Indian television is great for cricket. Not if you're typing the ball-by-ball commentary for Cricinfo and an ad cuts off a bowler's celebration after a wicket, but in terms of how much cricket it shows and how consistently. Yesterday afternoon, flipping through channels, I was able to choose from highlights of an ODI between India and Australia in Indore in 2001, another between South Africa and Zimbabwe from last week, Dravid and Laxman batting India toward victory in the famous Adelaide Test of 2003-04, Sri Lanka beating New Zealand at the Brabourne in 2006 (an ODI I happened to watch live), Somerset's facile win over Derbyshire in last season's Twenty20 Cup quarter-finals, and Matthew Wade's maiden limited-overs century against Western Australia in a Ryobi Cup fixture from over the weekend. An overdose, surely, many would say.
But flipping through every format of the game, with different teams going at it in different countries and conditions, allowed me the chance to see so many different styles and techniques within the span of a few clicks.
I've always enjoyed watching the different techniques on view, especially the more unorthodox. Sehwag and Trescothick are my two faves. They are testament to the fact that footwork counts for little when you are blessed with amazing hand-eye coordination, sweet timing, and a whole lotta self confidence. My main gripe with Trescothick's otherwise endearing autobiography, Coming Back To Me, was that he didn't allow the reader into his style of batting and how he honed it. Would have been fascinating to find out whether he was coached on his batting, or if people tried to correct his footwork. But that's another story for another day.
After Sehwag and Trescothick, the most successful current batsman not to have great foot work is Graeme Smith. How he has scored so many runs despite a problem with the moving ball delivered from left-handers - especially Zaheer Khan - and such an ungainly approach is a bit baffling, given he isn't nearly as sweet a timer of the ball as the aforementioned duo. He doesn't bring the bat down from second slip, as the coaching manuals want you to. Instead he brings it down from gully, and then relies on his wrists to jab at the ball and work it away anywhere from square leg to mid-on. He manages to keep the bat face straight very regularly as well. Its makes for fascinating viewing, especially when Smith bats for long periods.
It was a fascinating half hour of flipping back and forth and seeing a range of batting techniques. Yes, I need a life, I know.