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HindustanTimes Thu,10 Jul 2014

Cricket Columns

Some praise must be reserved for flat tracks
Sanjay Manjrekar
March 05, 2013
First Published: 00:43 IST(5/3/2013)
Last Updated: 02:04 IST(5/3/2013)

While they have their weaknesses against the moving ball, India batsmen develop great ball sense due to the volume of deliveries faced.

Flat pitches in India often get flak for the kind of technique batsmen develop playing on them --- one that gets them into trouble when they have to bat on livelier pitches.

It's a fair criticism of the surfaces, but flat pitches are not all bad for the development of batsmen and the game in general.

One good thing that flat pitches do to a batsman is that they get him to play a lot of balls as he is growing up as a cricketer. And you know what they say about 10,000 hours of practice to become a champion.

Well, young batsmen who break into the India team may have a few weaknesses here and there, but they would have played a lot more balls than a young Kiwi batsman when they get into the national team.

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I was surprised to see, when the New Zealand team was here, that some of their frontline batsmen had averages in the 30s in first-class cricket.

As opposed to say an India batsman who averages in the range of 50 & 60 in first-class cricket.

Great ball sense
Yes, India batsmen will have their weaknesses against the seaming or bouncing ball, but by sheer volume of balls faced, they develop a great ball sense.

After that it's all about adjustment in different conditions and those who make that change survive, the others perish.

And those who survive at the international level make a mark in all conditions as records of successful batsmen will show.

The other advantage of the flat pitches is that when a Cheteshwar Pujara gets to a Test 100, he wants to carry on and get more, simply because it's a habit formed over the years from playing on flat pitches and getting big scores.

Such batsmen don't feel that a Test 100 is the ultimate achievement; having got those 200s and 300s on the flat pitches, they start to go down that familiar territory in Test matches too. For they have done all this before, albeit at a lower level.

It's incredible to see an '11-Test-old' player get two double hundreds in his short career. The flat pitches of India, I believe, should get some credit for that.

The writer is a former India batsman (PMG)


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