December 17, 2013

The Gavaskar lesson

The new breed of Indian batsmen need to carry the flame that Sunny, Sachin and Rahul kept burning for so long
76

Wisdom is priceless. When you get on a learning path, it is the best time of your life. Every day means something, every lesson provides the clarity you clamour for. You move forward, evolve, grow, and become more fulfilled as the big picture, the dream even, emerges from the shadows and into the light.

I will never forget the moments when I had the opportunity to acquire a touch of acumen, a piece of pure pansophy. I was desperate to get a heads-up on life, especially about how to bat at the highest level. And so when I heard or saw that a walking encyclopedia on batting was nearby I went on a mission to trap the great man, whoever and wherever he was.

It started with meeting many fine players during my scholarship year at Lord's at age 17, under the watchful care of coach Don Wilson. I brushed up to Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott, Fred Trueman and more, as Old England toured the land. Among the stories of endeavour they would tell were pearls of wisdom. It was an informal education on how to play the game.

When I returned a year later in 1982 and took up the groundsman-and-overseas-player role at Bradford's Park Avenue in North Yorkshire, I didn't quite realise how lucky I would be. When India played Yorkshire that summer, they did so on my patch and dubiously prepared pitch. This was where I met Sunil Gavaskar, one of the all-time greats and at the time the best player in the world alongside Viv Richards. I had to get inside this man's head, even if for a minute.

Being the groundsman gave me the chance. Over the four-day fixture I picked my moment and swooped like a vulture. "Sir, when playing the Windies, what is the single most important thing you must do to combat their pace and bounce?"

"Son, it's your eyes. Before I go out to bat, I find a wall and position into my stance with my right ear hard up against the wall. By doing this I feel my head and eyes level, my balance perfect, my feet light and ready to move. The wall is ensuring that I stay still. In the middle I pretend the wall is still there. Head position and balance. From there my eyes are in the best position to see the ball and to stay watching it until the shot is played."

Minutes later, back in the dusty shed, I found my wall. I could stand in position forever, my balance perfect. The mind and body got used to the balance, the more I did it. It was a lustrous piece of advice I never ever forgot. When my form dropped I went back to Gavaskar's elementary instruction.

Whenever I watched Sachin Tendulkar I thought he must have spoken to Sunny about the same thing, for Sachin always displayed a still, balanced stance and head position.

Now it's up to others to carry the torch. In the cauldron of South Africa it's up to a new breed of Indian batsmen to carry the baton that Sunny and Sachin did so incredibly, for so long.

These two men are not tall, so bounce was always their greatest enemy. Yet they trusted that if they saw the ball in a balanced position, with feet at the ready, they would move according to the movement of the ball, whatever shape that took. Eyes, then footwork. In that split second, once they saw the trajectory, the feet went to work, allowing the eyes to stay watching.

Dealing with bounce became just another obstacle, another movement to deal with. The key was their mental strength to clear the mind of any doubt, any second- guessing. When I first played West Indies, in Port-of-Spain, I assumed I needed to be ready a split second early, so I started moving before I saw the ball. I got 3 and 2 as Holding and Marshall easily trapped a moving, nervous target. It was a hopeless performance.

I went back to Sunny's sage advice and used the wall technique. A week later, in Georgetown, albeit on a flatter track that gave me a chance to build a more positive mindset, I batted so much better. After that I realised fully what Sunny had meant. It was the start of my international career proper.

India's top five need to work out what shots are working for them and what shots are too risky. Importantly, they need to get a feel for the occasion

Over the next month, against Steyn, Philander and Morkel, India can counter the home advantage, the pace and bounce, the second-guessing. Firstly, they must have a premise for success, and Sunny and Sachin, their master predecessors, have paved the way. They did it, and therefore it can be done again. They must draw upon that wisdom and apply it to their own game.

It takes courage to stay still with the head and trust the footwork when time is of the essence. You buy time when you see it early and play it late. It is when you see it late and play it early that the wheels fall off. Also, as Sunny, Sachin and Rahul Dravid proved, there are points where you have to be prepared to wear the opposition down, mentally and physically. You have to be patient. This way you can break it down to only the one ball that comes at you, one five-second block of concentration to deal with. Then another, and another.

Obviously, all this has to be done collectively, as a batting unit. The mind can deceive you when wickets are falling at the end, no matter how well you may have a grasp on your own situation. It has to be a combined commitment to fully embracing the challenge and working on the response.

Playing shots is important, as long as they are the right shots. You can't play them all. It's not like a T20 match. India's top five need to work out what shots are working for them and what shots are too risky. Importantly, they need to get a feel for the occasion, the opposition, the pitch, the air in which the ball travels quicker, especially in Johannesburg. They don't have much practice or time to get ready, given the nature of tours these days. So they must prepare in the mind and the imagination is perfectly equipped to provide a sense of calm within, before facing the heat in the middle.

For the top three, Dhawan, Vijay and Pujara, they only need to imagine Dravid in battle mode. He was the wall for a good reason. Rahul backed his eyes and his feet. For Rohit Sharma and Kohli it will be Sachin they can remind themselves of. These two icons showed time and again how it can be done, and those two learnt from Sunny, the master of compiling long innings against the might Windies.

Life is not about doing it alone. It's about learning from those who have already climbed great heights, and adding that history to one's own make up. Combining the love of the game and one's own ability with the wisdom of the ages is the essence of what we are here to do.

South Africa will throw all they have into these next two Tests. They are the No. 1 Test side by a long stretch. They have been messed around recently regarding this tour. They are highly motivated, there is no doubt. And they will steam in.

