Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Last night, I dozed off on the couch. It was for the second night in a row, and that makes it very unusual. I've been waking preternaturally early all year, which is also highly unusual, and maybe this was a consequence. Weirdest of all is the fact that I was watching cricket while it happened -- both nights I decided to give the rest of the day's play a miss, went upstairs, and slept.

This morning I find that Australia won the game. That I had half-expected. What I was less prepared for was the way in which it happened. Reading how Dravid was given out caught off his pad made me upset, but what really got my goat is the description of Ganguly's dismissal. There is nothing untoward about a fielder claiming a 50-50 catch -- what is bizarre is that the umpire would not check with the other umpires, but instead refers to the fielding captain. Who himself has no way of knowing except that the fielder in question told him it was a fair catch. And that fielder, Michael Clarke, being one who had not exactly covered himself with glory just the previous day. As Peter English puts it in his Cricinfo report: "Why should Clarke be trusted to rule on a potentially match-turning catch when he stayed at the crease on day four after edging a ball to first slip?" But that was exactly what happened, Ponting raised the finger to serve as judge and jury on Ganguly, and due process died a sorry death. (Speaking of which, is there anyone else here who thinks Ponting looks exactly like Bush? Which would make Benson the lame duck Supreme Court, right? How apt.) In his defense, Ponting says he can be taken at his word because he didn't claim a non-catch earlier in the game. Excuse me? What a masterly application of the Trussst in me snake-oil line. By this logic every criminal is innocent of his first crime. Mr. Ponting, your words have even less credibility than your actions.

But that is not the point of my rant. Upset as I am, I am most upset about something that has not yet happened. (And no, it is not that the BCCI will let this go without a whimper -- that is something that one expects anyway.) The fact is that, come next week, there will be another Test against this same Ponting's team, and one more the week after, and then an overdose of the hit and giggles. And while the Australians are an excellent cricket team, the fact is that sport is worth watching only when it is a contest, and a fair one at that. For all their woes, the Indians can indeed put up a good show on occasion, as this Test demonstrated. But if the dice are so loaded, and the opponents so criminally calculating, then there really is no pay-off to watching the game live. If all I'm going to get from it is the beauty of individual strokes and deliveries, be they from Laxman or Tendulkar or Hussey or Lee, then I might as well catch some highlights and save myself the misery.

But I don't. Even though I have found that I can happily survive without the cricket on in the background, as for instance happens when I'm traveling, if I find myself in the vicinity of a computer or a friendly television, I have to have it on. And this is what is frustrating me right now. Next week, when the third Test starts, I know I will be following it live. Our cricketers aren't the best, although they can be very good, and this series has in my eyes degenerated to a farce. So why will I go back to it?

Such a crock of shit.

22 Comments:

Anonymous robby said...

Devil's advocate: Hypothetically, would "smoking signals" have put up that post on Ponting's apparent "unfairness" if Ganguly was the perpetrator? Sure, one would put in a single line here and there, but one would satisfy oneself by saying - "well, thats cricket! Why didn't the opponents not survive the last 2 overs with 3 wickets remaining? Well, because they didn't have the stomach to grind it out! And its not as if they were going to win the test match in the first place!"

1/06/2008 11:23 PM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Martin Williamson says that not walking is not cheating, but falsely claiming a catch is cheating. Huh? Ponting denies that he falsely claimed any catches.

Another thing, why is it that a fielder is allowed to bully an umpire into giving a decision, but a batsman who lingers a couple of seconds is fined for dissent?

1/07/2008 11:14 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

robby:
you're conflating the outcome of the game with the way the australians went about the last day. one is used to india losing, but not to witnessing sharp tactics on a scale such as this.

but to answer your question - if ganguly had cheated as blatantly as ponting did (i hope he never has and never will) the tone of prem panicker's post may have been different. it would have been of disbelief and disappointment rather than the outrage that comes of being wronged.

1/07/2008 11:15 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

rahul:
ponting's denial is also bullshit, because he did appeal (a separate incident that i hadn't even gone into) and the catch wasn't given. oh, and i didn't see australian batsmen fined for lingering, even after they smashed the ball to the fielder. this whole affair makes me sick. (greatbong has a good strong reaction, btw.)

1/07/2008 11:18 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Also, what do you make of Gilchrist? The guy claims to be a fair player and a walker, but he was one of those who appealed most loudly for the Dravid catch (which he took), even though he was perfectly positioned to see where the bat was. I'm wondering whether his "walking" is a ruse to tell umpires "see, you can trust me". That's why Williamson is not a fan of walking.

