May 27, 2014

Ian Bell is better than Sachin Tendulkar

Or why spectators at Chester-le-Street were denied the pleasure of indulging in sarcastic cheering

Enter "last man not standing" joke here © Getty Images

It's a reasonably well-known fact among web publishers that a large proportion of internet users generally don't read anything beyond the headline of an article. Plenty of people won't even read the first sentence. They just react, as if all the writer wanted to say was being expressed in that handful of words in bold type at the top of the page.

I thought of this phenomenon this week. I was away from home, out of touch, and wanted to check the final score in the second one-day international between England and Sri Lanka.

This website went with "Morgan condemns 'worst' display". The BBC opted for "England suffer humiliating defeat" and "England cannot play worse - Morgan".

That's three headlines, but I've seen enough England cricket over the years to feel pretty confident that I could fill in the gaps. Just as I can hear a radio commentator name a shot and see the batsman play it in my mind's eye, so I can sit back and experience an England defeat without being given the tiniest sliver of detail.

It was hardly likely to be that they completely failed to defend a respectable total. No, I was at Old Trafford when Australia bowled them out for 86 - I know how this goes. Humiliating England one-day defeats always involve a massive collapse when chasing.

The textbook humiliating England one-day defeat sees a constant oscillation between being seen to play responsibly and being seen to take responsibility, but with nothing in between. When a few wickets have fallen, the incoming batsman makes a big show of "not giving it away" by dead-batting everything he can't justifiably leave.

This batsman will either atrophy at the crease, leaving the next man in with a ludicrous run rate to deal with, or he'll survive for long enough that he has to try to deal with the same situation himself. However, at no point will there be a gradual shift from defence to attack. Instead, it will be as if a switch has been flicked between deliveries. Once the "playing responsibly" box has been ticked, whoever is on strike will suddenly launch a series of wild slogs towards cow corner in an effort to tick the "taking responsibility" box.

They might hit one four. The crowd will then think, "Oh, maybe this could be the start of something", shortly before cursing themselves for being taken in. Clearly - clearly - the batsman was only moments away from skying one, missing one, or running someone out.

If you do have the misfortune to be in the crowd during one of these matches, your primary form of entertainment will be the sarcastic cheer. Depending on the scenario, this can be used for boundaries, singles, leg-byes, survival or really minor landmarks, such as when the total reaches 50 or 100.

The exact nature of the sarcastic cheering was the one thing I couldn't really glean from headlines alone. I had to check the scorecard and I was horrified to discover that the ticket-buying public were denied the opportunity to raucously celebrate 100-up. The fans deserve better.

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mohit on May 28, 2014, 5:37 GMT

    Jeez! some of the guys like Bhuvanesh and Rakshit are making it embarrassing to be an Indian. Come on people, use the top floor of your anatomy! On the other hand, it goes on to show the intelligence or the lack of it of SRT fans! Classic marketing ploy Alex, though would have been better if your first para was the last one, would have been a classic trolling!

  • Karthik on May 28, 2014, 2:57 GMT

    @Indika - let us know when you have it figured out.

  • Adrian on May 28, 2014, 1:54 GMT

    Ha ha. It had nothing at all to do with Bell or Tendulkar. Classic trolling.

  • Nadeem on May 28, 2014, 1:45 GMT

    you really got my attention with this heading. awesome.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    Its a marketing and advertising ploy and worked brilliantly for your article. Nice read also!!

  • ESPN on May 28, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    Pls don't make me laugh!

  • shivaraj on May 27, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    Rarely do i get to read a blog in cric info. I bit the bullet this time. Well played sir

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2014, 19:41 GMT

    So in Cricket all it takes is just a bit of criticism in the name of Tendulkar to get a fair bit of attention!! :)

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    Headline caught my eye, but dear Mr Bowden you were not successful in keeping me read the article as it was pretty clear what your were trying achieve after first paragraph, it should have been last :)

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2014, 15:55 GMT

    Actually, a couple of guys are saying that Bell is indeed better than Tendulkar. Well, I'd say that you are like 14 years old who haven't seen the Tendulkar phenomenon before 2002, and also, have very limited knowledge of cricket.

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