It can be hard converting a bottom-handed batsman to one with a top-handed grip. Pravin Amre has managed to pull it off with Robin Uthappa.
“He was already 26, had practised 10 years with his old style. So we had to start from zero. Importantly, he was willing to go through the ordeal and the initial failures,” Amre told The Hindu. The former India batsman has been Uthappa’s personal batting coach for the last two years.
Uthappa has been rocking in the ongoing IPL with 613 runs in 14 matches at 47.15. His consistency in the turbulent Twenty20 format — he has been the leading scorer in the competition so far — has been laudable. Uthappa has scores of 40 or more in his last nine innings for Kolkata Knight Riders.
“When he was bottom-handed, he was finding it hard to drive through extra covers or down the ground. Now Uthappa is playing so many shots straight. And he is playing with the full face of the bat, which was not the case earlier,” said Amre.Critical change
There was another critical change that Amre brought about in Uthappa’s technique. It pertained to his initial movement. “Uthappa was back and back in his trigger movement earlier, which made him vulnerable to incoming deliveries. He was often getting out bowled or leg-before. Now his movement is forward but he does not commit himself to the front foot and is balanced.”
Indeed, Uthappa’s batting has undergone a transformation. Earlier, he used to employ heavier bats. Now he has shifted to normal willows. Amre explained, “If you have a top-handed grip and attempt to whip or flick with a heavy bat, it can be very difficult. With a normal bat, Uthappa is able to play these strokes.”Consistent
The Karnataka batsman has been performing well across formats. He was the leading scorer in the Vijay Hazare all-India one-day tournament with 536 runs in eight matches at 76.57. Although grappling with fitness concerns, Uthappa notched up 374 runs in five Ranji Trophy matches at 46.75. Karnataka emerged triumphant in both these competitions.
In this journey, Uthappa trusted Amre completely. “I told him I was a family man and could not often travel out of Mumbai. His dedication was such that he shifted his base to Mumbai. Now Uthappa lives in Mumbai.
“He practises three hours a day and it is a complete session. He trains differently for different formats, but the emphasis is on strong fundamentals.”
An India comeback might not be far away for the determined Uthappa.