Shubman Gill wowed fans with his backfoot game during India’s tour of Australia and the opener’s father says he honed those skills by facing 1500 short balls per day in practice, often using just a cricket stump as a bat.
The 21-year-old made his Test debut in the second match in Melbourne, smashed his maiden half-century in Sydney and produced an elegant fourth-innings knock of 91 in Brisbane where India completed a remarkable 2-1 series victory.
“Since he was nine, I made him play 1500 short balls every day,” Gill’s father Lakhwinder Singh told the Times of India newspaper.
To make it difficult for the youngster, Singh would often bounce the ball off a charpoy, a traditional woven bed.
“The ball tends to travel faster after skidding off the charpoy,” Singh said.
“Besides that, he practised with a single stump as his bat. That helped Shubman in finding the middle of the bat more often than not.”
Gill’s family moved some 300km from a village in Punjab to Mohali, a Test venue in the northern Indian state, in search of better training facilities.
Singh also made his son practise on coir or canvas matting wickets to prepare him better for short-pitched deliveries.
“The extra bounce that matting provides forces you to get in … the correct position,” Singh said.
“Batsmen who have played on matting pitches develop the ability to play on the backfoot, which is so essential for any higher level of cricket.”
The Punjab player’s rise has resolved India’s opening issues after Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal struggled in Australia.
Gill’s opening partnership with Rohit Sharma will next be tested in the four-Test home series against England beginning on February 5.