Just as the rise of computing power in the 1970s made stockmarkets more efficient over the next decade, the application of computing power to cricket over the past decade has made the game far more competitive. Coaches and data analysts now analyse the opposition’s skillsets in microscopic detail and strategise accordingly. In such a world, a new type of cricketer and new type of cricket is succeeding even as conventional stars find their fortunes fading. In India, nobody symbolises the rise of the new breed of cricketer better than Suryakumar Yadav (aka SKY).
As Sandeep Dwiwedi highlights in this perceptive piece, SKY does three things better than other established batters in India. Firstly, he does not seem to take the whole thing very seriously: “Surya’s batting is about treating a World Cup game at a jam-packed MCG, like it’s a Sunday tennis ball underarm hustle in the building compound with a few uncles and aunties watching the action from their balconies.”
Secondly, he thinks two steps ahead of the bowler (something you can do well only if you are mind is in a relaxed state): “His brattish mind constantly ticking to second-guess the bowler, and to come up with the most outlandish stroke to trick rivals.”
Thirdly, much like MS Dhoni, he treats both success and failure alike: “Unlike most Indian players, Surya brings to the field his beaming smile and a welcoming casualness. He doesn’t look wound up. His body is loose, it doesn’t look like his shoulders are burdened with a load he is finding too heavy. In games when he gets out, he looks disappointed but not crestfallen. He doesn’t drag his feet, the walk is brisk.
He takes a quick look at his bat as if to say, ‘Bhai, not our day today’. At times he stares at the sky, as if acknowledging that batsmen have more days of failure than success. By the time he crosses the boundary rope, he seems to have moved on.
In tournament play, India needs such players – those who can treat success and failure the same and have the ability to delete the past and look ahead.”
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