From smack-bang in the middle of the bell curve

Team is spelt with an I

In sports on December 12, 2006 at 10:10 am

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. One for All, All for One! Sport can be classified along several parameters, one that’s often used is to separate individual from team sports. So, you have your tennis, golf, athletics (relays being the exception) versus football, basketball, volleyball, several others and yes, cricket. The difference between the two kinds is fairly obvious in how the first kind is essentially about indiidual brilliance while the other kind is about how well different individuals combine to perform at exemplary levels. Some die-hard team sports fans go as far as saying that sports in themselves are a microcosm of life. However, the point of this post is more than to state the obvious, but to indicate that all team sports are not equal and that the sport that this blog is dedicated to is markedly different from the others. Here’s how:

  1. Lets settle this, you…and…me. Unlike other sports, cricket is never about the ten or eleven of one side against the same number of the other. Its always about batsman versus bowler. The bowler has the assistance of the fielders to get the batsman out, but its he who has to make it happen. The batsman could look at it as him against the world. His teammates in the dressing room, however supportive or well-meaning, can’t face that chap hurling 90 mph thunderbolts, for him.
  2. The part is greater than the whole of the sum. Cricket is one of the few sports where individuals can literally win games irrespective of team performance. Hence you have Kapil’s 175 v/s Zim that won the game when the rest of the batting had collapsed in a heap. A striker in a football team would have a hard time finding the net if his midfielders couldn’t feed him the ball.
  3. Do that thing you suck at. Imagine a field hockey team’s most prolific striker being asked to guard goal or the running back in an american football game being asked to be a lineman (for the unitiated, there’s the small matter of a difference in body weight of about 100lbs in the two)But the sight of the side’s fast bowler being asked to bat out half hour to save a test match is not uncommon. Essentially, this is one of the very few sports that has professionals performing roles they haven’t done much of and therefore aren’t proficient at.
  4. You can run but you can’t hide. The scorecard is your report card. Provides a fairly complete picture of what each individual’s contribution was, be it wickets, runs, runouts or catches. The scoreline at the end of a football match might tell you who scored the goals, nothing about that defender who foiled 14 attempts by the opposition or that goalkeeper who let in a powder-puff shot on goal. The point, cricket provides much fewer places to hide than other sports.
  5. There is no such thing as a level playing field. Its the tagline for an accenture ad i think, but is quite applicable to this game. Pitch conditions deteriorate, the light fades, dew gets on the ball. Well, deal with it. While other sports ensure equal opportunity for both sides in every way possible, cricket often seems downright unfair in its dependence on the vagaries of the weather and the playing surface.

Maybe there is a striking resemblance to that other game we all play…called life?

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