September 2, 2012

A question of cricket

Introducing our latest series, The Jury's Out, which is a highly subjective exploration of the beautiful facets in the game of cricket

When you borrow an idea, making an acknowledgement is the decent thing to do. Our latest feature series, The Jury's Out, came out of a commission for Intelligent Life, a magazine that reads as well as it looks beautiful. Over a lovely meal in London, Tim de Lisle, the magazine's editor and my former editor at, asked me a question: what did I think was the greatest sport in the world?

I am sure he knew my answer. And that's how I was drafted in to write for his magazine's Big Question feature, which had four other writers nominating their best sports. The challenge was to restrict my appreciation of cricket to 400 words (I ended up writing over 500), but it was a piece I enjoyed writing, and when the magazine came out, I enjoyed reading what the others had written.

The thing about good ideas is not merely how simple most of them appear with hindsight, but how silly they can make you feel. How did I not think of this before?

We have done the next best thing: quickly adopted the idea and tailored it to suit us. It's a concept that that didn't need a lot of tweaking, but The Jury's Out takes advantage of our medium. Each selection will run as a mini series, one writer a week, but each piece will be stacked up on top of the last to eventually form one long feature comprising four or five selections.

The inaugural theme - What is the best sight in cricket? - is a personal favourite. No other sport can offer the variety cricket can. There are fast men, slow men, swing bowlers, seam bowlers, spinners who can turn the ball using either their wrists or their fingers; there are strokemakers and there are stonewallers, there are openers and there are tailenders, and in between them a whole range; there are over 20 types of deliveries and about as many strokes, and a batsman can be dismissed in ten different ways.

It is no boast to suggest that the grand canvas of cricket produces a range of sights unparalleled in sport. And since beauty is in the eyes of beholder, it is hopeless to set about the task of nominating one sight as the definitive best.

The Jury's Out isn't a poll. It is highly subjective. We choose a question and ask the writers to bring their personal likes and idiosyncrasies into their answers. We invite you join us in this exploration of our beautiful game in similar spirit.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo