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Small Asks

Just you wait

Why cricket is like a doctor's anteroom, and the rise and fall of Dada

"Mine says 11.58. Yours, Billy?" Messrs Bowden and Dar head back inside after another inspection, Australia v Bangladesh, Super Eights, Antigua, March 31, 2007
"I make it another 12 seconds before it's a wait with a capital W" © Getty Images

We'll have to wait for the umpire's signal, commentators keep saying. Why do we have to wait? asked Neelkantan from the USA
You don't get it, do you? You must be from the 21st century. Instant gratification, fast food, Velcro and that. You'll never appreciate the thrills of a good rain delay.

Why do you have to wait for the umpire's decision? You just do. It's par for the course for a game that has breaks for lunch and tea, small animals pottering about the field, and large, Marmite-loving legspinners turned captain melodramatically setting the field.

It's not just the leg-byes you need to wait for, either. Sometimes the umpire is Rudi Koertzen, who has a patented Really Slow Way of raising his finger, which used to be dramatic back in the 1870s when he started with it, but is now only irritating, but no one's told him, so there's a bit of an extra wait there, sorry, why don't you have a bag of peanuts to pass the time?

Till a few months ago there was also Steve Bucknor, who when a bowler launched into a full-throated appeal would think he was at the opera and drift away, and then be reminded of where he was and raise his finger, also Really Slowly.

And let's not forget Billy Bowden, who needs a few extra seconds to think up an innovative and Really Irritating new twist to tag on to a signal, because, evidently, he's the hardest working man in show business now that James Brown is no more.

Do people still believe in dada? asked Varun from India
Yes, plenty of people still believe in Dada - an art movement invented by Sourav Ganguly, aka the worst fielder in the Indian side, when he first provided a definition of the term "surrealism" by putting on a grand show of being aggrieved after someone misfielded off his bowling. He then proceeded to blaze a trail of artistic daring, painting moustaches on pictures of Raj Singh Dungarpur in long rooms, demonstrating his belief in the notion of the infinite flexibility of time (as portrayed in images of melting clocks) by making rival captains wait at the toss, and suchlike. In the spirit of the movement, some of its followers subversively took in later years to calling it Dadi, i.e. granny, in tribute to the founder's approach to training, running between the wickets and such other inessentials. Dadaism as an active sporting philosophy may have run its course, but signs are it is due to enjoy a new lease of life in the commentary box, where it will face stern competition from a number of well entrenched doctrines, chief among them Absurdism, as propounded by Ramiz Raja, and Extremism, by Ravi Shastri.

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