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Some Cricketing Questions – With Tongue Firmly In Cheek

It does not matter if you do not know how to drive a cricket ball to covers or to mid wicket. You can sweep anything and everything and guess what, its immaterial where it goes or even where it hits the bat. In fact, we are soon going to have bats which look the same from all sides. Baseball did not evolve from cricket, its the other way round you know.

In “Freakonimics”, an absolutely brilliant book, Steven Levitt sees economics as a science, which has “excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions”. For Instance:

– If drug dealers make so much money why do they still live with their mothers?
– Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?
– Do real estate agents have the client’s best interest at heart?
– How does a homeless man in tattered clothing afford $50 headphones?

I was very intrigued, not by the specific questions he posed but by the idea that there was “a serious shortage of interesting questions.” Why don’t people ask questions that are interesting and, as it will invariably turn out, relevant.

People just don’t seem to care.

I decided to make a list of questions of my own and this is what I came up with. The subject I chose wasn’t economics but, as you may have guessed, cricket, specifically, twenty over cricket.

This is what I came up with.

1. If the ‘dil-scoop’, the slog-sweep (in the general direction of the onside), the reverse-sweep (in the general direction of the offside), the slash (aimless in intent but ending up in the general direction, clockwise between third man to third-man) and the front foot hook (in the direction of the stars right above the batsman, wicket keeper or bowler) are the only shots remaining in the game, how long before batting orders will be redundant?

2. If a good length ball, a full toss and a long hop are all equally likely to get a wicket, how long before captains realize they always have ten bowlers (plus a keeper) irrespective of what players they select?

3. If boundaries get smaller and smaller, how long before power play will mean seven fielders in close catching positions and the rest on the boundary to stop the singles?

4. If the great fielding, the shorter version’s gift to the game, is going to mean no more slip catches and fifty percent of all skiers to be dropped, how long before Chandrasekhar claims he was as good a fielder as the best in the modern game?

5. If fielders are never going to pick up a ball on the run and throw in one quick motion over the stumps and instead dive the moment they are within ten feet of any cricket ball (sometimes stop the ball and wait for the second fielder to pick it up and throw), how long before we realize we have been taken for a royal con when we were told that you will soon see a mushrooming of Jonties?

6. If the test match (and ODI) hating Indian fan, for whose personal viewing the game is increasingly being tailored (or so we are made to believe), decides he does not like watching even a T-20 game where there is no Indian team participating, how long before the rest of the world realize that they can either let India win all cricket trophies or say good bye to the millions they hope to make from playing the game?

7. If crowds are going to get bored even of the twenty over game (and their past record in this regard is dubious), how long before another Lalit Modi decides that a ten (maybe five) over game is the way forward for globalizing the game? And then will a playoff in the case of a tie mean a one-ball slugfest?

8. If India are going to drop Dravid because he isn’t good enough for the one day game and pick youngsters then why don’t they drop the youngsters because they are not good enough for any format of the game when faced with good bowling and/or bowler friendly conditions? Then again, how long before we have two separate Indian teams? One with over-35 world-class batsmen to play in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England and the other with under-25 mediocrities to play in, say, Bangladesh?

9. Which businessman hires people and for four weeks of light workload pays them ten times their current annual salaries and yet ends up being hailed a commercial genius?

10. If the Indian politicians who run the game, in almost all the regional centers and at BCCI, have so much of the interest of the game (and its followers) at heart, how come they are such a reviled lot when performing their real jobs – running the country? How come they, who everyone agrees have no love for their country, their people and are interested in the good of just one person, themselves, are expected to work in honorary capacities for the good of a mere game?

Unfortunately, there are no Steven Levitts to ask the questions from those who run the game. Those who are in the position to ask some interesting and uncomfortable questions, unfortunately, have far too much at stake themselves as administrators, coaches, journalists, commentators or a combination of two (or more) these jobs.

Why should they not make hay while the sun shines or till the game lasts? And how long will it last by the way?

Ah! another interesting question but then, as I said earlier, people just don’t seem to care.

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