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
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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 wisden.com, 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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sekhar Ganapathy on December 4, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    Dear Sir, drawing your attention : VVS's 3 ODIhundreds inside a week (MON, WED&FRI)in Australia against hosts and Zimbabwe; his match winning knocks in Pakistan,ensuring series' wins(TEST&ODI). His outfield catches and runs against NZ at home. Yet being left out of 2 world cups in favour of ICL rebel Dinesh Mongia. I know the selectors who were biased against him, especially after he underperformed in WI as captain of India A team.This is actually addressed to Ananthnarayanan on his VVS analyses but I am unable to get it though to him

  • abid shah on September 4, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    inzimams inside out shot for a six in wc semi final against nz and also jonti rhodes dismissing inzi run out in same tournament...

  • Chris on September 4, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Watching the stumps fly from a magnificent yorker by Steyn or Lee

  • adityasharma on September 4, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    sourav ganguly's cover drive or a backfoot punch..nothing can b as sweetly timed..

  • Tahir Shah on September 4, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    I agree with Usman Salahuddin. Absolutely right. It not only involves the beauty of the catcher itself, but the way the appealing way the bowler induces such shot from the batsman. Beside this another beauty that I ever saw was when Shoaib cleaned up Dravid and Sachin in successive deliveries in Kolkata and the crowd was stunned to silence. What a view that. Also watching in action, Andrew Flintoff, Gilchrist, Warne, Akram, Waqar, Lara, Sachin, Steyn, Gayle and many more is nothing short of scenes worth watching.

  • shailesh on September 4, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    @shobit...liked ur writting and i acc to me West Indies armory with red bullets attacking on Indian batsman with sachin and dravid ,with their fearsome attitude ,getting on top of the ball and driving through cover..

  • Noman Yousuf on September 4, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    Well there are too many sights that makes our sport so spectacular - from the first morning of a Test match at Lord's to a fast bowler like Michael Holding or Waqar Younis charging in, to flying catches behind the wicket, to a silken cover/straight/on drive, to an audacious hook to an extremely fast bowler to spinner varying his flight on a thread - so it's very very difficult to choose one. But if I was forced to choose one, then it would be probably a fast bowler uprooting the stumps of an established batsman through a defensive stroke; there's nothing like it! Cheers!

  • Anonymous on September 4, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    Sir I.V.A Richards walking up to bat !

  • Rajat on September 4, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    There have to be plenty of contenders for this:

    Top class genuine fast bowler bowling at full tilt on a fast/bouncy pitch, against a batsman with the technique to stand up to it. Not seen so much anymore unfortunately, but Steyn vs Tendulkar in South Africa a few years ago was cricketing heaven.

    Top class spin bowlers bowling in the fourth innings, 6/7 men around the bat, weaving magic the batsman has no clue about.

    Batsman injured by a fast bowler, but continueing to bat anyway.

    But if I had to pick just one:

    I has to be on the fifth day, fourth innings, with all four results possible. Every single being cheered by the crowd, people jumping in their seats and holding their heads for every "almost" wicket, the last 3 batsmen hanging in there - without the technique, skill, or talent to survive, but just a single-minded determination to do so anyway. That's what test cricket is all about!

  • venkatt on September 4, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    Dale Steyn vs Tendulkar at Newlands in the New Year Test of 2011 is the definition of "Great Sights in Cricket"

  • Sekhar Ganapathy on December 4, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    Dear Sir, drawing your attention : VVS's 3 ODIhundreds inside a week (MON, WED&FRI)in Australia against hosts and Zimbabwe; his match winning knocks in Pakistan,ensuring series' wins(TEST&ODI). His outfield catches and runs against NZ at home. Yet being left out of 2 world cups in favour of ICL rebel Dinesh Mongia. I know the selectors who were biased against him, especially after he underperformed in WI as captain of India A team.This is actually addressed to Ananthnarayanan on his VVS analyses but I am unable to get it though to him

  • abid shah on September 4, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    inzimams inside out shot for a six in wc semi final against nz and also jonti rhodes dismissing inzi run out in same tournament...

  • Chris on September 4, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Watching the stumps fly from a magnificent yorker by Steyn or Lee

  • adityasharma on September 4, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    sourav ganguly's cover drive or a backfoot punch..nothing can b as sweetly timed..

