Regarded as one of the pioneers of the aerial shot,Brendon Kuruppu is sitting in the Sri Lankan dressing room as manager,appropriately attired in team colours,watching the players hit innovative shots in the Twenty20 format.
I wouldve loved to play this format. It wouldve given me so many runs with the shots I used to play, he tells The Indian Express. There are so many variations now. You can pay the ball in the air with the pull,cut,sweep. These guys look better than me.
Kuruppu cant pinpoint the match in which he first went over the top. I think it mustve been sometime in 1983. Kris Srikkanth followed suit almost immediately, he says. I wasnt a natural hitter,so I had to develop that shot with practice. I had tried it a lot in the club games first before taking it to ODIs. There were so many fielders packed on one side of the field and I had to think of a new way to score runs. I thought of hitting over the fielders instead of getting frustrated while trying to pierce the cordon.
The 47-year old says the trick to go over the in-field is to pick the length of the ball early and go through with the shot along with the pace of the ball. Its a calculated shot,and not a pre-determined effort as it might look from the sidelines, he says. With batting powerplays and fielding restrictions,the onus is on the batsmen to play the aerial shots regularly these days. Cricket is a spectacle,one needs to woo the audience with lots of runs,and so its important to keep adding rules to benefit batsmen.
But theres a twist to this dashing sloggers story. Kuruppu holds the record for the slowest double-century in Test cricket. Thats the other side of me, he laughs. I played according to the situation then. I had to stay at the wicket against a good New Zealand bowling attack and I did it just like I started hitting over the field in one-dayers because it was needed.
Kuruppu doesnt mind that his international career spanned just 54 ODIs and four Tests overs a period of eight years. There wasnt so much of cricket back then. Im just happy to be still attached with Sri Lankan cricket at the time when it has got recognition,prestige and is a force to reckon with.