Is Cricket really batsman friendly?

cricket_cartoon.jpgAfter Afridi’s recent ball-biting misdemeanor, a number of current and former players and commentators have talked about the possibility of legalizing ball tampering to a certain extent. Their prime argument in favor of ball-tampering is that cricket, by and large, is a batsman-friendly sport. But is it?

In the battle of bat and ball, the bowler chooses what type of ball is he going to bowl. The batsman has no idea of what speed the ball is going to be hurled at him with, where is it going to pitch, how much will it bounce, will it be a yorker, will it be slower ball, will it be bouncer, will it swing, will it spin etc. And then he has fractions of a second to react. For all he knows, the bowler might not release the ball at all, leaving him to go through the plethora of assumptions all over again.

The bowler also has a say in the field setup (yes, there are field restrictions, but they don’t govern the exact positions of the fielders), the batsman doesn’t.

If the bowler is hit for a boundary or six, he has a chance to come back again, ball after ball, over after over. But if a batsman loses his wicket once, just once!!!, its all over for him.

Add to it the psychological advantage the bowler enjoys of having the support of 10 of his team-mates around him throughout the innings and a team huddle at the fall of a wicket. On the other hand, all the batsman gets is a clap, a handshake or a pat on the back from his partner after every boundary or six and at the max, and maybe a hug after reaching 50 or 100.

If ball tampering is legalized, it is certain that the average innings score will drop down drastically. By some estimates, the average innings score would go down to below 100. Would spectators rather pay money to watch a team score 80 while the other struggles to achieve that target or would they pay to watch a team score 280 and the other pursues a close chase?


12 thoughts on “Is Cricket really batsman friendly?”

  1. cricket is so batman friendly that even a technically weak batman like yuvraj is getting injured more often off the field than on it.

    it is possible to predict his status based on the nature of his injury published by bcci
    1. finger injury: when he has a girlfriend
    2. hand injury: when he does not have a girlfriend

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  2. by the wya can someone tell me how to post a topic on this blog..when i try, it asks me to enter some word press id which i dont have

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  3. wherether the game is leaded in favour of batmen or not is a matter of conjecture and perception.

    i am looking at the past history beginning from uncovered pitches, unrestricted bouncers, less protective gear evolving to improvements in bat technology leading to even mishits going for 4s 6s, limits of short pitched balls, covered pitches, slow over rate penalty (leading to shortening of runups), changing of balls in ODI and changing of pitches around the world to flat and less bouncy from barbados to perth.

    given the above context one can either say that the game batmen frindly or is no longer bowler friendly but one thing is sure that it has got friendlier to batsmen than it was. specially in subcontinental conditions where there is no environmental help from humidity and abrasive grounds make the ball softer soon.

    leg side wides…i was mentining the practice of giving anything on leg side a wide…i am sure the initial intention was to only punish balls which cannot be reached but now batsmen comfortably get out of the way and expect a wide…moreover if the same ball hits the pad and goes for 4 then that is allowed.

    true beauty of cricket is in even contest of bat and ball…the ball should swing, move, bounce, spin and at the same time the wicket should play true by offering even bounce and by not developing cracks soon. limit of 1 bouncers completely takes surprize element out of bowlers armoury.

    cricket is becoming a game of power hitting where a skilled practitioner like sacin, ponting, gavaskar, lara is overshadowed by power hitters like yuvraj, warner or such…because the need to ‘read’ the ball is less…when the ball does move around…everyone gets out quickly because the batsmen even good ones have lost the skill playing on flat surfaces

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  4. @Shakir: I’ve always felt that competitive team sports are merely metaphors for war, apropos of your point. I prefer to compete against myself only. Some chess-designer pals and I discussed the possibility of creating a co-operative chess game, wherein all participants were on the same side, trying to accomplish an extremely difficult objective (like terra-forming Mars). Drew a blank; people like to fight and win too much, an ancient bad habit of our kind; can’t see past our own (bloody) noses.

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  5. @ Hend

    You points about the limits of legalising ball tampering are absolutely right. As are your thoughts on who governs the laws of cricket. However, when you say that “the game of cricket is loaded in favour of batsmen for a reason”, that is the very point that I am arguing against.

    My point is that it is not loaded in favour of the batsmen. Yes there are a few silly rules like the free-hit which you have aptly described as a tamasha.

    As for leg-side wides, as someone who follows cricket (and in case if you play too) you would know that it is really not easy to hit a ball on the leg-side. Having said that, the rules (or maybe the umpires) are too strict about the leg-side wides and almost everything (no matter how close to the batsman) on the leg-side is given as a wide. No doubt there is scope for some leniency in that area.

    But, on the whole I still feel that bowlers get enough privileges to keep the game in a balanced condition, in its current state.

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  6. James: usually, it’s fun only when the batsmen playing well belong to one’s ownhome team or country. There may be sporting types (like myself) who really enjoy good strokes and good bowling from the other side, but such people are rare.

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  7. legalizing ball tampering is purely loose talk…what exactly will you legalize? how will you set limits? how will you guarantee that even those limits will not be crossed. in fact limits will always be crossed by the so called ‘art’ists.

    the convention is to allow the fielding side to retain the shine on the ball by rubbing it on their clothing. anything beyond that is ball tampering. period.

    the game of cricket is loaded in favour of batsmen for a reason. the administrators want to make money. money comes from viewership and viewership comes from high scoring matches and those which last the whole distance. the decision makers are the people who sponsor the advertizements and those who buy the television rights…there are no cricketing decisions being taken.

    even the team are in favour of flat wickets because their commercial worth depends on amassing runs. when they get a flat wicket they say this is a good wicket and when they get a sporting, bouncy, spinning wicket they call it underprepared wicket. even the so called commentators do the same because their livelyhood too depends on the same principle mentioned above.

    assuming that this mafia is ready to rectify the situation then the solution is to make sporting and bouncy and spinning pitches, get rid of silly rules of legside wides, diallow free hits. this ofcourse will not happen unless people get fed up of these tamasha matches which will never happen because people like tamasha…very few (like yooshoo ;)) understand the nuances of cricket.

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  8. Well, batting is the main challenge of the game, isn’t it? Where the rubber meets the road, as they say. If it were easy, anyone could do it, and there wouldn’t be anything special about it, Oy Moit? 🙂
    The players take their positions. The bowler winds up–that’s when the game becomes “live–” the batsman tenses–the bowl–Cr-RACK!!! Eeeee-YESSSS!!!!
    Fun, ain’t it?

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  9. Also, the home team has the choice of preparing the pitch so that either it helps batsmen or spin bowlers or fast bowlers. But then, every good team is supposed to have at least six good batsmen who’re able to face all kinds of bowlers.

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