Wednesday 16 December 2009

Arguing the toss

England's decision to bowl first today was a classic demonstration of a great contemporary malaise, that of overthinking. It's not just a cricket thing, it's a modern life thing. Everything is complex now. Everything is analysed, deconstructed, challenged. It's a product, in part, of so many people having jobs doing exactly that. 

England considered too many problems, came up with too many solutions. They went for six batsmen, four bowlers. Four bowlers, they thought, could get the job done. So should they bowl first or last? Six batsmen would offer depth. So should they bat first or last? South Africa's batting was undercooked, their best bowler crocked just before the game. Which should they attack first? The pitch was green, the weather was wet, the match was at altitude, the moon was in taurus*...

In simpler times, the analysis just wouldn't have happened. A wizened old pro would have said something like, 'let the openers worry about the first hour, that's their job', and the match would have a different shape.

*It may not be, I made that bit up. Is Taurus a place?


Anonymous said...

Taurus is a constellation. It's one of the 12 that lie along the ecliptic, the plane through which the sun, moon and planets appear to move from our earthbound perspective. It's a place in much the same sense as the western hemisphere is a place, i.e., barely at all.

Russ said...

At risk of completely derailing your post in favour of astrology here, but to the extent that the moon is in a constellation, it is currently in Sagittarius, along with the sun, because it we currently have a new moon.

Statistically, bowling first hasn't been a bad tactic for a while now. Fourth and fifth day pitches aren't what they were, and it is a more efficient use of time from a winning position, because you don't need to declare. England isn't even badly placed, really, but after an even first day, the second becomes comparatively more important.

The Old Batsman said...

Anon - thanks! Russ, a good point yes - I almost put a line in saying England weren't necessarily in a bad position. Depends on how the wicket holds up and when turns out to be the best time to bat on it. As you say, a lot of pitches these days just go flat rather than break up.