I know that Shiv Chanderpaul takes guard. Who doesn't? It takes him about five minutes for a start, chipping a hole into the ground with a bail and the top of his bat handle.
It obviously works, too, judging by the amount of crease-time it precedes, but you have to wonder how visible an indentation with the diameter of a bail-end is amongst all the great scrapings and scratchings and bulldozings that go on.
But why he does is interesting. Taking guard must have a different function for Chanderpaul, who doesn't put his bat or much else anywhere near the mark. Nor do Kevin Pietersen or Andrew Strauss, who grounds his bat about six inches outside off stump, and neither do increasing amounts of others.
Batting is ritualistic, as are most things that demand repetition, so there's an element of ritual in taking guard. It buys you a minute or so before you face up; it allows you to bang the bat into the crease and establish yourself physically.
The only thing it must do is get you to a position on the crease where you can judge an off stump line. The old tenet of taking guard was that your head should be over off, and Chanderpaul, Pietersen and Strauss all get there. Anything wide of their eyeline they can leave comfortably. Or in Pietersen's case, hit it through midwicket.
Yesterday in Wellington, Tendulkar and Dravid put on 90. No pair in the history of batting has scored more international runs between them, and they've done it old school. Neither move before the ball's bowled, and watching Dravid leave the ball is a masterclass in batting, one of the small pleasures of the game. Making him play before he's got twenty can be regarded as a moral victory for the bowler.
Ravi Bopara said recently that he'd spent 45 minutes talking to Tendulkar about batting when they were in India before Christmas. 'What did he say,' he was asked.
'Oh, he just talked about head and hands, getting them in the right place'.
Head and hands. There you go. Not everyone can be Pietersen or Chanderpaul, but everyone can try that. From the mouth of the master.
Now, one please umpire.