In an era when batsmen were allowed to play Test cricket at a leisurely pace, Gordon Greenidge believed in smashing the bowlers. An aggressive opener, Greenidge with his partner Desmond Haynes made 6482 runs, the third highest for a batting partnership in Test cricket. In 108 Test matches, Greenidge scored 7558 runs at a stupendous average of 44.72. Destructive in approach, he also registered four Test double centuries, the second most by a West Indies batsman after Brian Lara.
In an interview with BCCI.TV, Greenidge shared his views on the art of batting and on the efforts to take the sport to untapped territories.
We see batsmen playing an attacking game today. You opted for an aggressive approach back in the 1970s and 80s.
The attack comes from what the mindset is and how you feel. You got to be aggressive. If you post a challenge to the bowlers, then invariably they will have to rethink the strategy. So, that is one of the ways of counterattacking. Everyone is different and has a different approach. Mine was to take the attack to the bowlers rather than the other way around.
It is not always a successful move to make, but you take the challenge and hopefully on most days, it pays off. You make your mark by taking the fight to the opposition. It is purely an individual thing. You have players who are prepared to ride out the storm and in the initial stage you want to make sure your coordination is right. You are comfortable and balanced out there. Your feet, your movement and coordination should be in order to prepare for what you are about to receive.
Was Virender Sehwag one such batsman whose style you felt was similar to yours?
I haven’t made any such assessment in the past and now with the introduction of T20 cricket, which has taken off in leaps and bounds, you have players who play similarly in Test matches as they do in T20s. You have teams scoring over four runs per over easily. Some teams are scoring 400 runs a day. Things have changed and equipment has changed. The modern day cricket is more dynamic and aggressive.
I prefer the format where you play Test cricket followed by the T20s. There have been cases where you play the T20 before the Test series. I think it is better this way. The good players can still play conventional cricket shots and get runs in the T20s. It does not mean you have to hit fours and sixes. You have to see what the batsman is capable of doing and if he is able to maneuver the ball around and keep the scoreboard moving.
I don’t have a problem with T20, it is here to stay. It’s very much a spectator’s game and if you talk about entertainment, there is no better way to go.
India are going to play in the USA for the first time. This should boost cricket in the US.
Virat Kohli is India’s Test captain but the responsibility has not affected his batting. He has been phenomenal. How do you see him progressing further?If he has the self-belief, he will keep continuing. Eventually, it is the form that leaves you and then there is a little bit of disbelief. As long as the confidence stays, you will find players like Virat perform continuously. There will come a time when the form or lack of self-belief will cause him to be not as dominant as he is now. Then, he will have to take stock and perhaps take a step or two back and maneuver his way back into the position he is in at the moment. Good luck to him. He has an excellent play, very attractive and everyone wants to see him.
How did you prepare against spin bowling as during your days, the West Indies hardly played a spinner? Do you feel present day batsmen don’t use their feet enough against the spinners?Playing spin is always going to be tricky. The ball comes to you and you have little time to make a decision. You see it and decide to attack or defence. The good spinners have the ability to make the ball look like it is not reaching you. You have to use your feet. Many players have done so and still got beaten in the flight. If you play from the crease, you got to be very good and sharp. You make sure you don’t play too square of the crease as it means you have to play lots of cross-batted shots. If the bowler is crafty enough and gets the ball to skid through, then you’re trapped. It is a matter of training and practicing to learn and understand the art of bowling.