Saturday, July 08, 2006

Why Cricket is Better Than Football

So tonight you will know which country wins the World Cup, and tomorrow, the fever that had gripped India for the past one month will disappear for the next four years.

But as I sit down to write this column, which is six days before the D-day, the fun had already gone out of the tournament: can you imagine a World Cup final without the spirit of Brazil or the temperament of Argentina?

Two European teams clashing in the final is rather a tame affair — it is like two teams from the neighbourhood playing soccer in the local park. That’s why I prefer cricket, because a cricket match becomes interesting — and fierce — when two neighbours play.

But then, I know you hate cricket and you are probably more familiar with Manchester United that Lancashire. By ‘you’, I mean readers who not only love football but also hate cricket, and it is to them I am presenting my case.

Cricket, its critics always say, is a game of chance. One moment you hit a six, and the next moment you are out. Cricket, they might love to quote George Bernard Shaw, “is a game played by 22 fools and followed by 22,000 fools.” But for me, it is a far more pleasant sight to watch two men chasing a small ball than two men trying to wrest control of a much bigger ball. The former act is gentlemanly, while the latter is roguish. If I were a woman — especially an Indian woman — I would fall for a ball-chaser than a ball-grabber.

Moreover, the dramatist’s namesake, George Orwell, has referred to football as a sport that is “bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.”

Orwell said this in his 1945 essay, “The Sporting Spirit”. Not that he was particularly lenient towards cricket. Said he: “Even a leisurely game like cricket, demanding grace rather than strength, can cause much ill-will, as we saw in the controversy over body-line bowling and over the rough tactics of the Australian team that visited England in 1921. Football, a game in which everyone gets hurt and every nation has its own style of play which seems unfair to foreigners, is far worse. Worst of all is boxing. One of the most horrible sights in the world is a fight between white and coloured boxers before a mixed audience.”

But at least he acknowledged the grace of cricket. That is why I love cricket. Did I hear you saying that it is just a game of chance? I was coming to that. True, cricket can be a game of chance. Imagine a bowler coming in to bat when his team is 295 for nine and the target is 300. And he is facing the last bowl of the last over. He blindly swings the bat without even seeing the ball and in the process hits a six. His team has won! Alternatively, he could have been clean bowled and his team would have lost. That's a matter of chance. But it is certainly not a matter of chance that his team could put together a total of 295.

If you still insist that cricket is a game of chance, then what is penalty shoot-out in football? Two teams, as in 22 men, kick a ball around for nearly two hours, and still no goal is scored. Victory is, finally, decided by the ability of their respective goalkeepers to stop the ball, kicked by a member of the opposing team from only a few yards away, from reaching the goal. The predicament of the goalkeeper, in such a nail-biting moment, is no different from that of the no. 10 batsman coming out to face the last ball of the match. It's a do or die situation for them.

But such a do-or-die situation is more frustrating in football, because the penalty shoot-out happens only after the two teams have settled the match between themselves — 0-0, 1-1, 2-2 and so on — in front of millions of spectators. But since there can be only one winner, the penalty shootout brings about an artificial result on the basis of five kicks each.

Can it get more frustrating? Ask the Argentinian team, which was kicked out of the tournament even though it was eyeball to eyeball with the Germans. Ask David Beckham, whose years of stardom climaxed into a disgraceful exit as the England captain after his team lost to Portugal on the basis of penalty shootout. In short, the penalty shootout makes you the loser even when you have not lost a match. It reduces a fiercely-fought match into a game of chance.

That's why I prefer cricket. In any case, football matches are awfully short: they get over even before you can finish your drink or popcorn. Cricket matches, on the other hand, suit the lazy Indian temperament. They are like family picnic: you take it easy the whole day but still manage to do your own thing in between overs.

(The column was written for Sunday morning.)

21 comments:

visithra said...

hehehe i read this coz i find cricket boringgggg - i have tried n tried to love it but it seems impossible - im still not convinced after reading ur post - i still love n prefer footie

Abhipraya said...

Oh gentlemen are not always preferred. They can get boring at times. Take it from a woman.

Doozie's Labratory said...

soccer anytime!

verbaltorture said...

Not much into soccer, coz India doesn't play.

And not much into cricket either, because the Indian team is as good as not playing!

And pls dont beat me up for that, just my opinion!

