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‘You are crazy, Surya’: Jacques Kallis’s famous rave hung in the air as Suryakumar Yadav binges on the sweep shot

With a man placed at backward square-leg for exactly that shot, Surya would still unfurl the sweep shot finer this time to trigger awe and roars of appreciation from MCG crowd.

T20 WCIndia's Suryakumar Yadav bats during the T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Zimbabwe in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

The story goes that once on a rainy day an English team sat discussing the eight wonders of the world. Apparently, they could name seven and were stuck on the last according to the story attributed to Jim Laker, the spinner who once took all 10 wickets in an innings. Then Colin Cowdrey piped up to suggest that Denis Compton’s sweep shot was the forgotten wonder. His team-mates would agree. If they sat down again, they might just pick Suryakumar Yadav’s sweep ahead of Compton.

Compton would go down on his knee and sweep the spinners regardless of the line or length. Surya can bend his knee and sweep the pacers regardless of the line or length. As Zimbabwe found out in the final over of the knock.

Not that it’s not been done before by other batsmen. The sweep shot off pacers was the signature shot of England’s Mal Loye, who would make a late debut at the age of nearly 33 after a string of injuries and sweep Brett Lee, no less, for an outrageous six over backward square-leg in his first game at the Gabba in 2006.

It’s a shot that came to Loye in a pub in Wellington in New Zealand. “We were 11 English players playing at the Wellington leagues, and would meet on Wednesdays at this pub. Winter, the pitches weren’t good, the keepers would be standing up. I had a theory (at that pub) that these bowlers are so slow that we can’t hit them off the square. Why don’t we treat them like spinners and sweep them,” he would tell a YouTube channel Cricket Life Stories. “From there on the shot evolved against the fastest bowlers too.”

The shot, originally to spinners, came to Surya while playing on Mumbai’s red soil pitches. When it evolved into a lap shot and sweeps against pacers, it had even stunned Jacques Kallis.

 

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In 2016, Kallis would ask Surya how are you playing that shot [to pacers], can you teach me? “We play on red soil, where you don’t have any other option when it’s turning square, so we start playing that stroke. He was like, ‘You’re crazy!’ Back then I used to play sweep shots starting from deep midwicket till fine leg. I still do, but at that time I had just started playing that,” Surya shared with Cricinfo. “And he’s like, ‘Can you teach me?’ I was completely shocked!”

Now to the MCG in the final over bowled by Zimbabwe pacer Richard Ngarva. Check the second ball that dismissed Hardik Pandya. It was a full toss past the ‘wide’ line. Pandya, even with his feet planted outside off stump, couldn’t reach. He could only toe-end it to short third man.

 

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A ball later, Ngarva would try it to Surya. Not as wide but within that wide line perhaps. Immediately he went down on his knee but stretched out his upper body, the arms extending well away to not only reach the ball but lap it around the corner to backward square-leg for a six. The master Sunil Gavaskar was on air, he would break into a cackle and rave like a schoolkid.

Next ball, just to show even though he predetermines the sweep, he is not tied to it, Surya would slice a well-outside-off full toss over backward point to show Hardik how it’s done.

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What would follow as a “sweep binge”. Next ball, he fetched it again from way outside off on the bent knee to deposit it for a four to backward square-leg. “A shot for the ages,” Gavaskar screams.

 

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After the shot, Ngarwa had no option but to place a fielder at deep backward square-leg. Now, it had become a dare. A test for his ego. As if Ngarwa were saying, ‘Surya, would you still go for that shot or would you slice over point’.

As Ngarva reached his release position, Surya was again on the move, shuffling to his right. No surprise there. No surprise in the ball too – full one well outside off. What next? No surprise.

Incredibly, Surya would work his wrists overtime to send this ball to fine-leg boundary. A lap-scoop would be understandable, but this was again the sweep. The wrists working overtime, showmanship brimming over, Surya had yet again done it. Never mind what was said on air, who heard it as the crowd would go berserk.

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“You have to predetermine that shot a bit. I have practiced that shot lot as i used to play a lots of rubber ball cricket. With the field in, i like to back myself. You have to know how long is the boundary there. Where i stand i feel its a 65 metres and i like to connect it with sweet spot of bat,” Surya would tell Ravi Shastri who is clearly a fan of that sweep shot.

Shastri was the man who called Surya before he made his debut and told him to come down to the pool. He broke the news that Surya would be playing next day and told him to “land the first punch”. The world knows Surya would do exactly that when he lapped Jofra Archer for a six.

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To borrow a Kallis-ism, ‘you are crazy, Surya!’

First published on: 06-11-2022 at 17:21 IST
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