IPL April 6, 2010

The attack of the handymen, and severe llama-petting

Collingwood, Gambhir, Kallis – the Delhi-Bangalore game was short on flamboyance
37


Billy Bowden: relieving dullness and bringing people out of stupors since 1995 © Indian Premier League
 

Sunday afternoon’s game was not easy on the eye. Perhaps it had something to do with the venue. The Feroz Shah Kotla may be many things, but aesthetically pleasing it is not. This is mainly due to the looming edifice at the Tata End: a brooding construction that owes much to the Brutalist movement of the 1960s, giving the startling effect of a multi-storey car park where a pavilion should be.

Then again, perhaps it had more to do with the prominent role played by Paul Collingwood, who if he were to be represented in architectural form, would surely be a concrete bunker. And though a concrete bunker is a reassuring thing and of great value in an emergency, it is unlikely that tourists and casual pleasure seekers would queue to be given a guided tour of the Collingwood.

But a Collingwood innings is not without its pleasures, not least the resourcefulness with which he employs his favourite shot, which at first glance appears nothing more than a bottom-handed swish across the line, but on closer inspection turns out to be the Swiss army knife of cricket shots, adaptable to any circumstance. His modus operandi may appear vulgar, but that is our problem, not his. He is a natural cricketer.

As is his similarly understated captain. Gambhir doesn’t flail his arms about like a demented traffic policeman and is unlikely to be heard praising the “Delhi brand”. He is as straightforward as Sehwag, but not so otherwordly; an artisan, not a wandering guru. Interviewed by Ravi Shastri before the match, he looked like a car mechanic: slightly scruffy in his blue overalls, hands on hips, talking about the task that lay ahead as though giving an estimate on a tricky engine overhaul.

Then, on a day for wholehearted yeomen, there was big Jacques, putting in one more solid shift with bat and ball. Jacques the Ball spends much of his time looking ruefully into the middle distance, shaking his head or trudging back to his mark. Yet still he lumbers in and flings the ball hard into the earth as though he were issuing a challenge. When he was bowling to the equally pugnacious Warner, it reminded me of two cavemen settling a dispute over a mammoth carcass with a rock and a lump of wood.

But amidst all this testosterone and gruffness, as Warner, Collingwood and Kallis took care of business, there was a danger of a showbiz deficit. Luckily, Billy Bowden was in the house and the crowd loved him. I’ve been struggling for a way to describe his method of indicating a four. The best I can come up with is that it looks like a man cautiously petting a llama. He gave some other signals that, frankly, defied description. Perhaps Wisden should consider adding a Bowden appendix to their next edition, complete with diagrams, so that we can all appreciate his art.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Felix on January 28, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Was meerly pointing out Hussey’s fall from grace has dropped him into irrelevance, jrod. I don’t think I even noticed him when he was fielding.

  • YOWASLAVIA JOE BOB HIPDOWN MACARONI on April 14, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    go BILLY YOU ROCK

  • A.S.K. WHAT? on April 9, 2010, 20:46 GMT

    Hey A.S.K. calm down. That terminal illness jibe was painful, literally. I don't particularly find either Andrew or Anand very funny but if the editor (whom I'm not really a fan of, sorry lol) lets them, some people do find it funny. The only thing I don't like is how the IPL receives so much attention and coverage...Honestly guys even the Friend Provident Trophy features better cricket...Cricinfo is supposed to be a global site, not Anglocentric or Indiacentric

  • dizz on April 9, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    ".it reminded me of two cavemen settling a dispute over a mammoth carcass"- simply awesome and Andrew Please do not bring yourself down to comment on posts made by petty minded little people like A.S.K.

    Also I am so amused at the way people [probably indian] flare up when something is said about the IPL. The most hilarious topic on cricinfo is IPL.

  • Andrew Hughes on April 9, 2010, 8:59 GMT

    A.S.K., thanks once again for taking the time to comment. I can only suggest that next time you give yourself a minute or two to fully absorb what has been written, before rushing to post.

  • A.S.K. on April 8, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    Andrew,

    "my writing contains little in the way of gardening advice, theological discussion or quantam physics".... Those subjects are about as funny as finding out you have a terminal illness.

    I hope you get the message now....

    Take care, regards,

  • Anand Ramachandran on April 8, 2010, 11:08 GMT

    Andrew - do be careful who you refer to as a proper humourist. Cricinfo readers certainly don't believe that I am one - and you have now foiled my evil plans of redirecting all of them towards your pieces.

    All right - we'll just agree on Zaltzman, then. Or Sambit Bal.

  • dinosaurus on April 8, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    The one time Billy's theatrics really got the better of him was when Stuart Broad took a five-for in an Ashes Test, and Billy asked him for the ball as a souvenir. Thank heavens the officials sorted it out afterwards.

  • Decorum on April 8, 2010, 1:55 GMT

    Well said, Mr Hughes. If people don't like what AH writes, just move along to find something you do like. Posting a non-constructive criticism serves solely to irritate and just reflects poorly on the poster, in my opinion. If AH's articles have "ceased to amuse" you, why post that? Just stop reading him and move on.

