Steve Smith’s unorthodox technique of leaving the ball is a difficult art to master, says Riyan Parag who gets to share the dressing room with the Australian star while playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

While the technique defies cricketing logic and seem bizarre, Parag is a big fan of it and explains the reason behind it.

“I love the way Steve leaves the ball. You don’t just go by the looks of it but you’ve got to think why does he leave the ball like that. What is the reason?” Parag told PTI. “The bat is hanging out and body and legs are in sync, you see that not many players can leave the ball with their body. It’s a difficult art that he has mastered. Luckily, I have imbibed some of it in my Ranji season after talking to him.”

Parag was part of India’s U-19 squad that won the World Cup in 2018 and represents Assam in domestic cricket. Having made an impressive IPL bow, the 18-year-old didn’t waste any time in tapping into the minds of Smith and Jos Buttler to improve his own game.

“Of course, I have had lot of chats with both Steve and Jos Buttler. They helped me a lot during IPL. When you are batting with someone of Smith’s calibre and 30,000 people are watching you, it gets a bit tough. He would advise me to be calm and not think about the pressure,” Riyan said.

Parag did question Smith about why his leaves the ball the way he does. “It’s just not the bat (shouldering arms). He covers all the stumps while leaving the ball. That was an education for me as he told me how he does it. I tried copying him and tried leaving balls on the off-stump channel with all stumps covered. Steve told me that more I cover the ball with the body and leave it, the bowler will be forced to bowl a few on the pads which is the strength of any batsman. Then he can score runs,” he said.

Armed with tips from his illustrious Royals teammates, Parag, an allrounder went on to score 492 runs in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy season apart from taking 12 wickets as well.

“Red ball cricket for four days is enjoyable and it tests your stamina,” he said. “But what IPL does is, it raises expectations as then I would be expected to do well for Assam…But I don’t feel any pressure.”

He’s currently in Guwahati due to the lockdown and performing the routines given by Royals physio John Gloster and is awaiting for the lockdown.

He is also waiting for the lockdown to end so that he can give the one paper that’s left of his CBSE XIIth exams.

“I have already taken four papers. Hopefully, I will be able to get pass marks with what I have studied in the final paper that is left. My school has been very helpful. I couldn’t appear for my boards last year but this year students helped me with notes and teachers took care of my attendance,” he said.

Parag has left it to his mother to decide on his academic future? I guess my mom has plans in place as far as my academics go. Whatever she tells me, I will do that,” he said.