India need to provide the wall of resilience. Sunny used it, Sachin breathed it, Rahul was it. Kohli and Co can prosper by adding another brick in the wall of Indian batting mastery.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rameshkumar_Satyamoorthy on December 18, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    Excellent & timely advice from a great reader of the game. Great is the wisdom from an all time great, greater is the Martin's attitude & urge to learn. I wish the youngsters will have similar attitude.

    Sunny was a great leaver of the ball and he knew where his off stump was most of the times. I still remember his last innings in Bangalore against Pak in a minefield. His best shot was a great leave, the ball from a spinner exploded from the pitch. At the last minute, he withdrew his bat and the ball beat the wicket keeper and went for 4 byes. To think of it, Sachin must have taken some tip from Sunny. Sachin's stance is very beautiful, relaxed and ready for the bowlers. I remember Dravid during some bad period of form was seen in the nets with Sunny and working out the shuffle.

    Sunny is more useful in the nets for the youngsters than his presence in the commentary box. Martin…Thanks for a very good insight.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Gavaskar for me is the complete batsman. Sachin had all shots in the book, perfect balance,judged line and length better than all his contemporaries. Dravid had near-perfect technique,a defense to die for,enormous powers of concentration. Going by what I read Gavaskar was Sachin and Dravid combined and 'some more'. The 'some more' for 774 runs in his debut test series against WI and because he was a opener.

    Even Cricinfo says this about Gavaskar: "Sunil Gavaskar was one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time, and certainly the most successful. His game was built around a near-perfect technique and enormous powers of concentration. It is hard to visualize a more beautiful defense: virtually unbreachable, it made his wicket among the hardest to earn. He played with equal felicity off both front and back feet, had excellent judgement of length and line, and was beautifully balanced. He had virtually every stroke in the book but traded flair for the solidity his side needed more."

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 17, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    There are some cricketers who are gifted and can see the ball earlier than other cricketers. I've noticed that many a good wicketkeeper batsman see the ball early while batting. Gavaskar was not extra-ordinarily gifted with natural talent, as some of the other world cricketers, but he made for that by plenty of application, diligence and technique. He constantly worked on his batting technique and tried to be the best player he could possibly be. I've watched cricket for more than 40 years now and I've not seen another batsman who saw the ball till it passed his head. Little wonder he could score so many centuries while battling out the WI great fast bowlers. His cover drive was awesome. He scored at a brisk clip and shouldered the Indian batting effort when the rest were seen as a joke. A true legend. The first to cross 10000 and the first to cross Bradman's 29 to go to 34. He put a premium on his wicket. The present day Indians can learn so much from him - in batting and attitude!

  • Naresh28 on December 17, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE!!!! Its nice to know that Crowe drew inspiration from a former India opener. Our younger generation need to take heed and do likewise. Indian batsman are generally shorter and therefore bounce becomes a problem for them. Please read this article - that is all I can say for our youngsters. A big problem for India is our domestic setup. It does not have the grounds and the bowlers - SO HOW CAN YOUNG BATSMAN LEARN OR PREPARE.

  • on December 22, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    fantastic.. I f there was any great batsman in indian cricket, it was Sunil..We in 2013 -14 feeling proud abt the deeds of Virat kohli..an Pujzraa... imagine how it was in 1971 when Gavaskar amassed 700+ runs in his first Series against the greatest fast bowling side in the history of cricket ??? kudos to little master and kusos to Martin crowe..

  • on December 19, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    India need to provide the wall of resilience. Sunny used it, Sachin breathed it, Rahul was it..Nice reading this..These 3 have carried India's batting for >4 decades. The future generation batsmen have a nice template on which they can base their batting to carry forward.

  • Sagar_Deshkulkarni on December 18, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    Excellent article !!! It's nice to see such articles coming from Martin Crowe.

  • InsideHedge on December 18, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    The picture of Sunny is excellent, I'm pretty sure that's Alf Gover in the back overseeing matters. There should be a special on Gover for he was one of the most influential specialist coaches in cricket history, he ran an indoor school in London. Many players from the sub continent and the Winides were sent to him, incl Richards, and later Lara. Gover was a cricket man, he lived and breathed it till his innings ended on 93. Not for him an academy bearing his name while he's a thousand miles away, he was there all the time coaching.

    There's an interesting story about how Gavaskar's grip was completely changed as a youngster by another specialist coach and former Test cricketer, TS Worthington. He was another man who gave hugely to the game via coaching. It's always inspiring to read of great cricketers who picked up tips from those of another nationality. It's the fraternity of cricket that matters here, and long may it continue.

  • InsideHedge on December 18, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    The picture of Sunny is excellent, I'm pretty sure that's Alf Gover in the back overseeing matters. There should be a special on Gover for he was one of the most influential specialist coaches in cricket history, he ran an indoor school in London. Many players from the sub continent and the Winides were sent to him, incl Richards, and later Lara. Gover was a cricket man, he lived and breathed it till his innings ended on 93. Not for him an academy bearing his name while he's a thousand miles away, he was there all the time coaching.

    There's an interesting story about how Gavaskar's grip was completely changed as a youngster by another specialist coach and former Test cricketer, TS Worthington. He was another man who gave hugely to the game via coaching. It's always inspiring to read of great cricketers who picked up tips from those of another nationality. It's the fraternity of cricket that matters here, and long may it continue.

  • InsideHedge on December 18, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    It's going to be a real test for our batsmen, we have high hopes for them. The bowlers are almost always ignored, if they produce a worthwhile performance we see it as a bonus! Sometimes I wonder of our batters take their privilege seriously, do they view their legacy in its proper context? Do they hurt when they play poorly and we lose by the kind of margins we saw in the ODIs?

