Playing a more “back and through” safer way for batsmen to succeed on the outstanding pitches in Australia, says the former Indian captain
Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar believes several batsmen have come to consciousness after being hit on the helmet due to the “front press” in their trigger movement. According to Gavaskar, one of the biggest Test openers, the best way to avoid a blow on the head is to play on the back foot, where the batsman can “ride” the bounce and has more chances to respond with greater confidence.
Since Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died in 2014 as a result of being dropped by a goalkeeper he played too early, the dangers associated with concussion have been looked at more closely in cricket. However in the last month itself there have been several cases of batsmen being hit on the head, some of them suffering concussions. That list includes Indian versatile Ravindra Jadejan, who was excluded from the final two matches of the T20I series, top-ranked on his helmet in the series opener. The following week, Victoria batsman Will Pucovski, who is just 22 years old, missed a possible Test debut against India in Adelaide, after suffering a concussion during a multi-day warm-up game, the ninth in his career.
On the contrary, despite never wearing a helmet, Gavaskar said he was hit only once on his head throughout his career – by the late legend Malcolm Marshall – during a test match. “It has more to do today with the fact that everyone has this previous press where they are technically ahead, which is a little difficult, which is the reason why on strong pitches you have [batsmen struggling], ”Gavaskar said on Monday.
Gavaskar spoke on a show at hosting broadcaster Sony Sports Network, along with former Australian captain Allan Border, previewing the four-test series between Australia and India, which begins with the day-night Test in Adelaide on Thursday. “In Australia you want to ride the bounce, get on your feet so you can ride the bounce – which not many people do today,” Gavaskar said. “They’re so much on their front foot that they’re not able to transfer their weight and then get out of the way. As a batsman you tend to lock up a little bit.”
According to Gavaskar, a safer way for batsmen to succeed on the outstanding pitches in Australia was to play more “back and across”.
“Look, Virat Kohli is playing [the] doorman so well. Why does he play the goalkeeper so well? Because he has that back movement, so he waits a bit on the back foot for that short ball. Rahul Dravid, he used to wait with his back foot [to play] rear and rear. Sachin Tendulkar had a minimal front press, not a large front press. Therefore, he was still balanced when he played the short ball. “
Playing backwards and wide has a clear advantage, as shown by former Australian outside spinner Ashley Mallett in her column for ESPNcricinfo in 2019. “Against fast bowling back first movement allows the batsman to get behind the line of flight,” Mallet wrote. “If the ball is wide, he can allow it to pass, but he can hook a short ball that passes over a leg stump if he is back and across his stumps, with his head in the fly. This technique is terrible because even if he misses and misses the ball, his head is inside the line and out of injury. “
Gavaskar stressed Malo’s point. “It’s just a slightly technical thing, which is why a lot of these people hit the helmet. Most often batsmen hit the helmet between the folds: where their front foot is outside the fold and You very rarely find a batsman hitting if both of his feet are inside the crease, close to the stumps, because it gave the batsman that extra yard to either duck under the ball or swing out of the way. But that doesn’t happen, and that’s why I think they’re hit. “
Nagraj Gollapudi is a news editor at ESPNcricinfo