images  DEEP within the dimly lit forests of Sundarban, it is said, lives an ascetic who is cognizant of all human knowledge. Gradually he got better of  my  wonder so I sought out for him. Once getting past an ashram filled with venomous cobras I chanced upon an old Sadhu at the base of ghat  who was blabbering an obscure status that I found out to be that of Bedi’s career bowling figures. Was he telepathic? Did he know that I, a cricket enthusiast, will travel all the way from city to confirm his claims of remarkable knowledge?

Well, my troupe, by the way, have already forsaken me and took off with the speedboat. So I devoted the next three years of my life under his auspices learning various kept secrets of the sport. He seemed to be omniscient but I focused on affairs of cricket as he gave a first hand demonstration of quoting any paragraph from any Wisden published till now.

Earnestly I began my lesson. I began to scribe down everything I could hear, see, feel and even taste. I was immersed in cricket.  Thus began my forays into the sylvan world of cricket idiosyncrasies.

Every night I would spend meditating in a vigil silently learning the tales he recollected from memories.   I learned of 98. A contradictory, a tied , a dead heat, and a turnaround match where a strange chiasmus ruled the innings of the first and third reciprocally to second and fourth of a minor Jundaryan and Brobenah. Another minor match was even tied at 71 all out. The contradictory one was mentioned in Wisden for the imbalances of the reciprocal innings and of course he told me the story of the ’Great Hampshire Turnaround’ on the following night.

At another occasion, he revealed, perhaps nothing was stranger than the cases of the 116. Bilocation men of Billy Murdoch playing in a Test as a sub for his own team mate and taking catches while in most recent years Wisden noting of one Michael Bates wh o played for both sides in the same match.


Sadhu would also carry on with 287. Musician XI comprising of the likes of Bradman and Parr and Fry and Curtly Ambrose and Brett Lee. Speaking of XI, he also related: 8. Tale of the tattooed ones with Mitchell Johnson’s Japanese koi and Virat Kohli’s samurai warrior; of 299. Guard of Honor XI  or say, 310. Cricketers and their automobiles.  He mentioned about 454. Recollection of the triumvirate, the unlikely trio of Wilfred Rhodes, Syd Gregory, and Vinoo Mankad each from different countries forming the unassuming club of only ones batting in all positions.  Or consider the time  in 662. Prisoner’s dilemma about how John Derrick was the first ‘wrongfully prisoned’un’ to John Evans the England cricketer who escaped from two prison of war camps during the wars to the modern convicted ones for ball tampering.
For the continuing nights he talked of the ball caught on knife, the lost ball at USA-Canada boundary of a minor Winnipeg match, statistician finding ‘missing runs of Don Bradman’, Stoner XI and even 559. Cricket on moon

The tales must be narrated one at a time, for a therapeutic dosage as needed.

“You surely must’ve then heard of the man with the golden arm or the one who took 10 wickets in an innings unassisted for any other fielders?” Sadhu would announce.

I confessed I haven’t.

 “That’s a story for tomorrow night, then!”


Obscure XI

Occasionally while surfing online and browsing first-class curiosities many names pop up which I am not familiar with altogether but with some fabulous stories. So this led me to conjure up an Obscure XI (the first class version): 1. R.Nayar , 2. WR James, 3. JM Parks (v/captain), 4. V.Merchant (c) 5. Callaway 6. RR Phillips, 7. Walker, 8. JS Rao, 9. Tahir Rashid (w/k), 10. Cosstick 11. H.Verity

These players may be obscure at first glance, but rest assured they have been chosen carefully. They are cream of the crop in their respective fields.

For instance, the familiar name Verity can be equated with 10 for 10 in an innings. Hedley Verity is also the only cricketer who has taken 14 wickets in a day in a Test match against Australia at Lord’s in 1934. Twice he took ten wickets in an innings.

Vijay Merchant may be familiar to some. And that is mainly because he is next to Bradman with a first class average of 71.64.

Starting from the top we have Rajiv Nayar who who batted for over 1000 minutes and created world record. Rajiv was the captain of Himachal Pradesh and batted for 1015 minutes scoring 271 in his a drawn match in Ranji Trophy league game

The strength of the squad only gets better when we find that WR James scored 99 and 99 not out as well contributing 9 dismissals (the highest in FC) in Matabeleland v Mashonaland CD at   Bulawayo in 1995-96!

