November 6, 2012

The joys of monsoon cricket

Andrew Hughes
Delhi Daredevils' Unmukt Chand watches the rain in Durban, Auckland v DD, Group A, Champions League T20, Durban, October 19, 2012
"Oh good, now the cheerleaders can have a wet t-shirt competition"  © Getty Images
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I've never lived in a country where rain has its own corner of the calendar. In England it's spread haphazardly across our four traditional seasons: Icy, Drizzly, Wet, and Wetter. Still, I think the critics of the Sri Lankan board are being unfair. Where else could they shove the New Zealand tour? It's like trying to arrange the chairs in a dining room with a leaky ceiling; someone has to sit under the damp patch.

There is a heroic quality to this perseverance in the face of impossible meteorological odds. Ploughing on with the tour regardless says something about the undaunted human spirit. It reminds us of Captain Ahab's dogged insanity; of Scott at the South Pole; of the stoicism of those people who can endure a whole episode of The X Factor without Valium.

As I've been sitting at my computer, reading ESPNcricinfo's unrivalled rain commentary, occasionally hitting "refresh" and wondering what I'm doing with my life, I've been thinking about cricket's relationship with the weather gods. Maybe we should be looking at this the John Buchanan way. Maybe we should be trying a little grey-sky thinking. Are we absolutely sure that we couldn't play in the rain?

Let's imagine for a moment what monsoon cricket would be like. With the outfield a paddling pool, fielders would be tumbling, fumbling and slipping continually, like inebriated clowns. Exquisitely timed cover-drivers would end with the ball plopping into the turf, rolling through the low tide, spraying a plume of accumulated water, as a runaway Catherine wheel spews flames, before coming to rest at silly mid-off. It could be hilarious.

Just think of all the wet-weather innovations. Since trying to bowl overarm would end with ball splatting miserably into quagmire, we might see the welcome return of the underarm method, as bowlers attempt to skim the ball over the mud patch like a pebble across a river. If the lashing rain makes it hard for outfielders to see the stumps, how about bails with flashing lights? What about a special bucket for Jonathan Trott to bail out his little trench?

Cricketers might object to monsoon cricket on health grounds, but the rest of us have to spend part of our year with soggy ankles and rain trickling down the inside of our collar, so the odd sniffle for a professional sportsman should be no problem. To compensate them, there would be a new range of wet-weather cricket gear for them to endorse. Batting helmets that sprout little umbrellas. Branded Wellington boots. Short-leg snorkels.

We could even use underwater cricket to relaunch the five-day game. Ditch the image of that flimsy, genteel pastime that comes to a halt as soon as the weather turns iffy, and let's market it as a rugged, 21st century, all-terrain sport. Test Match Cricket Extreme: We don't stop for rain (but we do sometimes stop for tea, a digestive and a rub-down).

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Weather

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Posted by Alfred on (November 6, 2012, 23:54 GMT)

Hilarious idea - one of your best posts. Perhaps not for tests, Andrew, but playing in the rain would certainly make One-Dayers interesting. And it would get rid of the Duckworth Lewis confusions.

Posted by Suvas Patel on (November 6, 2012, 18:37 GMT)

cover-drives*

Posted by Bibhash on (November 6, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

A big pool in the middle of the pitch with a ball for Sehwag to whack away till kingdom come without the fear of getting out... Also, "As I’ve been sitting at my computer, reading ESPNcricinfo’s unrivalled rain commentary, occasionally hitting “refresh” and wondering what I’m doing with my life..." your existential crises are well worth their weight in gold!

Posted by Shuvo Brahmachari on (November 6, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

It's eerie but thought of flourescent cricket gear a couple of days back myself. You know those rubber balls 5 year olds play with?! The kind that light up when you bounce them for maybe 10 seconds. How about night cricket with a difference played in pitch dark with those balls and lit up stumps!

On another note, have been toying with the idea of an all time 'Bratty 11' who've been in the news/controversies for other than cricketing reasons and came up with this list. Would love some comments/feedback. Have left out the likes of Salim Malik, Imran Farhat, Hansie Cronje, Manoj Prabhakar, Mohd. Azharuddin for obvious reasons. Had a tough time with the keeper deciding between Rod Marsh and Faroukh Engineer. But I guess Rod Marsh wins out by the sheer fact that he's an Aussie:

1. Chris Gayle 2. Geoff Boycott 3. Kevin Pietersen 4. Javed Miandad 5. Arjuna Ranatunga 6. Ian Botham 7. Rod Marsh 8. Shane Warne 9. Harbhajan Singh 10. Dennis Lillee 11. Shoib Akhtar

What do you think?

Posted by Udendra on (November 6, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

I think in the future cricket will be played in the rain. All we need is a grippable ball, and a pitch that doesn't get soaked! Fielders will have to adjust their techniques.

Posted by Lawson Dauer on (November 6, 2012, 12:12 GMT)

Your comments are a very accurate description of club cricket - certainly how it was when I used to play in the Manchester area back in the 70s & 80s!

Posted by Anonymous on (November 6, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

I love it, I love it, then cricket can come to my country

Posted by ramesh on (November 6, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

1. How does one watch on tv ? 2. What if a couple of players break their bones

Posted by AJ on (November 6, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

LOL! This was a joy to read.

Posted by kathy on (November 6, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

"Batting helmets that sprout little umbrellas." I can just imagine Jacque Kallis enduring one of those ... like a large cat trying to maintain its dignity with one of those big white post-surgery collar thingies on. "Short-leg snorkels" I can just see Dale Steyn (aka Steyn the Remover) swimming with sharks, or is it with crocodiles? After I've finished laughing at the crazy pictures these and some of your other comments bring to mind, thanks Andrew for a fun article.

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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

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