Zombies, ghosts and theodolites

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A pitch’s flatness extends beyond its physical characteristics. No matter what its actual nature, the fielding side is going to struggle to accept that there’s anything there to be exploited when it’s 600-5 and this mentality only smooths the surface further.

By 700-6, a captain will be yearning for a combative bowler who will take it upon himself to shift the game from what by this point will seem a miserable path of inevitability. The problem is that any such player will quite obviously have had their exasperated “I’ve had enough of this” moment long before then.

You hit 700 and all options have been exhausted. Adrenaline and zest have run dry. There is nothing to call on. You’re standing around in Purgatory and the identity of the bowler matters to no-one but the person who is actually delivering the ball. With ghosts in the field, even they might feel somewhat detached from proceedings.

Throw in a batsman who’s by this point already seen everything the opposition can confront him with and even a theodolite wouldn’t allow you to detect an irregularity in the playing surface. That isn’t to say they aren’t there though. Better, fresher, more motivated bowlers can find things zombies cannot.

Karun Nair had a decent day. 303 is a fair knock, even against heat-wearied undead who’ve failed to take on enough carbohydrates.

Virat Kohli is an aggressive captain. We know this because he always tells us so. Today’s act of aggression was to punish the England fielders by making them watch Nair reach a landmark.

There is a case for saying that both India and England have played to about 90 per cent of their potential in this series. The problem for the tourists is that the home team’s potential massively outweighs theirs in these conditions.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. This Indian innings has changed the worlds of mathematics and language. At this time yesterday, 199 was a big number. At this time the day before, 477 was a big number. Both these numbers have been shrunk and redefined. The former’s most significant digits were the last two, now unquestionably the first digit is the one that matters most. The latter number has had an even worse fate. It has gone from being evidence of excellence to proof of ineptitude.

    Language has also suffered. Words like sufficient and adequate have had “in” prefixed to them, and yet are still being applied to the same things as before. Cricket pitches are described as “good” if they produce lots of runs. With more runs they get better, and better, and better, until they become “dead”. In what other field is “dead” the end-point of a series of improvements? And of course, the word “winning” has been converted into “losing heavily”.

    1. Also, “dead good” is better than “good”, which might be an example of an example where ‘dead’ is an end point (although there is a DJ in a locally well-known pub who used to say of karaoke ‘contestants’ that they were “dead dead dead dead good”, which implies that the more ‘dead’, the better, so it may not be an ‘end-point- after all).

  2. Bayliss: “We could have obviously batted and bowled a little bit better.”

    No flies on this guy.

    1. And only marginally less intetesting than a previous utterance of his, “we played like pretty boys,” which sounds like something Bob Hoskins would have said.

  3. Something something wouldn’t use a theodolite. Something something digital optical level. Something something laser scanner.

    Did I mention I was a land surveyor? We’re a fookin blast at parties*!

    *I imagine!

    1. I can imagine it too, Hoopy…

      …land surveying rocks!…

      …and when the dancing starts, what party girl can resist a surveyor when he does the gyrotheodolite?

    2. To be fair, the only land surveyor in all of 20th Century European literature has no trouble with that sort of thing. He gets off with a barmaid, as I recall, despite having only just arrived in the village. I assume that this was because he showed her his eight-foot-long stick that he could plant in the ground.

      1. I read The Castle ever such a long time ago, but I seem to recall that, although the protagonist, K, holds himself out to be a land surveyor, the circumstantial evidence suggests that he was probably anything but.

  4. Am I the only person other than his Sri Sri Pandit Sir Lordship himself disappointed that Jadeja only managed a seven-for? I’d have found the whole fourth-innings capitulation more morally redemptive and somehow morbidly ninetiestalgically entertaining if he’d managed a tenfer.

  5. Oh, go on then. I’ll be England captain. But I don’t really like travelling and I’ve never played above 2nd XI village level. When do you want me to start?

  6. It’s King Cricket requests time – that’ll cheer His Majesty up.

    Please may we have an own-liver-eating editorial piece of the “why oh why are England so awful in the Indian subcontinent” variety?

    Failing that, may we please have one of those “we want Cook’s head on a plate now – the captain has to go after such a tour” editorials?

    Failing that, may we please have a picture of a dumb animal feigning indifference to cricket?

    1. My only remaining hope of salvaging something from 2016 is the Lord Megachief of Gold announcement. I’m thinking it’s a dead heat between Laurie Evans, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Tim Ambrose.

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