1/07/2008 12:20 PM  
Blogger ??! said...

So why will I go back to it?
It's like those Sharjah days, when we used to lose pretty much every (important) match to Pakistan - and yet ever year, we'd watch it, hoping that this time round it would be different. Tchah.

1/07/2008 11:28 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

rahul:
yes, it seems that gilchrist has been working on building up some capital which he now intends to spend. much as what ponting said a lot more blatantly - if he was really a cheat why would he not have cheated in the first innings. an indication of the mental and moral development of these people.

??!:
i know :-(

1/07/2008 11:56 PM  
Anonymous robby said...

Okay, I think, cricket should bring in the challenge system that tennis or NFL has, .i.e., the batsman should be allowed one challenge to dispute the umpire's call. If he is successful in the challenge then he is allowed to keep the challenge, else, obviously, he needs to walk.

But, that being said, except for the racism charge, all the other issues being laid out against the Aussies or even Ponting or any other member are, I feel, hot-headed speculations. What constitutes cheating is subjective and hence laws are kept in place.

1/08/2008 3:13 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

robby -- actually, it is the racism issue that is a speculation. The umpires heard nothing, Tendulkar heard nothing, it is the Aussies' word against Harbhajan. So the question of the trustworthiness of the Aussies comes up.

Here's what's NOT speculative: Ponting and Kumble had a pre-series agreement on respecting each other's word on catches. And then, before the Ganguly incident, Ponting falsely claimed a catch off Dhoni. It was denied as Dhoni didn't touch it, but that's neither here nor there. Ponting then became all holier-than-thou when questioned about that at a news conference.

Take a look at the picture here, and the video here (about 32 seconds into it). There is NO way that Ponting could not have known the ball was on the ground with his hand on top of it. And yet he appealed vociferously, knowing that he had an honesty agreement with Kumble. That marks him as dishonest and willing to do anything to win the game.

Rashid Latif was banned for the identical offence (falsely claiming a catch) by the identical match referee (Mike Procter). Ponting deserves no less.

Finally, while Harbhajan is no angel, the racism charge rests on the word of the Aussies and there is no reason to trust their word. They have shown that they can stoop to any depth.

1/08/2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

robby:
i think rahul has said it very well. ponting lied as a batsman (by not walking), as a fielder (by claiming the dhoni catch) and as a captain (the ganguly incident). none of that is speculative. and in sharp contrast there is not a whit of evidence in the public domain that is against harbhajan -- and you say the charge is not speculative?

1/08/2008 11:40 AM  
Anonymous robby said...

Sorry, guys! It came out wrong, or rather obfuscated (after re-reading my comment now).

What I meant was that, questioning Harbhajan's ban is valid on our part as it is a speculation from the side of the umpires (and an unfair one too). But, I believe, there is no validity from our side too to charge Ponting and the Aussies of unfair sportsmanship.

Firstly, claiming that Ponting falsely claimed the Dhoni catch *might* be unfair. Ponting must have had a case of cognitive dissonance, meaning, though part of him might have said he grounded, he felt he had caught the catch, (as much sophistry as that sounds, my mind harkens back to the school days while I have felt the same while fielding in slips or positions nearby. And no matter how experienced a player is, such feelings remain primal. I'm sounding apologetic, but it could truly be the case. Who knows?) When Ponting says, in the rediff article, "he is 100% sure he *would* have caught the ball", I feel, he is talking back about what he felt at that time and not disputing what was conclusively proven on the video as being otherwise - to which he mentions that "As it turned out it was given not out anyway, am I right or wrong?"

Secondly, I believe, Ponting held his index finger up when the umpires questioned about the ball being caught or not. This is a trickey situation. Yes, Ponting says he believed that it was out. Sunil Gavaskar mentions that the umpires should not have believed Ponting. This is where the umpires made a mistake of not using the latest technology, that of the 3rd umpire.

My reasoning above might seem laughable or even naive, but somehow I feel we are just jumping the gun and pointing the same index finger, that Ponting did, towards him.


Thirdly, in light of the new evidence (that of the Rashid Latif ban), Mike Procter is the one that the stage lights be on now (also more because of the unfair decision that he passed on Harbhajan). Does he feel Ponting's act measures up to what Latif has done? I have not seen Latif's catch yet. And then if so, why should a fielder be given the ban - why not a batman's too, which Rahul pointed out in his first comment.

Lastly and sadly, I do not think this unsportmanship issue would not have had such furore if the match had actually drawn, but thats speculation from my side.

