Friday, May 22, 2020

My Cricketing Insights - Jaideep Pal (Batting and Wicket Keeping)

Jaideep Pal was my skipper when I played for the IDBI in the Times Shield during my stint in Mumbai between 1994 and 1998. Warm and friendly, with an impish smile perpetually on his face, he belies the tough and wily competitor that lies within. He is constantly match-aware, has a high emotional quotient and is always thinking of how to get the best of his resources. No wonder we made the finals one year and did pretty well in the next. I found Jai to be a captain for whom I wanted to give my best - he is vulnerable, open and affectionate and wants the best for you. He is like that as a person too, so it's so easy to trust him, to want to do well for him. He sings beautifully, has a great sense of humour, loves a good time and is easily the most liked by all. He is certainly one of my favourite people and one of the better skippers I have played under.
Jaideep Pal
Jai started playing cricket for Shardashram High School (Sachin's, Kambli's, Amre's school) and was part of the playing XI when the school won the prestigious school tournament viz. Giles shield. He was the youngest at that time to have played a finals - at a mere 11 years and few months.. Then Jai played for Don Bosco School. At the college level he went to Poddar College, played for Mumbai University and was part of a specially selected team of probables of BCA colts which played in the Moin Ud Dowlah Gold Cup tournament at Hyderabad in 1990-91. Jai played regularly for 2 two years for the BCA Colts and A division club cricket for nearly 15 years representing top Mumbai clubs like CCI, Khar Gymkhana and Shivaji Park Gymkhana from 1987 to 2002. He last played for Shivaji Park.

Three centuries - on a roll!
Jai's role model in batting was Sunil Gavaskar, and he idolized Syed Kirmani and Alan Knott in the wicket-keeping department. He did well in both departments, scored heavily and received prizes for best wicket-keeper on several occasions. Jai captained IDBI and was instrumental in the team reaching the B division of the prestigious Times Shield in a short span of time from lower divisions.

Here are a few of Jaideep's insights on batting and wicket keeping.
To be frank, I have never had proper coaching by any sir apart from Late Achrekar sir who was very keen that I should play at a good level of cricket and that was way back in 1978-79 when I was 11 years old. At that age, one hardly remembers what is taught. Whatever I have learnt by watching, listening and practising is as under:
Jai with Sunil Gavaskar - Dadar Union vs Shivaji Gymkhana Exhibition match in 2017

Batting :
1. One should be hungry enough to become a good batsman as it is always one person against the 11 players at any point of time.

2. A still head is the most important thing. If the head is still you are sure that you will gauge the length of the delivery. What I mean by a 'still head' is that the focus should be on the ball and it should not sway. When the head is still, it is in line with the delivery of the ball and helps you judge the length and the moment the head droops sideways, one is not able to judge the delivery and also results in difficulty in playing deliveries which are pitched on middle and leg as the vision becomes blind. You can say for batting it is the side on stance. Which helps you keep your head still. One knows it when you can't judge the line and length of a delivery..
Even in wicket keeping, when one takes a stance it should be ensured that the balance is proper and the weight is evenly distributed. This ensures that the sight is set on the delivery only and not affected by the movement of the batsman. As a wicket-keeper we know the head is not still the moment we are not able to follow the ball right from point of release to its landing. If one sees the release but misses the flight and sees it only after it lands, it means you have to search for the ball, the moment that happens indicates that head is not still.

3. Always focus on basics. A good defence will ensure that you can easily play big strokes when required but the reverse is not true..

4. Practice regularly and approach each session as if you were playing a match.

5. Keep your hands close to the body as much as possible this ensures you don't chase outgoing deliveries.

6. Before any game analyse the kind of bowlers expected and practice mentally how one will approach each delivery. This practice is very tough as you need to imagine and it is exhausting. But very helpful.

7. A day before the game tap 100 balls on the bat focusing on the seam and that to be done on Match day too

8. Always play the ball and not the bowler.

9. Remember it's a mental game.

10. For physical training basics are important but one should hit the gym twice a week for muscle building as the game has become more of power.
Avi Karnik, Ajit Wadekar, Salil Datar and Jaideep Pal
As a keeper I suggest the following:
1. Take as many catches as possible not only standing like a wicketkeeper but outfield too. This improves how we receive the ball.

