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Rahul Dravid

Dravid's Drive

  VVS Laxman
Sledging -
Yes and No
 

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Cricket for India

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Cricket for India

Cricket for India

BETWEEN THE EARS
 

- By VVS Laxman   

Cricket for India

Cricket may be an outdoor sport involving individuals and apparatus made of willow and leather, but it is essentially a game that is played 'between the ears'. At the higher levels, all the players are more or less equally talented, and it is here that 'mental' strength counts. Those who possess it, do justice to their ability, and those who lag behind, suffer.
 



The author acknowledges
the cheers after completing his second successive hundred at the Sydney Cricket Ground, January 2004

Concentration, focus, clarity of thought, proper preparation, enjoyment - These are areas that can certainly be worked on and enhanced. I would attribute whatever little success I have achieved in cricket to my attempts to gain proficiency in these critical aspects.

IMPROVING CONCENTRATION:
Concentration is vital for success in every sphere of life, cricket included! I used to do lot of breathing exercises like 'pranayama', wherein you just concentrate on your breathing and try to shut out thoughts from your mind. This is quite useful, as it helps to not only increase the lung capacity but also keep the focus solely on the breathing.

There are several exercises that can be done to improve one's concentration. One of them is to sit in a dark room with a candle in front, and concentrating on the light, trying not to blink the eyes. This will help a player improve his focus. This can then be extended to the cricket field, wherein the player focuses on the cricket ball and does not see anything else.

 

A 'FRESH' MIND
After I pad up during a game, I prefer to listen to music or read a book, or sometimes chat with my colleagues. I guess these methods help to divert your attention from the outside world and relax your nerves. They ensure that you are mentally 'fresh' when you walk in to bat, and at the same time, be aware of all that is happening in the game, like the behaviour of the wicket, the quality of bowling, etc. without entertaining any negative thoughts.

PREPARATION
It is easier to concentrate when you are well prepared for the match, as once you are in the middle, your sole priority should be to concentrate on the ball coming at you, instead of thinking about your backlift, feet movement, etc. You need to keep your mind blank and let your instincts take over. Too many thoughts will slow down your judgement and reflexes.
 



The art of judgement

I try to sit down and think about all that the opposition bowlers would have planned for me, atleast two days before a match. The idea is to anticipate what they have in store for me and think of effective counterattack measures. While doing so, one should take into account the nature of the wicket and what strokes can be best played on that surface. Once all this has been thought out, one should practise accordingly. It's not a bad idea to jot down the strong and weak points of the opposition bowlers, so that you are well aware of what you will be up against in the match. One should try to simulate various match situations during practice, so that one is prepared for any eventuality in the actual game.

VISUALISATION
On the eve of the match, I visualise what I will be doing on the cricket field the next day. The 'visualisation' process begins right from my walking out to bat, taking guard and playing the opposition bowlers. In short, you play your entire innings in the mind before you play it in actual terms.

 

'FLOW' CONCENTRATION
I feel that I concentrate best on days when I don't feel the passage of time at all while batting. There are days when you bat for a whole day, and yet feel fresh, as if you have just begun your innings. This generally happens when you are 'in the zone', in a 'flow', thinking only about the process and enjoying it without thinking about the result. I experienced this when I scored 281 against the Aussies at Kolkata in the 2001 series, and when I scored two triple hundreds in the Ranji Trophy in 1999-00. I just did not feel exhausted despite batting for long periods, simply because I had learnt to 'enjoy the process'.

ENJOYMENT
Enjoying the game is the most important ingredient for success. When you enjoy any situation you find yourself in, irrespective of whether it's tough or easy, you will always stand a better chance of succeeding. The ability to enjoy the game has a direct relationship with one's thought processes and your judgement and reflexes. The greater the enjoyment, the better your judgement and reflexes will be. Your thoughts will also be more positive.

 


- By VVS Laxman   

Cricket for India
 

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