Cricket’s lost element
May 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
I stopped following and playing cricket about 12 years ago. At that time, it was hard for me to really pin down the things about the sport that was starting to disinterest me. Then recently, I was reading an article completely unrelated to cricket that highlighted (one of) those things (emphasis mine):
Take Ted Williams, who in 1941 became the last hitter in Major League Baseball to bat over .400 in a season. As observed by the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, the straightforward reason no one has matched Williams in the past 60 years is that all players in baseball have since become uniformly more skilled—including pitchers. As best practices in training and recruitment spread, everyone has gotten better, and the difference between the performance of the worst player and the best one has narrowed. In statistical terms, as the performance of players has increased, the variance in their batting averages has shrunk, year after year.
This hasn’t quite happened in cricket: all the players becoming uniformly skilled. South Africa of the late 90s pushed the limits of fielding tenacity, and that honestly can be termed as one area where there has been consistent improvement. For the rest of the things, the sport and the authorities are concerned with it have focused creating a entertainment, than genuinely advancing the sport. Bowling has been consistently undermined and batting is all about brawn than brains now. If one were to oversimplify, cricket has gone the way of WWE rather than following any of the other major sports: insisting on the spectacle rather than pure competitiveness.