Steve James, writing in the Guardian, talks about the importance of leaving the ball, especially in the kind of conditions England and West Indies were up against at Headingley. He quotes Sir Vivian Richards: “You’ve got to do it in England,” he said, “In fact, in early season over here leaving the ball early on gave me more pleasure than it hitting the middle of the bat. You’ve got to show respect.”
Two interesting points being made here.
Leaving the ball actually gives Sir Viv greater pleasure than middling it. Counter-intuitive as it might sound, it seems perfectly sensible. It’s probably true in business as well – success is a function of not just what you choose to do but what you choose not to do as well. And it is not counter to aggression either – aggression does not mean going hell for leather against every delivery – it’s about choosing the right delivery to hit. A certain Mr. Sehwag can benefit from this advice.
Sir Viv talking of respecting the bowling? He who stepped inside the line of Mike Hendrick’s full-length delivery and flicked it for six over midwicket in the last ball of the West Indian innings in the 1979 World Cup Final? He who murdered bowlers across the world with shots all round the wicket? He who is still talked of in awe for his gum-chewing nonchalance and chilling stroke play? No, Sir Viv was talking of respecting the conditions. If the ball swings, it is a function of the nip in the air. If the ball wobbles, it has to do with the wind behind the bowler. Respect for nature is what Sir Viv is referring to. An interesting way of saying “adapt to the conditions.”