    Ironically, the Tests give them TIME, they'll be under no pressure to play risky shots, they can wear the bowlers down, the leave becomes important, play for mini sessions, heck play for 5 over sessions and then increase the target. Time is a valuable commodity in this day and age where very few Tests go to the last day.

  • Rameshkumar_Satyamoorthy on December 18, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    Excellent & timely advice from a great reader of the game. Great is the wisdom from an all time great, greater is the Martin's attitude & urge to learn. I wish the youngsters will have similar attitude.

    Sunny was a great leaver of the ball and he knew where his off stump was most of the times. I still remember his last innings in Bangalore against Pak in a minefield. His best shot was a great leave, the ball from a spinner exploded from the pitch. At the last minute, he withdrew his bat and the ball beat the wicket keeper and went for 4 byes. To think of it, Sachin must have taken some tip from Sunny. Sachin's stance is very beautiful, relaxed and ready for the bowlers. I remember Dravid during some bad period of form was seen in the nets with Sunny and working out the shuffle.

    Sunny is more useful in the nets for the youngsters than his presence in the commentary box. Martin…Thanks for a very good insight.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Gavaskar for me is the complete batsman. Sachin had all shots in the book, perfect balance,judged line and length better than all his contemporaries. Dravid had near-perfect technique,a defense to die for,enormous powers of concentration. Going by what I read Gavaskar was Sachin and Dravid combined and 'some more'. The 'some more' for 774 runs in his debut test series against WI and because he was a opener.

    Even Cricinfo says this about Gavaskar: "Sunil Gavaskar was one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time, and certainly the most successful. His game was built around a near-perfect technique and enormous powers of concentration. It is hard to visualize a more beautiful defense: virtually unbreachable, it made his wicket among the hardest to earn. He played with equal felicity off both front and back feet, had excellent judgement of length and line, and was beautifully balanced. He had virtually every stroke in the book but traded flair for the solidity his side needed more."

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 17, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    There are some cricketers who are gifted and can see the ball earlier than other cricketers. I've noticed that many a good wicketkeeper batsman see the ball early while batting. Gavaskar was not extra-ordinarily gifted with natural talent, as some of the other world cricketers, but he made for that by plenty of application, diligence and technique. He constantly worked on his batting technique and tried to be the best player he could possibly be. I've watched cricket for more than 40 years now and I've not seen another batsman who saw the ball till it passed his head. Little wonder he could score so many centuries while battling out the WI great fast bowlers. His cover drive was awesome. He scored at a brisk clip and shouldered the Indian batting effort when the rest were seen as a joke. A true legend. The first to cross 10000 and the first to cross Bradman's 29 to go to 34. He put a premium on his wicket. The present day Indians can learn so much from him - in batting and attitude!

  • Naresh28 on December 17, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE!!!! Its nice to know that Crowe drew inspiration from a former India opener. Our younger generation need to take heed and do likewise. Indian batsman are generally shorter and therefore bounce becomes a problem for them. Please read this article - that is all I can say for our youngsters. A big problem for India is our domestic setup. It does not have the grounds and the bowlers - SO HOW CAN YOUNG BATSMAN LEARN OR PREPARE.

  • on December 22, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    fantastic.. I f there was any great batsman in indian cricket, it was Sunil..We in 2013 -14 feeling proud abt the deeds of Virat kohli..an Pujzraa... imagine how it was in 1971 when Gavaskar amassed 700+ runs in his first Series against the greatest fast bowling side in the history of cricket ??? kudos to little master and kusos to Martin crowe..

  • on December 19, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    India need to provide the wall of resilience. Sunny used it, Sachin breathed it, Rahul was it..Nice reading this..These 3 have carried India's batting for >4 decades. The future generation batsmen have a nice template on which they can base their batting to carry forward.

  • Sagar_Deshkulkarni on December 18, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    Excellent article !!! It's nice to see such articles coming from Martin Crowe.

  • InsideHedge on December 18, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    The picture of Sunny is excellent, I'm pretty sure that's Alf Gover in the back overseeing matters. There should be a special on Gover for he was one of the most influential specialist coaches in cricket history, he ran an indoor school in London. Many players from the sub continent and the Winides were sent to him, incl Richards, and later Lara. Gover was a cricket man, he lived and breathed it till his innings ended on 93. Not for him an academy bearing his name while he's a thousand miles away, he was there all the time coaching.

    There's an interesting story about how Gavaskar's grip was completely changed as a youngster by another specialist coach and former Test cricketer, TS Worthington. He was another man who gave hugely to the game via coaching. It's always inspiring to read of great cricketers who picked up tips from those of another nationality. It's the fraternity of cricket that matters here, and long may it continue.

  • InsideHedge on December 18, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    The picture of Sunny is excellent, I'm pretty sure that's Alf Gover in the back overseeing matters. There should be a special on Gover for he was one of the most influential specialist coaches in cricket history, he ran an indoor school in London. Many players from the sub continent and the Winides were sent to him, incl Richards, and later Lara. Gover was a cricket man, he lived and breathed it till his innings ended on 93. Not for him an academy bearing his name while he's a thousand miles away, he was there all the time coaching.

    There's an interesting story about how Gavaskar's grip was completely changed as a youngster by another specialist coach and former Test cricketer, TS Worthington. He was another man who gave hugely to the game via coaching. It's always inspiring to read of great cricketers who picked up tips from those of another nationality. It's the fraternity of cricket that matters here, and long may it continue.

