure. I've gathered over the years that even the greatest minds can wander. Thoughts keep coming into your head regardless of whether you want them to. The best way to deal with them is to acknowledge their presence rather than trying to ignore them. Trying to push the thoughts away gets you involved and takes you away from the task at hand. When you leave them unattended, they disappear. Tendulkar's innings in Sydney in 2004 is the perfect example of not paying heed to the thoughts that try to intrude. He didn't play a cover-drive for most, if not all, of his innings of over 200, and I refuse to believe that the thought of playing the shot didn't cross his mind, especially once he was set.

Sunil Gavaskar once told me that when you reach a milestone your mind takes you to the ones you love most. You feel an immediate connection to those close to you who are watching you achieve the feat and your heart goes out to them and with it your mind too, which results in a loss of concentration

When are we most vulnerable to losing concentration?
I used to think that staying in the present was important only at the beginning of the innings. After all, it's only at the start, when we're plagued with self-doubt, that we are most susceptible to failure; once we get that elusive start, everything falls in place. But I've learned that I was mistaken. A loss of concentration can occur at any point during an innings, and most often does when you're feeling good, like after going past a milestone, when you drop your guard a bit.

I once asked Sunil Gavaskar about it, and he said that when you reach a milestone, the mind takes you to the ones you love most. You feel an immediate connection to those close to you who are watching you achieve the feat and your heart goes out to them, and with it your mind too. You thank everyone on the ground by raising the bat, thank God for his blessings, and your family members in your heart. At such times the mind is anywhere but on the cricket field, and you often end up taking the long walk back before realising what's happened. His advice to me was to recognise that emotional surge and allow yourself a little time to regroup; perhaps spending a few overs at the non-striker's end at such times is a good idea.

The external factors
Bowlers and fielders, especially the ones close to the bat, often try to talk the batsman into playing a poor stroke. Few batsmen succumb to the tactic and lose focus; the majority have their own ways of dealing with it.

Sunny bhai told me that the best way is to ignore the comments and even avoid eye contact with the talkers. On the contrary, someone like Matthew Hayden relishes a chat with the bowler and the fielders. Then there's Brian Lara. The Indian team would decide before the start of a series against West Indies to leave him alone, because if you try to get under his skin he starts concentrating harder and then is almost impossible to dislodge.

Even the crowd has a role to play. But contrary to popular belief, a hostile crowd doesn't have as much of an impact as a cheering crowd.

I remember getting hit on the helmet in Melbourne during the Boxing Day Test in 2003, and 70,000 people cheered Brett Lee and Co to do it again. But the only effect it had on my game plan was to make me more determined. On the other hand only 30,000 people egging me on to hit another four off Daniel Vettori in my debut Test, in Ahmedabad, was enough to lure me into a false stroke. I got ahead of myself and was dismissed.

We now know that regardless of whether we know the definition of concentration or not, whether we play cricket - or any other sport or for that matter - remaining in the present is the essence to being successful. We all do it unconsciously, and perhaps that's why we slip out of it without knowing, but if we manage to do it consciously, at will, keeping close tabs on our mind, we'll be able to control it a lot better and produce better results.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season. His website is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY justsidu on | August 2, 2009, 16:26 GMT

    Wonderful and thanks Akash, the article helped me score a 100 in a league game...

  • POSTED BY RandomTalk on | August 2, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    Aakash, a very eloquent discourse on the vagaries of the mind.There's however another one of your team who deserves an honourable mention in the league of the unflappables. Rahul Dravid. Hard as nails, unwavering, gritty, bloody-minded, an immovable fortress, a prima facie example of what phenomenal powers of concentration can achieve. Perhaps not as naturally gifted as a Tendulkar or Lara, Dravid epitomises the result of effort, talent and an immutable mindset. I've always wondered what sort of batsman you'd get if you fused Tendulkar's talent with Dravid's mindset, or Gavaskar's with Richards'. Very scary.

  • POSTED BY rahulrai on | August 2, 2009, 3:25 GMT

    its a good article but one name is missing completely in your article,Dravid's,because when you talk about concentration i don't think anyone is better then him.one more thing when you compare lavel of concentration amoung players you can't take no. of runs scored in game{as you gave example of sehvag}, i think its amount of time or no. of balls you played is matters more.like in case of sehvag's both 300+ innings,he played some very freakish shots which on other day can easily give a gift to the bowler.sachin is a great player but he also become vulnerable during tight conditions.

