Poetry in Motion – The Cover Drive




Rahul Dravid - The Cover Drive

Rahul Dravid – The Cover Drive

If I were to give a small kid, all of 6 years, who just started to watch cricket a cricket bat and bowled a ball slow enough for him to play it, 9 times out of 10, he is going to swipe the ball towards the cow-corner and of course, break a few vases in my room. But, when the same kid starts to take cricket quite seriously and has 10 years of cricket watching experience – including Test cricket featuring Michael Vaughan, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid – I can bet that 9 times out of 10, a close ball will either be driven straight or driven through covers.

The love for the cover drive and the straight drive is like wine. The experience comes with time, the pleasure in indulging in it gets better as years fly by. In 15 years, he will relinquish the very idea of pulling a short ball pitching outside off – which is becoming quite an effective trend these days – but, he would rather move his back leg a tad towards the off stump and get his bat high up and punch the ball with such finesse to ensure that the ball kisses the grass all the way to the ropes.

To call the cover drive poetic would do injustice to both poetry and the cover drive. They are two entities lovingly tied in wedlock and to talk of one would mean that you talk of the other. A layman may try to pull and sweep and swat at every delivery, but if you ask him to choose a Rahul Dravid cover drive or a Jacques Kallis hook, we would gleefully take the former with tears of joy welling up in his eyes. Such is the divinity in the stroke.

Just like a masseuse the artist needs to keep it as soft as possible for the painting to come out right. A wild attempt to thrash the cherry away would mess the whole art up and make it look clumsy. But, if he’d rather caress the ball with love and utmost ease and grace, even Van Gogh will be put to shame.

If the leg glance made the bowler kick himself, the cut would make him furious. If the sweep exasperated a spinner, the late cut evinced a wry smile. But, the cover drive is a gift from the Gods. You just cannot hate it. You just cannot. The perfect cover drive will be duly appreciated by even the likes of Merv Hughes, Jeff Thomson, Derek Underwood, Jim Laker, Shane Warne, Courtney Walsh and the other greats.

If the near-perfect cover drive gleams in your repertoire you can say you are one among the very few elite batsmen who can play the stroke to near-perfection. One needn’t be an exponent of the stroke, but you can always respect it for it has the resplendence associated with a ballerina. It has the regal authority associated with Rajaraja Chola. It has the tenderness associated with a mother’s love. It has the romantic connection with the sport just like Keats and poetry. A perfect cover drive has a boundary written all over it.

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