What is Talent?
In one of the interviews post his retirement, Rahul Dravid was asked about the word's definition and he said:
I think we judge talent wrong. What do we see as talent? I think I have made the same mistake myself. We judge talent by people's ability to strike a cricket ball. The sweetness, the timing. That's the only thing we see as talent. Things like determination, courage, discipline, temperament, these are also talent. I think when we judge talent, we've got to look at the whole package.
Consistently, the pundits of the game have held high regard for cricketers with the ability to time the ball, the ones who could punch the ball and more for the ones who did so with minimal effort. Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are the ones who immediately strike to mind. Maybe they had something in them. Or maybe they practiced the drives and the cuts back in the nets, or they had the whole package that made them look special.
A Princeton University study in 2014 on the effect of practice on performance found that practice made a difference of 18% in sports and 12% in various other domains. Though 12% and 18% are not small numbers, in reality, it may be about what the former captain said, “determination, courage, discipline, temperament”, and of course a bit of luck, that the Indian legend has agreed with on several occasions.
Cheteshwar Pujara as the "Package"
When talking about the package, one player who deserves that covet in the current Indian set up is the number 3 batsmen, Cheteshwar Pujara. Like his nonchalant approach towards run making, the right-hander is ticking boxes to be considered one of the best Test batsmen going around at the moment.
After a decent beginning to his career, the wait has been long for the batsman from Saurashtra. Occasionally being dropped for reasons well known to the management, Pujara has clearly been a notch ahead of the rest in the present series.
The ability to stay determined at the crease for long hours, to anchor the innings with stability and score centuries with ease; all shaping up to be a brilliant prospect for the future of the Indian top order.
Although not explicitly visible, his ability to wear down bowlers has an indirect benefit in long tours of four or five Test matches, it was slightly evident in the case of few Australian bowlers in the present contest as well as post the Ranchi Test against the same opposition in 2017.
Not many would argue that Test cricket at the core of evolution is still about going session after session without giving up, later capitalizing on the initial effort. Pujara undoubtedly is governing that art.
The two areas of concern for the Indian team with regard to Pujara are is his running between the wickets and the knee injury. Apparently, there is a lack of athleticism while running between the wickets, which may be due to the surgery to his knee. Hopefully, the two do not appear in the headlines in future.
With his courageous batting when scoring quickly with the tail or moving down the track against Nathan Lyon, the batsmen has been a treat to watch this Australian summer. Seemingly, there is tremendous confidence in where his off stump is and being able to judge when to play and when to leave the deliveries.
The dependable number three batsman is now the face of Test cricket, a mini middle order in himself, who could serve well for the coming years. With Pujara, talent is a trivial word to subscribe unless it covers the facets of grit, determination, footwork, discipline, hand-eye coordination, and inspiration.
The talented right-hander is a match winner and is here to stay for a long time.
Published 30 Dec 2018, 00:20 IST