In a country that produces infinitely more number of experts than players, it’s only natural that the Indian cricket team, which faces off with Pakistan at Eden Gardens today, would be flooded with advice on dos and don’ts. The advantage with experts is that they watch the game from a distance and have the liberty to draw patterns. They believe, like theorists in other areas, that victories in matches follow a pattern; if your game plan fits in, there’s no way you can lose. According to them, all winning efforts are alike, losers lose for many reasons (forgive me Leo Tolstoy for giving a sorry twist to your famous line on families).
The problem with experts is that they believe they know it all. Actually, they understand little. If everything was about patterns then cricket won’t be a game of such wonderful uncertainties. They refuse to get that the dynamics of what happens on the field is quite different from what they perceive from far off. In the incredibly fast T20 format, where the complexion of the game can change in no time, it’s foolish to dish out gyan on what to do.
But being what they are they won’t stop advising. Here are four pearls of wisdom Team India must ignore:
Be positive: What the heck is that supposed to mean? There’s no other word as vague in meaning as this. Most experts, including ex-and current players use this expression frequently these days. It’s like asking a boy going for his exams to be confident. Does it make any difference to the nervous boy’s morale and make him perform better? Of course, not. If Mohammad Amir is hurling the cricket ball at 150 km per hour, as a batsman you respond automatically according to your level of skill in negotiating pace. How does being positive or otherwise come into the picture?
Play your natural game: Again, a vague advice and absolute waste of words. Of course, once out there players won’t play an unnatural game. Every player has his own style and technique to handle the challenges thrown at him as a bowler or a batsman. They have to play their natural game. MS Dhoni won’t play like Virat Kohli or R Ashwin won’t bowl like R Jadeja. What does the advice ‘play you natural game’ mean then? Possibly, it’s meant to tell Dhoni or Ashwin to play the way they do. But are they kids to be told that?
Bowl in the right areas: Ah! This is wonderful. But pray what is the right area? If you mean bowling at good length or just short of good length is bowling in the right area, then you are not watching cricket much these days. Cricket balls can vanish into the stands from anywhere. And where is the answer to the scoop over the wicket keeper’s head or even the reverse sweep? Both have become regular shots in the armouries of batters these days. Bowlers have to think on their feet and decide the right area maybe seconds before they let the ball go.
The skipper must be pro-active: We Indians tend to equate leadership quality with body language too much. Thus if a captain is not getting hyper on the field, running to the bowler every two minutes, shouting commands at the fielders and glaring at them for a misfield, we presume he is less than what a captain should be. Dhoni was earlier criticised for being indifferent on the field for these precise lapses. Guys, this is not your gulli or school boy cricket, the men out there are seasoned war horses. They know how to respond to emerging situations. Sometimes the responses work, sometimes they don’t. That’s the beauty of the game is all about. Don’t focus on the skipper too much.
And here’s our advice to Team India: Just go out and play. Vague, did someone say that? Well, give us one which is not vague.