Anu Russell said...

A new angle to view the game of Football...I am amazed that thou hailing from Bengal feels like this about Football!

I love any kind of competitive sport (except American Football)...I will watch ice skating, curling, and even pole vaulting...and for me Cricket defines everything because I come from India (And Mr. Verbaltorture India just won a series victory against WI in WI after a long long time! So no they do not suck at cricket entirely at least). I have ran with my friends bursting crackers in the streets of Chennai after India defeated Pakisthan at chinnaswamy Stadium during WC...Love the feeling it brings among Indians!

I also love football but do agree with you that the end is not convincing enough if both the teams are on a level during the entire game but penalty shootouts decide the winner...and never felt like that until i read your blog and heard Jay Leno tell the same thing on The Tonight Show yesterday night...Isn't that cool?

Anu Russell said...

chcek out my blog!! You are tagged!

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Hi all!: Loved your comments and, of course, point taken :)

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Coolboy said...

soccer anytime..I hail from kerala...the most football crazy state in india...Football wins over cricket coz of the same points u mentioned in ur blog..its a game of chance...no real skill required..Moreover it is loooonnnnnggg game...and therefore they are bringing it shorter and shorter...Soccer is short and simple...You need to have ball skills,power,speed,anticipation and intelligence...and above all lots and lots of practice...no overnight heroes or zeros....

Anonymous said...

Cricket is way tooooooooooooooo Boring ... its painfully slow 50 bloody overs it last almost a day... while football gets over in nearly 2 hours .... any given day... people cannot compare football with cricket... cause criket is played by only 11 or so teams ... while fifa has more member than the U.N... cricket is only poplular in India Pakistan and Srilanka while football is famous all around the world... besides if the author compares Cricket World cup to Football world cup... Cricket world Cup turned up huge losses just because India and Pakistan dint qualify for the next stage... while Football world cup dint..and frankly girls like guys who play football rather than the BORING Cricket... when ronaldhino hits a free kick past a human wall it curves past them and into the goal how brillant is that... brillance of C.Ronaldo, Gerrard Beckhem and Torres is way to brillant... while in cricket this much amount of brillance cannot be found.. and for the past 3 years only one team is been winning the World Cup Austrilya ... and no team is been able to beat them more than once.... when Austrilya play with any team you'll know for sure they are going to win ... HOW BORING IS THAT

nova said...

How come you know about indian temperament i live in chennai too.
1.gentlemen's game Huh ,why do you treat cricket as sports anyway after all sports is war .Everyone play accept it.
2.YOu are spoilling the reputation of india. In calcatta and goa soccer is famous and so in many parts in the country.
3.Have you not seen the local matches in the state ?Basketball and Hockey is and always is a major sport.
4.You are *******hole and sissy .
check ur gene to see whether u r truly a male .I think you are not.

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Anonymous said...

Football is the worst sport in the world and cricket is the best.Football matches are very short and the idiot football players just injure or kick other players.Footballers don't have the sports man spirit but cricketers have.Cricket is also called The Gentleman's Game and football should be called the fools game or it should be called fuckball.Even golf is better than fuckball.

Anonymous said...

football is bullshit.all the footballers are ass holes.they just know how to injure each other.football is just 90 minutes game.actually football does not deserve to be called a sport.it should be called a shit.there is only one thing you can do in football is to injure other footballers.however football is shit and all other sports are better than football.cricket is the gentleman's game and football is the ass holes game.fuckball.

Anonymous said...

football sucks anyday.football is for ass holes and cricket is for gentle men.only ass holes watch football but in cricket even god is busy watching cricket.that is the difference between cricket and football/fuckball.

get information said...

why to discuss man...It is people choice whom to choose???? It is unnecessary to discuss... I think Cricket fan are from only there respective country and NRI and some cricket loving country people...but football fan are from all over the world.....I am from Nepal, During world cup 60% Nepali people was fan of Argentina 20% England 10% spain and remaining other...But in cricket world cup there wasn't discussion between fans because there was not fan of any country except some exceptional cases..In cricket there are only 8 country playing nice. 8 country vs any other country ..that test playing 8 country always won with large difference...In cricket worldcup 2011 also, see what the difference ..won by 10 wicket with 200 ball remaining , won by 200 run..Almost in all match that was except some exceptional cases

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