Monday, November 15, 2010

Harbhajan and the art of scoring runs

By John Cheeran
Harbhajan Singh has hit another Test century.
The century (111) in Hyderabad is his second consecutive knock against New Zealand in the ongoing series.
Last week in the first Test at Ahmedabad Harbhajan had scored 115 in the second innings and 69 in the first innings. These three consistent scores against a decent international bowling attack cannot be viewed as an aberration.
No wonder then that former Indian skipper Rahul Dravid argued on Sunday that the off-spinner from Chandigarh could be evolving into an Indian Gary Sobers. May be, may be not.
Well, Dravid can be, at times, quite magnanimous to his teammates. There is, absolutely, no shades of the West Indian all-rounder in Harbhajan Singh. But Harbhajan has improved a lot as a batsman. He has succeeded when top order batsmen failed to come to the rescue of India as in the second innings of the first Test in Ahmedabad.
What explains Harbhajan’s sudden success as a batsman?
Before getting into that debate let me state that Harbhajan has failed in his primary responsibility as the seniormost spinner in bowling out New Zealanders. Harbhajan took four wickets in the New Zealand first innings in Hyderabad but could take only one in Ahmedabad.
There is little doubt that Harbhajan belongs to the Virender Sehwag School of Batting. The Sehwag School of Batting believes in belting the ball, without getting bogged down by the consequences and the context of the match. It does not observe the niceties of wearing out the bowling attack. When Sehwag succeeds, he invariably hammers a big score or else he falls too early to leave the Indian innings wobbling.
In Hyderabad, Harbhajan, a No.8 batsman, has top scored for India with 111 off 116 balls. His strike rate of 95.68 in this innings is much better than that of Sehwag (80). And to consider that Harbhajan top scored for an India with a batting line-up that boasts of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Dravid and VVS Laxman!
Batting is a much refined task compared to bowling. But a fearless approach wins you more than half the battle. You cannot blame Harbhajan if he had thought of emulating the raw, robust approach of Sehwag in plundering runs. If Harbhajan the batsman attempts a wild shot and gets out in the process he has still opportunity to redeem himself as a bowler. His existence as a cricketer and a member of the Indian squad does not hinge on the number of runs he scores. Such knowledge can be extremely useful for a cricketer who has wielded the long handle in the past and has a devil-may-care attitude to life in general.
Whereas specialist batsmen are hampered at the crease by the responsibility to score runs, the lack of any such burden sets free the likes of Harbhajan at the batting crease. But, then, why other bowlers in the side are not able to reproduce the success of Harbhajan?
May be, they are not willing to walk that extra mile. It is important to recall at this juncture that former Indian captain and leg spinner Anil Kumble said in an interview that since they (Srinath, Kumble and Venkatesh Prasad) are bowlers they do not want to stay at the batting crease and risk injuries and thereby jeopardize their career. The approach that it is the job of batsmen to bring home the runs is fine up to a point. But, there is no doubt that Harbhajan has no such reservations when it comes to cocking a snook at the opposition.
Yes, some skills to improvise while going for strokes do count. Hand-eye co-ordination, too, is important. But a big heart for fight counts much more than that.

1 comment:

mohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Lessons In Forgetting by Anita Nair. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

John Cheeran at Blogged