Veteran and retired Indian players share their secrets of bridging the gap between domestic and international cricket

Image courtesy of: India Times

“It’s all about the basics, going back and going forward”

Veteran Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, along with a trio of former captains, which include Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and GR Viswanath, have all exposed their secrets of how players can bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket.

For Tendulkar, it is all about “vision” and whether the player can handle the hardships and pressure of international cricket.

“It’s about vision,” Tendulkar said. “When it comes to selection, one has to analyse a player. Even if he fails in a few matches, one needs to see if he has the ability to withstand pressure and execute at the international level. I have seen players who are exceptionally good at the domestic level not being able to perform as well in international cricket.”

As for Dravid, he believes that experience and a burning desire to learn and develop is the best way for players to take the big step from domestic cricket to the international stage.

“Hitting it off the middle in the nets is well and good, but it’s different out in the field and under pressure,” he said. “Watching the seniors helps. Sachin and Laxman and Sourav, the way they approach the game, the kind of shots they play, the kind of shots they don’t play, the way they build an innings.”

Viswanath agreed with Dravid’s views and reiterated that players can only succeed if they are willing to put in the hard work.

“When you look at four or five players, there will be somebody a little better [than the others],” he said. “But you can’t just sit on your talent,” he said. “You have to practice. You have to learn from your seniors. You have to keep working hard. Even Sachin did not become who he is overnight and I’m sure he is still working hard to stay on top of his game.”

Meanwhile, Ganguly also noted that it was key for younger players to constantly seek advice from senior players in the squad, while also maintaining their own style of play instead of copying someone else’s.

“No two players’ techniques are the same,” he said. “It’s all about the basics, going back and going forward.”

Dravid agreed with Ganguly’s comments and added: “Individuality is important. Everyone has unique skills. You need to build on your game and keep improving. I was never going to succeed if I batted like Sehwag.”

With cricket having become a lot more technology-friendly in the past few years, Tendulkar reminisced about his Test debut against Pakistan in 1989 and stated that players have to take full advantage of all the technology available.

“Now we have laptops which provide direct access [to match footage] within seconds to help plan better,” he said.

Despite the Decision Review System (DRS) having received a lot of negative publicity throughout the recently concluded Ashes series, ex-India left-arm spinner Bishan Bedi believes it is still a vital part of the game and will continue proving to be an asset.

“In due time it will improve and everything will fall into place,” he said. “Cricketers of the modern generation could also help eradicate umpiring blunders by being honest with themselves.”

Speaking about the radical changes that have occurred in Test cricket since he made his own debut in 1996, Ganguly pinpointed a growing trend in the longest format of the game, which hovers around the fact that fewer Test matches are ending as a draw.

“I see a lot more shots in Tests,” he added. “We are getting more results. Scores of 350, 400 in ODIs. There has been innovation in the game, no doubt.”

Tendulkar was in agreement with Ganguly, but added that these radical changes have also taught captains how to think on their feet and come up with “creative” solutions to surprise and beat their opponents.

“Captains are also being creative,” Tendulkar added. “They are taking more chances [even if it means] going for runs and trying to get wickets with the ball.”

In order to be successful in Test cricket, Dravid believes it all comes down to sticking with the fundamentals, while also being able to “adapt” in any situation.

“If you look at Chris Gayle, Michael Hussey, AB de Villiers, they are all very good players in Tests,” he said. “It is easier for a player with good basics to adapt to T20, but it rarely happens the other way around.”

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