Indian batting miserably exposed


NEW ZEALAND's seaming pitches have badly exposed the one-dimension of India's batting.

While the seam bowlers have had the opportunity of using pitches which are obviously too seam bowler friendly, India's tactics have been very na�ve.

Brought up on slow turners the Indian batsmen have become too reliant on playing back too often, knowing that even if the ball deviates they will have time to adjust.

Compounding the problem is their initial movement, the trigger movement we all need _ whether it is to get out of a chair or indeed to get the right balance to move as quickly as possible into the right position whether it be forward or backward has now become an initial commitment.

This means that instead of just moving your foot without transferring your weight to establish your balance so that you can move as quick as possible into the forward or backward position, most of the Indian batsmen whether they are in the top half or the bottom are transferring their weight onto the backfoot and find it difficult to adjust to the correct position quickly or correctly.

In addition many are also going back to leg stump rather than the off.

This poses a three-fold problem.

(i): They find it near impossible to play forward and thus seldom get much past their original position on the crease.

(ii): Anything that seams into them finds them cramped and vulnerable to LBW decisions or bowled off the pads and find it near impossible to open it to work the ball consistently and safely away for runs on the on side.

(iii): With balls on or outside the off stump from their position back and inside the ball, they have to play across the ball and almost never play it with the full face of the bat.

This is easily identified by the number of catches to the slips and how almost exclusively defensive shots end up to or behind point.

This defensive movement means the bat is so open, the batsman plays most of the ball to the off with, at the most, half a bat.

Bowlers thrive against such poor tactical and technical batting.

A seaming wicket is perhaps the most difficult for any batsman to counter.

It is made more difficult by the fact it is impossible to pick which way the ball will seam.

Rodney Hogg, a very fine Australian seamer summed it nicely when asked how to seam the ball.

"I hold the seam upright between my first and second fingers, keep my wrist straight, when I let the ball go. So the seam lands in that position — when it lands, if it hits slightly on one side of the seam it will duck in, if it lands on the other it goes away. If and when it seams I then say you beauty."

In other words Rodney like all bowlers hasn't got a clue which way it will seam.

Unlike others, however, Rodney was honest enough to admit it.

What he did have going for him was that he had a wonderful upright wrist at the point of delivery and probably hit the seam more consistently than any bowler I have seen apart from Sir Richard Hadlee.

It is tough scoring runs or even staying in when the ball is seaming all over the place.

However, you can help your own cause if you look to get forward as much as possible, for this will give the ball less time to seam and in addition from the forward position you can more easily judge which ball to leave.

Also from the forward position if the ball seams and hits the bat you are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt.

When using the "push out theory" you are bound to wear a few in the body. That is OK for in my view it is worth the pain and bruising if it helps you to bat longer.

Were the wickets especially prepared for the New Zealand bowlers?

Frankly I don't know. Certainly the weather prior to the Hamilton match didn't help as the pitch was covered before the first day and the first day was washed out.

It was obviously very damp when the New Zealanders won a good toss and sent India in.

The first Test in Wellington saw a similar situation and a seaming track.

Were they prepared to counter the Indian batsmen and have Indian prepared turners for the Indian spinners over the last two decades.

Once again I frankly don't know.

There is a current theory which has been in place for some time that local authorities have the right to prepare the pitches to the advantage of the home side.

I disagree entirely with this. When I coached Lancashire and found out I had the authority to say how a wicket should be prepared, I immediately spoke to the groundsman and told him that it was his job to prepare the best possible track so that matches could last four days and the skill of the players should dictate the result of the game and not the playing surface.

I immediately told the full Lancashire committee what I had done and added, that to do otherwise only brought the game to disrepute and in my view was a form of cheating and I wouldn't be a party to such tactics.

I also added the rider that I felt that one of the reasons for the demise of English cricket was that too much fiddling had gone on to bring a result in the three-day game and this had had a very detrimental affect on both the batting and bowling. India's poor effort in New Zealand may also well represent the same worry.