Sachin’s straight drives have mesmerised the cricket fraternity for over two decades now. Cricket gurus from all over the world have tried to gain an understanding about Sachin’s balance, his “still- head” position and his initial movements at the crease. Some attribute his well balanced stance to his short stature, some point out his head position, but our very own Sunny Gavaskar has a refreshingly different view. Often we have heard our good old commentator and cricketing legend come up with interesting pieces of information born out of his keen observation. One such view of his, which we have heard him reietrate over many years, is concerned with the reason behind the solid technique of a few cricketers from India , especially Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid .
According to him, the technique of any cricketer is immensely influenced by his formative “gully-cricket” days. In his opinion, cricketers like Wasim Jaffer, Sanjay Manjrekar, Tendulkar and many other Mumbaikars who started off in the gullies, had no option but to play staright to get runs in the narrow and straight alleys, where they played as young boys . This had a lasting influence on their batting and they invariably ended up playing in the “v”. Similarly, Rahul Dravid’s effeciency in playing the short-ball and his skill at the pull and hook shots are attributed to his school and college days where he played most of his matches on the bouncy matting wickets of Bangalore.
Olympic legend Michael Johnson has his own take regarding issues on performance and stamina of athletes like Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. In a recent interview, Johnson was of the opinion that the African genes that athletes including him and Bolt possess had a huge bearing on their performance and physical and mental make-up.
The story goes that during the dark days, African slaves underwent a rigorous selection process and only the fittest were transported on ships. The toughest journey was to Jamaica, the last stop on the slave trail. During one voyage in 1732, a staggering 96 per cent of slaves lost their lives – 170 boarded the ship and only six got off. There was not much oxygen on slave ships so they had to use whatever they had to survive. Only the most aggressive and fiercest slaves ended up in Jamaica. As such, all those who were the descendants of these poor slaves were blessed with superior lung capacity and strength. However, nothing can take away the credit from these amazing athletes who have shed their blood and sweat to attain glory for themselves and their nation. Surely, the athletes would dedicate their medals and glory to the struggles of their ancestors.
Well , whether it is the magic of the genes, the influence of situations and circumstances, the sheer determination of the athletes or the combination of all factors, it’s always going to be a debatable topic. But whatever it may be, to watch the clinical straight drives of Sachin and the cheetah like sprint of Bolt is indeed a treat for the eyes.