Is it actually possible to play positive cricket by playing defensively?

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Here are some 100 per cent accurate cricket-specific definitions of a few normal words.

Everyone who plays international cricket agrees on these.

  • Positive = good
  • Attacking = good
  • Aggressive = good
  • Good = positive, attacking, aggressive

The corollary of all of this is that any approach to the game that is remotely defensive or negative must of course by definition be bad. And that gives rise to a problem.

Sometimes a way of doing well in a Test match is to spend a bit of time playing… defensively. Maybe you want to see off the new ball. Maybe you want to restrict the scoring on a flat pitch and see how the batsmen respond to the pressure. But if positive, attacking, aggressive cricket is the very definition of ‘good cricket’ then how does that fit?

The answer is simple: if it’s good cricket, then of course it must be positive, attacking and aggressive, even if the play itself really doesn’t seem to fit that description.

It’s the definitions you’ve got wrong. The definition of positive. The definition of attacking. The definition of aggressive.

“Sometimes you can be aggressive by defending,” they’ll say.

Playing defensively is a form of being aggressive, you see. Playing negatively can be a way to be positive. ‘What we were doing today was good, so what we were doing was positive, attacking and aggressive.’

Cricketers are great at cricket, but by the rubber wrist of Murali we’ll be damned if we’re going to sit and listen to them lecture us about semantics during press conferences.


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  1. The problem then arises that tomorrow you find yourself chasing 200 or 250 at Adelaide in the fourth innings and have 150 overs or more in which to get them. Any damn 11 nameless idiots with 11 big cricket bats can slog 150 in 20 overs. So how difficult can it be? Almost impossible is the answer because one instance has cricket in it and the other one doesn’t.

  2. Virat Kohli will be the first to make such claims because (barring a most extraordinary turnaround Day Five) India are set to win this test match.

    Conditions at the other grounds for this series will be more “home team friendly” than Adelaide, but if India can keep their pace trio fit and firing throughout the series, I suspect that India are simply too strong a side for this particular Aussie mob.

  3. Wouldn’t write the Aussies off yet — India need 2 quick in the first hour to wrap things up. The lower order batting continues to be both entertaining and horrible. Not sure how India made it to number 1 with proper old-school tailenders.

    Also, how fun is it watching Rishabh Pant? I think he’s more Afridi than Gilchrist at the moment, which means he’s mostly useless but at least it’s exciting.

    1. Pant sorely disappointed me in the first innings, I was watching him at work in the break room and after he had an almighty heave and missed by a foot or so I said to a colleague “caught in the deep in the next 2 overs”. Then he actually went and got out defending!

  4. I’m trying to think of a worse Australian XI in my living memory and while there have been a few duds of late, I certainly can’t think of a worse batting line up.

  5. Frankly, I want a captain to stand in front of the world’s press and say “this is test cricket, and we’re going to play it negatively. We want the people in the ground having the hardest time to be the audience. We want to play with so little desire to score runs or take wickets that Chris Tavare feels moved to take out a full page advertisement in the press denouncing us.”

  6. This year’s Big Bash League in Australia will feature a flip of a bat to replace the traditional coin toss.

    Captains will choose between “hills or flats” instead of heads or tails to decide who bats first.

    BBL officials said the bat used for the flip had been modified to promote an even result.

    “For me it’s a great moment which reflects what BBL is about,” Cricket Australia’s head of the Big Bash League, Kim McConnie, said.

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