Sunday, 18 August 2013

Right way around?

To begin with let me issue an advisory : I am not an expert!  While most of my previous blogs on sports-slash-cricket have been introspective or contemplative, this one leans toward suggestive. However, this post is purely a figment of my own opinion and observations, and it's inspiration includes my coaches, teammates and friends.

Ever wonder how the number of cricketers who bowl right handed but bat left handed seems to increase? There are a number of examples in the international cricket community, across country lines. Names like Stuart Broad and Saurav Ganguly come to mind. (The reverse also seems true, as Michael Clarke's highly underestimated bowling arm indicates.) So much so, that this trend seems headed towards becoming the rule rather than the exception. And this points to a (not-so)new school of coaching, that is churning out these seemingly ambidextrous skills, creating more "hybrid-handed" cricketers.

Some coaches might cry foul here, pointing out that they usually encourage whatever their pupils naturally  choose. Fair enough, but are we asking the right questions?

Traditionally, a right handed stance means that our left hand is the top hand and our right hand is below it. One of the first things that happen in coaching is that the bat is placed on the ground in front of the pupil,with the toe facing away, and he (or she;we ladies play cricket too, but for the sake of simplicity I will henceforth use "him")  is asked to pick it up. This means that on picking up the bat, tho toe usually points upwards. This in turn naturally demands a grip in which our dominant hand is closer to the blade, to stabilise it against gravity; similar to the way one would hold up a sword, with our strong hand close to the hilt. Here, I believe lies the turning point. While a sword is always held with it's point against gravity, a bat is usually used in the direction of gravity, with its toe pointing down. In this case, a grip which places our strong hand farthest from the toe is more suitable, as this creates the longer lever, thus more bat speed.

This also makes more sense technically, as for all vertical bat shots, the top hand gives direction and control. Isn't it easier to use the hand that is already our strong hand as the top hand. It would solve a problem coaches continually moan about; that of over using the bottom hand while driving.

Perhaps when we hand the bat to a pupil, we could hold it out to him with the toe pointing down. Then, reaching for it with his strong hand may naturally nudge him toward a stance that will seem to be the opposite to what we traditionally expect(left handed for right handers), but which when you think about it, is more natural.

The advantages to this approach will not be lost on anyone who has played the game. In a sea of ubiquitous right-handed batters(I prefer using this term borrowed from baseball as it is more gender-inclusive), a southpaw poses a challenge for a bowler. It involves a change of line, angle, field and strategy; all of which are headaches any bowler would rather avoid. This very fact is the reason why most teams at all levels employ right hand-left hand opening combinations. Even purely left handed opening combinations, which don't invoke a constant change of line for the bowler, are often more successful than pure right-handed pairs, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer being the most successful example.

Perhaps this very logic is the reason why a number of  international teams seem to have an equal distribution of right and left handed batters(which, when you think about it, is odd, as the distribution of left handers in human population is only 10 to 30%).

Judging by the number of southpaws in many international sides, I'd say this approach is already popular with many coaches. Just as parents take life changing decisions for their wards, coaches may be coaxing  young children to go against their traditional stance in favour of a "hybrid" stance. And I see nothing wrong with this, if it equips a player with an edge in the extremely competitive cricket environment.

Which approach is better?  Is it fair to young kids playing the game to ask them to change? Will we see a day when left handed batters are more common?  And if so, well that negate their advantage? Fellow players, coaches, friends, aficionados : weigh in with what you think about this. Enter your comments below! This debate is hereby declared open!

Friday, 9 August 2013

What's your frequency?

Okay, I am a self confessed fan of getting a good deal. I love shopping off the streets, and more often than not I get good value for money. One item I always buy off the streets, is headphones for my mp3 player. And mostly I've been pretty lucky, getting good sound quality and longevity, the latter of which is usually tricky with " china maal " ( chale to chaand tak, nahi to raat tak )! But off late I have observed a disconcerting pattern with regards to the point at which these headphones stop working. It seems every time someone notices these headphones and I describe how very clear the sound is and what a steal they were, and so on, they malfunction soon after! Initially I thought nothing of it, and dismissed the observation as random ( I will refrain from using the word coincidence, as I dont believe they exist ). But when this happened three times in a row, I had to sit up and take notice! What exactly was going on here? I was almost as if mere pyare se headphones ko najar lag rahi thi

Admittedly I never put much faith in this " evil eye " concept. I do however, subscribe to the concept of vibrations and can attest to their power. I have been associated with an organisation dedicated to improving the spiritual quality of people's lives for a long time now, and this connection has cemented my belief that we are influenced by so many unseen vibrations. But this was the first time I connected these two not-really-so-far-apart ideas. I realised that protecting what's precious to us from unfriendly eyes, by putting a tika or nimbu mirchi etc is something  seen across religions and cultures in the sub continent; and is nothing more than the smallest attempt to shield us from harmful vibrations.

I believe that what goes around come comes around. Not just in terms of our actions or our karma, but also our thoughts. Einstein said,"Everything is energy; that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot but help get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics ."  ( Disclaimer : I picked up this quote from a Facebook post, so I am not sure about its authenticity; though I can totally imagine him saying something like this ).

So what does this mean in my case? Did I invite the demise of my headphones by waxing eloquently about how wonderful they are? I don't know. Was God telling me that I should appreciate my possessions, and everything in my life, while I have them, for all is uncertain? Perhaps. Its food for thought, and maybe its just to make me more aware of the vibrations I am sending out each second; as these are alive and potent and directly affect me and the people around me.

What vibrations are we sending out right now? Which ones are we tuning into? Will they affect the next pair of headphones I buy? More food for thought. Here's to rumination..