Monday, July 10, 2006

Cricket stylists

How do you define a "stylist"?

Most professional cricketers are very good at their primary skill. Watching them play, you wonder at why, when you play the drive, the ball ends up at slip rather rather than crashing through the covers. Or why you can't pitch the ball on a good length six times an over. However, you think, you could what they do, given more time, and effort, and talent.

Few cricketers however, when on song, have the power to generate the sense of awe and wonder where you think, I could never have done that. Fewer still do it with the charm and elegance that separates the true stylist from the merely extraordinarily gifted. People like Denis Compton about whom Neville Cardus said

"Recorded centuries leave no trace,
Nor memories of that timeless grace"

Luckily, every generation produces a few such greats who remind us that modern-day cricket need not be only about biffs over third man and scythes over mid-wicket. Azhar fetching Allan Donald from outside off-stump and flicking him through mid-wicket. Mark Waugh clipping one through mid-on. Dada driving through cover (before even this became a lottery). A Martyn square cut.

Think back to these. And compare them Sehwag/Jayasuriya going over extra cover or anything in Dhoni's repertoire. Which would you rather watch?

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