Wednesday, December 29, 2010

That's Cricket.....

Cricket is a strange word to many people in the world. Kids may know cricket as  Jimmy the Cricket who accompanies Pinocchio, famously known for his growing nose, in his adventures.  Cricket the game is even stranger to many. Despite being the second most watched sports in the world after football / soccer, a lot of people don’t understand the game. Not many countries play the game at the highest level. The highest level being a Test Playing Nation. South Africa, India, Pakistan, England, New Zealand, Australia and the West Indies. Just in case you are particular with your geography, The West Indies is not one country, but a multinational team representing 15 English speaking Caribbean Countries.

I will not do cricket justice if I try to describe what cricket is. Event though I am a fan, especially when it involves England, I understands less than 50% of it! If you interested to know about cricket apart from most of the time it is being played ‘gentlemanly’ by 22 men or women in all whites with reddish streaks on the front part of their pants at the strategic areas appearing as the day goes by, you can read more about it in the forever reliable (not 100% trusted) Wikipedia. On the team attires, nowadays you get teams in multicoloured ‘pyjamas’ in almost all forms of cricket bar the Test.

Pondering on a recent remarked from  a friend was surprised to know I am a cricket fan, how did I become one? To support England is normal for most Bruneians. That’s not strange. Most of us support England in football. May be its because of our history closely linked to the United Kingdom. Bear in mind the administrative power of the UK is England. Nowadays slowly the powers are being devolved. That’s a story for another day when, if ever, I start writing about politics. Back to cricket. My love for cricket grew from my first summer in England, Ulu England to be precise, years ago. With the smell of fresh summer intertwined with the smell of ‘cow dung’ in the air, there I was watching my first game. Cricket is a game for the summer time. I can’t recall who was playing apart from one of the teams was my school’s team. But the sight of the summer day is still vivid in my mind.

From that day, my ‘love’ or rather fondness for cricket grew. Supporting the England team. Watching the live telecast on TV. Listening to the radio with headphones in the middle of the night when England is playing down under. Bear in mind those days, internet was still at infancy and only used by the military. So TV and radio was the source. Fans of cricket know the biggest rivalry in cricket is between England aka the Poms and Australia aka the Aussies (rather obvious). The rivalry is at the most when they are battling for the Ashes. If you are interested enough, you can read about the Ashes here.

From the time I started watching cricket up to as recent as 4 or 5 years back, the Aussies always thrashed the Poms. Only in the recent years the Poms got the upper hand. Right now, they are in the middle of the battle. Very intense, highly captivating. Glued me to the internet where I got a ‘free’ (illegal?) live streaming of the games. Or to my able phone for regular updates when I am on the move.

What intrigued me is how cricket, the supposedly gentlemanly game has adopted to the use of technology in disputed or bad umpiring calls. Well, the word gentleman conjured up the perception of resistance to change albeit in a polite way. Compared to football or soccer (as known in the USA), cricket has embraced new technology with open arms. Football on the other hand still resisting technology despite some admitting wrong decisions can affect the lives of many people. The famous Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly said football is more important than life and death. So why leave it solely to humans, who are prone to making mistakes? After all, football results had been known to caused deaths to the supporters.

In cricket, new technologies are embraced. Apart from the two umpires, they utiilise a third umpire who has access to myriads of technology. Hot Spot, Hawkeye (similar to the one use in tennis) and snick-o-meter are some of these. Google them up for details. Instead of slowing down the game, it made it more interesting especially for the spectators. Added suspense when a player or a team referred the decision to a the third umpire. Spicing up the excitement for us. May be football can learn from this and we will never again had the ‘did it cross the line or not’ aka the Russian linesman incidents.

Talking about technology, here is a funny yet inspiring story from the Daily Telegraph…

“….Sydneysiders finding it hard to be enthused by the fifth Test should draw inspiration from the great lengths Twitter cult hero @theashes is taking to get to the match. Not even a giant blizzard sweeping along the US east coast can prevent Theashes, a Massachusetts woman unwittingly bombarded by messages from cricket fans tweeting about the Ashes during the first Test, from seeing a match first hand. About 2900 flights have been grounded after snow blanketed cities from Philadelphia to Boston. The freeze saw the cancellation of buses and trains heading to New York, leaving Theashes stranded at home. ''Unless @qantas-airways can get me a flight tmrw, not coming,'' she tweeted in the early hours of yesterday morning. ''I hope I can work something out with @QantasAirways in the morning so I can still go.'' Fortunately for her, Australia's national carrier came to the fore yesterday. ''The trip is on! @QantasAirways got me a flight for tomorrow. I'll be in Sydney to @SeeAustralia on Thursday the 30th - in time for New Years……'

Moral of the story? Technology is a great tool but it is only a tool and not 100% foolproof. It can still deliver the wrong message to the wrong person, fortunately this time with a happy ending….

At the time of writing of this entry, England is well on the way of thrashing the Aussies in their own backyard and retaining the Ashes. Wonderful feeling with a tinge of regret. I would have been there, should have been there witnessing and be part of history. If only I had chosen to spent my sabbatical not here…..