New Delhi, January 24
Young Punjab Shubman Gill says he used to be “petrified of bouncers” before overcoming his fears to get his Test career off to a great start against the world’s best fast bowlers.
Gill, 21, announced his arrival on the big stage with a knock of 91, which set the tone for India’s win on the final day of the fourth Test against Australia. In the six innings that he batted against the likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, Gill never looked in any sort of discomfort. But it wasn’t so easy many years ago.
“When I was young, I used to be petrified of bouncers. I used to be prepared for the chest-height balls way in advance. I used to practise drives a lot so I got mature in playing the pull shot with a straight bat,” Gill said in an interview posted on IPL team KKR’s website. “I also developed one more shot where I move aside a little to play the cut. I used to feel scared of short deliveries so I always wanted to get away from the line of the ball and play the cut shot. These two-three shots were my favourite as a kid, now they are a part of me.”
Gill spoke about how he was scared of facing a fast bowler at the cricket academy in Mohali.
“I was nine years old when I was asked to play in a higher age group match. There was a bowler in the academy, just like you find in every other academy, who was really fast. I was batting against him and was scared that I would get a bouncer to start with,” he said. “So I had pre-decided that I would just duck it. He bowled a bouncer but pitched way ahead. I still squatted and saw the ball hitting the edge of my bat and racing to the boundary. I realised he was not that fast after all. Soon I hit 2-3 more boundaries. I was quite young so everyone was surprised. This helped me raise my confidence level. This incident just eliminated all kinds of fear from my heart for leather balls and bouncers.”
Gill, who first held a bat when he was only three, would travel 20-25 kilometres a day for practice before his parents decided to leave his village in Fazilka and settle down in Mohali so that their son could get coaching at an academy. In Mohali, to begin with, he was playing with kids at the academy but at the insistence of his father, he was promoted to the U-14 group.
“I joined the academy only in 2007 in Mohali. But I just didn’t enjoy playing in the group that I was a part of as all of them were toddlers. So, I informed my father about it, and he spoke to the coach,” he said. “The coach was apprehensive that I may get hit by the ball but my father insisted on trials and requested him to just see my performance and if he felt I wasn’t good, he didn’t have to promote me to a new group. The coach called a bowler and I played well. So, he promoted me to the U-14 group even when I was eight years old.”
He said he learnt a lot from Rahul Dravid (U-19 World Cup and India A), Jacques Kallis and Brendon McCullum (at KKR). — TNS, agencies