  • InsideHedge on December 18, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    It's going to be a real test for our batsmen, we have high hopes for them. The bowlers are almost always ignored, if they produce a worthwhile performance we see it as a bonus! Sometimes I wonder of our batters take their privilege seriously, do they view their legacy in its proper context? Do they hurt when they play poorly and we lose by the kind of margins we saw in the ODIs?

    Ironically, the Tests give them TIME, they'll be under no pressure to play risky shots, they can wear the bowlers down, the leave becomes important, play for mini sessions, heck play for 5 over sessions and then increase the target. Time is a valuable commodity in this day and age where very few Tests go to the last day.

  • ImonG on December 18, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    What can I say, Mr. Crowe has been there & done that at the highest level & explains some thing very lucidly, which seems to be extremely complicated when some other pundits describe. There is a lot of discussion going on in another post about trigger movements for batsmen against fast bowling, I guess it would stop if every one reads this article. Basically its all about Balance, Concentration & Confidence. Thanks a lot Mr. Crowe, for this lovely article ...

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 18, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    Martin Crowe almost posted a hat-trick of centuries against West Indies in 1987.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    Amazing article by Martin Crowe. Using the example of our very own Sunil Gavaskar to highlight how he handled raw pace in his days based on Sunny's advice. He goes a step further saying that Dravid and Sachin too followed him suit. So what better example than some of the best Indian batsmen for this generation of Indian batters Rohit, Kohli, Pujara, Dhawan, and the likes to follow. It is a big test of their mentality and their ability to rise themselves against the biggest challenge of their lives.

  • elangop on December 17, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    It is Nice to know that Martin Crowe got the tips and inspiration from Sunny.. I am great Fan of Martrin Crowe as well.. I still remember the Picture of Martin Crow on sports Star.. which pictures him with Locket with stumps,Bat & Ball Chain around his neck.. Great Players.

  • on December 17, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    Said it before, I'll say it again. Best cricket journalism since Peter Roebuck. This is an insiders guide to batting from the best NZ cricketer who learned from the absolute greats!

  • on December 17, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    The photograph of Gavaskar defending is a masterpiece. We don't see much of such copybook batting these days. It's far more graceful than the T20 tonking that's become the bane of our times. Another insightful article.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    great article

  • ABHIJATJOSHI on December 17, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    Great batsman, great article. When he says "I batted so much better", he fails to mention that he scored 188, against THAT attack. As modest as magnificent. Hats off, Sir.

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Martin your articles are as enjoyable as your batting was. I wish to say I was a great fan of yours and even wished you will win the WC for your country in 1992.

  • vish2020 on December 17, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    Great article!! Indian batting is definitely the best and most fun to watch in the world but just because we play too much on our pitches our batsmen have no experience to play on away pitches. Lets see for these tests what happens. #BleedBlue

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Dravid averaged less than 30 in South Africa whilst Tendullar himself averaged a relatively low 47. This young team should aim much higher and they certainly have the potential to reach greater heights!

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    Wonderful article! It also shows that cricket is as much a technical profession as anything else. It's not all about being strong and hitting the ball. Also,The lessons Martin Crowe talks about can be applied in any walk of life; that you can learn from masters and create your own history! Basically only a fool learns from his own mistakes but the great players learn from the mistakes and wisdom of others.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    Interesting piece of advice to apply to life as well: "see it early and play it late" :)

  • Nandu_Athadu on December 17, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    I dont believe in comparing players of different eras and WHO IS THE GREATEST BATSMAN is always a debatable topic.for me - Gavaskar-Greatest Indian Test Batsman, it takes ourmost courage, technique, tempermant,will power to stand infront of WI great quicks and to score centuires against them, he is the one of the greatest batsman of his era, Sachin - Greatest Player (Test and ODIs) of India (I said India since if I say the world I would be triggering a debate and fight between fellow cricket lovers) he is a complete player, genious,top class, this space wil not be enough to mention his qualities, Dravid-one of the Greatest Test Player, sheer class, tempermant, outstanding technique.the new crop of the Indian players have a lot to learn from these three legends of the game and also from VVS laxman on how to play Test cricket.Pujara looks the one to watch out for in TEST, Kohli and Rohit are other two gifted batsman, Dhawan is another agressive player..TEST cricket is BEST Cricket.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    Great Article Martin. and thank you for sharing the little gem of advice you received from Sunny!

  • czar2008 on December 17, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    What a man@ Martin Crowe! You were a true cricketer then and now - student for life!. Cricket unites all . No matter what country you come from. I think your words make very valuable sense in all walks of life not just facing the bowlers. You have just defined how to be in 'the zone' how to be still, how to be mindful amd how to stick it out :). Just awesome! I am going to mark this webpage on desktop.

  • on December 17, 2013, 15:40 GMT

    Always loved reading your articles. You have a style to your writing. it is as elegant as your batting !

  • WC96QF on December 17, 2013, 15:15 GMT

    Brilliant stuff ! Great deal of sense with a lot of goodwill...really I don't think India's batsmen will find better advice than this. I hope they are reading this !!

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    "India need to provide the wall of resilience. Sunny used it, Sachin breathed it, Rahul was it." Extremely good read, this.

  • crindex on December 17, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    Excellent article and advise to Indian batsmen who are about to face the most lethal attack there is in the world today on pitches so fast and bouncy that before they can blink the ball would reach them from bowler's hand. Basic or fundamentals are essential now. Put aside your arrogance and ego about your exploits back home where you played on flat , slow pitches. Imagination helps too. Prepare yourselves mentally before each game so it gives you some amount of preparedness.