  • POSTED BY insightfulcricketer on | August 1, 2009, 15:31 GMT

    Well written Akash. An articulate Indian cricketer have been very few. You did not mention the ultimate Indian cricketer who plays for the present every time . None other than your fellow Delhi mate Virender Shewag. For a fella with a simple technique he has been able to score so heavily against the elite bowling attacks and has double triple hundreds against Pak in Pak and full strength SA attack is a testimony of his ability to concentrate for a very long period of time. Sachin for all his ability has not been able to concentrate for a very long time and that explains why he would get bored and try a stupid shot and get out. It is only now in his career's twilight that he has exhibited that grit in scoring unbeaten hundreds in series clinching CB Australia Series Final and against England in Chennai in a tricky chase on a dicey 5th day wicket. Mind you I am not saying Sachin does not have phenomenal level of concentration but sustaining over an entire six session of a day and more.

  • POSTED BY guru25 on | August 1, 2009, 6:02 GMT

    very nice article...superbly written. i really liked the way you had presented the article using simple words. it was a great read. amazing stuff Akash... keep it going mate!!

  • POSTED BY walii on | July 31, 2009, 22:39 GMT

    Wonderful Aakash Wonderful.I hope you will research about the fact what bowlers on a flat and batsmen paradise sort of pitches and find out who have been successful on such pitches. Again, Wonderful are your both articles.

  • POSTED BY Engle on | July 31, 2009, 19:00 GMT

    How could you write an article on concentration and not mention Mr. Concentration himself Hanif Mohammed ?

    With regards to Gavaskar and Tendulkar, who had the greater concentration ? I'd say Sunny who although may have had less talent and technique was able to focus for longer periods of time. IIRC he mentioned in one of his books how irate he was at a team member who attempted to advise him during a drinks break.

    Concentration is not just living in the present. It is the ability to remove all distractions and lapses of judgement and focus on the next ball.

  • POSTED BY cric_thinker on | July 31, 2009, 18:59 GMT

    Great article, Akash.

    I have always found that concentrating on a match is more difficult that the nets. In the nets the bowlers are always at you, so your mind dont get the chance to wander. In a match there is so much time between balls or between overs. In fact facing a pace bowler is more difficult since there is more time between balls. I think the trick is to develop some mannerisms as Akash mentions like looking at the pitch as you take stance(as I have found many batsmen do like Dravid, Jayasuriya etc). I think it helps bring your mind down to the present. I have found it harder to concentrate as soon as I get set and the bowling seems easy. I start imagining what I will do after the nice knock and lo, I am dismissed. I have always fought this :) ...

  • POSTED BY Rushabh_Shah on | July 31, 2009, 16:08 GMT

    Amazing article...will definitely help me in my life at some point.

  • POSTED BY doesitmatter on | July 31, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    wow..what an article man..superb..could be used as a template in all walks of life man.. make Aakash and Peter Roebuck the editors of cricinfo man..print the article of these guys more often than all the unwanted statistics man..Aakash way to go man..thouroghly enjoyed it..

  • POSTED BY justsidu on | August 2, 2009, 16:26 GMT

    Wonderful and thanks Akash, the article helped me score a 100 in a league game...

  • POSTED BY RandomTalk on | August 2, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    Aakash, a very eloquent discourse on the vagaries of the mind.There's however another one of your team who deserves an honourable mention in the league of the unflappables. Rahul Dravid. Hard as nails, unwavering, gritty, bloody-minded, an immovable fortress, a prima facie example of what phenomenal powers of concentration can achieve. Perhaps not as naturally gifted as a Tendulkar or Lara, Dravid epitomises the result of effort, talent and an immutable mindset. I've always wondered what sort of batsman you'd get if you fused Tendulkar's talent with Dravid's mindset, or Gavaskar's with Richards'. Very scary.

  • POSTED BY rahulrai on | August 2, 2009, 3:25 GMT

    its a good article but one name is missing completely in your article,Dravid's,because when you talk about concentration i don't think anyone is better then him.one more thing when you compare lavel of concentration amoung players you can't take no. of runs scored in game{as you gave example of sehvag}, i think its amount of time or no. of balls you played is matters more.like in case of sehvag's both 300+ innings,he played some very freakish shots which on other day can easily give a gift to the bowler.sachin is a great player but he also become vulnerable during tight conditions.

