It is a bowler’s game because a batsman’s score depends on how good or bad a bowler bowls.
As a mediocre leg spinner whose googly was the right ’un – I still have no clue how I bowled the occasional leg-spinning delivery between googlies refusing to stick to line and length – I have a soft corner for the cherry-hurling labourers on the cricket field.
I love it when a batsman, godlike or mortal, ducks to or is flattened by 150kmph deliveries (Hail Mitchell Johnson for scaring the shit out of the Englishmen at Brisbane). And hops, skips and jumps to prevent the traditional turners or doosras from going through the gate or taking the edge.
To put it bluntly, I hate batsmen getting on top. So much so that I want a 50-over cricket match to end in 11 balls. Or 31 balls in the case of a Test.
But having majored in Statistics, I cannot rule out the likelihood of a cricket match – Test, ODI or T20 – ending in fewer balls. Better still, no ball at all.
Team A gets bundled out in 10 no-balls and wides. You can get run out off a no-ball and stumped off a wide, remember?
The extras, though, give 10 runs to Team A leaving Team B to score 11 to win.
Team B then gets two wide balls, each going to the boundary. It wins with the third delivery, a no-ball or a wide. History is created; a cricket match is decided without a single legitimate ball being delivered.
But someone with a bowler’s mentality wants his wickets the only way – one or two of the three stumps, preferably middle, uprooted. So let’s cut the sundries out and stick to balls that are counted.
The match starts. The ball is seaming and swinging and the bounce is uneven. All the Team A batsmen fall first ball, bowled, caught, leg before wicket, hit wicket or run out. The inning gets over in 1.4 overs or 10 balls. The scoreboard reads 0 against Team A.
Team B has its job cut out. Only 1 run to get in 50 overs. Required run rate: 0.02 per over. Gettable.
Sure enough, Team B opener lobs first ball over the close-in fielders and doesn’t bother to run. Match over in 11 balls.
Imagine a similar scenario for a Test. Team A gets out in 10 balls without scoring a run in the first inning. Team B follows suit. Team A falter again in the second inning and Team B openers manage to scamper for a run first ball in their second inning.
The outcome is a world record. A five-day match is won in 31 balls and before lunch on Day One. It saves us time and money spent on watching 24 people (don’t forget the umpires) and those behind the scenes make money. And the agony of counting sixes and centuries scored by this god or that anti-god.
But such a result is as improbable as it is probable, unless you tip off a Mohammed Aamer or a Shantakumaran Sreesanth with or without a towel.
So here’s a quiz if you have nothing better to do. What is the least number of balls – with a maximum of two non-leg bye extras per over factored in – for an ODI or T20 cricket match to get over?
Mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winner gets all-expense paid holiday to the fabulous island of Ocraposhitzska.