Cricket coaches often stress upon retaining the natural ability of any player. However, the father of South African opener Stiaan van Zyl did exactly the opposite.

Stiaan van Zyl
Stiaan van Zyl

He changed his son's batting style from right to left-handed. Van Zyl was way too young to remember exactly when this happened though.

"My father felt that a left-hander is better on the eye than a right-hander. He later told me that I first batted right-handed and that he made me a left-hander.

I did not have a choice because by the time I realised it, I was already a lefty. In fact, I also enjoy watching lefties bat," Van Zyl said after a near three-hour training session at the Brabourne Stadium yesterday.

Another reason why Van Zyl's father transformed him into a left-hander was because he had a powerful right hand. "My father said that my top-hand (pointing to his right hand) is my strength," he explained.

Right-arm pacer
Van Zyl, however, bowls right arm and even throws with his right hand. "I am a lefty when it comes to playing golf. I do all other things with my right hand," he said.

Going into the Test series, Van Zyl knows exactly what he needs to do to succeed. "Definitely, India will try to win the Test series with spin. We have to wrap minds around playing a lot of spinners. Rotating the strike will be crucial.

Michael Hussey (SA batting consultant) has advised us to play more on the backfoot. There are a lot of seniors around who can help us with the way the pitch behaves," said Van Zyl, who became the 100th batsman to score a century on Test debut against West Indies last December.