New Delhi: Shubman Gill's debut Test series Down Under was a dream start. It seemed that he was having a gala time prancing around on the jerky pitches of Australia, fending off the lethal bouncers of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.
But that had not been always so.
"When I was young, I was petrified of bouncers. To overcome my fear, I started negotiating chest-high balls during my practice sessions. I would practise the drive and began playing the pull shot with a straight bat as I matured. I also developed a shot where I move back a little to play the cut. Since I was scared of short deliveries, I always wanted to get away from the line of the ball to play the cut shot. These two to three shots were my favourite as a kid and now they have become a part of my repository," Gill was quoted as saying by kkr.in.
At times, these pre-emptive measures were intended to calm down his frayed nerves. Soon the realisation dawned on him that it wasn't a big deal to be hit on the body by a pacer.
Delving deeper into his psyche, he says: "When you get hit by a ball, your fear disappears. You are only scared until you get a blow; but once you get hit, you feel like it was pretty normal! And then you lose the fear entirely. I was nine years old when I was asked to play in a match with older children. There was a bowler in the academy who was really fast. I was batting against him and cringing with fear, afraid that I would get a bouncer. So, I decided that I would simply duck," the 21-year-old reminisced.
"He tried to bowl a bouncer but ended pitching it up. I realised what was coming but still squatted and saw the ball hitting the edge of my bat and go to the boundary. Then, I realised he was not that fast after all. Soon I hit two-three more boundaries. This helped bolster my confidence. This incident banished all kinds of fears I had nursed in my heart for the leather ball and bouncers," he added.
Gill scored 259 runs in the six Test innings he played in Australia. It included a remarkable 91-run knock in the second innings of the Gabba Test when India chased 328 on the final day of the Test match.
The right-handed batsman has been included in the India squad for the first two Tests of the upcoming four-match series against England beginning February 5 in Chennai.