By Terry O’Neill
World Cup cricket will enter its second week tomorrow with the initiated and the uninitiated hopefully in an ecstatic mood. But cricket can be a confusing game. The game was first played in England over 300 years ago. Written and pictorial records of cricket go back to the Plantagenet era. A gentleman, because only gentlemen played the game then, A R Littlewood ,wrote a book called the Earliest Known Laws of Cricket, The Code of 1744. This stated, amongst other things, that the length of the pitch was 22 yards, and so it has remained up to the present day.
Fifty over cricket, the format of the World Cup games, has developed rapidly in popularity over the last half century. The game continue to evolve especially in law changes and bat and ball development mainly in an effort to make the game more popular. These changes usually bring criticism from the staunch traditionalist. Under scrutiny currently are bat sizes, mainly brought about by memorable innings from efforts of A B de Villiers, Corey Anderson and Chris Gayle who have scored centuries off a mere thirty plus balls. Many are blaming the size of bats currently in use.Bat dimensions permitted in the laws of cricket are 96.5 centimetres in length and 10.8 centimetres in width and bats are made to suit lefthanded and righthanded batsmen . The bat that Chris Gayle uses in the current World Cup has 45 millimetre edges.
Blaming bats for the recent prolific scoring has been scoffed at by Chris Gayle and English captain Eion Morgan and come under criticism from the bat manufacturers. Allrounder Dan Christian possibly puts it into perspective when he states that the two 200s and the twice broken fastest centuries have also been in the period since the two new balls and only four fielders outside the ring rule have been in use.
Cricket is a game piled high with records and statistics. Do you believe that the following ten efforts are unbeatable? Don Bradman’s 99.4 test batting average; Muttiah Muralitharan’s 1347 international wickets; Jack Hobb’s 61,760 first class runs; Jim Laker’s test match bowling figures of 19 for 90; Wilfred Rhodes’ 4204 first class wickets; Australia’s sixteen consecutive test wins twice, once under Steve Waugh and once under Ricky Ponting; Chaminda Vaas’ one day international bowling figures of 8 for 19; Graham Gooch’s 456 runs in a test match; Phil Simmonds economy rate of 0.3 in a one day international and Chris Gayle’s 20/20 century off just 30 balls.
And just to add to the novice’s confusion there are at least eleven ways for a batsman to be dismissed. He/she can be caught, bowled, leg before wicket, run out, stumped, hit wicket, handled the ball, obstructing the field,hitting the ball twice, timed out, and retired out.
And if you want to be in a complete state of confusion the field placings such as third man, long on, long off, slips, gully, point, covers, midwicket, and fine leg will ensure that.
And then you have the wide variety of balls that can be bowled, the off break, leg break, googly, chinaman, doosra, flipper, Yorker, arm ball, slider, full toss and of course the Aussie favourite the underarm!
First Published in The North OtagoTimes