Watching cricket is such joy. It’s a strange sort of team-play that the game necessitates, first in pairs by batsmen who score the runs and then as a unit of 11 men who attempt to defend their score by reinforcing the assaults of a series of bowlers in the form of a fielding unit. Unlike a game of football—whose example I invoke simply because it is the world’s most watched sport—a game of cricket presents a theoretical number of infinite opportunities for an underdog to turn a losing game into a thumping victory. The gambit of procedures and regulations that sustain the adequation of each of the contending teams is necessitated by such numbers of chances, which are in turn actuated by how the game is, across any format, multi-faceted.

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There have been many accusations directed toward the governing council (ICC) for letting what was once called a “gentleman’s game” evolve to include sledging and ‘not walking’ as only issues of ambiguous morality and for not enforcing sterner measures against them. However, I believe that any civility that the game was envisioned to hold was intended only to address the social conventional requisites of the people who played the game centuries ago and that the inclusion of any moral dimensions into a system whose purposes are physical development and entertainment is, on the face of it, meaningless.

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The world’s most-watched sport lasts for roughly 90 minutes each time it is played between any two teams, has 11 players per team, and is very simple to understand given how it is nowhere close to being as macroscopically multidimensional as cricket is, although an emphasis on individual skills and talent have often made it an entertaining experience. The constant engagement of a whole team with the other team in its entirety, together with simplistic framework within which the game in its modern form functions, presents fewer opportunities for the cost of a mistake to be redeemed quickly or, for that matter, frequently. An important corollary of this argument is that, during a game of cricket, victory or defeat can be pinned on one man or a particular phase of the game, whereas in football, the same is not true: by way of providing for constant (or, at least, almost constant) engagement, the actions of each player depend on the actions of a few players at all points of time (except, of course, during a penalty shoot-out).

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What do cricket and heavy metal music have in common? They are each a modality of group activity, one physical and one aesthetic, whose quality of performance has improved greatly since industrialization, and is even still dependent on industrial standards and how frequently they are not met. While the same can be said of football, it must be noted that, in the case of cricket, the improvement has been drastic and has also allowed cricketers to focus on the game instead of concerning themselves with issues of safety—concerns that have since been addressed against a threat of sanctions by said standards.

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Did the Englishman really think he had infused civility into a sport simply by reducing physical contact with other players, requiring the wearing of full-sleeved clothing, and having stationary umpires arbiter disputes? If so, he will surely regret that he provided no other occupation for the mouth.

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