Are you a bowler or a batsman?
Let’s play a game then. Think about a great cricketer before you continue reading.
The generation that played and followed cricket before the T.V and the internet came in, was probably luckier than the one that is watching it these days, with a mouse and a remote control. It was a time when the contest between a batsman and a bowler, was probably a lot more even than it is today. Fans then would have no choice but to watch the game at the ground, or read about it a day later.
Some of these fans became heroes for their heroes. Was cricket’s past better than its future?
That was a time when the game was played in whites, and when there were more kids who wanted to become bowlers. Everybody wants to become a batsman these days. The cricketer in the advertisement is always holding a bat. Right? That’s because the dudes playing the gentleman’s game today, hit sixes and fours the same way a maharaj tosses pakora batter into a frying pan with hot oil. Defense these days means attack, so a spinner takes a flight, only to bowl without it. Cricketers from the years gone by have spoken about how difficult it was to play without the helmet against the faster bowlers. Fear probably made them better batsmen, because that forced them to respect the bowlers if not the delivery.
Cricket is a sport where two human beings bat, while ten men help one man with the ball, in his endeavour, to make one of the two guys walk back to the dressing room. This needs to happen ten times. Funny that the two guys have all the fun these days.
With the balance tilted in favour of the men wearing the thigh pads, it can unfortunately be said that the next big thing to hit cricket, will be a batsman and not a bowler. We will be happy if someone proves us wrong.
Don’t get us wrong. Good batsmen are being dismissed by good bowlers. Teams are winning matches, trophies and cheques are being distributed. But with so many superb cricketers around, and with so much cricket being played, how do you differentiate between a hero and a great? Tough given that Mr.Everybody is as good as Mr.Everyone. If he is not, he will be. Videos can be watched, techniques can be peeled off, to correct a weakness that cricket’s teachers would love to erase.
But what happened to the genius in the class? A student who could teach the teacher.
Think about it. To a Sachin Tendulkar fan, where is the batsman who can break all his records. To a Shane Warne fan, where is the man who can bowl the ball of the new century. Whether we like it or not, a cricketer who creates a new benchmark, must also cross someone else’s milestone. Should we use a question mark at the end of the sentences, that mentioned the batting ace and the leg-spinning legend?
A full stop means that there is nobody around.
The game is getting robotic with T20, almost like a computer game. Of course, there are some things that cannot be changed. A cover drive will be a cover drive; a leg break will be a leg break. Innovations on the field almost always have the batsman’s patent, as he makes it a point to make the bowler look silly. A turnaround is rare, individual acts of bowling brilliance, are being registered but not remembered. There is a lot of cricket being played at night, but with so many stars around, where is the meteor?
Are we looking for a great cricketer with a good personality, or a good cricketer with a great personality?
A bit of both. What separates the best from the rest is a question that all of us can answer. Attributes that are spotted by writers looking to write a tribute at the end of the young man’s career. Here are the usual. Talent backed by a solid work ethic- that extra hour at the nets, that extra round around the ground, or a particular shot that left the bowler gaping. Hands akimbo. A man whose biggest rival is himself.
Plus something a little special. The chasni around the gulab jamun. A skill set that negates the opponent’s killer instinct, with power backed by grace. A human being who can win the debate between the bat and the ball without saying a word. A lot of it was seen in the past, but how much of it will we see in the future? Who is the bloke, who will raise eyebrows, in a game where the new make it to the news, only to become stale the very next day.
A still head that can anticipate the stroke, even before the bowler decides the type of delivery that he is planning to bowl. Yes. A bit of swagger would be nice, not necessarily a pretty face that can be used to sell soap or a soap opera. A crowd-puller who would stand out in a crowd, and whose name will be discussed beyond boundaries and borders.
The great cricketer you knew is not the one who will be.
If you know his name. Tell us. Where is he?
Beamer: If he can bat with the ball, and bowl with the bat. Would you mind?
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