  • Sam_SRT_Fan on December 17, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    A great article at the right time for the Indian batsmen. Pay heed, young men, pay heed.

  • nade123 on December 17, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    Gavaskar is a often forgotten "great of all time". He played in an era that had the toughest bowling to face for a batsman. And, he was an opener. He was the first on many batting records. He deserves more respect these days...

  • DaisonGarvasis on December 17, 2013, 14:03 GMT

    One cannot put it anymore simpler than this article. SA were not challenged by India in the ODIs. The batters have to stand up and get counted and ask questions to the SA and see how tag Hey respond. Easier said than done though.

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 17, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    varunrallapalli on (December 17, 2013, 11:36 GMT) - that particular shot by Tendulkar was very memorable indeed. But you are wrong about Kohli not having the technique to play fast bowling. He has excellent balance while playing the hook shot, and almost never top edges, unlike Tendulkar who top-edged at least 10 times in 2010-2011 in South Africa, notably the stroke with which he reached his 50th century. Kohli also has plenty of time to play the hook. Be patient and hope that he has had adequate time to adjust. There no one can beat Tendulkar - he was extremely quick to adjust to new conditions, whereas other batsmen would take 1-2 tests.

  • on December 17, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    @ dospathi_anand sachin avg in SA is @ 46 with 5 tons..how about that son..!!

  • hardii on December 17, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    dosapati _anand... sachin had in total 5 centuries in SA and in last tour of SA he had two wonderful centuries and one of them match saving against pace attack of steyn and morkel. so please think and check your facts before writing.Tendulkar most of the times have been wonderful against quality paceand that too outside the sub continent.

  • kunderan on December 17, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    TheOnlyEmperor,

    Another batsman who watched the ball as it passed him was Gundappa Vishwanath, another little master. It was great watching these two greats facing the great WI fast bowlers and letting the ball go without any helmet or other armour and making it look so safe!

    Never seen either of these get hit by a bouncer or even troubled by it!

    Martin, wish I had known this pearl of wisdom from Sunny during my playing days!

  • on December 17, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    Martin the Magician has made it so simple it cannot be any more easy to follow. Sport is played mostly in the head and in the heart . Then comes you technique and your game plan. What this Indian team needs to do is to show patience. Judge the bounce of the ball which is not too difficult to do when you see the length of the delivery. Do not be macho like Dhawan and put cricketing sense that the batters have learnt from their little league days into practice. As they say in Baseball, there is not a batter who cannot be sent to the dugout and there is a not a pitcher who cannot be sent to an early shower. But by golly, Martin, I enjoyed your batting, you batting was poetry in motion. But mate your batting pales pales in comparison to your prose. Where have you been hiding the writer in you mate? Keep them coming Martin, it is a pleasure.

  • vik56in on December 17, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar never wore a helmet when facing upto these mighty West Indian quicks. It was only towards the latter stages of his career that he started wearing a helmet and that too his own custom designed one intended to protect only the skull.It was said that once he played defence to a ball,the ball would stay put on the ground ,not moving .

  • varunrallapalli on December 17, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    A cricketing connoisseur would have enjoyed the ultimate duel between Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel against Sachin Tendulkar,but the duel between BCCI and CSA spoiled the party and instead we had to be contented watching the lame West Indies pace attack bowl at Sachin on Indian pitches in his farewell series.I hold Sachin's 169 against South Africa at CapeTown in 1997 in high esteem,during which he played the short ball with such impeccable balance and precision.And one more illustration which I can give is Sachin's pull shot against England's Andrew Caddick in 1999 World Cup,when he anticipated a short ball and positioned himself a split second early and executed the shot to perfection.The likes of Sunny and Sachin have faced better bowling attacks than the current generation,where the likes of Kohli and Rohit are not technically equipped to play the fast short ball.Its their mental fortitude with which they need to counter Steyn and Morkel.In the present squad,Pujara is the best bet.

  • Srini_Indian on December 17, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Wonderfully written article. It is always nice to hear the technicalities of batsmanship from a great batsman like Crowe. This Indian lineup is too raw and inexperienced. Playing Steyn, Philander, Morkel gives our players a great challenge. Hopefully, the boys learn and put up a good show. I don't expect them to win but hope there is good fight. It'll only serve them better for tours of NZ and England to follow.

  • nareshgb1 on December 17, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    well nicely written. But those words about "I find a wall " ect etc - they cannot be Sunny's. They have Martin Crowe written all over them - they are probably true bevause Martin is such an insightful expert (and probably because I am not an expert that can review Matyin's words).

    But I am pretty sure Sunny cannot express it like that - even though he did the thing on the field. Nice touch nevertheless by Mr Crowe.

  • S.Jagernath on December 17, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Brilliant Article!Sunil Gavaskar's performances against such pace baffles me,I only wish I could have seen it.I have been lucky enough to watch Rahul Dravid,his abilities on pacy,seaming pitches while also contending with wild swing,is nearly unrivalled.Sachin Tendulkar is the allround batsman.Cheteshwar Pujara & Ajinkya Rahane are good contenders to replace those men.India need their top order & upper middle order to do the scoring.The bowlers must support any performances from the batsmen & take their oppurtunities.

  • dosapati_anand on December 17, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    When did Sachin tendulkar do it in South Africa??? Tendulkar, Dravid had very modest success in South Africa and Tendulkar's technique has always been a suspect against the quality pace.

