Wednesday, February 1

cricket for the people of united states - part one

The game of cricket is followed by almost every one in India. But in the US, no body cares about the game. I can not say, I am a fan of cricket. I call myself, a spectator of any sport (of course, a little partial towards of baseball/field hockey). I think the true value of sports, is to inspire the rest of us , the non-athletic beings to... ummm, well, write, debate, argue and fight (of course, peacefully) about it. Any sport is a better religion to fight for.

As I have followed basketball (NBA), baseball (MLB) and American football (NFL) for the last two years, I think, it qualifies me to compare cricket with other American sports. (Yeah! ! Two years is enough, and No, I don't see Ice Hockey!) I will try to compare it in five categories - competitiveness, player/team specialty, duration, scoring, and handling a tie. For all purpose of discussions, we use the one day format of the cricket game - even, that is too long for Americans

By competitiveness, I mean a level of even-ness in the format of the game. Offense and Defense should alternate in multiple plays. Like, in basket ball, when one team scores, the other team gets the ball, and thus, the opportunity to score. Defense should become offense, and vice versa - the sooner, the better.

The biggest problem with the game of cricket, there is no opportunity for lead changes. The game is over, when the lead changes!!! Americans don't buy any game, which doesn't have the chance of alternating plays. Their normal reaction would be -"I have to wait for another three hours to see the other team play ? Let get some sleep"

So, I propose a format of cricket with each team playing 10 overs - each team playing alternatively. There would be five innings, each inning limited by 10 overs. The produces the opportunity of a game with alternating scores, and nerver-racking match-ups.

Now, the problem with cricket is it takes time for the team to take field positions That brings us to the second point - player/team specialty. I propose that, in cricket, there will be two different teams offense team (batting), and the defense team ( bowling, and fielding). Also, the defense team(bowling and fielding) should start the play with in 5 minutes of the play clock. If the defense team fails to start, it would be penalized with one over in their inning.

Of course, this will reduce the chance of a cricket player becoming an all-rounder. Hello! Nobody wants an all-rounder. Just do what you do better!!! We would rather watch your good bowling, than your average batting.

Now, we might have to increase the total team strength to 50, because we can't do the "inning change" with in 5 minutes with just 11 players. A lot of special positions will be created, and of course we will have an offense coach, a defense coach, a captain's coach, a fielding coach, a wicket keeper coach, and, of course, the head coach. Yes, this is completely based on the game of American Football, where you have more coaches than number of players in the field.

More rules can be developed similar to the half-back option (American Football), travel/technical fouls (Basketball), and stealing the base (Baseball) to making Cricket possible to have varied style of plays, special plays, and more physical plays. (This is left for the reader as an assignment...;))

Coming to the duration of game, I have to talk about a person who some one I know, knows. This guy, an American, watched three hours of test cricket match between Australia and England, was so surprised that the game is not over yet!!! Or atleast, it not nearing an end, where people stand up, and get ready to leave the stadium... Also, the game has to be very quick. Americans think that they would rather watch the game with wrong decision than waste time for the interruptions on TV replays. (OK. This is still a debate.)

Though, its very difficult for cricket to reduce its duration to have a complete game, I think, we can look at the time wasters in a cricket game, and restrict them. One of the most important time waster in a cricket game, is the fast bowler. The run-up of the fast bowler should be restricted, and also, the time taken to deliver a ball should be restricted. (This time includes the time required to spit, and shine the ball)

The number of balls in a over should be reduced from 6 to 4. But that doesn't give the bowler enough time to warm up. So, the rule to change the bowler for every over should be relaxed to every three overs. Its the captain's choice (or Let the coach ask for a timed time-out) to change the bowler after one over or three overs. But the time between overs should be penalized, if it exceeds more than the time it takes for two advertisements - one with a cute child, and another one with a movie-star dancing with an animal (preferably a bear). (Huh! Those Superbowl Ads!)

Now inning time is reduced, and game is just 400 balls. So, that comes around 5 hours of playtime - that doesn't hurt...much.

Scoring, and tie-handling will be discussed in the next part of this series.