Sunday, September 18, 2011

DOing and Learning !

For a few years now, i've been having this troubled feeling that i don't 'understand' cricket. Like most boys in India, i've played cricket ever since i can remember , for over 25 years. But i realised i could never explain how to swing a cricket ball while bowling and to play a long innings while batting.

This feeling gave me a goal for my last 2 years at RunsNWickets - The team i play for.

After the victory against the Bangalore chapter of our club

I was curious to understand and this made me look forward to the NETS / Matches with the team, the last 2 years.

Though i have a long way to go in learning, am not as 'troubled' now as i was before. I now can more confidently explain why i bowl the way i bowl / bat the way i bat. Some 'learning' memories during the last 2 years -

The Observation NET :

NETS was the key to my learnings. I tried to 'observe' more during NETS sessions. Whenever i bowled a ball, i tried to be aware of my action - the way the ball went out of hand , the way i held the 'seam' , the body position during release and more. After every ball i bowled, i had sometime to think about the previous ball. I really loved to be 'on my own' and think during this time.

Me, bowling during the Bangalore Vs Chennai game

During the matches too, i tried to observe why i was able to swing well on a particular day / cricket ground. At the Marina ground, i got a huge in-swing. At the DB Jain ground, i got slight inswing but better outswing. When i changed the bowling 'ends' at the DB Jain ground, the in-swing got better. That helped to learn some of the effects of wind direction / wind speed on the swing of the cricket ball. In some time, the swing of the new cricket ball became more 'obvious'.

Connect the dots :

I particularly enjoyed the way i learnt to bowl the 'slower one' . For a long time, my cricket mates told me they could easily spot the slower ball i bowled. I was looking to change that. During the worldcup 2011, Zaheer Khan bowled brilliantly disguised slower balls. Luckily, i came across an article on cricinfo that mentioned Zaheer bowled his slower ones with just the 'index' and 'ring' finger on the ball. No doubt, i spent the next NETS session trying this slower one. 'Feedback' was encouraging. This slower one got me a lot of wickets in the 2011 season, so far !!

Travel Together :

I quite enjoyed opening the batting with Anba . We spent a lot of time together in the matches. The best part was Anba was looking to learn as well. We used to share our observations and had great fun 'discovering' finer points.

The one photo with Anba ( non-striker) and Me batting ..

I remember one particular highly enlightening point - 'playing in the present' . We both discovered at the same time that we were 'looking' for a shot we enjoyed playing or we just played. For example, if i played a front foot cover drive to an earlier ball, my mind / body was waiting for another front foot cover drive. It failed to realise that the next ball could be different. We both committed a lot of mistakes because of this. Once this realisation hit us, we worked on keeping the mind 'blank' before the ball. This made us better prepared to face the ball that was actually being bowled ( and not an imaginary ball in our minds ) . These were the moments i truly enjoyed - learning and having fun as a team.

The feeling is magical when we 'travel' together.