  • on December 17, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar was India's great batsman, his biggest skills were, concentration and best technique against the medium/fast/fastest bowlers, it takes a lot guts to play against the very fast bowling at international level and that too without wearing the modern day equipment, he never put on a helmet, a chest guard, or a thigh guard on his right thigh, there were some international bowlers who would try and intimidate him, but he stood firm and scored all those runs, and took over Sir Don. I always believed a true measure of a batsman comes when being able to play the fast bowlers the best , and he proved if for years, home and abroad.I have had the pleasure of playing with him and grew up admiring and watching him, he was a legend. Indian players should listen to him and they will learn a lot.

  • on December 17, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    Pujara scored well against England in India (the series that India lost). At that time he said that he has to master playing on fast and bouncy foreign wickets. Hope that he has had adequate time and effort to do so.

    All the best.

    OK

  • on December 17, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    This current crop of batsmen were raised in conditions were the ball doesn't get up beyond knee and played that kings with swords slashing everything moving object. A great game converted in to a travesty of entertainment where all that mattered was how high and far can you hit. Easy to do in placid conditions and friendly bowlers. That aint cricket though.

    Real men perform in all conditions and at this hour of shame that engulfs Indian cricket everyone remembers real men who donned the white and blue. Sunny is the lead pack of those men and it was great of Martin to recall the genius.

    Standing up the wall to get the position right, not reading anything while traveling etc are some of the methods used by Sunny to gain concentration and posture. Men who could concentrate and face chin music reggae and rock -Rahul, VVS, Sachin-are gone now.

    What we have now are boys who play cricket between entertainment.

    Yes some helicopters fly only in Ranchi and dusty Indian pitches.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 17, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar is perhaps the most misunderstood Indian batsman by the Indians who have not seen him play in the 70s. They think of him as a batsman who played slowly to get his runs and somebody who got runs against spinners. This is the same set of Indians who have not watched the WI greats bowl and bat and how they imposed on the opposition. Sunil's greatness is attested by the fact that he scored 13 Test centuries against the mighty WI when just scoring against them was a big deal. He was never scared of driving the ball on the offside, especially when the Windies' bowlers ran 30 yards to bowl to a field with 4 slips and a gully. Watching highlight packages of those Tests doesn't quite bring out the fear or the thrill of playing the WI. The only other world batsman who could stand up consistently to the Windies' bowling then was Greg Chappell.

  • on December 17, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Extremely well written article, by an extremely elegant batsman! Thanks Martin for simplifying the concept of balance while batting

  • irishhawks on December 17, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    For all those who are over excited about run scoring capabilities of kohli and company..Sachin faced likes of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Fannie devilliers and he dominated them even in soutch africa.. Here Our so called Great youngsters cant even touch the ball for twelve consecutive deliveries of Dale Styen! Sachin is Sachin...And these guys are flash in the pan

  • raza84 on December 17, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Awesomeeee!!!!!! You should write more often.....

  • on December 17, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    Excellent article, thank you.

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 17, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    Why Indian batsmen, internationally patience seems to be wearing thin. Look at England. In 2006-07, Cook and Pietersen batted brilliantly in Perth, though England lost. But in 2013-14, they could hardly hang on. In the first innings, though well set, Cook cut uppishly. In the second innings, Pietersen played in a cavalier manner. Hardly the way to bat in tests. And these are very good players of pace. But times are a'changing...

  • on December 17, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    @Alexk400 I don't know when the last time you saw SA playing in SA. It's not just Steyn and come the first Test you will learn why they are the best bowling attack in the world. Ask Pakistan: as Whatmore said after the first match"This is the most relentless fast bowling I have ever seen." The problem with Indian supporters is that they are so bullish when commenting in these forums. I don't even know why people keep saying(implying) that Indian batting is better than SA's. That is not even close! The simple truth is the only thing standing between SA and victory is the weather.

  • Arrow011 on December 17, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    I do not think anybody except Pujara can be the wall. He has good technique & he is a bulk scorer.

  • JoieDeVivre on December 17, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Excellent article. I sincerely hope the young Indian Turks show the required patience to counter and wear the opponents mentally & physically. The one big issue I see though is going to be lack of practice. No matter who you are, if you are not accustomed or not played enough in alien conditions, you will struggle and as the legends say it is difficult to adjust when the adjustment has to be made against raising and moving ball compared to a turning ball. This is going to be baptism by fire for the young guns and this piece by Martin Crowe is just the tonic they need if they were to do well.

  • nikky283 on December 17, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    gr8 piece of writing by d great man! hope he comes back & contributes more 2 kiwi cricket! d article was a tribute 2 india's batting masters! the last paragraph was pure poetry in motion!! u delighted us d bat & now wid the pen!!!

  • Deeps1974 on December 17, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    Very well written. Just as splendid as your batting...

  • SCC08 on December 17, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @alexk400 - LOL, you want to bet on that comment? Heard of the big Vern? Unless it rains, this test will be over in 3 days.. Easy SA victory!

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 17, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    bujjerbattu, I have not understood if you are contradicting my point since I have stated facts. And Gavaskar's 90 in Ahmedabad against Marshall/Holding/Daniel may well be the greatest innings ever played in cricket. That pitch was the worst pitch in which cricket has ever been played in India, and India in their 2nd innings were 60 for 9 at one time. Gavaskar made 90 in 120 balls, and it took a lot of disturbance on the sightscreen to upset him, and but for that, West Indies were gone for all money, and set to concede a large first innings lead. I dont think any batsman has murdered a top class attack on a bad wicket ever.

