March 19, 2010

All hail the old guns

Kallis and Tendulkar have shown that classical virtues still have a place in the IPL

Like writers of classical prose getting on to Twitter, Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis are lighting up this year's IPL. They still compose sentences, have time for a stylish adjective, and can still fit their thoughts into 140 characters. Dey dnt hv 2 rush der shots,hv gr8 timing & hit de gaps. (I'm sure someone can better that!)

It was fascinating watching Tendulkar bat against the Delhi Daredevils. A crisp cover drive off Dirk Nannes was classically struck, and when Farveez Maharoof bowled the slower one, he advanced as close to the pitch of the ball as possible and with a flick of the wrist played it along the ground through midwicket. Occasionally, only occasionally, he made a concession to new-age batting by trying to slog the young legspinner Sarabjit Ladda but in doing so, actually showed why he didn't need to. He made 63 from 32 balls, and you came away thinking you had seen a painting, not splotches of colour thrown randomly onto a canvas.

He was followed by young Saurabh Tiwary, one of our new-age cricketers who frequently make a mockery of boundary ropes (sometimes the groundsman is forced to as well). He is a big-built man, with broad shoulders, and only occasionally makes a concession to the nudged single; doesn't worry too much about searching for gaps in the field, for his idea of an opportunity is the space above the fielder, not between him and the next guy. Admittedly he batted after the field restrictions had gone off, but his style brought 61 from 37 balls. It was like being at a music festival where Manna Dey and heavy metal were on the same stage.

Meanwhile Kallis was adapting too. He played himself in during the fantastic run-chase against the Kings XI (45 from 38 chasing 204?) and when the time came exploded, but stylishly (next 44 from 17). Again, he was able to do that because Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa were hitting the drums on turbo while he was plucking the strings, but he showed it is possible to retain the elements of orthodox batting and still make the strike rate look very acceptable.

The ICC needs to be careful not to go the way of Indian airports, where certain people are allowed to circumvent security requirements. Young Stuart Broad needs to realise that he can be pulled up if he commits the same offence as others

Both Tendulkar and Kallis probably need to open the batting, but they are demonstrating that you do not need to alter your favoured bat speed to score runs. Both batsmen have their game built on precision; the bat comes down at a certain time to be able to hit the ball at a certain spot, the body is ideally positioned for that event. When they try to slog (or when anyone is, for that matter) the bat comes down faster, the head goes out of sync, it looks like a bad dance step. To be honest, I don't know how much longer the game will allow the classicists, but what we do know is that such players can be survivors too. Three cheers to that.

The first week has also shown that you cannot really determine how many runs can be scored in the last few overs. Eighty are getting scored routinely in the last six against bowlers who haven't exactly grown up playing for Yellow House v Green House at school. The most obvious reason is that pitches and outfields and boundary lines are stacked in favour of batsmen, and that you are allowed to lose 10 wickets in 20 overs. But I think there is more to it. Like computer technology opened our eyes to new speeds and storage capacities, I think batsmen are also discovering that things are possible that they hadn't been aware of.

For bowlers to go down a similar path (and they have already begun), they need a bit of help. In the last few days I have had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Daljit Singh, the curator at Mohali, and Venkat Sundaram at Delhi, and I put the same question to both of them. For one game, I asked, why can't you prepare a pitch with some zing in it, where the keeper can feel the ball thudding into his gloves, where the crease becomes what it always was - a safe haven not to be transgressed. For a brief moment their eyes lit up; then they shook their heads.

Meanwhile the ICC needs to be careful not to go the way of Indian airports, where certain people are allowed to circumvent security requirements. Young Stuart Broad needs to realise that he can be pulled up if he commits the same offence as others. It will do him good in the long run but it will also do good to the ICC's credibility.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. He is on the IPL commentary team

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arron on March 22, 2010, 20:56 GMT

    @ EdwardTLogan - I should hope so too (on both counts)! Please also see The_Gamer's recent comment for yet another example of how your nation, which has the best overall record in 130 years of Tests and in 9 ODI World Cups and boasts the greatest batsman in the history of the game, is *apparently* jealous of a domestic league run by a self-promoting bloke with a few quid. (the star quality and worldwide commercial potential of said league also owes a great deal to men from your nation, but to admit that really would be a problem for some...)

  • Robert on March 22, 2010, 18:19 GMT

    Does everyone remember that Sachin was not selected for the T20 game? Yes, he did say he was not available to avoid the insult but insulted he was. Why would he want to make himslef available now without an open apology from those so called wise men? He is just answering the selectors and the team management with his bat. One can not find words to describe the short sightedness of lot of those in authority. These 'wise men' (hee hee hee...) were calliing for SRT to retire so that young talent can come up. It was a faulty, rather biased and jealous, logic and derailed thinking. Let any one of these wise men mention one younger Indian player who can even spell Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, let alone bat and behave like him. Long live the Legend

  • Muthu on March 22, 2010, 10:57 GMT


    How about a IPL team of only local content, players, coach, trainer, physio and all support staff all INDIANS. May be SAHARA can try out this in the next auction since al the players will be available then.

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2010, 21:55 GMT

    Its about old guns this article, but of the young guns, I PRAY TO GOD that Umesh Yadav is further nurtured and plays test cricket. India needs a world class opening duo in the veins of Singh and Nissar!

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2010, 21:35 GMT

    Manna Dey and Heavy metal in the same stage. That is very funny Harsha or LOL in internet talk.

  • Cricinfouser on March 21, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    Ha Ha These Aussies .They were never able to conquer this 20/20 game and that's why they always hate the existence of IPL.We have to accept that India is the powerhouse in the Cricketing World now and they hold all the cards. All other countries specially Sri lanka ,Pakistan and Bangladesh with weak economy structure can't match the indians in the next 100 years also.lets accept it guys that IPL is the future of cricket and if our country is not able to pay our players India and IPL will for sure.

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    T20 cricket is all about making that small mental adjustment doesnt matter if you are a batsman or a bowler. We have seen Rahul Dravid pound 17 maximums in 32 innings that just one short of what he has done in 240 innings in test cricket. Sachin and Kalis are great batsmen and they have the ability to change gears vey quickly be it one day test or T20. For batsmen like Sehwag, Afridi, Y.Pathan they all come from a different school of thought which says "Attack is the best form of defence" so they play the game as same as the other formats. Bowlers need to change thier approach to the game and not just bowl one day style.Malinga, Bravo, I Pathan have done than n are successful. It is all in your mind and the best part of the game comes from inside the heart.

  • Rahul on March 21, 2010, 2:57 GMT

    I think Kallis is the next best player after Sachin Tendulkar, even Kallis should get the title 'Sir' since he is worth the same. He is the best all rounder in the world.

  • Mush on March 20, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    Yes, the classy players for the old school of cricket have shown the importance playing proper cricketing strokes. So now we know that T20 cricket is not all about slogging rash strokes. Not sure why Harsha failed to mention Sehwag, Gilchrist, MSD, Pathan & others who really played proper cricket. Also, interesting question is why SRT doesn't play for our national in this format...

  • Krupesh on March 20, 2010, 2:27 GMT

    Whether the batsmen have a classic game or not , ultimately its the runs scored which will decide the fate of them.Sachin , Kallis , Dravid are all class but what about people like Sehwag , Gilly , Hayden.They also have made a name for themselves.So score runs in an orthodox or an unorthodox way & make a name for yourself.Just watch out for Eain Morgan for Royal Challengers Bangalore.You will forget all the above mentioned players by his unorthodox style of batting.

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