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Talent, attitude must for success

South Africa mein bahut talent hai, said a cricketer, his sharp eyes sweeping across the open grass stands at the Centurion. The player was not looking for young Tendulkars in the crowd. His attention was grabbed by attractive young girls at the ground - soaking in the sun and enjoying cricket. Cricket experts hold a somewhat different meaning, and understanding, of talent compared to the view of the spirited Indian player.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2003 00:45 IST

South Africa mein bahut talent hai, said a cricketer, his sharp eyes sweeping across the open grass stands at the Centurion. The player was not looking for young Tendulkars in the crowd. His attention was grabbed by attractive young girls at the ground - soaking in the sun and enjoying cricket.

Cricket experts hold a somewhat different meaning, and understanding, of talent compared to the view of the spirited Indian player. By common perception, talent is a God given vardaan, a priceless gift that separates the good from the ordinary.

Talent is raw ability, a virtue that is difficult to describe but easy to identify - it is, essentially, a skill that enables a player to perform effortlessly.

For batsmen this means judging the line and length early (like Sachin) getting into position and knowing the exact location of the off stump. Talented players time the ball superbly, they knock the ball around elegantly instead of bludgeoning it with brute power.

For bowlers this means hurrying the ball off the turf and extracting bounce which surprises the batsmen. A talented spinner has deceptive loop --- batsmen wanting to drive suddenly discover the ball is not there for the shot. When ordinary bowlers bang the ball in they get banged by batsmen but when Brett Lee does this the batsmen decide it is safer to get out of the way.

Though talent reveals class, in a loose manner, it is only one of many qualities needed for success. Gurus like SMG (who had class and talent) feel talent and technique are important, but at the end of the day sound temperament is of critical importance. What good, he asks, is ability, if the man is shaking nervously in the middle? Also, if the attitude is not right, no amount of talent is of any use. Modern players need to be athletes, they must spend hours in the gym in order to cut boundaries in the deep, run like crazy between wickets and fling themselves at the ball at point.

Talent, therefore, must be married to attitude and without aag (this is Paaji's - Bishan Bedi - favourite description of a good khiladi), nothing is possible. To survive and succeed in contemporary cricket a player must be on the ball all the time.

Like SMG and Paaji, Sachin Tendulkar has definite views on what constitutes talent. I am not in a position to communicate his thoughts about talent of the kind spotted at Centurion, but the master made a significant comment on what makes a good cricketer.

Timing the ball and stroking shots fluently is a big quality but that is only a small part of batting. Far more important, says Sachin, is the art of scoring runs and building an innings. These are two totally different things.

Cricket, said the master, is not about talent or technique or temperament. It is about making runs.

First Published: Apr 07, 2003 00:42 IST