What Tendulkar's Reaction to Getting Out Teaches You About Batting
When Sachin Tendulkar was bowled for 17 in the 2nd Test against New Zealand he did something unusual.
Normally the Little Master walks off quietly, thoughtfully and focused.
This time he swung his bat in frustration.
Sounds like a tiny change?
Yes, but it shows something from which we can all learn as batters.
Only he can know what made the difference, but it showed a crack in the temperament of one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
And the worrying part for Sachin is that temperament is what has driven his astounding success.
It's his dogged determination to improve as a batsman that took him to heights as a young player through a relentless practice schedule.
It's the ability to put frustrations and setbacks aside time after time and head back into to the nets to keep working towards his goals that have kept him at the top; even well past his 35th birthday.
It was always about the next practice session, the next innings, the next ball.
And in the one swish it was suddenly not about that any longer. It was about the preceding delivery.
It was about a doubt.
A doubt that lingered in his mind.
Perhaps a thought that he can no longer play fast bowling the way he could: The idea that maybe his "eyes have gone".
The concept that maybe - just maybe - he is finally too old.
How to bat without fear
As batsmen, we all have a fear like this.
Perhaps, like Sachin, you are in the Autumn of a career. Or perhaps you are just starting out and you wonder if you even have the talent in the first place.
It's the same doubt, the same paralysing fear that makes you bat with restriction and think about giving up the game.
It doesn't have to be like that.
When I see a cricketer with that kind of fear, here is the advice I give (and it would be the same for Tendulkar as it would be for you).
1. Forget eyesight and reactions
It's a misconception that being able to bat is about how good your eyes are, or how fast your reactions are.
Of course, these things play a part but batting is far more about judgment through reading the bowler. If you have this ability then you don't need super-fast reactions or pinpoint eyesight.
So while any cricketer - especially those over 35 - should be doing regular exercise and eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and good fats, its most important to acquire and maintain the ability to judge line and length early.
2. Remove flaws
Once you have realised that the control of your fate is in your hands, you can get into the nets.
The better your batting technique the more confidence you have in your ability to face any kind of bowling; from high pace to extreme spin. If you feel you have a technical flaw that can be exploited then it will always be in the back of your mind.
However, you can achieve a better technique by hard and smart practice. A lot of batsmen make the mistake of practicing less as they get older, especially on technique. But by using methods like 4 Angles you can hone technique and remove any niggling flaws in your method, even when you are getting on a bit.
3. Be Super-fit
I mentioned fitness briefly before, but it makes a huge difference, especially for older players, although no-one gets a free pass.
Fitness will give you the confidence that you can bat for a long time, that your body is not fading and that your concentration will not flag. You can use BATEX to combine fitness work with your net practice.
Fitness is also shown to stop the decline in power and speed you get as you age, reducing the ravages of sage significantly on your game.
But above all this, the important aspect is to remember that you don't have to go gently into the night. You can fight. And those who fight hardest for longest are the most successful.
It may just be a bat swish, but for Sachin, it's becoming more difficult for him to keep the fire burning.
Can you make sure the passionate flame keeps you at the top of your game?
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Excellent article!! I am 36 and still playing a reasonable level of cricket. I train hard on my cricket and fitness, and I know that this helps keep my place in the team. I would certainly endorse the comment about doing 4 angles preseason and during the season. It acts as a good service or MOT on your batting!
Having said all that, I felt really down and frustrated with my game on Saturday, so this article was perfectly timed for someone like me, as a lot of articles are for young cricketers. Thank you.
I tell them that I was getting old from age 13.
When they ask if I have a special diet I tell them there are things I like to eat and others I don't like.
Fitness, I use the gym but not as regularly recently but I am active.
When coaching I try to do as much bowling as I can which is at times as 6 hours in a day.
Eyesight is important - at around age 55 I needed reading glasses but had no trouble in seeing into the distance.
One problem was that as the ball approached at speed it appeared as a blur.
I retrained my eyes to focus on the ball from the hand and to follow it all the way, the problem disappeared.
I am asked when I intend to retire. My answer is that I wake up and I do things and that one day when I wake up and genuinely cannot physically do what I enjoy, then I won't try but I have no retirement thoughts or plans.
Although the bowling speed is way down on what it was even when I was 55, heading fast towards 71 I still compete.
I get paid complements - In a 3rd. Div league game after I had bowled 17 overs in a spell and when I batted out over 20 overs in the same game to stave off defeat, a guy on the other side quipped "Now I've played against Courtney Walsh's granddad I know where Courtney got his stamina from",
The secret - genes and attitude. Above all that there is always something to learn and always room for improvement in whatever you do and as I often advise young players, NEVER get frustrated, just keep working on it.
Inspiring stuff! I would love to get an interview with you sometime Sid. Hear about your story!