    I like Billy B and I love the fact that he offends the self-declared purists. Yes, I wish he were a more competent umpire but we surely wish that of all of them. *Given* his level of competence, his antics are an interesting sideshow, I reckon.

    AH: I like your even-handedness, your wit and your eye for the ridiculous (and consequent lack of pompousness about the ultimately frivolous distraction that is cricket.) Keep it up!

  • jay on April 7, 2010, 23:18 GMT

    You guys do realize that Billy does those gestures because he has chronic joint pain. The legendary crooked finger is because it cause him pain to straighten it. He started the exaggerated gestures to loosen up his joints, and well they became part of who he is as an umpire.

  • Felix on January 28, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Was meerly pointing out Hussey’s fall from grace has dropped him into irrelevance, jrod. I don’t think I even noticed him when he was fielding.

  • YOWASLAVIA JOE BOB HIPDOWN MACARONI on April 14, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    go BILLY YOU ROCK

  • A.S.K. WHAT? on April 9, 2010, 20:46 GMT

    Hey A.S.K. calm down. That terminal illness jibe was painful, literally. I don't particularly find either Andrew or Anand very funny but if the editor (whom I'm not really a fan of, sorry lol) lets them, some people do find it funny. The only thing I don't like is how the IPL receives so much attention and coverage...Honestly guys even the Friend Provident Trophy features better cricket...Cricinfo is supposed to be a global site, not Anglocentric or Indiacentric

  • dizz on April 9, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    ".it reminded me of two cavemen settling a dispute over a mammoth carcass"- simply awesome and Andrew Please do not bring yourself down to comment on posts made by petty minded little people like A.S.K.

    Also I am so amused at the way people [probably indian] flare up when something is said about the IPL. The most hilarious topic on cricinfo is IPL.

  • Andrew Hughes on April 9, 2010, 8:59 GMT

    A.S.K., thanks once again for taking the time to comment. I can only suggest that next time you give yourself a minute or two to fully absorb what has been written, before rushing to post.

  • A.S.K. on April 8, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    Andrew,

    "my writing contains little in the way of gardening advice, theological discussion or quantam physics".... Those subjects are about as funny as finding out you have a terminal illness.

    I hope you get the message now....

    Take care, regards,

  • Anand Ramachandran on April 8, 2010, 11:08 GMT

    Andrew - do be careful who you refer to as a proper humourist. Cricinfo readers certainly don't believe that I am one - and you have now foiled my evil plans of redirecting all of them towards your pieces.

    All right - we'll just agree on Zaltzman, then. Or Sambit Bal.

  • dinosaurus on April 8, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    The one time Billy's theatrics really got the better of him was when Stuart Broad took a five-for in an Ashes Test, and Billy asked him for the ball as a souvenir. Thank heavens the officials sorted it out afterwards.

  • Decorum on April 8, 2010, 1:55 GMT

    Well said, Mr Hughes. If people don't like what AH writes, just move along to find something you do like. Posting a non-constructive criticism serves solely to irritate and just reflects poorly on the poster, in my opinion. If AH's articles have "ceased to amuse" you, why post that? Just stop reading him and move on.

    I like Billy B and I love the fact that he offends the self-declared purists. Yes, I wish he were a more competent umpire but we surely wish that of all of them. *Given* his level of competence, his antics are an interesting sideshow, I reckon.

    AH: I like your even-handedness, your wit and your eye for the ridiculous (and consequent lack of pompousness about the ultimately frivolous distraction that is cricket.) Keep it up!

  • jay on April 7, 2010, 23:18 GMT

    You guys do realize that Billy does those gestures because he has chronic joint pain. The legendary crooked finger is because it cause him pain to straighten it. He started the exaggerated gestures to loosen up his joints, and well they became part of who he is as an umpire.

  • Andrew Hughes on April 7, 2010, 12:17 GMT

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment.

    On the question of Billy, I haven't quite made up my mind. At first glance he looks silly, but then does he do any harm? His antics are perhaps just an extension of the late David Shepherd's hopping from foot to foot when the score hits 111.

    A.S.K. and one or two others have commented on the lack of humour in my writing. I am sorry that they have been disappointed, but as the heading suggests, this is a cricket watcher's diary. I can't rule out the possibility of one or two humorous moments along the way, but these tend to occur at random. Readers in search of out and out humour should check out the excellent work of proper humourists such as Andy Zaltzman and Anand Ramanchandran. In order to avoid future disappointment, A.S.K. I should also point out that you my writing contains little in the way of gardening advice, theological discussion or quantam physics.

  • Dishit on April 7, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    //When he was bowling to the equally pugnacious Warner, it reminded me of two cavemen settling a dispute over a mammoth carcass with a rock and a lump of wood. // lolzz.... keep it up! your articles are one of the best on cricket! :)

  • A.S.K. on April 7, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    About as funny as a broken leg. And Billy "look-at-me" Bowden should stick to practising holding a cap and counting to six, because he doesn't do it very well.

  • Sk.Ashikul Islam on April 7, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    I Like You.i need your full Name and your address . your family mamber name.your age your cricket life full discription

  • Rishabh on April 7, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    HAHAHA........great article. as for the feroze shah kotla, the architect should be hanged. the stadium is supposedly a new one, and is therefore going to be an eyesore for the entire coming century it seems.