Frank Woolley and Leslie Ames are amongst only three players to score 20000 runs and contribute 1000 fielding dismissals. The other one being Jim Parks. In 2013 he was elected President of Sussex.

Next we have AK Walker. Having bowled Firth with the last ball of the first innings, he achieved a unique feat by dismissing Lester, Tompkin and Smithson with the first three balls of the second.

Norman Callaway scored a double century on debut. It was Callaway’s only first-class innings; he was killed in action in France in 1917. Cricinfo’s biography has it:

Arriving in the middle with the score on 17 for 3, he raced to his fifty in an hour, and he brought up his hundred with a straight six half -an-hour later. Resuming on the second day he became the first man to score a double hundred on debut before he was caught via a rebound off the keeper’s gloves for 207.

RR Phillips achieved a hat-trick in his first over in first-class cricket (v Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth) having previously played in four matches without ever bowling!

Samuel Cosstick has a measly average of 9.84.His claim to fame playing the only Test against England at Melbourne.

Like WR James, Tahir also contributed to 9 dismissals in an innings. And finally, Joginder Rao shouldn’t be an unfamiliar name to any FC addict.

Joginder Singh Rao made a historic hat-trick on debut and achieved two hat-tricks in the same innings in the next match!

And that’s my Obscure XI. Their identity notwithstanding, this XI will take some beating.

Laurel & Hardy play cricket

It would be a singular demonstration of one man performance ever. Of what could easily be dubbed as a sketch for The Harvard Lampoon, suppose, Mr. X and Mr. Y, or yet better, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, decides to play a cricket match for Lancashire. Further they decide to take on Rest of Mankind (RoM). Lanchashire for very reason Mr. Laurel hails from that portion of the sphere. Now, Mr. Laurel has been blessed with the supreme touch of hand­-eye coordination and cricketing nous and intellect. On the other hand, Mr. Hardy is a poor representation of Who-a-Cricketer-Must-Not-Be. Nevertheless, both renowned for their single-wicket repertoire decide to team up for and hatch the ultimate plot ever.

As a side note, it must be mentioned such 2 vs 11 player contest is not at all uncanny. Banality of this nature took place at Wittersham, Isle od Oxney in Sdeptmeber of 1936 between The Professionals and Isle of Oxney which was drawn due to rain although the professionals won on first innings score of 186 runs as opposed to the opponent’s 153.
What of that plan? Well, to protect the weaker link (and the fact they had an argument over an omelet at breakfast) Mr. Laurel decides to shield Mr. Hardy by hogging all of the strike. So a typical over would read 6-6-6-6-6-1, and…encore!

Of course, all would not by nice and sundry since most of Mr. Hardy’s shot would be miscued and mistimed for sixes. Either aiming for deep midwicket or over long off and on, he would end up caricaturizing himself by sending all the lofty shots over the keeper’s head. Many catches would be taken; but Lady Luck with her full blessing would inculcate in audience’s mind that they were all over the boundary rope resulting in sixes.

Umpire would not signal the sixes rather assume since every ball save the last one of the over would be a six would simply hold his hands up frozen as if he is being robbed of his occupation.

At stumps of day 1, Lancashire would accumulate (31x roughly 90) = 2790 runs. After frustrating the fast and furious bowlers, who, it must be aptly pointed out, would take pains not to leak any extras, the run-getting machine would continue the same boring pattern ad nauseum for 5 days straight.

A typical match scorecard would read:

Lancashire vs. Rest of Mandkind (RoM) XI

Match drawn (played on March 28, 29, 30, 31 and April 1)

Lord’s Cricket Ground


Mr. Laurel not out…….13,950
Mr. Hardy not out…………..0

Extras………………………. 0


Lanchashire 13950

Mr. Laurel would be the talk of town, the alpha male of all alpha males and lauded and carried by Mr. Hardy with a guard of honor given by Rest of Mankind.

After being hailed as the greatest tour-de-force performance of all time by The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, and TMZ, Mr. Laurel would both debut and retire in that same match. In the process he would proceed to break several records of cricket.

Thanks to his epic, Mr. Laurel would have:

  • Highest individual innings in a Test match or any format of the game : 13950 runs
  • Highest team total  in a Test match: 13950 runs
  • Highest first innings total in a Test match: 13950
  • Highest team total in a drawn match: 13950
  • Highest first wicket partnership: 13950
  • Highest partnership for any wicket: 13950
  • Highest batting average: –
  • Fastest (to) thousand runs in a Test innings
  • Fastest to ten-thousand runs in a Test innings
  • Fastest century in Test: 100 in 20
  • Fastest fifty in Test: 50 in 9 balls.
  • Most sixes in an innings in Test or any format of the game: 2250
  • Highest run rate in an innings in Test: 31 runs per over
  • Highest strike rate in an innings in Test: 3100
  • Highest individual innings on debut: 13950
  • Highest maiden 100: 13950
  • Most hundreds in career: 139
  • Hundred on debut
  • Double hundred on debut
  • Triple hundred on debut
  • Quadruple hundred on debut
  • Quintuple hundred on debut
  • 1000 runs on debut
  • 10000 runs on debut
  • Fastest to 1000 runs
  • Fastest to 2000 runs
  • Fastest to 3000 runs
  • Fastest to 4000 runs
  • Fastest to 5000 runs
  • Fastest to 6000 runs
  • Fastest to 7000 runs
  • Fastest to 8000 runs
  • Fastest to 9000 runs
  • Fastest to 10000 runs
  • Fastest to 11000 runs
  • Fastest to 12000 runs
  • Fastest to 13000 runs
  • Most ball faced by a batsman in an innings
  • Special Man of the Match Award for Batting Extraordinaire
  • Most runs from boundaries in an innings
  • Youngest player to score 10,000 runs in a Test innings
  • Oldest player to score 10,000 runs in a Test innings
  • Carrying bat through an innings
  • Highest percentage of runs in an innings: 100%
  • Batting on each day of a five day match
  • Lifetime achievement award
  • Macarthur Genius Fellowship for Cricket
  • Wisden Best Batsman of All Time albeit shortly Mr. Laurel announcing  ex cathedra the Bible to be renamed as Laurel Almanac hereon.


Readers were warned beforehand that this would veer to farcical if not an utter droll and disturbing performance. True, Mr. Hardy would also be recorded in the Annals for his record contribution of his nought for a joint Men-of-the-Match performance. Also true is the fact that Rest of Mankind bowlers would also all be awarded for the Pathetic Bowling Performance of All Time as well as “highest economy” and so forth in a match. It’s only a pity that Lancashire would draw the game as promised in the pre-match huddle by Mr. Laurel to Mr. Hardy: Screw the result, let’s go for record books!


Alas! This preposterous tale, astonishing yet however apocryphal, of the boisterous Mr. Hardy must come to an end. It is perhaps a fitting tribute to end the piece by wryly noting his autobiography: The Greatest Batsman of All Time, didn’t earn a penny after being self-published via certain online website, given million reasons to cry for.

Cricket according to Leonardo da Vinci
God, is in the details.

Renaissance men Leonardo da Vinci and Leon Battista Alberti were polymath while Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti was allotted hundred languages to speak.Now, is it a boon or bane that cricket was not developed during the Renaissance, for it might have led my idol – sort of James Bond of 16th century- to procure a score-sheet as complex and inane as a modern day police report.The scorecard would carry your usual information and sundries such as name of player, country of origin, place born, ethnicity, date and time of debut in IST, height without rounding off to any significant figures, weight etcetera. Starting with toss the scorecard would report the metallurgical deficits of a coin along with the bas relief of the image and it’s correlation to landing on either sides.Along with heads or tails that landed, of course the scorecard will give a trajectory of the coin spun and the precise angle relative to commentator’s box it fell on the exact location on ground marked with a chalk.

Consider the case of an lbw dismissal for instance. Now Leonardo was versed in wide array of fields. So through the prism of the dismissal in his codex a typical lbw dismissal would be broken down into many facets of his expertise. If the batsman is missed the very first ball of the match duck- leg before wicket- to a violent shout of the bowler and the paroxysm of the entire stadium. According to the breakdown of Maestro, we would have check-box and space for:


There can be various types of lbw dismissal in many permutations. To an expert they are as different as a cabbage to a carrot. For instance, was the batsman right or left handed and the bowler left or right. Fine, these are given, but what about  the slot for over the wicket and around the wicket? Where is the hawk-eye breakdown of the stump to be ticked off between: off, middle, leg with further space for the bails: bail left, bail right. If that is covered then the bowler’s factoids: was he a spinner or a seamer? How many paces he took for run up? Where did his feet pitch? On the line? Behind it? Ahead of it?