  • POSTED BY insightfulcricketer on | August 1, 2009, 15:31 GMT

    Well written Akash. An articulate Indian cricketer have been very few. You did not mention the ultimate Indian cricketer who plays for the present every time . None other than your fellow Delhi mate Virender Shewag. For a fella with a simple technique he has been able to score so heavily against the elite bowling attacks and has double triple hundreds against Pak in Pak and full strength SA attack is a testimony of his ability to concentrate for a very long period of time. Sachin for all his ability has not been able to concentrate for a very long time and that explains why he would get bored and try a stupid shot and get out. It is only now in his career's twilight that he has exhibited that grit in scoring unbeaten hundreds in series clinching CB Australia Series Final and against England in Chennai in a tricky chase on a dicey 5th day wicket. Mind you I am not saying Sachin does not have phenomenal level of concentration but sustaining over an entire six session of a day and more.

  • POSTED BY guru25 on | August 1, 2009, 6:02 GMT

    very nice article...superbly written. i really liked the way you had presented the article using simple words. it was a great read. amazing stuff Akash... keep it going mate!!

  • POSTED BY walii on | July 31, 2009, 22:39 GMT

    Wonderful Aakash Wonderful.I hope you will research about the fact what bowlers on a flat and batsmen paradise sort of pitches and find out who have been successful on such pitches. Again, Wonderful are your both articles.

  • POSTED BY Engle on | July 31, 2009, 19:00 GMT

    How could you write an article on concentration and not mention Mr. Concentration himself Hanif Mohammed ?

    With regards to Gavaskar and Tendulkar, who had the greater concentration ? I'd say Sunny who although may have had less talent and technique was able to focus for longer periods of time. IIRC he mentioned in one of his books how irate he was at a team member who attempted to advise him during a drinks break.

    Concentration is not just living in the present. It is the ability to remove all distractions and lapses of judgement and focus on the next ball.

  • POSTED BY cric_thinker on | July 31, 2009, 18:59 GMT

    Great article, Akash.

    I have always found that concentrating on a match is more difficult that the nets. In the nets the bowlers are always at you, so your mind dont get the chance to wander. In a match there is so much time between balls or between overs. In fact facing a pace bowler is more difficult since there is more time between balls. I think the trick is to develop some mannerisms as Akash mentions like looking at the pitch as you take stance(as I have found many batsmen do like Dravid, Jayasuriya etc). I think it helps bring your mind down to the present. I have found it harder to concentrate as soon as I get set and the bowling seems easy. I start imagining what I will do after the nice knock and lo, I am dismissed. I have always fought this :) ...

  • POSTED BY Rushabh_Shah on | July 31, 2009, 16:08 GMT

    Amazing article...will definitely help me in my life at some point.

  • POSTED BY doesitmatter on | July 31, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    wow..what an article man..superb..could be used as a template in all walks of life man.. make Aakash and Peter Roebuck the editors of cricinfo man..print the article of these guys more often than all the unwanted statistics man..Aakash way to go man..thouroghly enjoyed it..

  • POSTED BY sankarady on | July 31, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    Definitely one of the best article I have ever read.

  • POSTED BY VSDADV on | July 31, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    Dear Akash:

    Its refreshing to see the other side of you as a writer. Excellent observations and understanding of the game. One of these days, if you could write on the TOSS & the PITCH factor and what to choose when you win a toss and the factors to be taken into consideration when you decide to bat or bowl. Often we see commentators predicting a score on pitch report, but sadly its not right all the time. How can one understand by looking at the pitch the nature of it..? Also would appreciate if you can include a SEGMENT on particular incidents which you can recall during your association with the Indian team.. The way the team plans before a match or how you target some players and how often in matches it was successful.. Some small incidents which we viewers cannot see on TV. Anyway keep up the good work and wish you all the best!

  • POSTED BY Longmemory on | July 31, 2009, 7:32 GMT

    Wow! What a superb piece! You are one of very few people who has both played international sports at the very top level AND can articulate the experience with incredible insight. Keep it coming, Akash - and, all power to you.

