Watching the amazing U.S. Open final between Roger Federer and Juan Del Potro, and I wanted to sum up three intramural lessons from tennis to cricket:
1. Technology hasn’t been an elixir in tennis, and it won’t be in cricket either. (I know I’ve said it before, time and again, but bear with me.)
After significant debate, tennis adopted the Hawk-eye technology that cricket only reserves for snotty comentators and replays. It’s done some great work so far, but not without some controversy. For one thing, the ball “mark” it measures sometimes seems ludicrously large when simulated, giving points where it sometimes shouldn’t. And for another, the human element remains forever. Just in today’s final, for instance, Federer clashed with the umpire about the amount of time given to his opponent for an appeal.
The New York Times explains the principle behind the champion’s frustration with technology:
The strangest case is Federer, who has long criticized the system, believing it puts the onus on players instead of on chair umpires. Federer makes challenges constantly, often for what seems like no reason, or with disdain for the entire process. Stefanki said coaches joked in the locker room that if someone like Federer missed by six inches, he should be penalized two points.
Which is also why I’ve said players should not be allowed to use technology at all in cricket, only umpires.
2. Why no women umpires in cricket? Wouldn’t that be something great? I watched a men’s match chaired by a female umpire, and I didn’t think anything about it until I remembered the way it is in cricket. Given how much animus current umpires have raised in the game, why not broaden the applicant pool?
3. The spirit of cricket isn’t a cheesy joke played by some uptight Victorians. Watch Serena Williams threaten to shove a ball down a lineswoman’s throat, and you understand the influence of the “spirit” discourse in cricket. Can you imagine any cricket player doing the same to an umpire, or even to another player, without some serious reprecussions repercussions? Mind your language, cricketers.