In late 2010, when Australia visited India, Mitchell Johnson seemed to have got Rahul Dravid’s number. He would slant the ball across Dravid's body, forcing him to fall for it. Dravid would then nick it to the wicketkeeper or the slips. Never before in his career had Dravid fallen to identical deliveries. Experts had a field day in writing him off saying that age had caught up. Little did they realise that lack of form had nothing to do with reflexes or age but a minor technical glitch that had found its way into his technique.
His trigger movement (the initial movement before the ball is delivered) took him back and across, which was resulting in his forward stride going a lot more across than he would have preferred. Once the front foot was planted far outside the line of the off-stump, he'd be forced to play at deliveries that were meant to be left alone.
The easier option, back then, was to ignore the sequence of similar dismissals as a blip in form and stick to what had worked for him so far. But Dravid wasn’t going to take inaccuracies in his stride. Today, he has eliminated that trigger movement and instead remains still till the ball is delivered. Getting rid of the trigger movement, which is only a few inches, might not seem too much of an adjustment, but it takes time to do that. Trigger movement is supposed to get the body in motion and also initiate a chain of movements to allow the body and bat to come in the right position at the right time. The moment you tinker with the first step, everything else goes awry.
Dravid did that, and was no longer falling for deliveries pitching outside off-stump while lesser movement provided him room to free his arms. Now, he doesn’t get behind the line of the ball often, instead remains beside it, which allows him to play aggressively. The flip side is that the moment you get beaten by lateral movement off the surface, there isn’t a second line of defence. This increases the chances of getting ‘bowled’.
Given Dravid’s technical prowess, the ‘bowled’ dismissal is unthinkable. But, we must understand that a batsman gets out when he’s beaten by a bowler and hence reading too much into one particular mode of dismissal isn’t justified.
The writer is a former India opener and plays for Rajasthan in Ranji Trophy.