The bat-pad gap: Decoding Prithvi Shaw’s flaw


Written by Sriram Veera

Updated: December 22, 2020 8:18:44 am

Prithvi Shaw, India vs AUstraliaIndia’s opener Prithvi Shaw was bowled out in each innings of Adelaide Test for a duck and four runs respectively. (AP/PTI)

At some level within the final two years, as Prithvi Shaw moved into the grownup world, what he lacks has unsurprisingly overshadowed what he has. The stalwarts to have tried to redress the issue have ranged from Rahul Dravid, his U-19 and India A coach, to Ricky Ponting, his IPL franchise coach, to Ravi Shastri, India’s head coach. With the entry of a brand new contender in Shubman Gill, the approaching return of Rohit Sharma and an formidable KL Rahul within the combine, Shaw finds himself in a weak nook and would wish luck and empathetic backing to claw his means again.

The downside was a penchant to play too far-off from the physique. The first chapter dated a few years in the past might be titled ‘the curious case of the back leg’; Shaw would transfer his proper exterior leg stump simply after the ball was launched as his major goal was to remain adjoining to the road, away from the ball, and provides himself room for the palms to come back crashing by. But it created points when the ball swung and seamed; one thing needed to be executed.

They mounted it. The proper foot stopped slipping away to the legside. His guard was then shifted in direction of center stump, the place the precise foot now lies frozen in a barely opened-up stance, however the betrayal was taken over by the palms, as seen in the course of the IPL and now in Australia.

Especially, in the best way Shaw picks his bat simply after the ball is launched – the palms initially transfer again and up like most batsmen, however immediately they betray him, going wider, away from him to the precise, earlier than he drags them again in line.

But the detour cuts his response time, accentuates the bat-pad hole, delays the bat coming down in time for the incoming ball. If the ball shapes away exterior off, this additionally ends in him taking part in away from the physique. Bowlers as different as Jofra Archer, Trent Boult, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Deepak Chahar and now Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins have exploited it in the previous few months.

It’s maybe an apt time to trace what has unfolded within the final three years – the technical errors and the tried fixes. “He (Shaw) is a talented player but he’s got a long way to go, a lot to learn,” mentioned Rahul Dravid in 2017. Shaw would transfer alongside the ranks, alongside Dravid from cricket for youngsters into the grownup world with the A crew in 2018. So did this ‘problem’, although it was hardly seen as such within the teenager’s world however would change in character in a yr’s time.

Prithvi Shaw Australian bowler Pat Cummins reacts after dismissing Indian batsman Prithvi Shaw (L) for four runs on day 2 of the primary Test match between Australia and India at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia, December 18, 2020. (Reuters)

In December ’17, in Mumbai, within the U-19 Challenger match held as preparation for the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand, the backfoot motion triggered curiosity and got here up in an informal dialog with considered one of his teammates.

“When the ball swings or seams a lot, he will have problems but his bat-speed is something, and makes up for it.” That statement by that eager teenager has remained spot on so far.

In August 2018, Shaw’s title was introduced because the alternative for M Vijay, who was dropped mid-series in England. That yr, he had already been on an A tour to England the place Dravid was the coach. That back-leg motion would crop up every now and then, they usually didn’t need to tinker an excessive amount of with the approach; it’s learnt that it was addressed to an extent on the A excursions.

When he joined the Indian crew’s coaching session in Southampton, that awkward back-leg motion wasn’t seen initially on the primary day. Near the top of the session, although, it buffered up slowly.

Next day, it turned extra pronounced and Shastri took Shaw apart for an extended encouraging chat ultimately. Shastri would do the shadow batting, mimic Shaw’s back-leg motion, after which chat extra.

The third day of coaching dawned, and Shastri parked himself close to the teenager, shouting phrases of encouragement at almost each first rate shot performed. The again leg would nonetheless, every now and then, slip away to the leg.

Prthivi Shaw Prithvi Shaw, proper, is bowled by Australia’s Pat Cummins, left, on the second day of their cricket take a look at match on the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Australia, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/James Elsby)

Shaw didn’t play any Test and the visuals popped up once more within the thoughts within the collection in opposition to West Indies in October that yr. By now, that motion turned uncommon, although it could bleed by often. As it could do on an odd day in IPL 2019. Once, Umesh Yadav took him out with a ball straightening exterior off, as Shaw’s again leg had shuffled a little bit bit onto leg stump (not exterior, although) in an effort to remain beside the road and whack it.

By the time this yr’s IPL got here alongside in pandemic instances, it appeared Shah had tweaked his sport additional. He was now on a middle-stump guard and the back-leg motion had stopped.

It appeared it was designed to make him keep that a lot nearer to the ball, and never play away from the physique. The again leg was within the center, and he took a barely open stance, taking part in for a crew coached by Ricky Ponting. The again leg by no means moved; it was the left leg that roamed round however the risk had opened up elsewhere.

An identical shift of the guard in direction of center and off had helped Virender Sehwag however at instances, self-cures are inclined to masks if not create different issues. The downside now crept into the palms this IPL; that may be exploited solely by high-quality seam bowling or tempo, typically a venomous cocktail of each.

Wandering palms

The hand actions aren’t drastic, by any stretch of creativeness. Former Australian opener David Boon got here to be identified for his distinctive cocked-hand motion at pick-up. But within the years earlier than his debut in 1984, he didn’t have that motion because the older footage from his First-Class video games reveal. Players regulate, be taught new traits. By his prime, Boon would begin selecting the bat up in another way, cock his high hand because the bat would do an aerial sweep, so to say, and are available again in line at supply.

South African Hashim Amla, too, let his palms wander and traverse uncommon arcs however his wrists have been so highly effective that he might drag the bat again rapidly in line. Shaw’s is a barely totally different case to Boon or Amla. His palms delay his subsequent actions because the bat takes a detour after first beginning to return and up in a extra standard means. He then yanks it away from him earlier than once more bringing it again in line.

It’s simply popped up at a flawed time, and paired with the back-leg motion that he has been engaged on for a few years, and his penchant to remain beside the road, it has all added up.

The first time a well-known Indian’s again leg was actually tied up in coaching as a result of it was backing away from the ball led to mind-boggling wizardry.

When Ranjit Singhji’s leg was tied to a pole by his English coach Daniel Hayward, he conjured the magical leg-glance. The final time an Indian’s again leg was tied led to the genius of Sehwag. When his again foot dragged itself out of the crease, coach AK Sharma tied it to a pole, which helped Sehwag to “receive the ball under my eyes and hit it”.

Occasionally, residence cures also can spark creativity. What will the caged again leg and itchy palms of Shaw do if and when he will get one other likelihood?

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