1/08/2008 1:37 PM  
Anonymous robby said...

make that "might" and not "must", as in,

"Ponting *might* have had a case of cognitive dissonance..."

1/08/2008 1:47 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

robby:
1. what you're talking about is not cognitive dissonance, which is a completely different phenomenon.

2. about the ponting interview, the exact quote (from the journalist who he tried to intimidate) is: "Okay, I would say that if I wasn't 100 per cent sure of having taken the catch, I would not have claimed it. In any case, the umpire ruled him not out, didn't he?"

a. this happened well after the day's play, yet he was (and still continues to be) "100% sure" that he had caught it. not a sign of wavering, let alone remorse.

b. the "umpire ruled him out" refers to the fact that the ball had come off the pad, not to whether the catch was clean or not.
so ponting's saying in effect that it doesn't matter that he tried to claim a fraud catch, because it wasn't really a catch in the first place.

3. yes mark benson had no business asking ponting. yet, given that he did, ponting had no business showing ganguly the finger.

4. unfortunately, the harbhajan incident has overshadowed all these other on-field incidents, with the hogg case sticking as the lone exemplar. to my mind cases should have been filed on each and every one of them. the sydney morning herald in the middle of an article passes a snide remark on yuvraj's dissent going unnoticed -- what price michael clarke? indeed, what price the entire australian team for much of the fifth day?

5. you're right, a draw would probably have papered over some of these issues -- except perhaps the racism one.

1/09/2008 8:45 AM  
Blogger Salil said...

It's painful to see. Especially with a series like this - India and Australia are two teams I enjoy watching most for different reasons, and it's a shame to see a contest between the two turn from a fair match into a lottery at points - or a question of who can manipulate the umpires better to get more errors in their favour.

As for Clarke, look up a catch he claimed off Gareth Hopkins in the Chappell-Hadlee series a few weeks ago. Replays showed a clear bounce in the outfield before it touched his hands, yet he claimed he caught it cleanly and the batsman left. One could be an honest error, but two in quick succession raises concern. Either his judgement is very, very flawed at best, or his honesty at worst can't ever be taken for granted.

(And this is the guy being touted as the next Australian captain by all and sundry? Maybe it's all a plot to make Ponting seem like an acceptable leader...)

1/17/2008 9:48 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

salil:
yes, i agree on both counts. the series has become a travesty, and as for fresh-faced young clarke, the less said the better.

1/17/2008 10:48 AM  
Blogger Salil said...

Well, just returning to fresh faced little Pup again... this is from Cricinfo's piece on the Hansen report:

"Michael Clarke's account was critical, considering that it did not coincide favourably with the rest. "It is not without significance that the Australian players maintain other than Mr Symonds that they did not hear any other words spoken, only the ones that are said to be of significance to this hearing," Hansen said.

"This is a little surprising in the context where there was a reasonably prolonged heated exchange. Indeed Mr Clarke went so far as to say that he did not hear Mr Symonds say anything. Given Mr Symonds' own acceptance that he initiated the exchange and was abusive towards Mr Singh, that is surprising."

So basically Clarke provided a false testimony in an appeal court? It might sound harsh to call him a liar, but after those two catches he claimed on the field, he doesn't have too much credibility. Is 'fresh-faced cheat and filthy liar' deserved, or a little too mild?

1/31/2008 7:17 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

way mild.

1/31/2008 9:27 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

Another thing. I did not think the "teri maa ki..." defence was credible, but I've changed my mind now. None of the Australians remember a single word of what Harbhajan said, except for "monkey". Why not? Possibly, they say, because it was in his native language. Very well, so he was swearing at them in Hindi or Punjabi. How likely is it that he would have inserted the single English word "monkey" in there? Wouldn't he have used the Hindi or Punjabi word?

And why didn't any of this come up in Procter's hearing? Just what sort of "hearing" was it? It's no excuse that Procter isn't a legal professional.

1/31/2008 3:02 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

absolutely. you have to hand it to procter for chutzpah.

1/31/2008 8:48 PM  
Blogger Salil said...

BTW, don't you also love Symonds' rationale behind the whole thing?
'... his explanation for abusing Harbhajan after he had patted Brett Lee on the back side. Symonds said he had objected because "a Test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player"'

Yeah, real class right through. If Harbhajan did call him a monkey, I think there's a family of animals he should be apologizing to, not Symonds.

1/31/2008 10:04 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

he really stuck his foot right in it. that remark, more than anything else, will be held against him for a long time.

2/01/2008 11:22 PM  
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