The Heavy Ball

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How to talk about cricket like an expert without knowing anything

So you know the basics of what to say. Here's how to take it to the next level

Sidin Vadukut

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A
Tony Greig interviews Shahid Afridi at the toss, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Twenty20 International, Dubai, November 12, 2009
"Yes, Tony, you're a giant, but at least two inches is accounted for by your hat" © Associated Press
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Imagine our surprise when an old friend of this column sent us an email earlier this week. Once again I reproduce the letter here in its authentic entirety.

My Adonis,

In May 2011 you taught me everything I know today about cricket. Until then I had been a complete cricket virgin with no cognisance of the basics, nuances, strategies or retired Englishmen who make this sport great. But you, Vaducute, helped me deal with my cricketing virginity.

Today the evenings are not rare in the Jolie-Pitt household when we spend many a merry hour enjoying live and even taped cricket matches. Occasionally we also watch non-fiction documentaries such as Fire in Babylon, and well-acted feature films such as Best of Sharjah 1980-1990. And for this I cannot thank you enough. (I can. Wink. But you are never on Skype.)

But today I write to you with a freshly heaving bosom. (See attachments.) Now that I have started chatting about cricketing topics with a variety of other fans online, on social networks and in private gatherings, I am once again beginning to feel insecure. This is because many other people seem to be experts at cricket analysis while I am just an amateur.

For instance, I might make some remark about how Rohit Sharma's or Raiphi Gomez's cover drive has exquisite balance. But within moments some expert will say how, in fact, their technique is very poor and that the misalignment of their leading forearm with their rotating cuff is indicative of poor swing calisthenics.

This inferiority complex is killing me. Can you please teach me how to deal with such experts and analysts? How can I also learn to speak like them?

I am prepared to reward you handsomely.

Yours,

A Jolie

Ladies and gentlemen, I do not have to explain the issue raised here in Ms Jolie's correspondence. It is something any fan of anything has suffered when they run into experts in above mentioned thing.

Pink Floyd enthusiasts are well aware of this problem. One moment you are just chilling to your favourite Floyd album, The Division Bell. The next moment so-called Pink Floyd experts barge into your dorm room because:

1. The Dark Side of the Moon is apparently the best album. The Division Bell is for wannabes. And they want to humiliate your ignorance.
2. They are stoned and want to eat your mosquito coil and make sweet love to your table lamp.

Cricket also suffers from this malaise of superiority.

It ends now. Last year we shared simple ways of feigning cricketing information. Today we share simple ways of feigning cricketing authority. Just follow these simple steps:

1. Confound the consensus. This is the easiest way to seem pundit-like.

Wait for a consensus to emerge about any topic. For instance, right now there is an overwhelming view that Tony Greig is a heaving bosom. Nobody likes him at all. Wait for this sentiment to spread, especially amongst casual fans. And then swoop. Write an impassioned blog post about how Greig is a towering giant in the field. Suddenly everyone will feel bad and guilty and conflicted. And you will seem like the only counter-pundit.

2. Incite and ignore. I love this move. Here what you do is conspire to get everyone all worked up about some stupid non-issue. For instance, the Kevin Pietersen saga, or the CEO of the ICC. Give the public some time to work themselves into a frenzy. Then suddenly wade into the debate sage-like and admonish everyone for their myopia and herd mentality. "As far as cricket is concerned, this is a non-issue. You guys need to grow up." Cue sheepishness all round. Boom! Arise, Sir Pundit of Smugwickshire-Upon-Dude.

3. Cross-court backhanded compliment. This is the easiest strategy of the three to execute. But also the easiest for the proletariat to detect. So use this very, very sparingly. Not more than once every six weeks. At any given time there is at least one cricketing column or blog post somewhere on the internet that is being widely read. Read it yourself. But stay quiet. Wait for a bit. And then unleash a Facebook or Twitter update like so: "Very interesting piece by Harsha here. But I don't agree with all of it." Finished. Don't mention what you disagree with or why. Leave that to the public's imagination. They will go mad trying to figure it out. And eventually, when they fail, they will just ascribe their failings to your wisdom.

Simple, isn't it? Now you have three ways of flaunting your punditry to the cricketing world. I hope you, and our letter writer, will find today's discussion useful.

Do feel free to keep sending in your letters, high-definition photos and queries. I will answer them all as usual.

Regards,
Fareed Zakaria

Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and editor with Mint, and the author of the Dork trilogy. Who Let the Dork Out? releases in October

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Comments: 12 
Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 23:23 GMT)

Oh this is just brilliant. Hats off to you guys for coming up with these kind of stuffs frequently!!

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 22:42 GMT)

"well-acted feature films such as Best of Sharjah 1980-1990". Nice :)

Posted by tonmoyc on (August 22, 2012, 1:42 GMT)

The bit about Fareed Zakaria at the end was by far the best!

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

"Don't mention what you disagree with or why. Leave that to the public's imagination. They *will go mad trying to figure it out*. And eventually, when they fail, they will just ascribe their failings to your wisdom." ROFL!!

Posted by sudhir98 on (August 21, 2012, 15:44 GMT)

@hasibul @colin I just want you guys to note that Tony grieg is a towering giant in cricket :-)

Posted by Patrick_ on (August 21, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

That was a good one. :)

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

Even better than Fareed Zakaria would have been to sign out with regards from Ravi Shastri.

Posted by boredkumar on (August 21, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

"Regards, Fareed Zakaria"

Sidin how do u manage to come up with such things!!! unbelievable.. i read it just before i finished reading the letter and i laughed so much i couldnt finish reading the letter. had to come back later and finish the piece. well done!

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

@Colin Rosenthal-As far as cricket is concerned this is a non-issue and you guys seriously need to grow up!!!!!!

Posted by bennybow on (August 21, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

Like it. More seriously, the favourite on message boards is to believe everything the papers say and then recite it back in posts.

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Sidin Vadukut
Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.

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Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.
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