Change the Game, Bend the Rules

Considering the spectacular way in which India is getting its ass kicked down under, I refuse to talk about the cricket.

Thankfully, our cricketers are engaging in other activities to take our minds off mundane things such as scores and results. Like raising fingers. Now, raising fingers is not a nice thing to do. But its ok to show someone a finger if they abuse your ‘mother and sister’. I mean, how can someone do that?

And why was such a ruckus being made about it? He just showed a finger. At least he didn’t walk into the stands and bludgeon the hell out of the spectator like Inzamam-ul-Haq did in Toronto. And that poor fellow had not even called his family names. He had just said the word ‘aloo’. Innocuous, if you ask me.

But keeping the finger incident aside, another issue that has become a juicy bone of contention is the UDRS rule. The Australian media seems to have problems with the Indian team’s stance on the subject. We are being called selfish bullies. But here’s the sad part, you guys. We have the money.

You can cry and crib about how we are a dominant power that is misusing their power. Sadly, no one will give a fuck. We are the USA of cricket. We enter a nation, bombard it, and step out. Apart from some cribbing, there is nothing much you can do about it.

And what is this UDRS thing? Cricket is a game where one fellow bowls, one bats, and the other appears in Fair and Lovely ads. Why complicate it by bringing in this UDRS-IVRS mumbo-jumbo?

And something or the other has been coming up all the time. A few months back, the ICC looked into the issue of batsmen taking runners out of the batting innings. For many like me, that was shocking.

I mean, what the hell does that have to do with anything? If running between wickets was so important, Mohd. Kaif would have been delivering the Bradman Oration in Australia.

I know there are those who will say that Saeed Anwar had Afridi run 130 of his 194 runs, and that Sachin ran through every single in his 200. Accepted. But when a dude sitting in a bar can predict a no ball, and players are shot by terrorists, there are clearly other important issued that need discussion. Of course, Sunil Gavaskar had an opinion on the issue, and also said that bowlers taking energy drinks from the boundary should be banned. What next? Banning players from having hand towels cos it might encourage them to throw in the towel during a tense match??

In a country where most of the ‘cricket’ is played with ‘tennis’ balls, all this doesn’t make sense. I don’t know about you, but when we played cricket as children, there were some flexible rules. Cricket is a gentlemen’s game, its not unruly like ice hockey.

In keeping with the theme of the sport, we had a lot of rules that made the game more relaxed, and more enjoyable. I have compiled below a few of those rules from the days when the gentleman’s game was still a gentle game.

Late Run: The batsman may not take a run ‘late’. This means that the batsman cannot take a run after the bowler has received the ball.

You see, many things could interrupt a match of cricket. The ball falling into a ditch, a senior throwing the ball away, or the players realising that there is a hole in the ball. Taking advantage of such situations was unethical, and such runs were called ‘Late Runs’. The opposing team could protest against this, and the run is not included in the total score.

Single Batsman: In the case of all the batsmen of the team getting out, the lone batsman can continue batting. He runs all the runs himself. There are special circumstances where the batsman might have to run to the bowler’s end and come back for it to be counted as one run.

The ‘Single Batsman’ rule was used when the team had one star batsman. In our days, if you owned the bat, you could truly “change the game”. This resulted in matches when all the batsmen would get out, but one could bat on till the end of the overs. (The ones who owned the bat never got out, of course)

International Wide: As children, not all of us knew how to bowl overarm. There were a lot of us who had half actions, However, to be recognised as a bowler, you had to show some effort. So the bowlers would run, turn their arm, and fling the ball. You couldn’t just stand, aim and shoot the ball. That was against the spirit of the game.

However, if you bowled a truly disreputable ball, like one that bounces at good length and swings towards fifth slip, it was called an International Wide.

Such a ball could be penalised with one run, or sometimes with two, depending on whose side the bat-owner was on.

Baby Over: With the absence of Cartoon Network and mission games, and the most exciting thing on television being Alif Laila, we were probably the last generation that played in the evenings.

The evening cricket was not just about playing cricket. Excelling in the game could make you famous, and win you lots of friends. However, the worst insult in the game would be the Baby Over.

