Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cricketing notes

Fascinating stuff; not much for me to say, just read it... (what other link gives you racism at Oxford, a Sri Lankan coup, a man cleared of murder, and a glorious innings at Chepauk?)

Aside: if you like pieces on (all too often little remembered) cricketers, check out the late (and lovingly remembered) Sujit Mukherjee's An Indian Cricket Centuryincluding a fascinating (and depressing) piece on the communal teams and tournaments of the Raj-era, as well as India's tearaway speedsters Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh (about whom Wally Hammond famously said that his deliveries "came off the pitch like the crack of doom", and who died of illness when he was only 29), though my favorite work by Mukherjee (a man of many talents, who played first-class cricket and subsequently translated various literary works from Bengali into English, including Rabindranath Tagore's Gora and Buddhadeva Bose's The Book of Yudhishthir-- some excerpts from the latter here) is The Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer-- the title says it all, and serves as a reminder that the vast majority of the game's practitioners remain, necessarily, obscure.

...and as I write these words, the Pakistan-England test series has just ended: on a fifth day pitch that had absolutely nothing in it for either fast bowlers or spinners, and on which a draw seemed certain (England had lost only two wickets at lunch, though some of that was due to umpire Darryl Hair's penchant for missing plumb lbws), the match was over seventy-three balls after lunch!  That is, England lost their last 8 wickets for only 43 runs. The collapse was begun by Danish Kaneria, who took three quick wickets (indeed he should have gotten a hat-trick but Hair--continuing his pre-lunch tendency--turned down an lbw appeal that was plumb, giving Geraint Jones a brief reprieve). Shoaib Akhtar then joined the party, and ended up with 5 wickets for the innings.  Akhtar has for me been the cricketer of the series: certainly Inzamam-ul-Haq may be said to have put his team in winning positions by virtue of his batting, but only because his bowling artillery possessed the ability to transcend his unimaginative (on occasion even spineless, as at Faisalabad) captaincy-- and on what planet does it make sense for him to bat at number five???.  Akhtar displayed great intelligence and cunning throughout this series, and got a number of wickets by out-thinking the batsmen: in this most recent innings alone, three of his five wickets were the result of well-disguised slower deliveries that would start out almost at beamer height and then dip alarmingly to trap his victims leg before; I cannot recall Akhtar using variations in pace to such effect as he has in this series (the three slower delivery wickets in England's second innings at Lahore were about 68-70 mph, and typically followed deliveries clocking 90 mph)...

...all of which means that the upcoming India-Pakistan test series promises to offer a fascinating contest...let's hope it's not a heartbreaking one for me (Bangalore still smarts)...

No comments: