Tuesday, March 27, 2007

cricket, character, and super 8s

cricket is not a 'gentleman's' game, but it is a game of 'character'. most memorable and pleasurable games of cricket are the ones where lot 'character' is shown. to excel at cricket it is not enough to be fit athletes, have oodles of talent, or mastered the techniques as in other sports.

what do i mean by 'character'? it is a hard thing to define. it may mean the exercise of will power, the strength of mind, the determination to fight to the last, never giving up even when there is no hope, and many similar things. that old imperialist rudyard kipling came close in his poem if-. in other words it means something similar the quality described by that now politically incorrect term 'manliness' (a quality not confined to males btw in spite of the name). ancient romans and renaissance men had a term that described this better - 'virtue'. then the word meant something different from the modern meaning of moral excellence. (vir in latin means 'man'). after all when machiavelli took cesare borgia, as an example of ’virtue’ in action, he was not referring to his 'goodness'.

it is a quality one must have if one is to do well in life. that is why until recently educators endeavored to build 'character' in their charges not just to 'educate' them. this was before political correctness, worship of equality and averages, pop psychology, and liberals (in the american sense of the word) took over education world over.

while it takes some 'character' to do well in most sports (esp. in individual sports), cricket is exceptional. in a sport like rugby or basketball its is next to impossible for a team that do not have the required physical attributes to do well no matter how much 'character' they show. same may be said of a team of football (as in soccer) players lacking in inborn talent. in cricket, especially in test cricket they can still come up on top. one of the great things about test cricket is the possibility of a draw. a weaker team that force a draw or avoid an innings defeat may score a moral victory that is just as much uplifting and absorbing to its supporters and neutrals ( and demoralizing to other team and supporters), as an official win in any other sport. where else can people cheer defensive shots, dot balls, and batsman who remain in without doing anything for hours and hours? shorter the game becomes less of this is there, but even in limited over cricket there is enough.

that is why everybody knew as the match progressed, that india was a goner and did not deserve to be in super 8s when they were defeated by bangladesh. it is not so much the defeat as the way they went down. they did not show any 'fight' in contrast to bangladeshi teenagers.

anyway while rugby may be an exhibition of brute force, football a beautiful piece of art, cricket is stuff of life.

super 8s and semifinal qualification

to come back to earth, super 8s in world cup starts today. there are 2 lesser teams (or former 'minows') in addition to 6 established teams (though england is probably in between). including the matches played against fellow qualifiers earlier there will be altogether 28 matches in this stage with each team playing 7 matches. first four teams in points will be semi finalists.

in order to discover the minimum qualification we will look at two extreme cases taking only the 6 established teams as real contenders. in the case team performances and rankings are absolute, the best team will win all 7 matches, second ranked one will win 6, third 5, fourth 4, and so on. in the case that 6 teams perform roughly equally, 3 teams will win 5 matches and 3 teams four (making 27, match between two lesser teams not being counted). of course reality will be somewhere between these two extreme cases, with upsets by lesser teams thrown in. anyway the conclusion is that if you win 5 matches you are through, while winning four will mean lot of calculator use.

however as i said in the first part of this post, it is the way teams win and lose that will make the difference not the result itself though that is important . if a team lose a match in this stage as indians lost to bangladesh they do not deserve to be in semifinals, but if they go down fighting to the last they may probably go all the way.

sri lanka vs. south africa
sri lanka's first super8 match is on wednesday against south africa. we have a great opportunity to send the first ranked team out of the tournament. south africa probably never deserved the ranking in the first place. their bowling attack is long on names and short on performance. their captain is unimaginative and never changes a thing (batting order, power play order, bowlers, etc). only thing going for them is that they do play well to a set plan. however they are known to crumble under pressure (and sledging. btw did you notice all the sledging that went on in sl - india match? we may see more of that tomorrow). anyway given that they are already one down another loss will mean they have to win all the other matches to qualify. so if they lose tomorrow there is a good chance we will not play them again in the world cup. let us hope so.


Sri Lankan said...

Nice one. :-)

niro said...

Just a few corrections. Each team in the super 8's will be playing only 6 matches, not 7. they won't play with the team in their own group again. And there are 21 matches altogether in the super 8 round.

regarding the sledging; yes there were quite a lot. Especially from our side. it was clearly evident when the first batsman got out. vaas, dilshan, mahela they were all in it. guess they'll have to cool it down. with what sangakkara had last time with shaun pollock, things could get rough in the next match

niro said...

Sorry, there are 24 matches

sittingnut said...

sri lankan:
thanks :-)

thanks for the comment

you are right that there will be only 24 matches from yesterday (28th), but the calculations will be made for 28 matches "including the matches played against fellow qualifiers earlier" in group stage. so the win/loss against fellow qualifier will count, the net run rate calculation will also take into account runs and overs in the those matches against fellow qualifiers .

net effect is, as if 4 of the 28 super 8 matches were already played before (still on going)aus-wi match.

as for sledging i am not sure they should cool down too much :-)