December 21, 2011

Sixes? Spare us

Andrew Hughes
Shahid Afridi went wicketless and holed out with the bat, Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades, Big Bash League, Adelaide, December 18, 2011
Shahid goes bananas. Again. How dreary  © Getty Images
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

Saturday, 17th December I enjoy a good batting collapse. It’s like the final act of a Jacobean play, when the bodies start piling up and the plot gallops on. But like the eye-gouging scene in King Lear, it can be brutal, and I bet there are a few Sri Lankan fans who watched the denouement in Centurion through the gaps between their fingers.

Paranavitana’s plight was particularly sad. Having witnessed the demise of his captain, he spent most of his 32 minutes at the crease attempting to play at an imaginary ball that was always two inches away from the real ball. In the end he was out to an edge that was almost impossible for human senses to detect.

This was a recurring theme in the second innings; some of the dismissals were the nickiest nicks I’ve ever seen. Only just making contact like that takes real skill. Perhaps now that the ICC is going to pay the Sri Lankan players 46% of their wages, they might manage to get 46% of the bat on the ball.

Sunday, 18th December Although cricket coverage is pretty comprehensive these days, sometimes even the most dedicated fan is forced to rely on highlights. Better than nothing, of course, but they still leave you unsatisfied. It’s like being shown photographs of the best bits of a Rembrandt, or in the case of the BBL, half a Jackson Pollock.

This weekend I’ve seen seven minutes of Aussie action and I’m left with memories of fleeting and unconnected images of games I haven’t actually watched, some of them vaguely hallucinatory. Did I really see the ball for the Scorchers game being delivered by helicopter and carried out by a man in uniform? Has the credit crunch hit the Australian sports industry so hard that a ball needs an armed escort?

I’m sure I saw Afridi play one shot, but it was the one that goes straight up in the air, not the one that sails over long-on. And though Australian scientists have worked miracles to get Shaun Tait, or at least a cyborg constructed from parts of Shaun Tait, onto the field, his limb-flailing run-up is more ungainly than ever. If he were a racehorse, you’d say he definitely didn’t act on the going.

Naturally there were a lot of sixes, but frankly, after you’ve seen David Warner launch the ball over long-off once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. The Little Farmer brings the fireworks, for sure, but you can only crane your neck, peer into the sky and say, “Wow, look that!” so many times before you start looking at your watch.

And this is the sole drawback to Twenty20. A six should be as surprising as a slap in the face with a wet fish; it should be as shocking as a swear word in the middle of a church sermon. But now every player worth his salt is clearing his leg out of the way and sending everything aerial into that straight-of-midwicket corridor of predictability.

Watch too much Twenty20 and you begin to yearn for a half-timed cover drive or a carefully placed leg glance for a well-run two; anything but another full length ball launched back over the sight screen.

The penultimate delivery on the final highlights package I saw was Glenn Maxwell’s dismissal. After clubbing six boundaries, he had a half-hearted waft at Johan Botha and holed out lazily at mid-on. It was the weary swing of a man who had slogged and slogged but could slog no more.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

RSS Feeds: Andrew Hughes

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (December 22, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

Thanks all for your comments

Valerio and KM, I don't find Twenty20 in general or the BBL boring or dreary, not sure where you've got that idea. As I said, the only drawback of Twenty20 is that it can dull the impact that a six has on the viewer, an effect that is heightened when watching two minute highlights. Note the word 'only'.

KM, you say that a lot of material I come up with is about how boring cricket is. I have on occasion suggested that a particular game or innings was less than scintillating. But if I found cricket boring, I'd hardly be spending all my spare time watching it, nor would I be invited to write about it.

Posted by Shan on (December 22, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

"Perhaps now that the ICC is going to pay the Sri Lankan players 46% of their wages, they might manage to get 46% of the bat on the ball" You stole Zaltzman's thunder there!! Now he will be 195.89% more cautious with his laptop password.

Posted by Eliya Abbas on (December 22, 2011, 4:28 GMT)

The only reason I clicked on this article was coz I saw Afridi's picture! :P

Posted by Valerio on (December 22, 2011, 2:35 GMT)

You are being very harsh on the T20 stuff. I am really looking foward to the BBL. When does it start?

Posted by KM on (December 21, 2011, 11:36 GMT)

You're starting to get pretty dreary now as well to be honest. I understand a lot of material that you come up with is to do with how boring cricket is, but once you've seen one article on too much boring cricket you've seen it a thousand times.

Posted by roshan rasane on (December 21, 2011, 9:17 GMT)

A well said story of today's cricket where beauty of surpizes is getting lost.

Posted by Deb on (December 21, 2011, 8:39 GMT)

"Watch too much Twenty20 and you begin to yearn for a half-timed cover drive or a carefully placed leg glance for a well-run two; anything but another full length ball launched back over the sight screen. " precisely the sentiments of many cricket fans like myself...well done Andrew...spot on! Far too much T20 going around...the administrators are well on their way to cull the proverbial golden goose.

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

All articles by this writer