And at what exact spot did the ball hit the pads? Or the gloves? Which leg was it? Stating ‘shin’ is not good enough. Tibia or fibula? Proximal part of the medial side of fibulua? And, of course, the viscosity of the blood supply for free tissue transfer of the fibula. Does he have any disease like labyrinthitis to affect his vestibular system?


The advent of modern day computer simulation the batsman can be modeled in a jiffy but what was the exact choreographically meme of the kinematics of his stance and his follow through? If the batsmen were sculpted in flagrante delicto how would he be captured frozen in time?


How did the interplay of the interplay or sfumatto of light and darkness in the stadium along with the trapezium of the shade as cast by the pavilion roof on the ground affect the dismissal with Gothic gargoyle sticking out among the Welsh bricklaying patterns?


Or for that matter did the batsman carry any charm, amulet or totem with him? What are his religious or cosmological belief system and how does it affect his confidence to stay at the crease or during the time ball hits any part of his corpse?


What are the exact (x,y,z; t) coordinates of the point hit? I mean the three dimensional figures of the azimuth plus the t-dimesnion of space-time? At what time was the dismissal given?


It is said that a butterfly fluttering it’s wings at one place can affect the weather at Madagascar. What was the storm condition in Iberian peninsula or surrounding region? Was it overcast when the batsman offer shot? Anemometer reading? Humidity?


What was the current political situation at the place of crime? Is the head band wearing, tree hugging, kaleidoscopic, trippy bowler left wing liberal hippie or Ray Price?


What was the decibel level during the appeal in stadium? It’s true if you whisper at a focal point at an ellptic chamber hall you can be heard at the other end. Well how was the appeal made in terms of pitch tone? Was it lilting at the end with a rising intonation and falling deflection?


Did any bird twit to affect the soundscape? If so what was the species of bird, nest size, egg colour, time of migrations and chirping pattern?

Civil Engineering

How did underground sluice of waste disposal plumbing system affect the dismissal running underneath the stadiuim?


What did the trace metal study reveal? Did he touch any metal object prior ot dismissal? Hold rails of a tram or took bus or rode motorcycle?


Full diet chart.


His emotional intelligence? Intuitive or calculated? How was his mental stability during shot played?


Name of origin of fielder at cover? Hittite or Parsi? Latin or Gaelic?


Shades of grass of color. Shape of the blade of grass: serrated or curvaceous?


What was the soil analysis of the pitch like? Any pebble involved off which the ball bounced? Type of rock then? Igneous or sedimentary?

Finally, after the great scoresheet is printed out with not enough pixels from a Seurat painting, then we lump them up all in a 3-digit code called, yup you guessed it- the Da Vinci code.

Of course, it would give for a curious reading of a scorecard. But it shall also enable readers to find unlike correlation as that of mentioned by Darwin in his book between sunspots and financial system or as authored by
by WS Jevons himself in 1875 under the prestigious title: Influence of the Sun-Spot Period on the Price of CornSo we might as well start seeing statistics as:The most front foot dismissal of lbw clipping the right bail and leg stump at 3:00 pm by batsmen who believes partially in animism born in Mondays at Kuala Lumpur with ball pitching on a S-shaped crack

Or not.

Boon or bane you decide, but I for one wold love to see unusual correlation. However, such is the great prowess of the variety of the sport that when a certain Mr. Aitken bowled three men successively
breaking their stumps in halves- staring with leg, middle and then off – for an incredible hat trick – or for the time when first six Sussxex batsmen were dismissed LBW at Easbourne in 1938 or when a certain Alf Gover took a catch between  his legs wiggling into his sweater off Laker – then these affairs might warrant a check-box of their own!

Curtains, at last

A sombre meditation delving in literature unearths many slices of the last moments and resting place of the cricketers’ lives. Such moments of thanatopsis brings out many fascinating aspect of the relatively lesser known players from their epitaphs and inscriptions.

“Ashes to ashes, mud to mud”

He was known to have broken stumps at least on 20 occasions. He once smoked 152 in 70 minutes in an innings including 16 sixes. Resting peacefully in Palestine, Albert “Terror” Cotter played 21 Test matches with a best of 7-fer in an innings.

But he will forever be memorable for throwing out a mud ball in air after getting shot by a Turkish sniper and telling his friend: “That’s my last bowl….somethings going to happen”.

“Bowled at last”

He took a wicket with his first ball in first class cricket. He was the original wall. Once he scored 0 in a partnership of 45 where his batting partner AN Hornby made 44. He is immortal in a famous cricket poem. But it is his gravestone with the image of a broken wicket with a bail dislodged and inscription reading “Bowled at last” that deserves a mention here.

Unbroken partnership

Arthur Shrewsbury would find himself homeless in the winter of 1901. It would be less than two years time that he would walk into a gunsmith and buy a gun. Shrewsbury, unable to load the bullets would return to the salesman who would replace with the correct ammunition.

That evening Shresbury would commit suicide by shooting himself to the chest and then to the head.

Arthur Shrewsbury was the first man to score 1000 Test runs. Together with Alfred Shaw they opened a thriving sports good manufacturing business.

Alfred Shaw was buried at Gelding Cemetery after departure. Although the legends have it that he is buried 22 yards from the grave of Shrewsbury, in truth the distance is few yards more. Some speculate it is due to allow for Shaw’s run up, but others theorize it may be because the growing estrangement of them during their final years.

As above so below

Harry Bagshaw was  a Derbyshire first class cricketer. But it is because of his umpiring effort that the world remembers., umpired more than 200 matches. Bagshaw passed away at Crowden near Glossop and at Eyam Church his headstone shows a hand with finger pointing heavenwards. Under the inscription there is a broken set of stumps with a bat and bails.

And finally an obscure anecdote:

Curtains, at last
In the book “Audience with an Elephant: And Other Encounters with the Eccentric Side” penned by Byron Rogers, the author mentions a cricket related reference. He stumbled upon a gravestone of Sydney Hill in Napton Hill village in Warwickshire. Upon reading the inscription:

The village team of 1926 is now complete

Rogers writes: Homer could have written. Who would they have been? Carpenters, labourers, farmers, perhaps the village schoolmaster. You will not find their names in Wisden, but that does not matter, as 60 years on one man remembered he had seen the gods saunter down that hill, before whom the teams of Warwickshire must have gone down like grass.I suppose I could have tried to find out about the other cricketers, but I didn’t.”

Of course there are many other prominent epitaphs and inscription, John Wisden nonetheless, but as the bones settle in the dust with the last breath of spirit rising above, it makes us ponder the mesmerism of a culture of cricket, where not even death can do the involved ap

A stream-of-consciousness

; So…i mean i dont know what do tyou want me to talk about for one whole minute? WEll the thing is ..i cannot not think of anything else but htis. see.. suppsoe. i mean who was the man with no dissmissal records apparently? afte rall is taht a myth> and then the que– well obvious question .. what isupp what facts willk i take myself with me to my grav..suppose the bail hitting eye socket of a audience after bowlwer htis it or ambidenxostrus hattrick ,…per ef mellor or some atuhor or cricket curiostiies with broomstuick cricket by wg grace….and when or rather where esxactly did a volcano interript a cricket match


now of course… i can also take to grave or talk about spider weavign wickets or varnish stumping bails or stump carthweeling back to it’s grid or say,… suppose the soltiary cycler who passed the ground or rather coverd..


but what..of why i am ai feailed cricketer? I mean … RApahell my friend [sic] he was an born artist. he once llooked at a cap wtiht he embroidered Brian Lara uin metgallica font. And said: Shudnor hoyeche.. or looks lovely. THAT  was a big compliment coming from ab adass painter

and possibly one fot he child prodigies in pbangaldesh at that time


then i got my larsen bat. not sure iof it’s after a new zealand batsman. but it got stolen one day


and you see. your onor … myh first catch was by parliament in Bangladesh at fine leg. i was chic ken shitt scareless of cricke tball but when it lopped up it was a dolly and i felt boasting


my firwst bowled was at a south africa vb other bhigh school preotorian match. i played for pbhs and then i got 3 wickets in debut with 2 wickets in 2overs or some shit but they ‘foprgot ‘[ to anounce it in assembly my name. my bruised ego never recovered from it


so i read tioday about cricket bradman’s lete4r of a fan. i am sooo envgikous of him.. how lucke that fella si..;but i read something similar in wisden!!


And then IU can talk about the fact of say practice session at c anda where i learned about chess cehckmates of to deceived batsman inn with slower delivers…


what about ht token moment when a..okay who was palaujn or wrestler…. and how come i had so diffiuclt time to bowl at stacked bricks at gully cricke4t in KAlabagan.


But cirkce4 tis all ican think abolut.. your honour.l.i mean what was the game in slumdog millionaire have oyu scnonsiere4d that?  or waht bouat tht ehfac tof cruicke..okay so it was south africa india one.. and the one in basenall movie with tom ham? “??


Million dollar arm. That is the name of it. Your honoru yu0 may think i am a lunatic or a fanatic and that..your honoru is perffe4clt rioght. I AM CRAZY!!!!!! I am CRAZY. Cricket is all i can think about… i love cirkcet. you see. which scorecard has th most nervous nintetimnes? what aobut printing out allcricket scorecard jhalf a million of them in a cricket book? the largest book int he world


what is mike greatbatch;s career average..and why do i care..and or rather ashould i even let this awaewrness appear in my brainc ell


or about say intenvetin g acricket adnoid…how superior should taht ARtificial intellgience be?


These 4thoughts plague me. And t


Judg: Enough!!!!


Stop blabeering
Srorry. Sorry. I stammered


What is your point?


Your honour this is what a cross sewction of my brain is like. You wanted to speak so this is all i coudl think of., I am deeply ashamed ofstealing that book .i know it is wrong and i know i could not steop my lel;ptomanaic habit. but the fact is i canniot help myself. it is an addictiopn. it is a fix i need. i NEED Cricket facts so i stole that bookl i snapped out the barcode and walked out of the secruity gate. but io dont have any money to pay the fine…


Can you do community service? The Judge was compassionate.


Yes your honour.


The above sketch is entirely fictional

Two matches in the jungle: a tale of EW Swanton

Prologue: The man who carried Wisden everywhere

For EW Swanton when he became a prisoner of war under the hands of the Japanese in Second World War in 1942, the game of cricket became an escape. Swanton always carried his 1939 Wisden as a vade macum and it became so popular that it had to be reserved like a library item for six hours loan time.  It was well-thumbed and tears of borrow left the prisoners to rebound it with rice glue. The almanack stamped by the guard as “Not subversive” is still preserved at the Lord’s Museum and one of the sought after item with Swanton declaring “it is the most widely read Wisden of all time.”

Swanton writes in the beginning of Cricket under the Japs in 1946 Wisden:

It was a subject that filled countless hours in pitch-dark huts between sundown and the moment that continued to be euphemistically known as lights-out. And it inspired many a daydream, contrived often in the most gruesome setting, whereby one combated the present by living either in the future or the past.

Born on February 11, 1907 at Forest Hill, London, Jim Swanton was a walking database of cricket knowledged. But he was not universally loved and the historian Rowland Bowen dubbed him as “Pomponius Ego”, while Ray Illingworth noted that Swanton was “too snobbish” to travel in the same car as his chauffeur.

It is estimated in a Telegraph article that the man who carried the Bible to war camps wrote about eight million words mostly relating to cricket over nine decades. Regardless of his demeanor, Lord Runcie noted at his funeral: “The solemnity, prickliness and, yes, arrogance that were part of the serious perfectionist gave way to the gentle self-mockery and kindly wisdom which never seemed to fail us.”

Jim Swanton passed away in 2000 but he left us two sketches of the matches in the jungles of war camp southeastern Asia.

‘The fastest hundred of all time’

Wampo. Christmas Day, 1942

Even though the prisoners were coerced to keep their morale to the minimum Swanton et co managed to receive green-light in the Thai-Burma railway on their first holiday. Swanton mentions that this game was noteworthy for “what is probably the fastest hundred of all time”. It was scored by Englishman Thoy who kept hitting the tennis ball over the huts and the carnage was done and dusted away in less than five overs. The Other Ranks would defeat the Officers but the moral of the story extracted was the fact that the “.. merit of any contest depends on the preservation of the balance between attack and defence”, Swanton writes.

