March 19, 2010

Kemp, the catch and choreography

Fielding takes cricket to the level of those other sports where the movement of the human body is an art form in itself

The physical grace of the act transcends the context © Indian Premier League
Justin Kemp's catch to dismiss Virender Sehwag in the IPL game today - as he made up for the misjudgment and managed to take it one-handed on the boundary, falling backwards – called to mind the one he took to dismiss Mohammad Sami back in November 2008. Mohammad Sami was playing for the Lahore Badshahs, of course, and that was the league that wasn't, the ICL.

That was a far more difficult catch too and what a man of Kemp's size and bearing - 6"5’ and no ballerina - was doing taking it I'm not sure. Youtube has forever saved the twisting, running, improvisational genius of that one and if it doesn't make the hair on your arms stand up as a lover of sport, then you are without a pulse.

It was - and today's was too in a reduced way - the kind of thing that transcends every context: when it happened, who the batsman was or the bowler, what format, whether the league is sanctioned or not, the player a rebel or not. It is the kind of physical grace and outlandishness that puts cricket, very briefly, into spheres occupied by sports such as football or basketball. Those are sports where the movement of the human body is an art form in itself, a canvas stuffed with the entire, beautiful spectrum of human movement: the Zidane volley in the 2002 Champions League final, a LeBron block. These are times for goosebumps.

These two sports, unlike cricket, also at least appear to be full of men and women doing things very often that normal humans cannot. Cricket at least gives the impression of accessibility, in that its two basic disciplines, batting and bowling, are very human ones. Everyone feels, after all, that they can bowl a decent ball or play a solid forward defensive. Not everyone can dunk or volley with any degree of danger to anyone except themselves.

But fielding, increasingly, is one department where cricketers are not so human anymore. The vast majority of people, for example, cannot take the kinds of catches that Kemp has pulled off. And fielding is fast becoming the discipline through which cricket can be most compelling to follow visually and when it is most alive - the sport, after all, is still a comparatively slow-moving one. For this we thank first Jonty Rhodes and now Twenty20.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on March 22, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    very few game is as entertainous & skilfull as Cricket i think.looking at the ball & at a time to hit it sometime become much difficult.Sachin have made a milestone that the world of cricket ever seen.And we should have to want that as Sachin get the owner 'SIR'.And he is able to get this.If the owner have not given to him than it will be a great mistake a happaning of shame.

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 18:10 GMT

    Well..justin is a master @ catching in boundary. He has done it in the ICL already.Moreover he is a huge hitter in any format of the game.

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    Great comment Ozzie :-)

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 8:04 GMT

    Yupp that was a heart thumping catch taken by kemp.It really turned things for chennai. Some of the catches in the kfc big bash this year were also of same standards

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    Yes of course it was a beautyand also it brought a twist in the game if shewag would have stayed there for 2 or 3overs more delhi could have easily made it in to200 and the rèsult may also be diffèrent

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    Truly amazing catch.

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    Nice one. With regard to football, while the skills of a Maradona/Zidane seem out of this world, the basics of football are pretty simple-any child can run and kick the ball, therein lies its worldwide popularity. While cricket involves a complex set of skills. The bio mechanics of fast bowling for eg are unnatural and take a huge toll on the body. Batting also involves specific strokes, feet movement and changes in balance depending upon line,length, swing/seam movement/spin. I would say cricket is more complex than any other sport. It appears more natural to us South asians since its the sport we grow up with.

  • fanedlive on March 20, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    What a catch it was to dismiss Sehwag.That was the turning point of the match because anything over 200 plus would have been difficult for Chennai Super Kings to chase.Catches truly win matches.

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