The inspiration

Updated: 12 April, 2020 07:37 IST | Ian Chappell | Mumbai

While people the world over are looking for ways to combat the Coronavirus, Sachin Tendulkar's 155 in the 1998 Chennai Test and Aussie Ian Redpath's 1976 ton against West Indies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground could provide you...

Sachin Tendulkar floored the Australians in the 1998 Test match at Chennai. Pic/ AFP
Sachin Tendulkar floored the Australians in the 1998 Test match at Chennai. Pic/ AFP

picThe current strange and testing times are demanding a lot of citizens right round the world. I've learned that rules applying to athletes prospering at sport are also helpful in living life.

With the Coronavirus pandemic biting hard, citizens of all countries are being asked to display—among other attributes—patience, determination and a bit of initiative. These are qualities essential to playing Test cricket at a high level. To highlight the point I've chosen two particularly influential innings.

The first one is a Sachin Tendulkar masterpiece in Chennai in 1998. His brilliant second innings 155 won the Test for India but it wouldn't have happened without the initiative displayed by Tendulkar in the lead up to the series.

Tendulkar asked tall, former Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri how he should cope with champion Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne if he went round the wicket to bowl into the rough. Shastri's reply was tinged with common sense; "Because of my long reach," he replied, "I had a defensive antidote to Warne bowling in the rough but you don't," he continued. "You'll have to devise an attacking option to combat Warne bowling in the footmarks."

Following that sound advice, Tendulkar spent time at the MRF nets—where he deliberately scuffed an area outside leg stump—facing the wrist spin of former Indian leggie Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.

Battle against Warne

Fast forward to the fourth day of a tightly-contested match where India is in trouble. Tendulkar, having been dismissed cheaply by Warne in the first innings, strides to the crease with his team two down and only 44 runs in front. The ball is spinning sharply and Warne, boosted by a four-wicket haul in the first innings, is confident.

Australia’s Ian Redpath tackles a bouncer from West Indies pacer Michael Holding at Sydney during the 1975-76 series. PIC/GETTY IMAGES
Australia's Ian Redpath tackles a bouncer from West Indies pacer Michael Holding at Sydney during the 1975-76 series. Pic/ Getty Images

Tendulkar struggles to assert any authority early on and Warne, sensing his opponent is vulnerable, opts to come round the wicket.

It's rare that a Test match is so finely balanced on the fourth day with the champion of each team also doing battle. At that moment, the result was on the line.

Tendulkar's determination and initiative were rewarded when he put his well-thought out plan into operation. He immediately attacked deliveries pitching in the footmarks and after a series of electrifying shots, reached and cleared the boundary, Warne reluctantly went back over the wicket. Tendulkar had won the battle and India would go on to win the Test.

The other innings highlights patience and determination and was played by Australian opener Ian Redpath at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1976. It was late January, a steaming hot day with temperatures in excess of 38C and Redpath was charged with the job of subduing the West Indies pace attack.

Redpath is around 184cms and around 70 kilos so he didn't have any excess weight to shed out in the middle of this steaming cauldron. His teammates joked that it was easy for him to handle the West Indies bouncers because all he had to do was turn side on and they had virtually no target to hit.

Avoiding bouncers

On this occasion, Redpath swayed, ducked and bobbed his head to avoid the bouncers and patiently picked off any loose deliveries as he defied the West Indies pace men for all but the last half hour's play. He scored a century and when he was finally dismissed in the shadow of stumps, he was red-faced and exhausted but he'd done his job.

Australia was eventually dismissed for a challenging 351. When Redpath scored a follow up 70 in the second innings the target was too distant even for a strong West Indies batting line-up that included Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards, as Australia duly completed the victory.

Redpath claimed the man-of-the-match award but more importantly, won the respect of his teammates for his patience and determination in trying circumstances.

Combine Tendulkar's initiative and determination with Redpath's patient courage and you have some of the qualities required to survive this devastating pandemic.

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First Published: 12 April, 2020 07:10 IST

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