Some dream of playing for India; some dream of playing in the Indian Premier League. From all evidence so far, Delhi Capitals' Prithvi Shaw appears to belong to the second category.
Is he talented? Yes, he is immensely, no doubt about that. The ease with which he drives and pulls doesn’t come naturally to most batsmen. He is a natural and can hit the ball into the stands almost at will.
However, the problem is he is ignorant to modern-day challenges. For one thing, he only believes in showmanship. He won't take responsibility for anything, seemingly. All he wants is to hit a few attractive shots off lesser bowlers — in most cases — and then return to the dressing room and sit through the rest of the innings without any remorse or reflection.
Even the best of batsmen pick their bowlers to score off while batting. The truth of the matter is Shaw is foolhardy and overconfident about his ability with the bat. He treats an international bowler in the same way as he would an inexperienced bowler from domestic cricket. Only the end result is never the same.
The classic example is the way he has batted against Mohammed Shami, Jofra Archer and Trent Boult. All three are exceptional bowlers, and Shaw was back in the dug-out before one could say Jack Robinson as he couldn't last their smart, world-class bowling even a few deliveries. He tried to disdainfully pull Shami and Archer out of the park and found himself caught in and about the 30-yard circle. And Boult fooled him into the hands of the cover.
This is not the only problem. Like Rishabh Pant, he is unfit. In a world where fitness has become so important for a sportsperson he looks like a man forever on binge holidays in Goa. Suppleness is the word you would never associate with Shaw.
Against Mumbai Indians, he was so tragic in the field, you couldn't believe your own eyes. When fielding deep, he was all helter-skelter if the ball was travelling even marginally higher. On one occasion he could not make out the spin on the ball as a result of a sweep shot and it resulted in a boundary. And when he was fielding in the circle, he just couldn't bend down in time to pick up and throw so as to prevent singles.
Shaw need look no further than Virat Kohli for inspiration. The India captain has set a great example for budding, young Indian cricketers in the fitness department.
Shaw drew comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar at the start of his career; later many found similarities with Virender Sehwag. But today it will take a dimwit even to briefly entertain those similarities. Forget those two legends, Shaw has fallen behind even his contemporaries.
The age is definitely on his side but the game doesn't respect those who don't respect its demands. If he doesn't soon fix his shortcomings, he will be a thing of the past, cruel and unfair as it may sound. In recent times, the biggest example for him to learn from is Unmukt Chand who has disappeared into anonymity despite showing early promise.
The ball is in Shaw's court. He needs to decide fast whether he wants a long and fulfilling career for India or play a few seasons of the IPL and eventually find himself marginalised to even less competitive cricket.
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