  • cletusdpinto on December 17, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    Mr Crowe - I must thank you for 2 things. Firsty, simplifying the "art of test batting" in a manner that most people can comprehend - doing the basics right, to get yourself out of a fix. It seems like the young batsmen of today subscribe to confidence and panache, rather than revisiting the fundamentals of their performing art and showing some doggedness while at the crease. Secondly, so eloquently describing 3 Indian batting legends who epitomised "resilience" while batting. You are spot-on... this is the main ingredient lacking in the armour of today's batsmen. It is no surprise, that the likes of Kallis & Chanderpaul along with Rahul succeeded on every surface, against every attack, very consistently. Don't see that raw determination and ability in today's batsmen to just block. It is rare to find batsmen like Lara and Tendulkar who have all of this, and then some... flair! I think Amla, Kohli, Clarke, Cook, etc need to fill this gap soon... or test batting may be a dying art...

  • TheOnlyEmperor on December 17, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    The era of big blade high impact bats and lightning swift outfields have made Indian batsmen lazy. For instance they don't watch the ball as much as they should. Just timing the ball well takes the ball to the boundary these days, whereas earlier, you actually had to drive the ball well using thinner blade bats coupled with good timing to score a boundary. The helmets and the various arm and body guards have also made the batsmen lazy. If you are afraid of getting hurt and retiring hurt, then you would watch the ball, because your life and cricket career depended on it. Net practice sessions by India are just mock drills. The nets are not used to push yourself to the extreme, bowling and batting wise. It's seen as a chore that needs to be endured. Insufficient preparation in technique, eye-hand coordination and shot selection shows up on match day when batsmen face the fast ball that moves or rises unpredictably. Batting is not about predictive play but about watchful play!

  • Alexk400 on December 17, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    if Indian batsman become courageous , it may work for india. If they ready to accept getting hit , game will be easy. if they are afraid of getting hit , then game is over.

    Sunil never played to score runs. Thats only way to counter real fast bowling. Defend at all cost is sunny's method. Milk the spinners.

    I still do not think SA has fire power if steyn not do well. if india play steyn on full defense india can win the test.

  • on December 17, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    Useful advice for batsmen all over the world. Wasim Akram always rated Martin Crowe very highly for the way he played swing so late. Keep the good articles coming !!

  • nh00 on December 17, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    what a wonderful article... it somehow had the feel of a Tarantino movie with the fractured timelines... probably a simpler version... like watching one of those really good movies which keep shifting between black and white/technicolor and HD full color to denote days of wisdom received vs time to apply the same. Absolute classic this. Always been a fan of Mr Crowe (i started watching cricket in THAT world cup of '92, so that's obvious), now (if that's possible), have a much higher level of respect for the man.

  • sohonica on December 17, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Nothing beats practice in any profession. No matter how mentally tough you are, if you don't get enough exposure to pacy and bouncy tracks, you will lack the skills...albeit to variable extent depending upon your natural ability. BCCI is to be blamed. They simply do not arrange enough tours in Aus, SA and NZ. Instead, Indian team keeps playing Srilanka and WI, often on the dead subcontinent tracks where batsmen pile up double hundreds in one-dayers. On lively tracks, the same batsmen find it hard to accumulate 200 runs in the whole series. Its been the same story since so many years. It is unlikely that BCCI will change anything...ultimately business rather than sports is their priority.

  • bujjerbattu on December 17, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    oh forgot to mention @ Gerry_the_merry

  • Emancipator007 on December 17, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Martin, thanks for HIGHLIGHTING the best Test batsman with no chinks in his armor AT ALL-peerless Sunil Gavaskar. Sunny also the ONLY Bat to fearlessly pull Holding/Marshal during his 121 & 90 in Delhi &Ahmedabad Tests '83 series & only BATSMAN of that era to score a 200 against Marshall,Holding,Roberts,Davis!-though Deano did score a 200 against Patto/Marshall/Ambrose/Walsh in '88.Imran totally stopped bowling bouncers (terming them waste of effort) knowing Sunny's immaculate swaying away/weaving technique. I consider Sunny the ONLY gold-standard world-class product in non-competitive, socialist era India.To think that when I used to wake in wee hours to regularly watch Martin bat in '92 World Cup showcasing same immaculate batsmanship style as Sunny (never knew about that advice then).Martin understands the pedigree of masterful Indian batsmanship-Pujara HIGHLy motivated to continue that legacy.

  • bujjerbattu on December 17, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    Sachin got hit so many times and so many times he has carried on with his finesse without a flinch. I dont think any bowler who has ever bowled to him can say he scared Tendulkar with pace and bounce. Getting hit by gem of deliveries and showing resilience sessions after sessions ...tests after tests is different from facing the battery and throwing the wicket. Its not the the fans but the pundits of cricket who have coined the terms The Little Master, The legend and the Wall ! I hope people making comments as such have stepped on the pitch atleast once in their lifetime faced a decent over.

  • on December 17, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    I loved the way you batted , now I also love the way you write .Please keep writing .Budding cricketers could learn so much from your simple and impeccable analysis.

  • Emancipator007 on December 17, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Martin, thanks for HIGHLIGHTING the best Test batsman with no chinks in his armor AT ALL-peerless Sunil Gavaskar. Sunny also the ONLY Bat to fearlessly pull Holding/Marshal during his 121 & 90 in Delhi &Ahmedabad Tests '83 series & only BATSMAN of that era to score a 200 against Marshall,Holding,Roberts,Davis!-though Deano did score a 200 against Patto/Marshall/Ambrose/Walsh in '88.Imran totally stopped bowling bouncers (terming them waste of effort) knowing Sunny's immaculate swaying away/weaving technique. I consider Gavaskar the ONLY gold-standard world-class product in non-competitive, socialist era India.To think that when I used to wake in wee hours to regularly watch Martin bat in '92 World Cup showcasing same immaculate batsmanship style as Sunny (never knew about that advice then).Martin understands the pedigree of masterful Indian batsmanship-Pujara HIGHLY motivated to continue that legacy.

