Big Bash League 2012-13 January 2, 2013

Tracer bullets are so 2012

We need new, more colourful description for balls that travel really fast

Purple is a fine colour, the colour worn by Roman emperors, and it suits men of a certain physical stature. It doesn’t look good on Ricky Ponting, for example. Same goes for Xavier Doherty. They have the lean, hungry look of plebians. Doug Bollinger, on the other hand, looks very good in Hurricane purple. It’s far more flattering to a man of his dimensions than the canary yellow he has to flap about in for Chennai.

Watching him against Perth on Tuesday, it occurs to me that he even looks a bit like a Roman emperor, albeit one of the portlier ones who didn’t like to walk. After troubling Marcus North with a short one, then inducing Shaun Marsh to play on, he stood proudly in the huddle, accepting the thanks of a crowd of friends, Tasmanians and countrymen, looking regal, if slightly out of breath and a little sweaty.

The Flame-Grilled men from Perth did offer some resistance to the purple wind, mainly through the batting of Simon Katich. He doesn’t quite look right playing T20, but then when has he ever looked right? He was an awkward, nuggety, ugly Test match No. 6, then an awkward, shuffly, ugly Test opener, and now in the BBL he’s like a plumber in his overalls at a school prom. And yet he finds a way to score runs. In fact, translated to T20 his low-powered hitting almost passes for Gower-like insouciance.

He was undone in the end by a slower one, and if he’d been in any doubt about his dismissal as he looked back at the broken stumps, the fact that the red bails were flashing would have confirmed it. I’m not really sure this innovation adds much to the crowd experience. Anyone waiting to see whether the bails are flashing before celebrating a wicket is either an American or urgently needs to spend some quality time with their Wisden.

There wasn’t much left from Perth after Katich. Nathan Coulter-Nile was still wrestling with the dilemma of which character he wanted to play in the Scorchers’ annual pantomime, and in the end auditioned for both Dopey and Sleepy, leaving Alfonso Thomas to play Grumpy.

The comedy run-out was soon after followed by some slapstick fielding. Substitute Hilton Cartwright was determined to impress, and nothing gets the commentators purring like a bit of gratuitous rolling around in the outfield. His immaculate dive ‘n slide was straight out of the How To Look Cool Whilst Not Really Saving Any Runs textbook, but at the very moment that he was gliding to a stylish halt for the cameras, it became apparent that he’d neglected to intercept the ball with any part of his body, and since the laws of physics still apply in T20, the little round thing was still heading in the wrong direction.

Given this kind of assistance, Hobart cantered to their total with some ease, although the highlights package I watched chose to waste valuable seconds on the less than match-defining contribution of one of the Hurricanes’ openers.

“Aiden Blizzard didn’t need any help as he blasted a quickfire 12.”

A quickfire 12? Has the game really come to this? During my brief and distressing playing career, on those rare occasions that I managed to scramble into double figures with a nick, an edge and a slog before predictably holing out at backward square leg, I was almost never congratulated by my team-mates on my quickfire dozen.

And while we’re on the subject of commentary, there’s no excuse for the following description of one of Blizzard’s (two) boundaries:

“Wow, that’s come off his bat like a tracer bullet.”

Really? Tracer bullets? Aside from the fact that this ambiguity is confusing for those who take things literally, this is 2013. Munitions metaphors are so 2012. If you really must come up with some way of verbally underlining that a batsman has hit the ball very hard, despite the fact that thanks to the magic of television, we can all see that he has hit the ball very hard, then please come up with something original. How about:

“Gadzooks! That’s come off his bat like an electrified Amazonian tree frog launching himself from the branch of a mangrove tree with a jet pack!”


“Wow, the ball came off his bat faster than that cabbage juice stain came off my sofa after just one blast of Shane Watson’s Super New Stainaway Spray.”

Or possibly:

“As you can all see, the batsman has hit the ball very hard.”

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England