  • POSTED BY Almostfamous on | July 31, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    Hi Akash,

    thanks for sharing ..

    The moment i read ur topic here it remined me of this book .. which revolves around the same notes somewhat..so much so that it sounds as if you might have already read it( or else ur are enlightened lol)... and its quiet close to my heart.. You are quite right in saying.. most of the times what get you out! is thinking and imagining shots before the ball is bowled or like u said PAST OR Future in genral..the best innnings or what u call a purple patch.. is when one is almost blank b4 a ball.. This book might help (a best seller across da globe).. altho a lil over the TOP.. its called POWER OF NOW by eckhrt tolle.. see if you like it. .. thought i'll share

    Wish u a test Cap soon!

    Regards Gagan

  • POSTED BY hoodbu on | July 31, 2009, 3:53 GMT

    Well written Akash.

    I would like to read your opinion on why captains who have played over 50 Test matches so often make mistakes after winning the toss. They may think that the pitch will assist swing and seam on Day 1 before lunch, but instead you see a hundred posted without loss before lunch. Why does that happen so frequently? Its not like a split-second decision that the captain has to make. And we're talking captains who have a lot of experience in reading pitches. How do they err?

  • POSTED BY SuryaNanduri on | July 31, 2009, 0:21 GMT

    Good point "Being in Present" makes you grounded always and allows you to focus more. Thanks Aakash

  • POSTED BY samhouse on | July 30, 2009, 23:38 GMT

    Got goosebumps reading the paragraph regarding Mr. Gavaskar's analysis of a milestones.

    Great article Akash!

  • POSTED BY Docdecoza on | July 30, 2009, 20:12 GMT

    A masterpiece by Aakash Chopra. We await a next one.

  • POSTED BY nileshmittal on | July 30, 2009, 19:03 GMT

    it is really nice and but I think it has much more deeper meaning in life as the Art of living in present is no more concentration it is meditation which most of the Yogi's do as they are not affected by what is going around but they are more into what should done and what the situation demands at present and they know what is their job in this world.

  • POSTED BY ganeshholla.v on | July 30, 2009, 18:51 GMT

    Akash...you are just too good!! Amazing analysis...keep it going buddy!!

  • POSTED BY Selvanambi on | July 30, 2009, 17:45 GMT

    I initially thought that Aakash is just going to quote examples for each of these sub characteristics of concentration. But his article is a good insight on how, what and why factors as well. Continue your good work and hoping for an article on "Mentally preparing yourself for big occasions". Cheers.!!

  • POSTED BY sam_ten2000 on | July 30, 2009, 17:07 GMT

    well written aakash. keep going

  • POSTED BY rrangan on | July 30, 2009, 16:36 GMT

    Now Sethi's definition of concentration is etched on my mind as well. It is so true. This is a great article in general.

  • POSTED BY Er-.S.R.shankar on | July 30, 2009, 15:54 GMT

    Dear Akash An astounding analysis in a cricketer's perspective--well compiled Akash Particularly the way you scripted 'the wandering mind' would do a philosopher proud Concentration has two objectives --Purpose and pursuit It is easy to say that you be in the present and you stay in concentration-- It is easier said than done--For that irrespective of the arena you need skill and will--The latter is most essential for cricketers as they should never give up I wish you added Amarnath and Dravid in the list Any way please for the sake of discernining readers continue your writing pl. I am not sure about your cricket, but certainly your writing is top drawer stuff pal! With warm wishes SRS

  • POSTED BY sundarb on | July 30, 2009, 15:24 GMT

    It is the means and not the end that matters. If we concentrate all our faculties on the correct execution of the means, the rewards are on their way. Very easy to say but hard to apply it practically. Your article is written specifically with cricket in mind but it has so much depth and breadth in its reach. Please continue writing Aakash, you are truly inspirational in your words.

  • POSTED BY Lapogc on | July 30, 2009, 15:10 GMT

    Zen and the Art of playing cricket. </br>

    Nice article Aakash!

  • POSTED BY Manosar on | July 30, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    Hey Akash, It was such a wonderful article. What ever you have said is about the importance of concentration in Cricket, but i honestly believe that we could take out the word Cricket in your article and replace with any other endeavor/profession to become successful. It's amazing to see such articles of wisdom from a professional cricketer like you, which would give message to people that these are the ones who have mental strength and maturity along with the skills that are required to be a great cricketer! Keep doing the good work! I & lot of others are looking forward for more and more articles like this one! God bless!!