  • on December 17, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    India need to provide the wall of resilience. Sunny used it, Sachin breathed it, Rahul was it..!!! I loved this line..

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 17, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    Such flawless and simple analysis in breaking down a big behavioural challenge. Well written Mr Crowe.

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 17, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    Tendulkar got hit in the head very often, but McGrath, Lee, Akram just to name a few. Dravid was better. Sunny almost never got hit (since he did not wear a helmet, and stayed alive, he must have not got hit often). Richards got hit, but then savaged Pascoe. But Tendulkar got hit last year (2011-12) by Broad, Lee and Siddle.

  • Rahul_Inspired on December 17, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Kudos to you again, Martin!! Again a gem of an article. As you say it is going to be a tough tour for the young Indian team yet they are very very talented. I believe they can learn so many things from this short tour. This will easily by far the most intimidating bowling lineup at their own backyard. So nice first one to begin with. I personally think BCCI should take a copy of Sunny's advice and paste it all over the Indian dressing room, regardless of the location. They have messed up with the tour already, they can gain some respect by doing so.

  • sandy_bangalore on December 17, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    You are just magnificient, Mr Crowe! Such wonderful dissection of the batting of Indias two titans, Gavaskar and Dravid. Please keep writing man

  • sandy_bangalore on December 17, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    You are just magnificient, Mr Crowe! Such wonderful dissection of the batting of Indias two titans, Gavaskar and Dravid. Please keep writing man

  • Rahul_Inspired on December 17, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Kudos to you again, Martin!! Again a gem of an article. As you say it is going to be a tough tour for the young Indian team yet they are very very talented. I believe they can learn so many things from this short tour. This will easily by far the most intimidating bowling lineup at their own backyard. So nice first one to begin with. I personally think BCCI should take a copy of Sunny's advice and paste it all over the Indian dressing room, regardless of the location. They have messed up with the tour already, they can gain some respect by doing so.

  • Cool_Jeeves on December 17, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    Tendulkar got hit in the head very often, but McGrath, Lee, Akram just to name a few. Dravid was better. Sunny almost never got hit (since he did not wear a helmet, and stayed alive, he must have not got hit often). Richards got hit, but then savaged Pascoe. But Tendulkar got hit last year (2011-12) by Broad, Lee and Siddle.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 17, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    Such flawless and simple analysis in breaking down a big behavioural challenge. Well written Mr Crowe.

  • on December 17, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    India need to provide the wall of resilience. Sunny used it, Sachin breathed it, Rahul was it..!!! I loved this line..

  • Emancipator007 on December 17, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Martin, thanks for HIGHLIGHTING the best Test batsman with no chinks in his armor AT ALL-peerless Sunil Gavaskar. Sunny also the ONLY Bat to fearlessly pull Holding/Marshal during his 121 & 90 in Delhi &Ahmedabad Tests '83 series & only BATSMAN of that era to score a 200 against Marshall,Holding,Roberts,Davis!-though Deano did score a 200 against Patto/Marshall/Ambrose/Walsh in '88.Imran totally stopped bowling bouncers (terming them waste of effort) knowing Sunny's immaculate swaying away/weaving technique. I consider Gavaskar the ONLY gold-standard world-class product in non-competitive, socialist era India.To think that when I used to wake in wee hours to regularly watch Martin bat in '92 World Cup showcasing same immaculate batsmanship style as Sunny (never knew about that advice then).Martin understands the pedigree of masterful Indian batsmanship-Pujara HIGHLY motivated to continue that legacy.

  • on December 17, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    I loved the way you batted , now I also love the way you write .Please keep writing .Budding cricketers could learn so much from your simple and impeccable analysis.

  • bujjerbattu on December 17, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    Sachin got hit so many times and so many times he has carried on with his finesse without a flinch. I dont think any bowler who has ever bowled to him can say he scared Tendulkar with pace and bounce. Getting hit by gem of deliveries and showing resilience sessions after sessions ...tests after tests is different from facing the battery and throwing the wicket. Its not the the fans but the pundits of cricket who have coined the terms The Little Master, The legend and the Wall ! I hope people making comments as such have stepped on the pitch atleast once in their lifetime faced a decent over.

  • Emancipator007 on December 17, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Martin, thanks for HIGHLIGHTING the best Test batsman with no chinks in his armor AT ALL-peerless Sunil Gavaskar. Sunny also the ONLY Bat to fearlessly pull Holding/Marshal during his 121 & 90 in Delhi &Ahmedabad Tests '83 series & only BATSMAN of that era to score a 200 against Marshall,Holding,Roberts,Davis!-though Deano did score a 200 against Patto/Marshall/Ambrose/Walsh in '88.Imran totally stopped bowling bouncers (terming them waste of effort) knowing Sunny's immaculate swaying away/weaving technique. I consider Sunny the ONLY gold-standard world-class product in non-competitive, socialist era India.To think that when I used to wake in wee hours to regularly watch Martin bat in '92 World Cup showcasing same immaculate batsmanship style as Sunny (never knew about that advice then).Martin understands the pedigree of masterful Indian batsmanship-Pujara HIGHLy motivated to continue that legacy.

  • bujjerbattu on December 17, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    oh forgot to mention @ Gerry_the_merry