2. Play all kinds of sports especially football and TT/badminton.

3. Keep wickets at least for 3 hours in a day. It could be a combination of tennis ball and season ball cricket.

4. Try and follow the correct techniques and then improvise. I feel one should not stress too much on getting up with the ball but if one watches the ball keenly, then the movement automatically happens.. So focus more on watching the ball.

6. Always remember/expect that each and every ball will come to you, this ensures that edge's are not missed. Try it and you will find out that every time you have dropped a catch you were not watching the ball or head was not still.

7. Exercise sideways movement in standing and crouched manner at a constant speed for improving agility.

8. Skipping 1000 rounds daily atleast.. I used to do at least 1500 daily. Does not take much time on off days and at least 500 on normal days and running a mix of jogs and sprints..

9. In case one cannot play football, hit the gym for leg strengthening.

10. Wicket keeping also improves your batting.

Thanks so much, Jai. Those are very sound tips for batsmen and wicket keepers. For those of you who wish to reach out to him over mail for any further tips or clarifications, here it is -


Parag Paigankar said...

Jaideep is best friend of mine for many years...but what I am saying is without any bias...I have watched and played with Jaideep more than any other player I suppose (I may be wrong).

Jaideep as a wicket keeper was the most "Natural" than many other wicket keepers atleast I played with and bowled to in late 1980s and early 90s...His movements and reflexes were fast and very natural in his anticipation and judgement...According to me, he was better among Mumbai wicket keepers at that time, whether against pace or spin. He was very quick and effective in carrying out stumpings against spin and never faltered. Other thing was he loved wicket keeping, though he broke his nose many times.

Our college i.e Podar's batting lineup in senior college used to be very formidable and selection used to be very tough. In the nets, main batters used to bat for minimum 30 minutes each or even longer sometimes. Unfortunately, Jaideep did not get enough opportunities and could not display his enormous talent as a batsman in Inter college cricket.

Such was his wicket keeping prowess, that he was selected in prestigious and star-studded CCI team in 1987-88 and his keeping was liked and appreciated by all while playing for CCI.

I would say that as soon as Jaideep left college and joined IDBI in Oct 1988, he became altogether a different batsman that what he was in school cricket or 6 years of Inter-College cricket. Something transformed him as a batsman, though I played with him for so many years I could not figure how and what he did differently to transform his batting. In IDBI, there used to be not much net practice or practice matches as focus and prominence was required to be given more on office work than playing sports though we were recruited in sports quota. So, we used to play just match to match without any serious practice sessions. But one thing I realised that after joining IDBI he became fearless as a batsman and there was a different purpose, intent and strong determination to perform in his batting.

1989-90 was the best batting year of Jaideep not only for the amount of runs he made but the way he made those runs, in aggressive and blazing manner through execution of exquisite strokes both of front foot and back foot. He played amazingly well and his strokeplay was just "KADAK" (as we say in Mumbai cricket). He was at his prime and best in 1989-90, as he scored 100s for 1st division club and in Times Shield tournaments. Without any bias, I will say his batting in that 1989-90 year can be termed as best that atleast I have seen ever from any Mumbai wicket keeper batsman in those times.

In 1990 he moved to Shivaji Park Gymkhana (again a very prestigious club in Mumbai) and played there till the end of his cricketing career and he played many good and long innings and scored 100s for both clubs and office cricket.

To sum it up, Jaideep was definitely class apart as WK but also as a batsman at his prime he was better than many others at that time. Looking back after so many years and now away from cricket, I will say without any bias opinion from my side that Jaideep unfortunately and undeservedly missed out to be picked in Mumbai's 14 or 15 member squad of 1990 season

Harimohan said...

Absolutely Parag. Apart from being a tough competitor, I also found Jai to be one of the best captains I have played under. He knew how to get the best out of his resources and made us feel like we were part of something big and important. Our times in Mumbai playing the Times Shield in the 90s were some of the most enjoyable for me.