It basically meant an over that was so bad that it had to be aborted in between. So if a bowler has bowled nine wides in three legal deliveries, the captain could call on another bowler to finish the over. This aborted over would be called ‘Baby Over’

One Tup Out: The batsman can be ruled out if a fielder catches the ball after it has pitched once (one tup), if the catch is claimed cleanly, and with one hand.

Our school had cricket fanatics. Guys who would cut and paste every picture of cricketers they found anywhere – newspapers, magazines, stickers, labels, t-shirts, and save them in a scrap book for years. Whenever we could, we would sneak in a game of cricket. The one tup rule was used when there was a constraint of space in the game. Like in a dormitory,

or the back of a classroom, or in the bathroom, or the corridor, or between the rows of benches in the classroom, or the side of a pitch where seniors would be playing.

Trials: The first ball of the first over. The bowler comes running in. The batsman defends, but the ball goes through the gate and hits the stumps. The fielders celebrate. The batsman, however, looks up, gives a Buddha-like smile and says โ€œI told ‘trialsโ€.

‘Trials’ was the rule that came to the rescue of batsmen who had the tendency of getting out on the first ball. Arvind Mukund should ask Sharad Pawar to ask the ICC to bring this rule into force. So, when a batsman asks for ‘trials’, he is asking the bowler to bowl him one ball, to ‘try’ things out. To see the bowler, his pace, the bounce in the pitch, the hardness of the ball, etc etc. After the batsman has faced the ball, he says ‘Reals’, and then the real game begins. Shopping malls have adapted the system of ‘trials’ as part of their strategy, but the real credit must be given to ‘mundu’ cricket, which magnanimously believes in giving the batsman a test ride before the real match begins.

Needless to say, owning the bat gave the batsman the luxury of having as many ‘trials’ as he wanted. Also, he didnt have to actually say the word ‘trial’. Just thinking it would suffice.

There were many such rules that were flexibly introduced depending on the situation/ground/age of the players involved. You see, winning or losing was not important. What was important was that the bat and ball were available for the next day’s play. The spirit of the game could wait till we were old enough to have beer.

Now, if the ICC is really serious about promoting the game to other parts of the world and making it player and spectator friendly, it should consider bringing in some of the rules.

Why should Australian guys have all the fun??

9 thoughts on “Change the Game, Bend the Rules

  1. G

    Is Cricket a Professional sport???
    A gentelman’s game that pays!!!???…

    Is this even a coversational point???

    I’d rather be talking about, how great my favorite player preformed or, the shot that drove the covers off the covers in that “Power-Play”. Well, unless you let me open and score 102 runs quickly in any (Format – “I guess computers and technologies will infiltrate”) any game (Profession=JOB).

    Well, it seems that the (“Gents-“hand shake”), is Giving India’s pundets, a 20,50 + Unlimited gains!! and in the spin-of-things declaring at no less… The IPL may well be the next WWE with rules and skills per-sayyyyyy…. The ICC should just be happy that (and they can’t – (for me in a take it upstairs situation) recieving GREEN does not mean grass(or pitch type roller heavy etc…

    It means tradition and professionalism can only be to the detriment of cricket development and that is not the approach, Any sport should Endure…

    Especially if the good of the game, that obviously was based on – “BAT,BALL,FIELD”” want sponsorships from ME or even tickets.

    Please let me open for anyone of those IPL (that) teams, I’ll bet, that I WILL not go out when my Umpiers walk onto the field, “How-is-that”… it on the flip side, Because I choose HEADS….

  2. BhanuKiran C

    Amazingly written … the wit and the humor is superb … congrats bro .. keep it going …

    My favorite part was “one-tup-out” … ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Naveen

    I actually forgot that Cricket is fun on seeing the way Indians are playing…Thanx SHR for refreshing our memory of how cricket was actually to us.. The Trials option would be apt for Viru.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Shreenath

    I agree with Mukesh!! Wonderfull writing..also to mention the Bat or Ball owner if out used to walk away with the bat saying hell with you guys” others used to be ” Vokey eee bhaaa playeee…swami will see you eee!!!”


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