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Cricketainment.

India, July 7 -- If one is not to treat the devastation brought about by nature's fury in Uttarakhand as sensational bits of reports filed by various news agencies and come to terms with the truth that the elements of nature has its own way of getting back at 'predators' who think nothing of denuding it of its cache of resources; then we in India are in the throes of the same old 'natural calamities' that come visiting us every monsoon without exception.

People have a penchant for assimilating news that doesn't appear from the realms of reality with equal awe and weariness, but have absolutely no trouble digesting facts that seemingly are more absurd than ordinary.

Hence, the Kedarnath tragedy will cease to perturb the nation months from now and the countrymen will tend to forget the episode as another one of those natural calamities that has God's hand written all over it.

And we speak of learning lessons from these disasters! In comparison, cricketing talks, especially those with happy endings for the national team, will never grow stale. Hence the win in Birmingham will enter the annals of cricketing history as another rare feat by the national squad. People will not deter from discussing the nuances of the competition even when their grandchildren are ready to wield the willow. There definitely are lessons to be learnt from the 'absorbing' finals! That is our order of priority then! For weeks now we haven't had much to write about except for the maniacal gesticulations made out against the judiciary by our political class to keep them away from the RTI dragnet .... And cricket and more cricket! So let us this once go into the madness that characterizes cricket as an entertainment - i.e. criketainment. Squeaking home in the tightest of finishes, India clinched the ICC Champions Trophy beating England in the finals at Edgbaston.

No doubt Indians have every reason to be proud of this grand feat, but connoisseurs of the game are left with a raw taste in their mouths.

Need one comment on the frivolousness of a contest where winning of the toss is of more importance than the form of your players! The prevalent climatic conditions in England virtually reduced the championships to a game of chance where the luck factor had more to do with the winning than the cricketing skills of the teams participating.

Commencing with the warm-up matches, India's glorious run in the tournament was characterized by its near dominance over every other team. Growing in stature with every outing, the emphatic and well-scripted wins made them the favourites to win the trophy. And not a few weeks back, the cricketing brethren was the most maligned lot with allegations of spot-fixing and illegal betting tarnishing the images of players in the country. The cash-rich IPL with its penchant for drawing the best of talents across the country, with sporting franchisees going overboard to sign them on, could have easily put to shame the efforts of the exasperated national selectors who, no matter how hard they tried, were finding it next to impossible to put together a formidable combination to revive the cricketing fortunes of the nation.

It has been the story of resilience, the optimism of a man who believed in his ability to mould a motley crew of players into eventual world-beaters.

What could have been more ironic than having the same very skipper too under the scanner for some doubtable 'commercial inconsistency'? However, let us be very clear about the fact that whenever and wherever there is big money involved in any sport, the proliferation of mercenaries and mavericks is but a natural upshot. But that should not give anyone the right to judge all players in the same mould.

Nonetheless, this write-up does not purport to be a thesis on the demerits of betting in cricket. I just want to exemplify, in the passing, the stupidity of the masses when it comes to responses to incongruities that always existed in the system but now come in for the worst of criticism just for the simple reason that the media these days pounces of every chance to highlight such discrepancies. At times one would want to believe that ignorance is bliss! Coming back to our subject then! The issue is not about unacceptable moves that tend to give the game a bad name. In this instance it is all about the organizing of a tournament, making necessary arrangements for an international championship that has the creme-de-la creme of the sport in contention for top honours. In this context it could be said that the Champions Trophy held in England was a total disaster, a washout for all purposes.

With the rainy weather putting a damper on the tournament, queer permutations and combinations that were mere extensions of impossible - and at times illogical - mathematical derivatives condensed the highly competitive game into a contest of improbabilities.

While making no attempts to undermine the merits of the wellconceived Duckworth-Lewis method in cricket, one can't remain without commenting that the D/L method is basically a mathematical formulation designed to calculate the target score for the team batting second in a limited overs match interrupted by weather or other circumstances.

Where one would have hoped to see more methodical performances from players in the longer version of the one-dayers, one was indeed disappointed to see batsmen throwing caution to the winds and virtually committing hara-kiri in the quest for putting up more runs on the board on the face of the inclement weather marring their chances of winning.

But this is what happens when a 50-over game is slashed to accommodate the 'arithmetic of mean quotients' to bring about a possible result. Where purists would have liked to watch their favourite batsmen build up their innings ballby- ball before going for the 'kill' in the penultimate overs in their innings; where it would have been a joy to watch the specialist bowlers mesmerize their opponents with their fiery spells of pace and crafty spin; we were treated to humbug sights of batsmen exercising their willows in the most unorthodox of fashions and bowlers concentrating more on restricting runs than taking wickets! Cricket's governing body already has definite parameters describing various formats of its game. As an outdoor game, cricket is not a sport that could be played on the lines of, say football. A shower or a downpour hardly causes any interruption in a football match. On the contrary, it enlivens the proceedings.

In cricket on the other hand, umpteen stoppages only makes one lose interest in the game.

Moreover, the perfunctory spectacle of groundsmen deftly handling covers during and after every shower has ceased to enthrall audiences.

Besides, if ICC as the apex body of cricket, has no compunction in contracting a 50-over game into a 20-over match for as important a game as the Champions Trophy which is second in importance only to the Cricket World Cup, why should it be organizing different world cups for various formats of the game? For all purposes the India- English finals in Edgbaston was a ODI played out in the T-20 format, presumably to entertain the expectant crowds that thronged the stadium to cheer their teams. Though India won the tournament, one sincerely feels that the ICC, in its choice of time and venue for the championship, did a great disservice to the game of cricket.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

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Publication:Indian Currents
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 7, 2013
Words:1279
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