  • Eldrin Dass on April 7, 2010, 0:39 GMT

    As I love to see sehvag batting, I love to see billy as umpire.

  • BK on April 6, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    Billy is Billy - how else do you promote ones self but by being different to get noticed - if his decisons are right then he stand on his head as well.An umpire first then a circus act afterwards

  • bhavin on April 6, 2010, 21:16 GMT

    Billy is such a nice guy. I feel really bad for him when his decisions go wrong and they show his face on TV. Sometimes i think maybe his histrionics get in the way of his concentration. But he is such a nice guy and one of the top umpires in the game today. Amazing that folks like Billy take up this profession and do their jobs with great joy and pride. Go Billy!

  • sandeep on April 6, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    hahaha...funny article!!

  • mohsin on April 6, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    mayb billy is a charming character but is an awful umpire...his decisions r so wrong unbelievable

  • TD_160 on April 6, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    Your articles have ceased to amuse me. That was very boring. Did not find any part of that funny.

  • chubby on April 6, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    Back to being funny!

  • raymond d`souza on April 6, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    Billy`s signalling a boundary raises many laughs and is welcome relief especially when the finish is really tight.

  • Morgan on April 6, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    I wouldn't mind all his antics; I may even be a fan. But he has to get most of his decisions right and be a good umpire first!

  • Dick Johnson on April 6, 2010, 10:29 GMT

    "Look at Me" Bowden is a rather pitiful attention-seeking egotist. You sort of know that, when he was a child, someone should have said to him, "You're showing off. Shut up!". Good umpires are noticed for their judgement, not their histrionics.

  • arslan on April 6, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    billy proves that umpiring doesnt have to be a boring job...and can even be entertaining for the crowds as well....in fact i think they should hold their own out there bcz they hav a pretty intense job and stay in the middle for the whole game and yet we hardly acknowledge their presence other than when they give a bad decision...there shud be more umpires like him...who hav an identity...other ones that come to mind r steve bucknor with the suspense-filled-late finger raising and shepherd with his hop...

  • Gimp on April 6, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    Funnily, the IPL trophy qualifies for the mammoth carcass metaphor!

  • Nikhil on April 6, 2010, 9:47 GMT

    Nice article, For Indians Billy is Dev Anand ( A Bollywood actor) of cricket

  • Ransom on April 6, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    Nice one.

  • Ashok Ganguly on April 6, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    Fantastic piece Andrew! The Collingwood and Llama petting.. too much!

  • Pawan Rao on April 6, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    Did you write this? Can you do more of this? I think there was no anger in this piece unlike the Punjab Horror Show, which was rather distasteful.

  • Indrajit Basu on April 6, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    The specialty of Billy boils down to the essential fact that he uses both of his hands and simultaneously keeps his feet mobile to indicate his decisions. This trait marks him out among the top level umpires.

  • Vinodh Nair on April 6, 2010, 7:48 GMT

    "..it reminded me of two cavemen settling a dispute over a mammoth carcass with a rock and a lump of wood" . well well well. thats as close to wodehousian as it can get. keep it going Hughie boy.

  • Christy on April 6, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    Billy is a character whom the crowds love - more such are reqd in Cricket, for the sake of the spectators at least..

  • Mick on April 6, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    I'm a fan of Billy, he isn't the greatest decision maker, but who can begrudge a bit of theatre out there in the middle! He gets people talking, which is usually a good thing.

  • Satish on April 6, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    For once,we have an article by Mr.Hughes which is atleast funny in parts!

  • JyNx on April 6, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    Simply hilarious!

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  • JyNx on April 6, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    Simply hilarious!

  • Satish on April 6, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    For once,we have an article by Mr.Hughes which is atleast funny in parts!

  • Mick on April 6, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    I'm a fan of Billy, he isn't the greatest decision maker, but who can begrudge a bit of theatre out there in the middle! He gets people talking, which is usually a good thing.

  • Christy on April 6, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    Billy is a character whom the crowds love - more such are reqd in Cricket, for the sake of the spectators at least..

  • Vinodh Nair on April 6, 2010, 7:48 GMT

    "..it reminded me of two cavemen settling a dispute over a mammoth carcass with a rock and a lump of wood" . well well well. thats as close to wodehousian as it can get. keep it going Hughie boy.

  • Indrajit Basu on April 6, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    The specialty of Billy boils down to the essential fact that he uses both of his hands and simultaneously keeps his feet mobile to indicate his decisions. This trait marks him out among the top level umpires.

  • Pawan Rao on April 6, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    Did you write this? Can you do more of this? I think there was no anger in this piece unlike the Punjab Horror Show, which was rather distasteful.

  • Ashok Ganguly on April 6, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    Fantastic piece Andrew! The Collingwood and Llama petting.. too much!

  • Ransom on April 6, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    Nice one.

  • Nikhil on April 6, 2010, 9:47 GMT

    Nice article, For Indians Billy is Dev Anand ( A Bollywood actor) of cricket