‘My batting approach was inspired by Shane Watson, and it liberated me.’

Krishnamurthy was drafted as the San Francisco Unicorns’ U23 pick in the recently concluded Major League Cricket season.

Sanjay Krishnamurthy, a twenty-year-old all-rounder, was named East Bay Blazers captain at the start of the current minor league cricket season in place of regular captain and former Sri Lanka international Angelo Perera. He will be remembered as the youngest captain in the history of the American semi-professional T20 league, despite being only sixty days out of his teens. In Perera’s absence, Krishnamurthy captained three games and had a perfect record.

Krishnamurthy celebrated his promotion to captaincy with a scintillating 84 off 52 deliveries against the formidable Golden State Grizzlies, an attack that included PSL star Umaid Asif and Texas Super Kings leg spinner Zia Shahzad. Unlike his previous stint as captain of the West Zone Reds U19s (53 runs in 4 innings) in 2021, when he flunked with the bat under pressure, Krishnamurthy has mentally evolved to learn the ropes of isolating his captaincy and batting while being in the middle.

“I try to keep it separate, particularly when batting.” Because I’ve probably taken a little too much responsibility as a batsman when I’ve been captain in the past, and I don’t think that’s the right approach. So I tried to put the captaincy and batting aside. At the U19 nationals, I felt like the weight of our entire batting innings was resting on my shoulder. When I’m free, I’m at my best. That would have given the team the best chance of victory. “It also helps that I have a lot of really good players around me at the Blazers,” Krishnamurthy said.

Krishnamurthy was drafted as the San Francisco Unicorns’ U23 pick in the recently concluded Major League Cricket. While he did not get a game, he made the most of his time with some of the world’s best cricketers. He was particularly influenced by the manner in which head coach Shane Watson conducted himself. He has absorbed a few tenets from Watson’s own philosophy of mental aspects of the game, which he believes has helped him improve his game at the minor league level.

“I feel like I have a lot more clarity now.” For example, in the first game of this minor league season, I was out for duck trying to step out and hit because we hadn’t lost as many wickets in the first 14 and I’d come in then. So, in order to accelerate, I got out, and I feel like a previous me, say two or three years ago, would have questioned whether that was the right approach to be that positive. And I should have taken more time, but I backed myself up two games later, so I went off the block right away, and it came off, and I got an 84. So yeah, I just feel like I have clarity,” Krishnamurthy added .

This clarity of thought stems from Krishnamurthy’s new stance routine, which was inspired by Watson once again. After getting into his stance and as the bowler lines up in his delivery stride, he now mutters a trigger phrase to get himself into the zone – ‘Hit the ball’. A routine along the lines of Ricky Ponting’s, who invariably said his trigger phrase ‘watch the ball’ before every delivery.

“I do that, and I don’t think about my own technique or anything else except the ball.” I’ve also incorporated Watson’s ACT model into my pre-game mental preparation routine. Which essentially entails remembering your A game, critiquing yourself based on your performance on a given day in comparison to your A game, and then transformation through self-talk.”

While Krishnamurthy had his fair share of revelations while rubbing shoulders with the game’s best. He took heart from defeating batsmen like Finn Allen and Marcus Stoinis with deft left arm spin, as well as Watson’s special recognition of his power hitting prowess.

“I felt like the best players’ level was definitely above me, but it felt like it was within reach in some ways.” Now I know how far behind the best players I am. So now it’s more of a motivation to do my best to get there because, for a long time, it’s been difficult to figure out where you stand in comparison to the best players, but now that they’re in the country and seeing how they match up against a lot of the players I’ve played with in the last two or three years, it’s a lot easier. It was exciting to get there and see where the ceiling is.”