In T20 cricket, the debate of retiring out the batsman who is looking ‘out of touch’ surfaces at times. In the ongoing editions of IPL, It’s again the major talking point for some cricket experts and they have been airing their views on Retiring out the batsman in case he is struggling in the middle to score freely.
The recent example is Match no. 9 of IPL between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. While chasing mammoth total of 223 Royals were in driving seat till 8.3 overs despite losing Buttler early. Upon losing Smith’s wicket Royals promoted Rahul Tewatia and he was given a chance to bat at number 4.
The promotion of Rahul surprised many but that’s not the concern here. The issue is he was unable to set the stage on fire initially and rather struggled to strike the ball and even rotate the strike. The ghost of past came alive for Royal fans like Indian fans faced in these instances; Jadeja in 2009, Vijay Shankar in Nidahas trophy and Yuvraj Singh in 2014 WC final.
The experts, who are part of the broadcasting team, suggested time & again on-air that Rahul Tewatia need to get Retired out as he is not able to score at desired run rate and someone else can come in & do the job for the team.
The experts have their own logics to support this thought, most popular one is that the ‘Bowlers too are under bowled at times and they are not allowed to bowl a full quota of 4 overs, in case they are out of rhythm and struggling to bowl the right lengths’
In my view, the process of retiring himself out is dependent on the batsman in the middle and onus is on him to decide. Let’s try to understand the aspects he will have to consider in making that decision.
A batsman is part of playing eleven for some reason and is sent in middle on a particular position to play a role, he might not deliver straight away and might struggle. But such is the game! Experts can analyze and dissect the skill set but not the mindset. And that’s the KEY.
Regarding a bowler who is not in rhythm or not hitting the right lengths or not bowling to the field, he is usually under-bowled in case the captain has the luxury of having extra bowler(s). And a fielder who is having an off day can be moved from his specialized position and the option of substitute fielder is also available. In both the cases of bowler & fielder, it is the captain’s call and he has all the rights to do the changes and the players are bound to adjust knowing it’s the essence of team sport.
The bowler & fielder aren’t supposed to let it affect their confidence as the decisions are made by the captain (& somewhat management) in the interest of the team and keeping the larger picture in mind.
However, in a batsman’s case, once sent in by the captain & management on a certain position, their role ends and at all gets restricted to providing only key inputs on rare occasions. The onus of driving the game lies with the pair of batsman standing in the middle, this is the nature of the game. It’s still the team sport, batsmen are playing for their team but what happens on the ground is pretty much a result of their individual skills & application.
Let’s imagine a scenario of a batsman struggling to catch up with the required run rate, for him to decide that he can’t do the job on that day and he should retire himself out (if permissible in the rules), he will have to probably believe that “I can’t”. But the million-dollar question is do we seriously want the players to think on those lines and create self-doubt. For a sportsman to feel ‘he can’t do it’ can be disastrous for his own mind and the game in longer run. Do we want them to think of giving up? Is that even an option? Will anyone love such game?
For an unimaginable span of time Australian team was a dominating force in world cricket because of habit of ‘winning the key moments’ and ‘winning at any cost’. That was possible with a culture of producing multiple mentally strong characters in the team with amazing self-belief. For India, Dhoni brought that element and has been the synonym of mental toughness for more than a decade and he got us into that habit of winning.
In the modern era, sports psychologists play huge role in the ‘mental aspect’ of the players beyond the other two dimensions; physical fitness & technical skills involved in the game. The psychologist help players in dealing with mental pressure, anxiety, lack of self-confidence and self-doubts.
I am sure nobody would want to travel backward by creating doubt in the player’s mind as the world already has many players who are dealing with mental health issues. On the contrary, these pressure situations should be seen as an opportunity to test the player’s confidence, mental strength, and fighting spirit. Because the game & players would be poor without these traits.
The toughest challenges produces stronger characters & world-class players. And the legends are born when the world writes you off. This is only possible with the self-belief, which can’t be adjudged by the experts and fans sitting outside the arena.
All the magical & historical moments in any sport are created when nobody believed that to happen except the sportsperson himself.
The point I am trying to make has nothing to do with Rahul Tewatia being successful in chasing the target and driving his team home. However, the key is he didn’t give up and had belief in his abilities.
Regardless of the result of any game, as one team is going to win for sure, the “hunger for winning, self-belief and never give up attitude” can do the wonders for any game. By giving the batsman an option to quit, none of these traits would remain intact.
“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” – Vince Lombardi
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.