This is easily the most uncomfortable climate Indian cricketers have had to endure since Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin were brought down for match-fixing. With touch choices, insecurities and peronal agendas coming to the fore, I happened across an innocuous photograph of Sourav Ganguly diving to catch the ball during the preperatory camp for the Bangladesh tour.
The photo is innocuous until the moment you analyse exactly what he is trying to do. Have a look for yourself:
His eyes are quite obviously not on the ball and are transfixed at a location where he is not going to be able to automatically fine-tune the mechanics of the dive to ensure that he puts his hand and body in the optimal position to catch the ball.
Before people start calling me a Ganguly-hater (althought it might be tad late at this point), I must stress that my intention is not to get down and dirty on Ganguly. This disease unfortunately afflicts many Indian domestic and international cricketers, Anil Kumble comes very quickly to mind.
The whole point of a dive is to enable the fielder to make up ground that we would not have covered on foot. However, the fielder is still required to do everything else that he would have done while taking a normal catch. Primarily, he should keep his eyes on the ball up to the very point in time that the ball is safely lodged in the palm of his hands.
A dive is pointless and can be seriously injurious to health if it is not executed correctly. By keeping his eyes on the ball the fielder can also ensure that his fall is appropriately cushioned so that the ball does not dislodge from his hand upon a turbulent landing.
India's new fielding coach, Robin Singh, was an excellent fielder in his time and he has his work cut out with the current lot. Today's game does not forgive players who cannot dive. One of Singh's first tasks should be an exhaustive tutorial on the mechanics of safe and purposeful diving.
If he requires any audio-visual material for this tutorial, he can refer to Matthew Sinclair's stunner:
Notice, during the slow-mo replay, how Sinclair keeps his eyes on the ball till the very last second. That was no fluke folks. Check out some more sensational catches, have peek at this collection and witness how most men featured watch the ball for as long as physically possible:
It can only be described as unfortunate that the editor of this collection seems to be an England fan. Ahh well, we can't have everything in life. ;>
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