Who Wants to be a Batsman?
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Batsmen are the poster boys of cricket. They are the richly rewarded andrightly celebrated stars of the game: Sachin Tendulkar, Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, A.B.de Villiers and Kevin Pietersen. This is a story about them. Their hopes and fears, their triumph and torment. It is a book about the real feelings that batsmen experience and probes into their minds to see how they deal with one of the most precarious jobs in sport, in which life and death are one ball apart.
Simon Hughes hero-worshipped the famous batsmen of his youth, and dreamt of scoring a hundred for England. His flawed attempts to make runs in a 15-year professional career are the prism through which he reflects on how some talented boys turn into great batsmen, and others lose their way. Now universally known as The Analyst, Hughes assesses what ingredients a batsman needs to succeed. He delves into sports psychology, showing that what goes on in the mind is the key to batting.
There is no right way or wrong way to bat. This book reflects the diverse range of batting personalities and styles. Hughes spends time with many of the legendary players - from Garfield Sobers to Kumar Sangakkara - revealing what made each of them so prolific, and the secrets behind Sir Donald Bradman's phenomenal output. He chronicles the way batting has evolved and answers the fundamental question: are batsmen born or made? Written in the same wry, sardonic style as the award-winning
A Lot of Hard Yakka, it is the most insightful and entertaining book about batsmen ever published.
characteristics in common. How do they overcome the mental and physical hurdles? Why do some of them have such odd routines? How do they hit a bouncer travelling at 90mph? Have the requirements of batting changed as the game enters a more explosive era? And ultimately, why would anyone want to be stuck out there on their own with just a bit of wood for protection against 11 ruthless hunters knowing that one false move will be your last? Is it a job for which only masochists should apply? I was
his first Test series. You felt for him. He would have benefited hugely from someone helping him with his demeanour at the crease, and introducing some techniques to relax more and clear his mind between balls. But there was no one to turn to. England’s support staff consisted only of the manager, Mickey Stewart, and the physio, Laurie Brown, rather than the legions of coaches and analysts and psychologists it does now. There was no one to confide in and, as he was the quiet type who didn’t drink
became totally constipated. He only once reached double figures in his next eight Test innings and after a second successive failure at Headingley sat with his head in his hands, distraught, for nearly an hour. I visited him in the Lord’s dressing room to offer encouragement before the Test on his home patch. He didn’t seem excited, more apprehensive. He admitted he was worried about the cracks in the pitch. I didn’t think it was a great mindset to adopt. In the end the pitch played fine, but he
your Test debut. England lost the Test, but Pietersen had single-handledly tamed Australia’s two-headed dragon. He had showed the way forward, not to be cowed or intimidated, but to impose yourself on the oppressors. The other England batsmen took the lead. At Edgbaston, Marcus Trescothick bunted Brett Lee through the covers and thumped Jason Gillespie past mid-on. Andrew Strauss, benefiting from the advent of Merlin – the spin-bowling machine – shimmied up the wicket to Warne and planted him
created shots like Shane Warne invented deliveries. There is preparation and planning in his play. He rehearses his shots and doesn’t just go out there swinging and hoping. He couldn’t possibly achieve the level of consistency he does otherwise. The most outrageous shots are played from a stable base – he gets into position early (though not too early) – with head resolutely still and eyes lasered onto the ball. Some of the Boycott-basics of batting still apply. He watches the game carefully