Of rubber-sole shoes and shot selections on turning tracks

Mohammed Azharuddin makes a few interesting points on how to bat on these types of pitches

By Author  |  Published: 1st Mar 2021  12:05 amUpdated: 28th Feb 2021  9:00 pm

Hyderabad: The third Test wicket at Motera in Ahmedabad continues to be a hot topic of discussion. England were humiliated in two days as India took a 2-1 lead in the four-Test series and inched closer to the World Test Championship final. The English critics launched their tirade against the wicket but former England captain Nasser Hussain rightly said: “England cannot use the pitch as an excuse for losing in Ahmedabad – a lack of spin options and failure of batsmen to spot the danger showed us where they are as a Test side in these conditions.”

Former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin made some interesting points in his tweets on how to play on such wickets, shot selections and the importance of wearing rubber-sole shoes instead of spike shoes.

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One of the finest nimble-footed batsmen Azharuddin dazzled the cricket world with his scintillating stroke play during his playing days in the 80s and 90s. He said in his tweet: “It is disappointing to watch the batsmen come a cropper in the Ahmedabad Test. The key to batting on such dry tracks and rank turners is shot-selection and assured footwork. It makes little sense to wear spikes when batting. Rubber soles don’t hamper ability of batsmen.”

He pointed out some of the amazing knocks were played by top batsmen wearing rubber soles. “I have seen some amazing Test knocks being played on tough surfaces by batsmen who wore shoes with rubber soles. The argument that batsmen can slip when running between wickets is countered by the fact that in Wimbledon, all tennis players wear shoes with rubber soles.”

Azharuddin ended up by paying tributes to some of the legends of the game on how they were successful on these types of wickets: “And the ones that come to mind are not just Indians like Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath and Dilip Vengsarkar but also many a visiting batsman like Sir Vivian Richards, Mike Gatting, Allan Border, Clive Lloyd and several others.”

File Photo: Mohammed Azharuddin in action

Former Hyderabad dashing opener Abdul Azeem, who made batting look easy in the 80s and 90s, said he always believed in dominating the bowlers. “It took me a few overs before I could assess the wicket, dry or green top. But I made it a point to attack the bowlers so that I could break their rhythm. Of course, foot work was very crucial. I would use the depth of the crease and I was light on my feet,” said Azeem who played on wickets worse than Motera at Margao and Ranchi.

Azeem said: “I used to see the ball the moment it left the bowler’s hands. I always preferred to use rubber-soled shoes on dry wickets as it would be easy on the feet and while on green top wickets, I would use the spike wickets. It is all about playing a commonsense game.”
Talking about the Motera wicket, Azeem said it was a big challenge to the batsmen but not ideal for a Test match. “Axar Patel and Ashwin exploited the conditions perfectly. Axar was accurate and fast while Ashwin was all about variations.”

Vijay Mohan Raj, the former Bombay and Hyderabad opener, pointed out that it was important to play late. “We have to see the ball early and play late using the crease. You have to be decisive with your footwork. In fact, we played so many of our matches on ‘maidans’ of Mumbai where the ball turned and bounced on wet wickets. It helped us to be quick and decisive on our footwork. That is the reason Sunil Gavaskar was a champion batsman on these types of wickets.”

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