  • Tahir Shah on September 4, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    I agree with Usman Salahuddin. Absolutely right. It not only involves the beauty of the catcher itself, but the way the appealing way the bowler induces such shot from the batsman. Beside this another beauty that I ever saw was when Shoaib cleaned up Dravid and Sachin in successive deliveries in Kolkata and the crowd was stunned to silence. What a view that. Also watching in action, Andrew Flintoff, Gilchrist, Warne, Akram, Waqar, Lara, Sachin, Steyn, Gayle and many more is nothing short of scenes worth watching.

  • shailesh on September 4, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    @shobit...liked ur writting and i acc to me West Indies armory with red bullets attacking on Indian batsman with sachin and dravid ,with their fearsome attitude ,getting on top of the ball and driving through cover..

  • Noman Yousuf on September 4, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    Well there are too many sights that makes our sport so spectacular - from the first morning of a Test match at Lord's to a fast bowler like Michael Holding or Waqar Younis charging in, to flying catches behind the wicket, to a silken cover/straight/on drive, to an audacious hook to an extremely fast bowler to spinner varying his flight on a thread - so it's very very difficult to choose one. But if I was forced to choose one, then it would be probably a fast bowler uprooting the stumps of an established batsman through a defensive stroke; there's nothing like it! Cheers!

  • Anonymous on September 4, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    Sir I.V.A Richards walking up to bat !

  • Rajat on September 4, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    There have to be plenty of contenders for this:

    Top class genuine fast bowler bowling at full tilt on a fast/bouncy pitch, against a batsman with the technique to stand up to it. Not seen so much anymore unfortunately, but Steyn vs Tendulkar in South Africa a few years ago was cricketing heaven.

    Top class spin bowlers bowling in the fourth innings, 6/7 men around the bat, weaving magic the batsman has no clue about.

    Batsman injured by a fast bowler, but continueing to bat anyway.

    But if I had to pick just one:

    I has to be on the fifth day, fourth innings, with all four results possible. Every single being cheered by the crowd, people jumping in their seats and holding their heads for every "almost" wicket, the last 3 batsmen hanging in there - without the technique, skill, or talent to survive, but just a single-minded determination to do so anyway. That's what test cricket is all about!

  • venkatt on September 4, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    Dale Steyn vs Tendulkar at Newlands in the New Year Test of 2011 is the definition of "Great Sights in Cricket"

  • Cauldric on September 3, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    First morning of a test match, One early wicket down on a bouncing, seaming pitch. About 4-5 men feilding alongside the keeper (slips+gully)plus another a few yards infront of the batsman arms clasped and wearing a helmet. At one end of the pitch is a 90mph bowler steaming in and at the other, the likes of a khallis, dravid, lara, Pontin, Inzamam, knowing that they have to mix agression and defence. Whether u support the batsman or the bowler, these moments are to die for.

  • Usman on September 3, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    all of the bellow are real great cricket moments. but i think the best moment of a cricket match (wich happens quite rarely) is a HATRICK!!! thats just unbelievable. to hit thrice in three! like what are the odds! in in a million dilivaries? and another fact is that no ordinary bowler gets hatricks. its always the best. murali, wasim, waqar, malinga, pollock, hadlee, donald, Imran Khan.. quite a few spinners too saqlain, harbajan, ajmal (i think), warn, kumble, saqlain, afridi, jayasuriya, swann, vittori..... aah! the list of greats go on.

    Hatricks are moments no bbody can ever guess wen its going to happen. countless ammounts of times bowlers get doubles.. but rarely a triple! i think THE HATRICK is the most majical moment campaired to all the others mentioned here.

    which is y its called a HAT-TRICK :)

  • Habib on September 3, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    In a fourth innings , Number 07 or 08 coming to crease at start of last hour of Final day. Neither rare nor common.

  • ram on September 3, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    Best of the Best was

    Miadad Sixer at UAE...and Kapil Dev looking at Bowler!!!

  • Umesh Kesavan on September 3, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    Best sight in cricket is seeing the entire fielding team clap and appreciate an opposition team batsman's century !

  • Chris on September 3, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    It's hard to go past Shane Warne when he had a batsman tied down. Every ball seemed to get past the bat, and you never knew quite what was going to happen next.

    More generally, an elegant, wristy player like Martyn or Laxman when they were in the zone. Shots flying to the boundary with barely any visible effort whatsoever.

