Static footwork did not shackle Sandeep Patil. He did not believe footwork was the key to good batting.
“This footwork thing is over-blown. You should have good technique, keen eye and most important the confidence. That is what helped me when I played i England. True I played just two Tests there but I did have lot of seasons in minor county and did not fail, “ said Patil, ahead of India’s Test series in England.
The former National selection committee chairman famously hit fast bowler Bob Willis for six fours in an over at Old Trafford in the 1982 Test series and won many fans for his daring strokeplay during his unbeaten 129.
“It just happened. It was my day. That’s it. He was a gentleman, a fantastic bowler and had to be watched closely. At the end of it he patted me warmly but greeted me with a first-ball bouncer in the next Test. You could not take someone like Willis lightly,” Patil told Sportstar .
The run-up to the Old Trafford Test was poor for Patil.
“I think my batting average in the tour games was not even ten. I was going through a torrid time on the domestic front and my mind was very disturbed. In fact at one stage I told Sunil (Gavaskar) to send me back to Bombay. But he had faith in my abilities and gave me a long lecture which convinced me to stay on. Ghulam Parkar and Ashok Malhotra failed in the first Test (at Lord’s) and I got my break at Old Trafford.”
Returning to what he felt was exaggerated fear of playing conditions in England, Patil said, “I think it is all made up. I hardly faced any issues. Not that I scored runs in in thousands in England but I was not in any discomfort really.
It is just that wherever I got runs I never played there (Australia and England). I was lucky that Tatas had sponsored my trip to England in 1979 to play some club cricket. I even bowled to the Indian team on tour then in the nets but this thing about English conditions was exaggerated.”
Patil excelled against some great swing bowlers like Ian Botham, Derek Pringle, Paul Allot and the pace of Willis. “Because I did not have this fear of failure. My footwork was not great but decisive. I backed myself.
The great Vijay Manjrekar had remarked I wouldn't succeed in England because of my technique. I did not fail because I believed in timing the ball than worry about my footwork. I would say the current batsmen should look to time the ball, learn to wait for the ball when playing in England, and put away the fear of failure.”
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