Will 'Roy' and Yuvraj crack the top level?
10 Oct 2007
By: Paul Wood
Upon the completion of the third ODI between India and Australia, I marvelled at the undoubted talents of Andrew Symonds and Yuvraj Singh, who each played innings with an effective blend of attractive drives and deft deflections, however I contemplated why neither of these two wonderful ODI players are not automatic selections in the longer form of the game.
Five day cricket is of course, a whole new ball game, but the way these players destroy international attacks, including bowlers of the highest quality, cannot help but leave you feeling short changed when they are unable to transfer their destructiveness onto Test level.
Naturally it is not expected of either of these entertainers, to play in the extravagant manner that they demonstrate in ODI's, and certain refinements in their mental approach as well as an element of patience is an absolute must for them to gain consistent Test selection.
So let us take a look at Andrew Symonds. This Queenslander could quite conceivably look at home in Australia's Rugby side, such is his physique. He must have been one of those rather pleased with the Aussies new tight fitting clothing, and he uses his power to his benefit. He muscles balls over the boundary, when his timing is lacking, his strength is always there, similar in comparisons to fellow Queenslander Matthew Hayden.
Symonds was only considered a ODI regular, following his timely 143* against Pakistan in the World Cup 2003. Up until that point, he had struggled to come to terms with cricket at the top level and influence matches in the way he is now capable of. These days the Australia side is considerably weakened if his dreadlocked appearance is absent from the starting line-up. This is not the case in Test cricket, where his brief appearances have sparked of a player unsure whether to stick or twist. His natural instinct is to attack, and within the Test environment, he attempts to curb his impulse, and the end result is a confused and frustrated batsman.
Shot selection and patience are two things that land constantly at Symonds door. His belief that he belongs in the one-day game, enable him to remain calm and carefree at the crease, so too does his knowledge in how to build an innings in the pressure of a one-day game, which he has learnt with experience. His mind that clouds his Test innings is clear when playing in pyjama cricket, as his masterful displays build to a crowd pulling crescendo.
His laidback and attacking endeavour need to accompany him when he dons the baggy green. Perhaps, such is his determination to succeed in the proving ground of Test cricket, he becomes nervous and approaches his game with a mindset and technique of alien concepts. Keeping it simple is Symonds mantra, and while he may need to rein in his big hitting in his whites to a degree, his positivity is what got him where he is today.
His Test average currently stands at a below average 27.26, after 13 matches. At 32, it may be now or never for Symonds, with Shane Watson, who he tends to be in direct confrontation with for the number six spot, picking up further injuries, and Symonds last two innings for Australia in Test cricket being 156 and 48, it may just prive to be the catalyst he needs to enjoy similar success in this format.
Yuvraj Singh is unfortunate to have three legends of Indian cricket currently ahead of him in the Test line up. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Sourav Ganguly possess a place ahead of Yuvraj, as does VVS Laxman, who may be the man under the greatest threat following Yuvraj's ODI performances that can not go unnoticed in selection, despite one-dayers being a wholly different entity.
If Symonds game is based on power, Yuvraj hones in on exquisite timing. His expansive flourish as he drives the ball through the cover region is a joy to behold, unless of course you're the bowler. Yuvraj strikes a long ball, but does it with style, and you cannot help but be astounded by the ease in which he sends the ball out of the stadium.
His technique appears to be one that should come through the examination of Test cricket, if you were being hyper-critical, you may point to the fact he tends to go hard at the ball at times, which may cause him one or two problems, but a player as talented as Yuvraj could easily counter such a slight discrepancy.
Had Sourav Ganguly not fallen out of favour during Greg Chappell's tenure as Indian coach, then Yuvraj may well have represented his country less than the 19 Test matches he has appeared in so far.
His two Test centuries have both been in Pakistan, and in losing causes. His maiden century came as early as his third Test, and when he came to the wicket, his side were in trouble at 94-4. He was the last man out, and had helped India to reach respectability with the score on 289, he had made 112 off 129 deliveries. A cool temperament in high pressure situations is priceless, and this gifted batsman from Chandigarh appears to tick the relevant box.
When given the opportunity to establish a permanent position in the Indian middle order, Yuvraj, however, has not yet fully accepted the offer. His poor form on the West Indies tour in 2006, where he scored 104 runs in seven innings at an average of 17.33, was enough for him to lose his place, a position he is yet to win back.
He has shaken off the tags that accused him of lacking commitment, and is now a determined young man, that has served up his ODI performances as a hors d'oeuvre, and now his entertained public are sitting back and awaiting the main course in terms of exhilarating Test performances.
Both Symonds and Yuvraj are outstanding fielders and handy part-time bowlers, further enhancing their options to the Test sides, but it is their batting that is their strength, and the key for such attacking natured players is to remain composed if they are unable to attain a strike rate they are more familiar with. These are two quite brilliant one-day performers, and seem more than capable of illuminating the Test scene with their flashy brand of batting. Discuss this news item in the Cricket Web Forums