The Slumdog chases the pink ball


Oh, what a match it was. Inaugural, on supposedly the world’s largest cricket ground, and with a pink ball! All over in two days. The common man who must have booked for five days of entertainment and a win, was patriotically sure of the win, but not a two-day wrap-up! There must be disappointment on the sponsors, hoarders, channels, and a much larger televised viewership. Batsmen must be depressed in losing their innings to the ball hitting the stumps, or what is somewhat similar in technique—an LBW. The score hardly past two digits.

“Slumdog” a rather derogatory word used in a blockbuster of a movie released in 2008, that clocked nearly $350 million, on a production cost of $15mn, was used then on the residents of Dharavi slums in Mumbai.

Assuming the speculative instinct of the mind, that escalates a bet of honour between friends, a packet of chips, to money that doubles the pocket reserves, to much larger, even professional pockets, I wonder who would have contemplated, much less speculated on a truncated two-day tenure. That too with no heroics, as taking the catch first, landing in the pitch area, and subsequently falling acrobatically over the ropes. Or the wicket-keeper stretching extreme right, just about to get a touch to toss the ball, and the third slip diving in just to keep it in the air, with the cover finally taking it!

If day-night cricket is to stay, and the mischievous “pink ball” to create a reputation, there are technicalities that need to be analysed. The contents of the pink ball are the same as the red or white one. What made the difference, was the pink lacquer that is given on the surface to give it extended visibility, even fluorescence.

The devil lies in its propensity to skid both on and off the pitch. This was realized by the two Indian celebrated bowlers early in the match. The ball would not take turn. A maverick delivery by Axar made him realize, that a quicker one, landing on the shiny side, made the ball skid. No change in action, hold, or release of the ball from the hand, some cues every batsman observes. Yes, the muscle factor is obvious, and the batsman could judge the velocity and adjudge the timing to the face of the bat. What happened was, the ball pitched, and skidded on to the stumps. The anticipated turn or bounce never happened!

In retrospect, if scratching the surface on one side causes “reverse movement in the air”, it could have been anticipated that a lacquered surface would be smooth in the air, but thrown at a particular speed at a spot that confounds the batsman between going forward or the backfoot was the immediate discovery, an it worked consistently. In fact Jack Leach could dismiss Kohli and Rahane, by the same method.

The big question before cricket stalwarts is what should be the mechanisms if given this as a problem of physics and the art of the game. Should the lacquer be off, or the cosmetics be subdued. Day-night cricket has a future in tropical countries, and global televised watching shall bring enough sponsors to keep the game going. Will the batsmen change the approach, rush out of the crease, and despatch over the ropes!

Would the bowlers hold as expected from the seam, and by a special guile of the wrists, release with the ball rolling round the seam! It’s a mechanical-art challenge to be solved.

Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Kapil, and Kumble, can hire a Bollywood camera team, shoot all aspects of every match turning event, and release a digital book, that would become the basics on research on how many types of balls and colours we can have!. Take a cue from the DRS trajectories!

Can’t forget the memorable “Slumdog millionaire”-a similar maverick that bagged 8 Academy Awards. A movie adapted, influenced from so many sources, in a was a jigsaw combination, but so miraculously intertwined. A story modified from Vikas Swarup’s Q&A (2007) on Kaun Banega Crorepati. The story is about two young boys from Dharavi Javed, Salim, and a girl (Freida Pinto) who joins them. Their travails through various gangs of Mumbai, fleeing to various parts of the country. A particular scene where Javed (Dev Patel), wades through sewage, to get iconic Amitabh Bacchan’s autograph, irks. It could never be imagined. It was forced insult! So do we accuse Boyle of concealed instincts as “dogs and Indians…” That time is long past, ad 2008, the year of production I still not the past. Tavleen Singh was the prime motivator, and was made the co-director. She could have objected.

Anyway, the three Dharavi youngsters, call themselves the “ The Three Musketeers—Arthos, Parthin…” Not that they were fully read.

The last question was, “who was the third”. A phone lifeline is allowed. “Aramis” was the million- dollar answer, in a happy ending movie.

Instinctive stray thoughts often need someone to usher them. They often turn in to unbeatable successes.

The Indian names that stand out are Mr Amitabh Bachchan, Tavleen, Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto, Anil Kapoor and A R Rahman’s “Jai Ho” in this Danny Boyle direction! A remake, by the talented Aamir Khan,”Taarey Zameen Par”, did not make it to the Academy.

I was forced to put the two together, as both are astounding. Indian culture, entertainment, revival of sports, and though not in the same category, lead in production of vaccines, shows that the time to gear-up has come.

The DRDO, that could not prevent the skidding of the Chandrayaan by a few feet, thousands of miles away,( the task taken for the first time) may already be working on the angle, velocity and factors that cause skidding of the pink ball!

Expect a different, wholesome, experience in the next one. All that has been analysed has enough stalwarts on either side to rectify. The next one, in patent Gujarati, “Wadhaarey na kehwaaye, pun piaso wasool thai , ay to nakki”—-the globally stamped phrase much later called “value for money”

“You don’t need to play every ball but every ball needs your judgement.”

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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