Prithvi Shaw is box office, take him to T20 World Cup: Julian Wood, power-hitting expert

Julian Wood runs the Julian Wood Cricket Academy (JWCA) in Bradfield, UK. When Shaw went to the UK as a young boy, he trained at Wood's Academy and played Premier League cricket.

Prithvi Shaw in action in the third and final ODI against Sri Lanka.   -  PTI

From a century on Test debut to soon facing criticism for technical deficiencies, from a spell out of the team to blazing away in white-ball cricket, Prithvi Shaw has overcome indifferent form in a matter of months. The Mumbai batsman has reclaimed his place among the brightest in the Indian team ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup in October.

After strong white-ball performances in domestic cricket last season, where he became the first batsman to breach the 800-run mark in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Shaw hit 308 runs in the first half of IPL-14 at a strike rate of 166.48 with three fifties.

On July 18, his quickfire 43 helped India gallop to a seven-wicket win against Sri Lanka in the first ODI and earned him the Player of the Match award.

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Shaw's return to form has Julian Wood, a power-hitting coach in the UK, excited. "He has made himself tighter, more compact, with his hands tighter to his body, and he is looking to punch the ball rather than hit the ball," says Wood, who was among the first to spot Shaw's talent.

Wood, who runs the Julian Wood Cricket Academy (JWCA) in Bradfield, UK, saw Shaw when the batsman was nine years old. "You have hitting power, and you have punching power. He’s not big. He doesn’t have mass, so he can’t just stand there and hit it like the big guys. He has to rely on hand-eye coordination, skill and punch power," says Wood.

 

Shaw, 21, has already had a rollercoaster career. He marked his Test debut with a commanding 99-ball hundred, he is an IPL finalist, but after an ordinary IPL season in 2020 and a forgettable tour of Australia, where he was dropped after just one Test, he lost his spot in the red-ball squad. But he will now join the India Test squad along with Suryakumar Yadav in England for the five-match Test series.

When Shaw went to the UK as a young boy, he trained at Wood's Academy and played Premier League cricket. Wood recalls Shaw's tendency to struggle against the movement and bounce of the English pitches, which often saw him get caught behind.

These weaknesses were exploited during the day-night Test in Adelaide last year, where Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins burst through Shaw's defence in the first and second innings.

"In Australia, he looked static and in a fixed position, with his head going towards the offside, causing his hands to go too far from his body. The Aussie attack is one of the best in the world. They prey on a batsmen’s weakness. That’s Test cricket," says Wood.

Julian Wood noticed something special in Prithvi Shaw, when he started working on his batting.   -  Special Arrangement

 

"I still believe he will be tested when the ball moves in Test cricket. But that’s the game, he seems in a better place with his game now."

In the first ODI against Sri Lanka, Shaw powered India to 57 without any loss within five overs. He had hit nine fours in his first 22 balls. Wood says he has followed Prithvi's career closely and thinks "he’s the best young player I’ve ever seen."

"Even at nine years old, his technique was perfect. I will never see that ever again from a player so young. The way he was so compact and punched the ball so hard for one so young... it was no surprise to me how quickly he developed.

"I have footage of him at nine years and 13 years old, maybe he was technically better then than he is now??!! Big call I know!?"

Asked if he sees Shaw on the plane to the UAE for the T20 World Cup in October, Wood says, "Absolutely! The kid is box office!"

(Julian Wood, leading Power Hitting/batting specialist, trains international players at the http://www.jwcricketacademy.com/)

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