  • G V Ramanan on September 3, 2012, 16:28 GMT

    the best sight not one many -1. Viv Richards lazy walk to the middle - his pull shot, cover drive. 2. Michael Holding's Rolls Royce run up 3. G R Vishwanath's Square cut 4.Alan Knott's leg side dive. 5. Richard Hadlee's bowling. 6.Imran Khan's copy book style batting. 7. Alvin Kallicharan's late cut. 8.Dean Jones drives on on and off sides 9.David Gower's effortless batting. 10.Andy Roberts bowling at his full run up. 11. Ian Bothams swing bowling.

  • Praxis on September 3, 2012, 15:23 GMT

    I wanted to elaborate on my last comment on this post. Don't know about the best sight, but the most exciting sight in cricket is a fast bowler in full flow. It was Dale Steyn who restored my faith in test cricket around 2009. Since then I've followed almost every test series on TV or online.

  • Tybalt on September 3, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Best sight in cricket? After a difficult couple of overs fending off a hostile spell, the throat ball is hooked away for six.

  • c-rashed on September 3, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    The best sight? Bespectacled Zaheer Abbas square driving.

  • Timmuh on September 3, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    I have to agree with Osman Samiuddin, but not so much for the catch itself as they way even the best batsmen can get into trouble against good bowling. There's nothi$ng quite like seeing a bowler square a batsman up and beat the edge a few times, keep doing his thing despite bad luck, and finally get rewarded.

  • Ram on September 3, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    The best is not one, there are couple of them in fact, just taliking about what I have seen myself: Kapil's jump before delivering the ball, Tendulkar's Cover drive, Ponting's aggression, Dravid's straight drive, Warne's ball pitched 2 feet out-side leg stump only to turn in and beat the batsman to rattle the timber, Lakshman's on-drive of a ball which was pitched a foot out-side off stump, Lee's bouncers, Ganguly's aggressive off-side play, Donald's beautiful run-up many many more ......

  • Harsh on September 3, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    For me the best sight is laxman's backfoot punch, minimal effort put in, sheer timing and brilliance, No body expecting the ball to even cross the pitch area, still the fielder starts to chase the ball just to be fooled by the shot selection and ball racing to the boundry.

  • Harpreet on September 3, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    The best site in cricket was Murali. Those magnificent eyes, the open body action, the ball launched high into the air, the batsman watches, unsure whether to move forward or back, the whrrr sound, I imagine as it moved past, landing into the turf, explosion of dust and then OUT. pure magic!

  • shahoo on September 3, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    shohaib akhter dismissing sachin for a golden duck....

  • Leonard Alwis on September 3, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    If the know-all Cricket Commentators and Writers are anything to go by, the best Sight in cricket is probably Hindsight.

    If we go by the depths of monetary greed that things like T20 leagues and ad-hoc one day games have pushed cricket to over the past few decades, then the best sight would have been Foresight.

    And finally, if the behaviour of most players are anything to go by - what with the match-fixes, refusals to call a catch or walk on a wicket in what is really nothing more than a game - then the best sight is probably Insight.

    very little of all three, which makes such sights all the more precious i suppose.

  • Sudhanshu on September 3, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Ganguly Charging down and hitting Sixes will always remain the best sight for me. The Man who gave aggressiveness of Indian Cricket.

  • Vinay kumar on September 3, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    The 9 slips, a wicket keeper and a bowler by the fielding side australia against zimbabwe in a test match

  • Praxis on September 3, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Batsman being hit by a fast & sharp bouncer.

  • Shobhit on September 3, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    There are too many to be singled out. However, for the sheer chill that it sends across my spine, I would love to watch any of them-Holding, Marshal, Steyn, Donald-in an overcast morning on something like green WACA, holding red cherry in his hand, steaming in with full vigour. Then goes the red bullet with the menacing pace eager to make hole into the that slightly-green turf waiting so patiently to embrace it: what a paradox! unsurpassed by nothing but the unrequited love. Then the cherry kisses the turf malevolently and heads towards its real destination which it is programmed for: the ever so visible three sticks that share some of the blame for the bowlers's wrath in seeing them intact. Then comes the consummation. The inchoate is finally initiated. Cherry has found the purpose of its life. Stumps are shattered through the gate between willow(would love this willow to be adorning the hands of someone of Dravid's technique or of Tendulkar's brilliance) and pad. Nirvana is attained

  • Ray W on September 3, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    A crisp, sunny early spring morning at The Oval, a smattering of spectators, the hum of the city in the background, the bowler beginning his run-up - and the new season is underway!

