Tag Archives: India

Causality and Umpire Errors

I used to read a lot of social science research in my previous life, and one of the most pressing issues in this “soft” science (compared to, say, physics) is whether we are able to identify causality when dealing with such complex and varied human patterns. During a presentation, one sociologist put slide after slide showing very persuasive evidence linking a factor to rising inequality, but then showed a slide that said, simply: “Sigh…causality.” No matter what she had showed us, she noted, there were many, many caveats.

I bring this all up to offer some amount of comfort to those Bangladeshi fans who are convinced, but for a dodgy no-ball call, they would have plucked their way into the semifinals. I’ve written before about the “linear fallacy” in cricket commentary, wherein people assume that if a certain wicket had/had not fallen at a specific time, the end result would have changed. But it is entirely possible that had Sharma been given out on that delivery, other players would reacted differently. Who knows? Dhoni, for example, would have had more time at the crease, and he may have added more to the scorecard than six runs. Or maybe India’s bowlers would have been comfortable defending 270. We’ve seen plenty of turnarounds and surprises in cricket to know that a good innings here or a bad umpire call there does not, in itself, cause victory or failure.

So, yes, be annoyed that you were not able to see the counterfactual, and that you were denied it by a call that seems only so-so. But do not assume that your life would have been that much different in the counterfactual — we simply do not know. And be comforted, as this Indian fan is, that your team made it as far as it did.

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A “Glute” Injury?

In case you were wondering, Virender Sehwag is out of today’s match against Sri Lanka because of an injury to his “glute” — that is, “one of three large skeletal muscles that form the buttock and move the thigh.” Just FYI. (And hey, isn’t this better than those groin injuries we keep hearing about?)

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Trial And Testimony: Gambhir, Sachs, And Cricket

I meant to blog about this when it came out — clearly, I can’t keep up with the Internet’s fast pace — but Albie Sachs’s opinion on the Gambhir-Watson merits some reading from cricket fans. I don’t know what kind of reaction “Gambhir-gate” attracted in India, but if I knew any better, I’m sure it echoed the hysteria that the BCCI displayed when the ban was decided. 

Let’s review: Gambhir and Watson get into each other’s faces during the 3rd Test Match. Then, when returning for a second run, Gambhir coyly puts his elbow out and lets Watson — reportedly, a very, very big man — have a little touch. A one-match ban takes effect for one; a fine for the other. 

Now, this is clearly a violation (or two) of those much talked-of but rarely-seen principles of cricket, and Gambhir admitted as much when he pleaded guilty. Chris Broad, however, felt that the physical contact went too far and could not be ignored, and so settled for the penalty he chose (apparently, he originally wanted a two-match ban, because of Gambhir’s run-in with Afridi, but he compromised after the umpires told him just how mean and nasty Watson and Co. were). 

Gambhir appealed, but Albie Sachs deferred. The BCCI gets angry, and cry upon cry is raised about the hypocrisy of the whole system. I think both sides have some merit, and I want to offer that kind of nuance into the debate: Continue reading

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Sachin Isn’t A Teenager, So Stop Saying He Is

I know Sachin Tendulkar has gotten into a little spat with Adam Gilchrist lately (and I’m on Tendulkar’s side, believe me), but I am getting a bit tired of commentators breathlessly talking about how youthful his outlook still seems, and how much verve and enthusiasm he brings to the game after nearly 20 years in it.

Yes, the man can take a good catch, and yes, he’s happy after he does it — wouldn’t anyone be? Which player in his 30s still goes on the field only to act like they’ve seen it all? If that were the case, wouldn’t he not, in fact, go on the field but just retire? 

So, quit it! Tendulkar likes to play the game. We know. Yes, he’s happy to take a catch — there’s no reason someone in their 30s wouldn’t be — and when he scores a half-century, he’s downright pleased about it (because he just scored a half-century). Millionaires might not jump for joy if they made another few additional $100,000, but they wouldn’t stop trying to make their money.

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The Indian Fan’s Dilemma: Should We Believe?

I know they’re ahead. So ahead. Day 4 starts in about an hour, but India are already 300 runs in front, with Virender Sehwag looking ominous. But they are playing Australia, which no one should discount. Especially now, this Australian side reveals the psychology’s significance in cricket. Good teams, great players, even umpires all fall occassionaly fall prey to the trademark Australian pressure (do you remember that last over from the Sydney Test? Or even the awful batting display in the 1st Test?). Their fielders run in; they constantly chat; they appeal as if they already know the verdict. It’s a beautifully constructed stage the Australians strut on. 

And yet, this Test has also shown, if only tentatively, the gap that is opening between the Australian reputation and the team’s actual abilities. “Australia” — world champions for the last 15 years — is now much, much better than Australia, a team without Warne and McGrath and an unsure Matthew Hayden. But can they pull it off again, though? Can they simply frighten their way to victory once more? When Shane Watson blithely said they could chase anything down — didn’t you feel nervous? 

Oh, I can’t watch!

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Day 1, Australia V. India

This. Is. So. Exciting. 

Now, normally I like this blog to be a bit more high-brow, not necessarily concerned with the latest scandal or sporting result, but more with the construction of the game.

Whatever. I will be live blogging the first day of the India and Australia Test match, set to begin in about an hour and a half. It should be exciting stuff, and if ever you find yourself feeling bored with the commentary (which is bound to be just about dismal), check back regularly. Continue reading

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Stop Arun Lal Before I Hurt Him

I cannot stand the man: in the past few hours as a commentator in the Sri Lanka-India Test, he has talked about a) a great Continental Hotel he stayed in next to a lake; b) some reptile roaming around the Galle cricket ground (which he calls “too cute” — and which, to be fair, is); c) the particular geography of Sri Lanka, and how there’s “nothing beneath it” all the way to Antartica, which, by the way, d) is melting, not as quickly as the Arctic, but nevertheless, quick enough in the summer that polar bears will soon be extinct.

Now, I understand that he said all this during a particular lull in the match (by Sehwag’s standards, that is), but there’s little excuse for such extended sermonizing. Audiences are allowed for such chatter during Test matches; that’s the precise beauty of the format’s length. But commentators? No dice.

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