Legendary India batsman turned commentator Sunil Gavaskar has singled out the ‘front press’ movement of batsmen as the reason for increased instances of being hit on the helmet. Gavaskar, among the world’s best Test openers of all times who played plenty of cricket without helmets, said batsmen make life difficult for themselves when they move forward towards the ball.
“It’s more to do today with the fact that everybody has got this front press, where they are technically moving forward, which is a little bit difficult, which is the reason why on bouncy pitches you have batsmen struggling,” Gavaskar said on a show on host broadcaster Sony.
“In Australia you want to ride the bounce, to get onto back foot so you are able to ride the bounce – which is not what a lot of people are doing today,” Gavaskar said. “They are so much onto their front foot, they are not able to transfer their weight and then get out of the way. As a batsman you tend to get a little bit locked.”
In India’s ongoing tour of Australia, there have been two instances of batsmen being hit on the helmet already. Ravindra Jadeja suffered a concussion after receiving a blow from Mitchell Starc in the first T20I, while young Australian opener Will Pucovski has been ruled out of the first Test after being hit by a Kartik Tyagi delivery in the warm up game.
Gavaskar said back-and-across is the way to go to play short balls.
“See, Virat Kohli plays the bouncer so well. Why does he play the bouncer so well? Because he has got that back-and-across movement, so he is sort of waiting on the back foot for that short ball. Rahul Dravid, he used to wait on the back foot, back-and-across. Sachin Tendulkar had a minimal front press, not a big front press. Therefore, he was still balanced when he played the short ball,” he said.
“It is just a little technical thing which is the reason why a lot of these people are getting hit on the helmet. Most of the times batsmen getting hit on the helmet are in between the crease: where their front foot is outside the crease and their back foot in the crease. You will very seldom find a batsman getting hit if both his feet are inside the crease, near the stumps, because it has given the batsman that extra yard to either duck under the ball or sway out of the way. But that is not what is happening and that is the reason I believe they are getting hit.”