I Never Changed The Outlook Of My Batting

I believed in keeping the game as simple as possible and my approach to batting was pretty straight-forward. Sometimes you can get very focussed on all the changes that need to be made for the different formats of the game. But I always believed that when you have a proper understanding of the longer version of the game, it makes the shorter version of the game easier.
That’s the way I always looked at it and even do so now.
I am not sure that many batsmen think like that in the present day. Today, there are certain players who are described as Test cricketers and others as ODI cricketers (or even Twenty20 cricketers). I find it rather ludicrous. I wouldn’t want to be left out of an ODI team because I am just a Test cricketer and had only reasonable success in shorter formats.
It is, after all, all about making the necessary adjustments. It is about being smart enough to know how to make those changes from one format to the next.
Two names from modern day cricket come to my mind, Sachin Tendulkar and Kumar Sangakkara. They are batsmen who made that adjustment across all formats quite easily. If you love cricket, you can accomplish that, and then basically you can achieve anything.

Playing cricket on a regular basis in England meant that I wasn’t a newcomer to the ODI format when I made my debut for the West Indies in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1975. That experience of playing different formats in English conditions, whether county championship matches or limited-overs matches, was of enormous help.
Like I mentioned before, my approach to batting was quite simple and it was about playing attacking cricket. I thought a fast bowler is someone who is running in at me as fast as he can. He is a guy with a killer-instinct. And I always felt that I am the man to go out and deal with this individual.
I thought that there was no one I could not face.
Of course, there are times when you will have that fear inside you. But you do not show it. Because if you do, it will show your opponent that you are vulnerable. And that’s where I would keep things simple.
The chewing-gum, for example, was my greatest comfort zone in the middle. When you are on the field with 11 other players, plus two umpires, you are outnumbered to a degree. You are out there on your own. I felt that the chewing-gum was my companion. I had got a mouth-guard (like they use in boxing) made but I never used it. My dentist at that time was very annoyed with me. He said, ‘I have never seen you use the mouth guard, you are always chewing gum’. I told him that I wanted to be comfortable at the crease.
Chewing gum also made me look cool and wearing that mouth guard impeded my comfort zone. The chewing of gum helped take my mind away from stuff like not wearing that guard or even a helmet. I never wore a helmet when batting and I never faced a bowler against whom I thought I should be wearing one.
There was always this chance that I might get hurt. But then, in my mind, I thought about racing drivers. Just because he gets in an accident and he survives, is a racing driver going to quit his profession? Racing is a more dangerous sport than the one I am involved with. If I did get hit while batting, well, tough luck!
If something worse happened, then, at least, I was in my comfort zone and I enjoyed playing cricket, so it gave me satisfaction. That was always my thought.
My outlook on batting never changed throughout my career. Even when preparing for an ICC Cricket World Cup, I didn’t change anything. Perhaps, I felt a little change in 1987, because I was captain and when you lead there is more responsibility on your shoulders. Even then, my batting approach didn’t change overall. I never wanted to complicate things, because when you do that, you struggle.

I wanted to win the World Cup as captain, be as successful as a batting captain and emulate my mentor Clive Lloyd who had achieved this feat twice in 1975 and 1979. I was not able to do so and that is my biggest disappointment in the ICC Cricket World Cup. I couldn’t keep the great West Indies’ run at World Cups going.

You can be a heavy contributor with the bat but that is all individual glory.
For example, as a batsman I scored 138 not out in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1979 final against England, or 119 against India in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1983 at The Oval, or the 181 I scored off just 125 balls against Sri Lanka in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987.
Those were great knocks. However, I wanted to achieve more, on a collective basis, by winning that ICC Cricket World Cup 1987. That to me would have been a bigger statement.
While I did have a few personal achievements as a batsman, I always felt more proud of what I could achieve in a team environment. For me, it was always about the team. And so, even though I didn’t make a contribution with the bat in the 1975 final, those three run-outs that I affected to help my team beat Australia, remain my greatest personal achievement in the ICC Cricket World Cup.


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