Record score at Thailand

Nakom Patom. New Year’s Day, 1945

Cricket resumed after twelve months on another holiday. It was between Australia and England. The setting was typical of Thailand, ie, tropical sun beating down on playing area of sixty yards or so by thirty and the batsman’s crease abreast of the spectators preventing runs behind the stumps. There are ditches and the hazardous washed clothes on bamboo line. Runs are taken from boundaries. Trees hang over bowlers’ heads with Korean sentry overseeing everything. There is a mud high wall which is the “camp bund” and no runs are notched for hitting over it and given out as balls were precious. Spectators throng by hundreds.

There is a a single bamboo stump at the bowler’s end and five high ones at the other end. Thanks to small boundaries even though there are eight Australian fielders on the on side or ball getting stuck from swll basket or lost under the hut, runs were scored at bacterial pace and when at last English captain declared it was “acknowledged to be a Thailand record”.

Swanton adds:

There is the hum of anticipation that you get on the first morning at Old Trafford or Trent Bridge, though there are no score cards, and no Three penn’orth of comfort to be bought from our old friend Cushions.

Controversies, no stranger to cricket, would erupt about the legality of fast bowlers wearing shoes as prisoners would find an escape in these iota of moments giving them suspension of disbelief as they would get into the act.

Perhaps this encapsulates the magic of the sport that whether it be Lord’s or at the jungle depths in Thailand, we humans strive for an artform that abstractly arises from goulash of bones, muscle tissues and blood cells into a sophisticated kinematic battle.

Swan song

EW Swanton found a cricket club called the Arabs which has has no home ground. It couldn’t be any less apt as cricket in it’s full disclosure and glory is a sport without boundaries or a monopoly of identity.

Rest in peace, EW Swanton.


Cricket and Aristotle

The Aristotle Painting by English School; Aristotle Art Print for saleman had something to say about almost everything. That too voluminously. He was a polymath with profound influence on the Church, culture and other philosophers.

What would Aristotle have said about cricket?

He thought machine-like in a syllogistic manner. Godfather to modern day detectives, if he approached the game in a logical way, he might have produced wonders.

Conjure no more.

Borrowing a template of all the subjects on which he composed treatises, allow me to aristotalize the game through the lens of the deceased mensch.


On Dreams

…as a youth, Glenn Turner was following the insurance business, but he had a drive and an ambition that people would warn him as an improbable dream and he hardly warranted a place in cricket annals.

But he left his job and for thirteen months he worked at night in a bakery saving almost every penny of £22 a week he earned from this work towards the sole aim of going to England. He would make his first-class debut for Otago aged 17 and New Zealand press hailed him as anything but prodigy criticising for slow scoring and his approach to cricket.

Glenn Maitland Turner was born in Dunedin in May 1947. Between April and May in 1973, he played  eleven matches for the touring side of New Zealand at England and he scored 1018 runs, a feat which had not been accomplished for thirty-five years.

Do note it has been achieved only seven times between 1895 and 1938 with noted absentees as: Hobbs, Woolley, Sutcliffe, Sandham, Compton, Hutton and Cowdrey.

On the Gait of Animals

Rabbit, muntjac fawn, geese, swarm of bees, snake, monkey, pig, elephants and even….camels interrupted the game. At Launceston Cricket Club, a caravan of camels took the Cornish spectators by surprise.

They actually escaped from a nearby circus!

On Generation and Corruption

Hansie Cronje, Saleem Malik, Mohammad Azharuddin are to name a few. Lou Vincent and Danish Kaneria also serving life bans among 19 others in International level and 11 in first-class cricket.

On the Heavens

TEN Cricket is a 24-hour sports channel dedicated to cricket owned by Zee Network India. The channel was launched in 2010 and has over 55 million viewers from the Indian Subcontinent to Middle East. It is not available in Pakistan legally. Their network transmits three localized beams via the Intelsat 10 Satellite targeting the different countries.

