The times, they are a changing. Purists would say give the first session to the bowlers and make hay later. Such sentence hold no meaning for the modern crop of swashbuckling batsmen who would prefer to bring the bowler to their knees in the first session itself.
Sehwag ,one of the modern greats,bats with a uncluttered mind and “see ball, hit ball” policy, demoralizes oppositions and quite often sets up the match in the first session itself. This policy is now being followed by other teams too. Dilshan’s career has seen an upswing post his move up the order. Tamim Iqbal has given England many scares and scars. Australia have Watson while captain cool Gayle can cook up a thunderstorm anytime he fancies the need. Graeme Smith is no shrinking violet himself. 100+ scores in the opening sessions are hardly a rarity but more of a norm when these batsmen are at the crease.
Sadly though, this evolution in batting has hardly been marked by the evolution in strategies and tactics. Captains, despite the reputation of the batsmen, are still surprised when the onslaught begins. To put it very kindly, captains perform the headless chicken act. They are merely reacting. Even someone with an IQ of Sreesanth can figure out that these batsmen are pretty much in the mold of “take no prisoners”. Surely a Sehwag or a Dilshan is not going to hang around for a long time. Whats to prevent a captain from starting off with 2 slips, a gully, a backward point, 2 covers, a third man and a deep point and ask his bowlers to bowl well outside off. “But that is so defensive” is what the critics and ex-players would cry out. Well, the primary objective of a captain is to win games, not to play according to the rules of the game when the game itself has been changed by this form of batsmanship.
Captains need to think. Captains need to be proactive. Else, we shall see even more teapots on the cricket field
Picture courtesy: Cricinfo
PS: If the post seems rather less lucid than usual, blame it on the brilliant person who refreshed the window before the contents could be saved and thus had to recreate a post that took an hour in 10 mins
PPS: As few of you had pointed out, just packing the offside field and waiting for the best is quite not the solution, I agree. But then, the point I was trying to make is that what is the need to set a test match field for buccaneers of the highest class. It makes sense to set a field where the ball is most likely to go rather than a field where a captain wishes the ball would go