  • POSTED BY bharatratna on | July 30, 2009, 13:38 GMT

    Brilliant article where Aakash has transcended cricket and entered into the realms of psychology. The facts posted quite simply apply to every profession on earth. People who can focus intently for sustained periods of time are easily the winners in their lives.

    I would like to add that in order to keep 'random thoughts' away, one can simply identify them on their coming. Greater souls can await their arrival; they can anticipate that some useless thought is gonna come and veer their concentration and thus maintain a distance from them!

  • POSTED BY On-Drive on | July 30, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    1. Everything is connected to how you breathe. As someone mentioned earlier, Pranayam and a few forms of breathing exercises like Sudharshan Kriya [SK] calms your mind and your inside. It just helps you better focus on the present moment.

    2. Secondly, like any exercise, you got to practice this on an everyday basis. It helps you a bit to calm down and stay in the present. These exercises are not only good for sports but also good for anything that you do in your day-to-day lives.

    Forgetting the past [events in life or even a beautiful cover-drive that you hit in the previous ball] and not thinking too much about the future are keys to focusing on the present. Breathing exercises [Pranayam, SK] are an excellent tool to help you live in the present. Ask SL Cricketers about SK.

  • POSTED BY dhinesh_mec on | July 30, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    i always feel aakash chopra next to rahul dravid in terms of techniques.and i also felt that he was let down by the selectors.he can b considered as the classical batesman of olden days playing textbook shots.If he was in another country he will b playing cricket forever.i personally feel sorry for him.but hopefully he will b a GOOD COACH in future.u r the epitome of the proverb hardwork never fails.

  • POSTED BY emperor_ofkings on | July 30, 2009, 12:42 GMT

    Being present in the moment is important in any sport or life.I suggest you read The art of learning by Josh Waitzkin to try to understand more about it

  • POSTED BY JGuru on | July 30, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    Aakash sounded much more than a cricketer in this column. Beautifully articulated. This is such an important thing that everyone wants to master in what ever they do, leave alone cricket. Mastering concentration as everyone would agree rests solely on focussing present task at hand. Aakash did relate this quite well to cricket in this article. Well done Aakash, You have shown equal elegance in your precise communication as well.

  • POSTED BY sekharpn on | July 30, 2009, 11:12 GMT

    Every one gets into the trance.Some count score to keep the concentration. Yoga like breathing exercise(pranayama) helps in maintaining concentration. Sachin was in devastative during his thunder storm against aussies,Dravid during his 180 at Kolkatta 200 + @ sydney,Gavaskar @ bangalore

  • POSTED BY Dhruuvaay on | July 30, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    Aakash Chopra, what a legend.

  • POSTED BY mrgupta on | July 30, 2009, 10:29 GMT

    Thats a Great Article! Thanks Aakash. I started reading this article just to see through quickly what u have written but ended up reading the whole of it. Really beautifully written. Sachin's inning of 241 and also of 136 against Pakistan were prime example of the concentration and so were great innings played by Dravid and Laxman to enable India win that incredible match against Aussies. Sunny gavaskar too was known for his high level of concentration. I remember Sachin Tendulkar also talking about "getting into the Zone" in one of his interviews and said that it is the hardest thing to do but when u manage it, its extremely difficult for a bowler to get you out after that.

  • POSTED BY Jasonharcourt on | July 30, 2009, 9:08 GMT

    Very interesting insight into the state of mind of a batsman. In a way I think you instinctively know when you are going to score heavily - concentration is on the ball and bowler rather than a mass of outside influences. I remember one innings I played where for the first (and only) time I knew what Pros meant by "the zone" - even as the bowler ran up I knew where he was going to bowl, and where I was going to hit it. It didn't last - I was out for 75 off 50-odd balls, but boy was it nice!

  • POSTED BY AbrarAhmed on | July 30, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    Talking of trigger movements/rituals, I remember Jayasuriya had an extremely complex repetitive routine of adjustments to his clothing and equipment before playing every ball. This took up about 20 seconds and each movement followed in a specific sequence. Extremely fascinating but not sure if he still does this as I have not recently seen him in action.

