Archive for Cricket

Confused Cricket: Sport Tries to Ratchet up Excitement by Adopting Football Traditions

“Oh Lord, Thank you for all the ‘cricket ‘ on the telly, but can we please get the English Premier League back. Amen.”

OK, hopefully God is reading this and I’ll soon get to see a football match. I am at the point where I don’t care who is playing, which league they are in, or whether they have matching uniforms. The cat is out of the bag … ‘I am Rhea and I am a football addict.” I love all sports but I need at least one game of footie a week to stay sane.

I have been watching the ongoing Cricket the past few days and I especially like the parts that have been borrowed from football in an effort to make the game more exciting. Yep, cricket is trying hard to become more and more like football.

So much so, that at the opening ceremony of the ongoing Airtel Champions League Twenty20, they had Shaggy singing “Feel the Rush,” the official anthem for the Mascots (Trix and Flix) of the Euro 2008 football tournament. If that was not enough they have also borrowed the tradition of children leading the players out to the playing pitch, the only difference being that these kids don’t actually lead the players out from the tunnel but each cricketer grabs hold of a kid from the sidelines of the pitch. Hopefully, by the next tournament, the cricketing officials will get this minor detail sorted out.

Also, now cricketers get to shake hands with each other before the start of the game and line-up for a tournament anthem. This particular tournament’s anthem is an original and quite honestly it is rank bad. They should have probably stuck to swiping stuff off of football … the UEFA Champions League jingle is kinda nice. I am just saying it could be a nice way to pay homage to the UEFA Champions League, considering this whole Airtel Champions League tournament is inspired by it.

Such is Cricket’s scare of being sidelined by other more exciting sports that they have a brand new format to the game – the 20-20 format, which I lovingly call ‘The Circus.” What this format basically is supposed to do is to make the game shorter and more exciting, less predictable and less laid-back. Dare I say, a bit like football?

The great ‘bowl-out’ was the most bizarrely ridiculous thing ever invented to decide the outcome of a sporting event after two teams have proved that they are evenly matched in regulation time. It was, I think, an inebriated cricketing mind at work trying to incorporate football’s penalty shoot-out’ into the new ‘exciting’ 20-20 format. It was supposed to be some kind of a test of skill for a bowler, who had to hit a wicket while there was no batsman to defend it – like a penalty shoot-out without the goalkeeper. I still haven’t figured out how exactly this ‘test of fire’ rolled out. I will the moment I can stop rolling with laughter even thinking about it.

Was it supposed to test the bowler’s skills? Wouldn’t he be the worst bowler ever if he couldn’t even hit the stumps despite getting the batsmen out of the way who are made to sit in the pavilion to bite their nails. Imagine, Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi or even a Rio Ferdinand, not finding the back of the net when there is no goalkeeper defending. That is what the ‘bowl-out’ was in football-speak.

Pity, they scrapped it though. I think that the cricket gurus had hit the nail on the head as the bowl out had tremendous entertainment value, especially the comic kind. They had everyone in splits. It was desperate, brilliantly dumb and completely hilarious. Oh! And Basketball fans, don’t feel left out, the new Cricket skimped off you guys too, they got your cheerleaders.

This new format reminds me of the story about the Chef who was sacked. To extract revenge he decided he was going to cook up a storm and use everything he could lay his hands on in the kitchen before he left. So he put a huge cooking pot on the stove and put eggs and meat and custard powder and apples and fish and prawns and chocolate and lobsters and everything else he could find in it. Okay, that is not a real story… I made it up … my point is (and yes, I do have a point) … too many ingredients spoil the broth too.


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Of Brats and Gentlemen

I guess no one living in India can escape Cricket and if you are Indian, chances are you wouldn’t want to escape it. So, its no wonder, that when there was no Football match and while I waited for the US Open Mens Final (woohoo!), I started to watch the incredible Sri Lanka-India one day (50 over) Compaq Cup Final. Just realised, while I was typing the last sentence, that cricket is complicated and not just because of its many rules and funny sounding positions (the silly point!); but also in terms of the various formats of the game… 5-day Test cricket for the people who consider themselves ‘real’ connoisseurs of the game, the 50-over one-day match (my favourite form of cricket) and now the most recent 20-20 game (the circus!) . But what’s considered complicated by some (no game can make you feel dumb, faster than cricket), is considered great variety by others. I am glad to be from a cricketing nation ‘coz I took to the game like fish to water and its always been easy for me to understand it. I tried explaining it to a friend of mine from the Sweden and well, he was convinced that it was boring and people who liked it were boring too. This reminded me of what Richard Gere said about Opera in Pretty Woman People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul”. 
Cricket is like that too. So I am glad I was born in a country where Cricket comes with the territory.
India won the match and the Compaq trophy. Their performance was faultless. Sachin Tendulkar’s batting was super and the ballers performed wonderfully, bowling out Sri Lanka in just 47 overs and everyone was happy. There were handshakes and smiles and hugs and cheer after they had won. I was glad they won but I really didn’t like the way they behaved on the field with each other. They didn’t look like a team when the going was (somewhat) tough. Pouting, blaming, cribbing, frowning, saying nasty things to each other when they were fielding. It was like watching spoilt heiresses rather than world class sportsmen! In contrast the Sri Lankans were composed, classy and together even when they lost the game and the tournament. C’mon you guys, what is the point of  winning matches being bratty, someday, its going to catch up with you. Probably explained why India has gotten to so many finals (twenty at least) in the last few years  but only won a handful of them (three-this being the third). It probably would have been better if the classier team had won.  After all cricket is supposed to be a ‘gentleman’s game’. Or may be it’s time to introduce the gentleman to yellow and red cards.     

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