Thursday, March 06, 2008

Its Not Cricket!

I remember when I was studying in the land down under, cricket was almost a religion to Aussies. Summer is not complete without cricket, so much so, an international cricket game could become a carnival. Because of this, a smart alex (by the name of Kerry Packer) came up with an idea of a limited over game whereby each side has 50 overs to bowl and the same to score provided the team can last that long. The game is palyed and completed within a day i.e. 8 hours!. With it came the so called - colourful uniforms. These two elements put One Day cricket in stark contrast to Test Cricket whereby a team has two innings to score as many runs and bowled as many overs within five days. The purists called this One Dayer game as a pyjama game. Later one the One Dayers were also played as a Day and night game - one side bats after lunch to dinner then the other bats after dinner til supper. The Aussies were supposed to be good at the game introduced by the British that they could not face defeat gentlemanly. Their main rivals in those days were England (The Poms) and New Zealand (Kiwis).

So, in one of those critical game when Australia had to win facing the Kiwis the match came to the last ball of the inning. Australia needed to take one wicket to win and New Zealand needed to score, if I am not mistaken, six runs to win. Of course under normal circumstances a batsman could smash the ball bowled to him over the fence without hitting the ground to score six runs. Once the ball touches the ground, even if it passed the fence, only four runs can be recorded. The Australian Captain at the time was Greg Chappell while the bowler was Trevor Chappell, the youngest of the Chappell brothers representing Australia in cricket. At that time, everybody was anxious because waiting at the other end to face the ball was Kiwi's allrounder and distinguished bowler, Sir Richard Hadlee. A perfect gentleman til the end. Anything was possible with Hadlee although the chances was at best 50-50.

There was a mini conference in the middle of the field between Greg, Trevor and Kim Hughes, the deputy to Greg. Fielders positions were adjusted. Everybody was expecting Trevor to bowl the best ball that would not allow Richrad to score six. Perhaps a yorker! But, to everyone's surprise, he moved slowly towards the bowling line and bowl the ball underarm - just like playing a lawn bowl and the ten pin bowl. Of course nobody would have a chance to hit the ball for a four, let alone a sixer! As I said, being a gentleman he was, Sir Richard blocked the ball with his bat in disgust! Everybody was like speechless. So the next morning the headlines were obvious - Its not cricket! Just like that, another phrase was created. In short when you dont play according to the rules and norms, its just not cricket! By the way, it was later clarified that Trevor did not break any rule of the game i.e. the bowl was legitimate!

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