On Interpretation

Cricket can be subjective game at times where many decisions can go either way opening hair-splitting analysis. However whosoever reads MCC’s Laws of Cricket will see that over and over it is reiterated that umpire’s decision is final.

On Longevity and Shortness of Life

At less than 23 years of age, Manjarul Islam Rana unfortunately is the shortest lived cricket player. He died in a car accident. At 103y 27d years the longest lived player is Norman Gordon. The oldest living player is Lindsay Tuckett at an evergreen age of a shade above 95 years.

On Memory and Reminiscence

Glenn McGrath has a pretty good – infact near photographic – recall of every wickets that he took.

On Metaphysics

Sachin Tendulkar has a lucky pad given to him by his brother. He wears it on his left leg for a while before every match. Sourav Ganguly keeps a photo of his guru in his pocket when he goes out to play, while Dale Steyn steps into the playing field with his left foot first and his eyes to the sky. Lasith Malinga likes to kiss his ball every time before he bowls.

On Meteorology

Cricket and weather….ah. Weather is an integral part of the system and may be in future a technology will progress so as to predict the weather so much in detail months before that no matches will be abandoned.

On Ethics

What is ethical? What is sportsman like? Should umpires don the garb of referees from soccer and issue red or yellow cards? Should sledging be discontinued? Such questions will keep the late philosopher from Stagira awake at night.

On Physics

Magnus effect of the ball during bowling comes to mind as well as the fact that that biomechanics dictate that the delivery is more akin to javelin throwing than baseball pitching.

On Poetics

Here is a snippet from Francis Thompson’s At Lord’s :

The champion of the centuries, he cometh up against thee,
With his brethren, every one a famous foe!
The long-whiskered Doctor, that laugheth the rules to scorn,
While the bowler, pitched against him, bans the day he was born;
And G.F. with his science makes the fairest length forlorn;
They are come from the West to work thee woe!
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
As the run stealers flicker to and fro,To and fro:
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !

On Politics

Other than the usual suspects of Lords and Viceroys we have the great example of Imran Khan.

On Posterior Analytics

Post match analysis and presentation ceremony.

On Prior Analytics

Prediction. Now cricket has always been a gambler’s refuge. Well, aided and abetted by sheer statistical databases it has now taken itself to a whole new level.

On Prophesying by Dreams

Not there yet…

On Rhetoric

Nothing can be more persuasive than appeal of bowlers. Did you, for instance, know that in 2001 umpire Mike Denness banned Sehwag for one Test and then fined other Indian players for intimidation and over appealing in a Test against South Africa?

The match was later stripped of Test status by the ICC.

On Sense and the Sensible

Other than Zimbabwe commentator Dean du Plessis, the visually impaired swimmer James Pittar recent stunned Australian viewers with amazing ball-by-ball coverage.

On Sleep and Sleeplessness

Pretty much the biography of any expat residing in a mismatched time zone.

On Sophistical Refutations

There are lots of cricket cases not the least of which John Derrick’s one. I will tell you another; the one of Bolton v Stone:

In 1947, during a game against the Cheetham 2nd XI at Cheetham Cricket Ground in Manchester, a batsman hit the ball for six which flew out of the ground and hit Miss Stone, the claimant.

Miss Stone was standing outside her house about 100 yards from the batsman.  The club played cricket there since 1864 and the road where she was standing was built in 1910.

Apparently,  there was evidence that a ball had been hit that far out of the ground on very, very rare occasions. In fact it was hit about handful of times in the last thirty years.

The claimant argued under the principle in Rylands v Fletcher, that the ball was a dangerous item which “escaped” from the cricket ground, and “in nuisance”. The judge, however, would rule that a single act of hitting the ball outside the boundary is too isolated of an incident for a nuisance.

On Youth and Old Age, On Life and Death, On Breathing

I will tackle breathing only. It’s a well known fact in archery, Olympic shooting and the art of sniping that during the interval of breaths’ ups and downs that the kind enters a calm state corresponding to more hitting of targets.

How come the cricketers don’t exploit it?

On Soul

Finally cricket is a game. No one knows who actually invented this visceral sport from vagueness of the misty and shadowy hills of the Weald. But, it was a children’s game to begin with — strictly for fun– that has evolved into a warzone. May be we should take a step back, pause and really look at ourselves and ask the ultimate philosophical question: Why play cricket?