Killer Instincts and Unselfish Cricket

04-Jan-07

Reading cricinfo after watching/following a bad day’s cricket is an absolute pain.

Here, Mr. Dileep Premchandran talks about “Killer Instinct” and how we lacked it on the 2nd day.
Here, Dinesh Karthik talks about how we are brought up to play unselfish cricket.

All this sounds like mumbo-jumbo to me.

Neither is anyone born with killer instinct..nor is it that simple. From my personal experiences, you do not need killer instinct…you need a will to win…and just win — no draw, no hundred, no five wickets, no “staying there till lunch or till the bowlers are tired” …no nonsense… When you go out there on the cricket field, you are looking for ways to win. (this probably holds for all forms of competition)

When you are not looking for ways to win (long term or short term) you are actually not competing. Will to win has several forms — you could be hanging on for dear life when the opposition is hammering you..you could be going hammer and tongs when you see drooping shoulders in the opposition.
When that focus on winning goes, those forms become the ends in themselves…I somehow get the feeling that when the Indian cricketers go out there, they are not thinking of winning…they are only thinking of “spending some time in the middle”, “putting the ball in the right areas” and other cliches…

Suppose you go out there on the first morning of a test match..you tell your openers “see off the new ball” or “see off so-and-so baller” or something to that effect. By lunch, your openers have done that for you…you are, say, 54/0 when folks walk in for their lunch. Now what ? If you are focussed on winning, you would re-assess that situation..how is the morale of the opposition, how disciplined is the balling…how good is their fielding..how are my batsmen doing..are they getting the ball in the middle of their bats ?
If you are stuck on the “see off the new ball” mode, you would go out there after lunch and fail to capitalize on the psychological damage you have inflicted on the fielding side by weathering their pre-lunch efforts.
Ex-cricketers and columnists write about playing (test cricket) session by session..but what changes session-by-session ? the colour of the ball, the weather conditions, the vigour in the fielding side, the comfort level of your batsmen ? of course….but there are also these tiny psychological dents, the miniature displays of frustration from the fielding side, the ever-so-slight drooping of shoulders, the slight display of tardiness in the field…Who assesses these changes ? Are your batsmen noticing all these ? are they ready to take advantage of every minor opportunity that comes out ?
All this only occurs to the batsmen if they are intent on winning the match…if they are intent on just “winning the session”, they may probably end the day at 254/3…if they were looking for all those small signs throughout the day, you would end up at 354/2…

Food for thought ??? Rubbish ???

Its been a very long post….I will stop here….
More in the later posts…tomorrow…

Update: 06-Jan-07

You would end up at 354/2….
A classic example of this “reading the texture of the game” philosophy was found in the 3rd Ashes Test at hot Perth (temperatures in the middle touched 50 degrees celsius)… Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke were at the crease. At 144/2, English bowlers were in with a chance…and they were creating chances..a missed stumping chance against Clarke, two skiers from Hussey falling in no-man’s land…England were definitely sniffing something promising. Hussey and Clarke weathered the storm (never really did the run scoring come to a stand-still though) in typical Aussie style.
Fast forward to 45 mins later…Hussey and Clarke still at the crease..building a partnership (and they have runs under their belt to show for it)… England can sense the match slipping out — shoulders are drooping..misfields abound — the works. The Aussies smell blood…go fo the jugular…the acceleration begins…Hussey gets out after getting one of the best constructed hundreds you will ever see at Perth..Symonds is dismissed cheaply…Gilli steps in..and the rest, as they say, is history. A 100 off 57 balls…and England ? Spectators almost forgot England were also on the same ground that day !!!

Where does confidence come from ? is it an inner thing ? does it come through some shots off the middle of the bat…does it come from “spending time at the middle” ? I dont know..

It is probably something for the cricket gurus to debate..but what I do know is that Indian cricketers do not get confidence even after winning a series overseas or a test win in South Africa. Maybe it is true for all us Indians..maybe it is true about me..

This post was not about bashing the Indian cricket team…this was about reading situations..how good are we as Indians at doing this ? How good are we at changing gears according to the situation ?

Your comments are appreciated..!!!

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One Response to “Killer Instincts and Unselfish Cricket”

  1. Ind - NZ : choking business « India Syndicate Says:

    […] nous. They often show a sad indifference towards the mood of the game (read my earlier post here to understand what I am talking about). A lot of these batsmen often fail to read the texture of […]


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