  • POSTED BY ItsAloks2 on | July 30, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    No better words for Akash.. What an Article?? Perhaps I didnt expect that from him..

  • POSTED BY Maxgilli on | July 30, 2009, 7:49 GMT

    Excellent artilce Akash. I believe the thoughts you have expressed applies to all profession, not just cricket. It is very rare to see a cricketer with such good writing skills. Even though you did not make it big in Indian Cricket as a batsman, I believe you have a great future as a Coach/mentor, something like that as you seem to have a greast grasp of the game and the players.

  • POSTED BY SJPrakash on | July 30, 2009, 7:05 GMT

    A very well written article Akash. Its applicable to every aspect of life. Everyone knows that you are good batsman and so are many others who couldn't get a permanent place in India XI. Such articles just shows how much you understand the game and how well you can contribute to the game even if you dont play for India again. Be with Cricket Akash, it needs people like you as much as you need it.

  • POSTED BY naveenk on | July 30, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    Nice to see you back Aakash !, its a Superub Article as solid as your defence. Like to see him more as this is always been a mind game.I feel it has been a marvelous innings played in 2003-04 Aussie test series which i think of the best opening pairs which is lacking in past tours . And i do accept you went unappreciated ...

  • POSTED BY kiranbhavikeri on | July 30, 2009, 6:22 GMT

    Although pertinent, it's amazing one can think about writing an article on a subject such as this and make it sound interesting. Not just sports,it applies to most things you do in life. Wonderful wonderful article....Keep 'em coming.

  • POSTED BY dilli76 on | July 30, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Honest and thoughtful article ....also makes sense in the world out of cricket.

  • POSTED BY spadedeuce on | July 30, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Terrific article, Aakash. The work of a person with your experience of playing at the highest levels and your talent for expressing things precisely makes for great reading. Enjoying your articles on the players' perspective. Lot more thought provoking and interesting than the trite retrospectively-biased commentary of many others.

  • POSTED BY VouxPopuli on | July 30, 2009, 5:34 GMT

    Aakash may not have done well in the cricketing field at the International level, but definitely has a sound sense of communication. This article holds good even in the non-cricketing field, for that matter any field, because 'concentration' in any job is definitely a key to the success. Three Cheers Aakash - keep scribbling..

  • POSTED BY mukund111 on | July 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    There are other aspects to concentrating as well than being at the present..it's also about having a calm,uncluttered mind..it's like having a blank slate..otherwise which you could pre-determine your shot and get into positions which may be uncomfortable..Also concentration is about not having too many thoughts as to which way the ball will spin,swing,seam etc..it's about watching the ball closely and let your body react naturally...one shouldn't imagine too many scenarios on the way you are going to play the ball before the ball is bowled...when one keeps doing this on a continuous basis is when one can succeed in playing a long inning...While Aakash has mentioned names like Sachin,Lara and others, he's forgotten two of the the biggest names of all when it comes to temperament and concentration. Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid achieved whatever they could due to these powers only.

  • POSTED BY bhaveamit198 on | July 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Akash, It's an absolute delight to read your column. You bring so much more than just the technical aspect of the game in your writing. India hasn't seen many cricketers who have penned their experiences with such elaboration. Its refreshing to see someone doing so with seemingly utmost sincerity. Please keep writing for there are many like me who can't wait to read the next in this series.

  • POSTED BY raamanujan on | July 30, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    An interesting incident in this context is a match between India and Pakistan.. Aamer Sohail will point to Venkatesh Prasad in the direction of boundary after hitting the ball for four, and Prasad will in the next delivery remove Sohail. A lapse of concentration cost Pakistan that match :)

  • POSTED BY defense on | July 30, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Brilliant as usual, Aakash. Concentration is vital at all times. I play tennis too and it is the same in that sport too --- loss of focus and there goes the all important game. I open for my club in cricket and was batting after a while. After a shaky start, I became confident and then relaxed a bit too much....Boom! guided the next ball into first slip's hands...was on top of the ball and knew exactly where i was playing the ball but it did not register that 1st slip will catch the ball....laughable!!! maybe sehwag has it right -- i hear he sings hindi songs to focus while batting while sachin just keeps the mind as blank as well --- i hv tried that too but found that difficult...

