Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Is our cricket dumber?


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I do not know the answer to this question but I have seen and heard enough to believe that the question is justified. Our cricket, in most areas, is way behind the major teams in the world and we seem to be slipping further back, and anyone who cares should be concerned and even embarrassed.
I often hear our cricketers praising other cricketers such as Michael Hussey from Australia as being great at “rescuing” an innings, even referring to him as “Mr Cricket”. They talk about his ability to “rotate the strike”. They observe this, laud it, but I never see the emulation in our players.
They speak in almost “bragging” terms about the patience and technique of Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla from South Africa and how great they are as “thinkers”. Our cricketers recognize all this and glorify it and then they seem incapable of reproducing it. Does this inaction not raise the headline’s question?
These same cricketers who represent us speak of the accuracy and consistency of fast bowlers Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn from South Africa, Mitchell Johnson from Australia and Mohammed Shami from India. And yet our bowlers who bowl the same “inanimate” ball and are supposedly “animate” just like the bowlers mentioned cannot seem to execute the same way.
Therefore, isn’t the question merited?
And then there is the Decision Review System, concerning which I believe the statistics will show that we don’t get it right as often as those other teams. Does this suggest that we don’t understand the requirements or that we have poor judgement? Whichever is the case, the rules are the same for all teams.
Even when we speak to the news media, we don’t appear to be as prepared as the other teams. Our comments are not substantive. We use many clichés, such as “come to the party”, “back to the drawing board”, “turning the corner”, “at the end of the day”. These same clichés are repeated so many times that it seems as if we are answering different questions with the same answer.
I am also concerned with the selection criteria used for our fast bowlers to compete at the highest level. You should notice that the fast bowlers who represent Australia, England and South Africa are all over six feet tall. Even Pakistan has a fast bowler who is seven feet. I have reason to believe that this no coincidence. This is a deliberate strategy employed in order to be most hostile and intimidating.
We have, and have had for sometime, a plethora of fast bowlers who are well below six feet. Since the Bishop, Ambrose, Garner, Holding, and Walsh era, we have not had any quality fast bowler who is well above six feet.
The significance of this lies in Newton’s third law of motion which says that “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
When those tall fast bowlers at six feet six inches to six feet nine inches deliver the ball from that height on a surface which is a mere 22 yards and one yard each is taken away from where the bowler delivers and where the batsman stands, thereby reducing the distance to 20 yards, Newton’s law will allow the ball to rise up to the batsman from what is referred to in cricket as “a good length”.
The proximity of the rising ball combined with the speed gives the batsman very little reaction time, which makes it extremely difficult and uncomfortable for the batsman to handle the delivery. This strategy repeated again and again will soon result in a wicket.
Now, for the shorter fast bowlers, whom we are riddled with, to get the ball to rise up to the batsman at that same height, they have to deliver the ball further away from the batsman thereby giving the batsman far more reaction time than he would get when facing a taller bowler. This limits the hostility and intimidation.
This strategy is not unique to cricket for basketball and volleyball players are often chosen, not solely because of skill, but also because of their height, which gives them an advantage over others and allows them to be more effective.
The title question arises even at the administrative level. Surely you remember the embarrassment that was caused when five members of a West Indies team had to return home because they were too old for a tournament.
Then there was the issue with Baugh temporarily replacing Chanderpaul in the West Indies team due to an email error.
And how can we forget when India were due to play in our regional tournament at the Windward cricket ground and the Indian team claimed that they were not notified. They eventually arrived two weeks after the tournament started.
There are many more instances that justify the question. I wish I knew the answer.
• Mac Fingall is an entertainer and retired secondary schoolteacher.


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