Domination is the Name of the Game
G. Grace at the Wicket
by Archibald Stuart-Wortley, 1890
canvas, 1220 x 864 mm
Marylebone Cricket Club
LONDON, 14 May 1999 - One of the favourite
jibes about cricket (made by those who don't understand its arcane
complexities) is that it's a game played by twenty-two men, divided into
two teams, all dressed in white clothes, who can play for as many as
five days at a time - often interrupted by rain - and still finish up
with a draw at the end of it all.
Traditionalists like myself
- still believe that the old style cricket still represents the true art
of the game but modern thinking demands fast moving action and a quick
So, to please and attract today's spectators, the
administrators and professional players devised what is called the "limited
overs" or "one-day" game. This guarantees a win - or even
an exciting tie - after seven hours' play.
This break with
tradition went further by abandoning white shirts and flannels and
dressing the players in gaudily coloured uniforms. Thus, "one-day"
cricket has become known as the "pyjama game".
has proved so popular that teams representing virtually every
cricket-playing country inthe world compete against each other regularly
and the twelve of the best are invited to take part every three years in
the summit of one-day cricket - the World Cup.
This year the
tournament - the seventh to be played - is being held in England, the
cradle of the game. As usual, the team of the host country will open the
contest on Friday, May 14th, against the present cup holders, Sri Lanka.
This game will take place at the headquarters of cricket, Lords ground
For the following five weeks, the teams will play
in a series of qualifying matches at grounds in cautious parts of
England and there are games in Edinburgh and also Amsterdam where South
Africa will play Kenya. This is both a sop and encouragement to Holland
where improving standards of play may lead to a team from there taking
part in the next World Cup.
So who's going to win the cup this
year? The expert money is on South Africa which has one of the most
cohesive teams in the tournament; superb in batting, bowling and
S. Ranjitsinhji (1872 - 1933)
George W. Beldam, 1901
Carr-Archer / George Beldam Collection
rivals? Australia and Pakistan with India edging in. There's not much
more than national loyalty behind England which has turned in some poor
performances elsewhere in the case of horses for courses; with England
having some advantage on playing on home pitches.
of pitches (those 22 yard long stretches of grass where the batsmen and
bowler come face to face); quite a number of games will depend on the
luck that team captains will have in calling "heads" or "tails"
correctly when the coin is tossed.
The received wisdom is that
the team which wins the toss and decides to bowl in the conditions of a
May morning in England will win the game. A this time of the year, the
dew can remain on the grass up to noon and this allows the ball to move
right or left off the pitch and to bounce awkwardly.
difficult conditions for batsmen, many a one-day game has been settled
within a couple of hours with wickets toppling quickly while the grass
is still wet.
So, for weaker teams like Bangladesh, Kenya and
Scotland, the prosepects of remaining in the tournament for more than a
couple of weeks are bleak.
Even more established sides like
the West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe are facing challenges with
But cricket, like most sports, breeds strong
characters and the World Cup teams have more than their fair share of
them. Domination is the name of the game. Watch this space to see who
Gower, England v. India, The Oval, 1990
Porter spent a working lifetime as a foreign correspondent
for the BBC and other news organisations in various parts of the world.
As a cricket fanatic, he managed to find time to play the game in such
unlikely places as Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Singapore and New York. His
latest venture was to help establish a cricket team in Strasbourg and
looks forward to a team from France playing in the World Cup.
Book of British Sporting Heroes, compiled by James
Huntingdon-Whiteley, published to accompany the exhibition, British
Sporting Heroes, held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 16
October 1998 to 24 January 1999, and available at the National Portrait
Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE
Read Adrian Porter's weekly articles on the Cricket
Results of 1st Week:
A Commonwealth Row and High Tech
Foul Up Cricketing Traditions
Results of 2nd Week: Umpires
Upset Bookmakers With Excessive Wide Balls
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