The charming game of Cricket is not what it used to be. Traditionally a battle of equals, an engaging contest between bat and ball, cricket today finds itself in the midst of an era which has bowlers pulling their hair out. Let us then spare a thought for those amiable (or otherwise) men who turn their arms over endlessly in the hope of bagging one more wicket.
What has happened in recent times is that the bats have gotten better; their wielders have gotten bigger. Even number-elevens are capable of hitting respectable pacemen out of the park these days. To top that, the rules have been amended again and again to harass the bowlers. Indeed, everything that could go wrong has, for the trundlers!
Bowling figures of 1 wicket for 24 runs in 4 overs are considered brilliant nowadays. Perfectly good deliveries are hammered to the fence or over it. Top bowlers (even the magnificent Dale Steyn) are at times hit for 24 runs in one over! Not fair!
Admittedly, people love sixes and fours much more than they love dot balls! What’s more, the Twenty-Twenty version of the game has virtually put paid to some age old mores of the gentlemen’s game. Settling in is no longer necessary or desirable for a batsman. He has to whack the first ball that he receives! Cricket pitches are increasingly batsman-friendly, the world over. Almost extinct is the sight of a batsman being beaten outside the off stump (so much a part and parcel of the drama of Test matches of yore).
The result of this mayhem is that bowlers do not find ‘matches’ these days. Yes they find cricket matches to play in, for someone has to go up and bowl. They also find matches that light up earthen lamps around Diwali, one presumes. But when it comes to finding life-partners of their choice, they are left high and dry.
The girls are all running towards the batsmen, you see! Even an average ‘batter’ can hope to have a shelf life of 3 to 4 years in the Indian team nowadays. He appears to be a much more ‘sustainable’ prospect for young women! But a bowler who is hit for four sixes in a row may find that his India career is over almost before it has begun. He is then relegated to the sidelines and left to play in cash-less, spectator-less, and glamour-less, domestic cricket matches that bore everyone to death. Clearly a case of bowlers not being able to bowl either maiden overs or maidens over!
Some of our bowlers are of course good looking men, but to no avail. The fair lasses are too busy chasing the batsmen, even though they may well have zero sex appeal. In fact, Matrimonial inserts by parents of young ladies may well mention the fact that cricketers are welcome to respond but bowlers need not bother!
To worsen matters, while batsmen (and wicket-keepers!) are supremely successful in signing up lucrative modelling contracts, bowlers hardly find any takers. They are left to promote ‘sidey’ products which hardly anyone buys anyway. Resultantly, their stock has taken a beating from which there may be no recovery.
As I write, news comes filtering in that the bowlers association has launched a simultaneous protest march in metro cities. Their demand charter includes no restrictions on bowling bouncers, allowing 3 big no-balls per over, reducing the width of cricket bats by half, allowing bowlers the option of retiring (ego) hurt when batsmen are on the rampage, and even permitting them to box the batsman in the face (once he’s removed his helmet) if he hits more than 3 sixes!
If these outlandish demands somehow find favour with the powers that be, the bowlers may well rediscover some longevity. Then and only then will those Matrimonial inserts be suitably amended in their favour!