As the say in cricket, form is temporary, class is permanent.
On that sunny day when I had bunked school to watch India bat in the Ahmedabad test against Newzealand, I wasn’t the only one surprised.
Everyone was stunned as they watched the 2 best batsmen (SRT & RD) get beaten by Chris Cairn’s bi-directional reverse swings. Repeatedly. They seemed to be floating on pure luck.
India, summers, a dry batting track, reverse swing, medium pace, SRT & RD beaten frequently!!! This wasn’t a combination we were used to seeing.
But we were because Cairns had figured a little weakness in these 2. And he was beating them frequently. These two just could not figure out the swing.
If you grew up thinking great batsmen have eagle eyes and cheetah speed, ummm no. With the ball coming at you at 150+ kmph, it hardly leaves you a second to decide and hit the ball where you want to. Cheetahs would fall short. These guys are great because they know before hand what kind of ball the bowler is going to bowl, even before its done. Yup, that’s what gives them extra time no matter what the pace.
And batsmen do that by looking at how the bowler has gripped the ball, which side is shining etc etc etc…
Cairns was beating them because he had figured this out and had changed his strategy — on his run up, he had covered the ball by his other hand so they could not see which the shine was and hence had no clue whether the ball would swing in or out. It was a matter before the champions went back home.
As much as I loved SRT/SD, watching Cairns work out a way to better our champions was pure delight. It was a battle of equals, of best minds at work.
Except, there was a little problem. SRT & RD were champions. And champions always found ways to come on top. And so they did.
It was SRT’s idea, that the non stricker batsman can see the ball better inside Chris’s covered hands since he would be closer to the bowler. Now if he felt the ball was going to out swing, he would hold his bat in his left hand, or in his right hand if Cairns was going to bowl an in-swinger.
And if they could not decide, they would hold the bat with both hands.
Result — both batsmen scored centuries.
Clever thinking, presence of mind, finding weakness in the adversary even though he was on top, can-do attitude, team work — yup, that’s how great minds work even when they are down.