Saturday, July 02, 2022

Musings of a Groundsman - Model Role Models

When I was growing up in cricket, I didn't have the opportunity to see so much of it on TV. Heck I didn't even know that cricket could be played with white all and colored strips. All I knew was red ball, white outfit. So you can imagine my shock when I saw, for the first time, cricket being played with clothings that were not white.
As a child, owning a TV was a privilege. Having access to cable TV on top of the TV, you have had to be a royalty for that to happen. Aside that, cable TV was not a common feature in many homes. Anyway, I saw more international cricket in magazines than I saw on TV. My role models in the game were limited to the ones I saw and identified in those magazines. Needless to say, my role model options we very limited.
Things are a lot different these days. Cricket has become more popular, reaching never-before-reached crannies in far ends of the country. Cable TV now has more viewership than ever before; which means there are more people getting to see (if not watch) cricket. This means the pot to select role models from has become bigger than it ever was. And, there has been more opportunities for youngsters to play the game.

Talking about youngsters, I remember when I was one, I was told to never aspire to play like some cricketers whose styles were considered not “pretty”. And that was when cricket was a bit more conservative. T20 cricket has not come to spice things up then.
What we see today is everything they never taught us when we were learning. Fancy shots that never once were, strokes that even MCC has no names for and deliveries that make batsmen think twice about what they thought they knew about bowling.
My case study here is none other than THE GAYLE FORCE himself. Nothing about him speaks “stylish” the cricket way.

Patience - not an attribute of his. Gayle is the first and only cricketer to play the first ball of a test innings for a boundary six. I mean, how more impatient can a batsman get?
Footwork - naa...he either doesn't like it or was not taught when he was growing. Even for a simple action as forward defensive, the big man never goes with his foot. After all, the aim is to defend the ball, right?
Stroke play - some of the ugliest, most un-cricket strokes I've ever seen were off the bat of this West Indian. Rather than play the ball like the books and coaches have taught the rest of us, Christopher Henry Gayle relies totally on his hand-eye coordination, his impeccable sense of timing, heavy bats and brute force to muscle the ball over the boundary. I bet the last time he executed a cover drive was when he was still trying to get into his high school side. unorthodox as the universe boss may appear, he has carved out a niche for himself, setting multiple records, and becoming a (GAYLE) force to be reckoned with all over the world.
Who ever you choose (as a role model) to fashion your game after, orthodox or unorthodox, the best thing you can do for yourself as a youngster is to make your mark, and make it early.
Take it from me...selectors do not have the patience any more for you to build your innings. Get your runs, and get them earlier than your competitors. I've seen this happen many times in selection camps... I see it all the time...remember, I'm A Groundsman


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