September 2, 2012

A question of cricket

Sambit Bal
Wormsely cricket ground, England Women v India Women, 5th ODI, Wormsely, July 11, 2012
It is no boast to suggest that the grand canvas of cricket produces a range of sights unparalleled in sport  © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by 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

Posted by 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...

Posted by Chris on (September 4, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

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

Posted by adityasharma on (September 4, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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..

Posted by 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!

Posted by Anonymous on (September 4, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

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

Posted by 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!

Posted by 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"

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sambit Bal
Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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