  • POSTED BY goldenshades.com on | July 30, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    ..a super article..and its a shame that u did not contribute..or did justice to ur thots on ur stint with team India..

  • POSTED BY VimKal on | July 30, 2009, 4:06 GMT

    If someone isn't ghostwriting this for Aakash (not that i doubt him!), i would like to see him in the commentary box in test matches. Would be fun to hear him.

    And Aakash, just that you know - i always felt that you went unappreciated for your 2003-04 Aussie Tour performance.

  • POSTED BY reachkalki on | July 30, 2009, 3:44 GMT

    Very well written Akash. It applies to not just cricket or any sport but to any field.

    Too often we tend to lose ourselves dreaming about the fruits of our efforts even before the actual effort is made. :)

    Thanks for yet another wonderful article.

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  • POSTED BY reachkalki on | July 30, 2009, 3:44 GMT

    Very well written Akash. It applies to not just cricket or any sport but to any field.

    Too often we tend to lose ourselves dreaming about the fruits of our efforts even before the actual effort is made. :)

    Thanks for yet another wonderful article.

  • POSTED BY VimKal on | July 30, 2009, 4:06 GMT

    If someone isn't ghostwriting this for Aakash (not that i doubt him!), i would like to see him in the commentary box in test matches. Would be fun to hear him.

    And Aakash, just that you know - i always felt that you went unappreciated for your 2003-04 Aussie Tour performance.

  • POSTED BY goldenshades.com on | July 30, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    ..a super article..and its a shame that u did not contribute..or did justice to ur thots on ur stint with team India..

  • POSTED BY defense on | July 30, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Brilliant as usual, Aakash. Concentration is vital at all times. I play tennis too and it is the same in that sport too --- loss of focus and there goes the all important game. I open for my club in cricket and was batting after a while. After a shaky start, I became confident and then relaxed a bit too much....Boom! guided the next ball into first slip's hands...was on top of the ball and knew exactly where i was playing the ball but it did not register that 1st slip will catch the ball....laughable!!! maybe sehwag has it right -- i hear he sings hindi songs to focus while batting while sachin just keeps the mind as blank as well --- i hv tried that too but found that difficult...

  • POSTED BY raamanujan on | July 30, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    An interesting incident in this context is a match between India and Pakistan.. Aamer Sohail will point to Venkatesh Prasad in the direction of boundary after hitting the ball for four, and Prasad will in the next delivery remove Sohail. A lapse of concentration cost Pakistan that match :)

  • POSTED BY bhaveamit198 on | July 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Akash, It's an absolute delight to read your column. You bring so much more than just the technical aspect of the game in your writing. India hasn't seen many cricketers who have penned their experiences with such elaboration. Its refreshing to see someone doing so with seemingly utmost sincerity. Please keep writing for there are many like me who can't wait to read the next in this series.

  • POSTED BY mukund111 on | July 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    There are other aspects to concentrating as well than being at the present..it's also about having a calm,uncluttered mind..it's like having a blank slate..otherwise which you could pre-determine your shot and get into positions which may be uncomfortable..Also concentration is about not having too many thoughts as to which way the ball will spin,swing,seam etc..it's about watching the ball closely and let your body react naturally...one shouldn't imagine too many scenarios on the way you are going to play the ball before the ball is bowled...when one keeps doing this on a continuous basis is when one can succeed in playing a long inning...While Aakash has mentioned names like Sachin,Lara and others, he's forgotten two of the the biggest names of all when it comes to temperament and concentration. Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid achieved whatever they could due to these powers only.

  • POSTED BY VouxPopuli on | July 30, 2009, 5:34 GMT

    Aakash may not have done well in the cricketing field at the International level, but definitely has a sound sense of communication. This article holds good even in the non-cricketing field, for that matter any field, because 'concentration' in any job is definitely a key to the success. Three Cheers Aakash - keep scribbling..

  • POSTED BY spadedeuce on | July 30, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Terrific article, Aakash. The work of a person with your experience of playing at the highest levels and your talent for expressing things precisely makes for great reading. Enjoying your articles on the players' perspective. Lot more thought provoking and interesting than the trite retrospectively-biased commentary of many others.

  • POSTED BY dilli76 on | July 30, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Honest and thoughtful article ....also makes sense in the world out of cricket.