    (Footnote: this scenario was always played out at Lord's until they shipped that fixture off to Dubai.)

  • Anonymous on September 3, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Shane Warne.

  • nikhil sharma on September 3, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    sachin tendulkar's straight drive and on drive is best sight for me

  • dr.shamsh shaikh on September 3, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    the best sight for me is the first morning of a test on a bouncy and seaming wicket with wasim akram and waqar younis bowling.

  • Zimbo on September 3, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    For any sport, the higher the adrenaline, the more gripping the action. Every sport has its adrenaline peak periods, and for me that time in cricket is watching the battle between fielder and batsman during a potential run out. The batsman making a flat out run followed by a lunge for a chalk marking on the ground (making sure that the bat is on the ground at the time), pitted against a fielder throwing the ball as quick as possible with the strength and accuracy of hitting three bits of wood sticking out the ground.

  • Faridoon on September 3, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    The best sight in cricket for me is fast bowler that charges in full steam and then leaps at the end of the run up, front foot pounding the crease while the arm comes over the shoulder at lightning speed to hurl a missile at the poor batsman.

    Teh best examples of this have been the bowling actions of Marshall, Holding, Waqar, Shoaib, Lee, Donald, Steyn, Bond, Thomson, Lillee etc. It's my favourite sight in cricket. I also quite enjoy watching Tino Best bowl just because of the effort he puts in; still some way for him to go before being mentioned alongside the above but I still like his action.

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  • Faridoon on September 3, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    The best sight in cricket for me is fast bowler that charges in full steam and then leaps at the end of the run up, front foot pounding the crease while the arm comes over the shoulder at lightning speed to hurl a missile at the poor batsman.

    Teh best examples of this have been the bowling actions of Marshall, Holding, Waqar, Shoaib, Lee, Donald, Steyn, Bond, Thomson, Lillee etc. It's my favourite sight in cricket. I also quite enjoy watching Tino Best bowl just because of the effort he puts in; still some way for him to go before being mentioned alongside the above but I still like his action.

  • Zimbo on September 3, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    For any sport, the higher the adrenaline, the more gripping the action. Every sport has its adrenaline peak periods, and for me that time in cricket is watching the battle between fielder and batsman during a potential run out. The batsman making a flat out run followed by a lunge for a chalk marking on the ground (making sure that the bat is on the ground at the time), pitted against a fielder throwing the ball as quick as possible with the strength and accuracy of hitting three bits of wood sticking out the ground.

  • dr.shamsh shaikh on September 3, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    the best sight for me is the first morning of a test on a bouncy and seaming wicket with wasim akram and waqar younis bowling.

  • nikhil sharma on September 3, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    sachin tendulkar's straight drive and on drive is best sight for me

  • Anonymous on September 3, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Shane Warne.

  • Ray W on September 3, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    A crisp, sunny early spring morning at The Oval, a smattering of spectators, the hum of the city in the background, the bowler beginning his run-up - and the new season is underway!

    (Footnote: this scenario was always played out at Lord's until they shipped that fixture off to Dubai.)

  • Shobhit on September 3, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    There are too many to be singled out. However, for the sheer chill that it sends across my spine, I would love to watch any of them-Holding, Marshal, Steyn, Donald-in an overcast morning on something like green WACA, holding red cherry in his hand, steaming in with full vigour. Then goes the red bullet with the menacing pace eager to make hole into the that slightly-green turf waiting so patiently to embrace it: what a paradox! unsurpassed by nothing but the unrequited love. Then the cherry kisses the turf malevolently and heads towards its real destination which it is programmed for: the ever so visible three sticks that share some of the blame for the bowlers's wrath in seeing them intact. Then comes the consummation. The inchoate is finally initiated. Cherry has found the purpose of its life. Stumps are shattered through the gate between willow(would love this willow to be adorning the hands of someone of Dravid's technique or of Tendulkar's brilliance) and pad. Nirvana is attained

  • Praxis on September 3, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Batsman being hit by a fast & sharp bouncer.

  • Vinay kumar on September 3, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    The 9 slips, a wicket keeper and a bowler by the fielding side australia against zimbabwe in a test match

  • Sudhanshu on September 3, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Ganguly Charging down and hitting Sixes will always remain the best sight for me. The Man who gave aggressiveness of Indian Cricket.