I was at the cricket today, with my son and some friends at Lord’s. Saw some fine attacking bowling (mainly by England) and some indifferent batting (mainly by India), leaving the match largely in England’s favour. A few early wickets tomorrow could change things, but I would expect this to be England’s game unless they collapsed before tea tomorrow. Maybe a part of me wanted to be there to see Tendulkar score his first Lord’s ton, on what is likely to be his last Test there; maybe a part of me wanted to be there to see Ganguly score his second century at Lord’s, or Dravid making up for his debut “failure” (I had the privilege of watching him when he scored on debut in 1996, when Dravid fell agonisingly short of matching Ganguly).
It was not to be. It was England’s day, a day with some significant rain-caused interruptions. A day when I could watch and marvel at the ingenuity and dedication of the ground staff at Lord’s, as they used a plethora of contraptions to ensure that the show went on.
The ground staff appeared to make one mistake. The new-fangled anti-rain equipment requires drainage holes to be opened up on the playing surface; there seem to be four such holes on either side of the square, at about leg-umpire depth. Each hole resembles a golf hole, although the diameter is closer to the water-sprinkler heads one sees adjacent to golf greens.
By accident or design, the holes on the Mound Stand side of the pitch were left uncovered when play resumed after tea. An I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if a ball went down one of those holes. There aren’t any rules to cater for that. And that reminded me of one of the crassest abuse of the rules cricket has ever seen, the notorious Trevor Chappell underarm ball. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is courtesy YouTube. [And on my VodPod in my sidebar as always].
Talking about rules that don’t exist, I remember entering one of those light-hearted weekend competitions in the FT many years ago. It was a time when Test cricket was in the doldrums, and the mandarins-that-be were wailing and gnashing their teeth as they watched the one-day games remain packed. And so someone in the FT asked the question “If you could introduce one new rule, or amend an existing rule, to bring the fans back to Test cricket, what would it be?” or words to that effect.
My entry was simple. Introduce a new rule. Henceforth, a batsman is not allowed to have faced more than six dot balls in succession, he must score off the seventh. In addition, he must score a boundary within every 24-ball sequence. If he fails to do either, he is given out for “Abusing the audience”.Â [I guess there weren’t that many entries, because I won the competition, receiving a wonderful bottle of bubbly as well as a book, I think it was the controversial Wolpert Nehru.]