A cricket guru was holding forth on the art of batting before an audience, which included Virender Sehwag. As he spoke animatedly about the need to keep the head still and watch the wrist movement/seam position to detect swing, Sehwag listened first with interest, and then with an amused look. When the lecture ended, he said: “You think a lot, I just see the ball and play.”
Reduced to basics, this means there is too much theory in cricket and non-players see a lot of things that don’t exist. Sehwag is known to cut through clutter but others too feel cricket is over-discussed.
When asked to name the challenges of captaincy, Tiger Pataudi’s typically brief reply was it is a simple matter of man-management.
Another legend, Sunil Gavaskar, thinks the media goes overboard trying to make sense of what happens on the field. Cricket, in his opinion, is over-analysed and intuition and gut feel are overlooked.
Many times, a captain moves a fielder a few yards and the next ball, a rotten half volley is hit down his throat. Is it a great tactical move, a moment of genius or inspired leadership? Perhaps yes, perhaps only a huge slice of luck.
Likewise, when Sachin Tendulkar drives through cover to beat the in-field and the sweeper, the placement is as much the result of memory and habit — he has played the shot a million times — as it is of deliberate intent.
Many times, things just happen. There was a stage when Wasim Akram would run in and bang the ball in, not knowing which way it would seam after landing.
Gavaskar believes modern teams are top heavy, in the sense the army of support staff (most notably, coaches and mental conditioners) but they bring little to the table. This is specially valid for T20/IPL where players arrive the night before the match and the game is decided by a few dot balls or a couple of lusty hits.
The fundamental message: cricket is unpredictable; it will bite anyone who has the arrogance to think he has it sorted out.