For Indian cricket, itís time for courage and attitude
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India's batsmen are showing the same aptitude to batting in South Africa as a newborn would to walking. Proficiency seems far away yet and mastery is not a word that seems likely to roll off the tongue in the near future. That India would struggle in these conditions was expected, that they would capitulate was a worrisome thought tucked away in a little corner of the brain. It has surfaced.
The bad news is that several batsmen seem to be playing in a grade of cricket that is at least one level higher than their ability would seem to allow. In a good cricket system players are sometimes forced to play one level below where they should be because they cannot break through. It comes down to the system that should hone the talent that nature distributes so selflessly across regions and races.
The good news is that while India begin badly they tend to improve as they acclimatise. The cynics that tend to gather at stressful moments like these would say that India can only do better but then, that is what history shows.
It suggests that India need to approach cricket tours differently; maybe players need more time in different conditions to convert knowledge into instinct. There is no doubt that the batsmen know what to do, beyond a certain level everyone does. It is the speed with which knowledge is put into action that determines how good a player is. Hence the feeling that some players are having to play above their intended level.
It is the technique as much as the mental strength that will be tested from here. When teams are down, the mind focuses on what can go wrong, minor irritants become conflicts, the downward spiral beckons. When the going is good, the mind is focussed on the positive, irritants are dismissed with a song on the lips and the doorman is greeted with a smile. You see the gaps in the field where you might have seen only fielders, a short pitched ball becomes an opportunity not a hazard and you can smile at Andre Nel's predictable antics.
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