Test cricket tests a batsman of his technique, temperament, and skills. A lesser-skilled batsman would struggle to survive the rigors of Test cricket as it demands a great hold of cricketing skills, concentration, and stamina to last five days of action. Test batting has no fixed strategy or template as it differs from batsman to batsman.
Cricwizz takes a look at the different arts of Test cricket batting and their masters.
Settle in, adjust to conditions, score when the timing is right
Many Test batsmen who have strong confidence in their defense would first look to settle in and block or leave as many deliveries as possible to get adjusted to the conditions first, and then score when conditions are favorable for batting. Players such as Rahul Dravid, and Cheteshwar Pujara follow the same template as they look to enter into a zone before upping their scoring rate. However, of late, Pujara has been struggling trying to merge his batting style with the team’s ‘intent’ philosophy and is unable to put a big score.
Play a natural attacking game
Some Test batsman loves to attack, believing in the saying that attack is the best form of defense. Their Test batting is no different than their limited-overs play. They don’t make any technical changes to adjust to the five-day format. If the ball is there to be hit, they would go for it irrespective of format, bowler, conditions, or the current status of the game. When their style of the game pays off, they look braver with their strokeplay and are lauded for following their instinct.
But when it fails, they look ugly in their dismissals and are blasted for not giving due respect to Test cricket.
Some of these cricketers include Virender Sehwag, who was a makeshift Test opener but had huge success due to his aggressive style of game. Other players include Mathew Hayden and David Warner of Australia.
Play on merit
Test cricket batting is also about playing on merit of the ball, conditions, and the current status of the game. And many Test batsmen follow this pattern and are highly successful in doing that. These players give respect to bowlers, balls, and conditions, and only take a risk when the ball is there to be hit or the situation demands it. These batsmen are also difficult to dismiss as they hardly put a foot wrong while playing on merit. Some of the greats who played on merit include Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka and VVS Laxman of India.
Then there are batsmen who would just have the team’s cause in mind and would keep changing their style of the game if it works for the team. Adam Gilchrist of Australia is an example. He never went for personal glory. Batting with tailenders mostly, he would go for the big shots to accelerate ahead of declaration disregarding a personal milestone. He had also curbed his natural attacking game often to dig in, curb his strokes, rally a partnership to take the team out of trouble.
The tailenders job
Then there are tailenders who would come up with brilliant batting displays to even surprise themselves. These tailenders dig themselves in, bring up their best batting skills to the fore, to not only stay put at the wicket, and also score a fifty or even a hundred. Yes, they definitely work on their batting in the nets and like to contribute with the bat when the team needs them. Few examples of such batting tailenders include Harbhajan Singh and his consecutive tons against New Zealand, and Jason Gillespie of Australia, and his double ton (201*) in his last Test, which still stands to be the highest score ever by a night watchman in Tests.
Cover image courtesy: BCCI