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Satire: The World Cup is Afterall, a Watershed Event

Balakumar Kuppuswamy |June 17, 2019, 10:04 AM IST
Satire: The World Cup is Afterall, a Watershed Event

This is a watershed World Cup.

World Cup matches so far have been whether-plagued - we don't know whether we will have a full match or not on any given day. Suddenly, the ‘pool matches’ of the tournament have a literal ring around them.

Four matches, so far, have had no result, and every team is complaining save the Sri Lankans, who suddenly find themselves with - uncork that champagne bottle - two full points. Their form in the ODIs in recent times was such that they could have lost even an abandoned match. Don't think we are exaggerating. An actual headline of one of their recent matches was: "Lankans lose yet another no contest".

Anyway, the washouts in the World Cup have triggered many uncomfortable questions, chief of them being: How do we explain this to the Americans? Yeah, we have to agree that it is really difficult to explain anything at all, including basic arithmetic addition and subtraction, to make Americans understand it. But the real question is: Why should we try to explain anything to the Americans, as if what they do makes sense easily.

If there is a competitive exam and the idea is to ensure that no one gets through, all one needs to do is just ask only one question and see everyone, even if Mensa toppers are taking the exam, flunk it:

Donald Trump. Explain.

US President Donald Trump speaks during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (Image: AFP) US President Donald Trump speaks during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (Image: AFP)

In sports itself, none of the stuff that is popular in America has any kind of logic attached to it. Their most popular sport, American football, is mostly played with - why not? - hands.

If anything, we must come up with even more arcane rules that would make Americans feel totally confused. Perhaps we must present to them the Duckworth & Lewis rule. After they tear their hair in frustration and ask us to clarify it, we must, clearing our throats, and quite firmly explain to them the fact: we ourselves have little clue about the D&L rule.

The beauty of the Duckworth-Lewis Formula is that it is probably the only rule in the world, which nobody knows - including the dudes Duckworth and Lewis - how the eventual numbers are actually computed. It is generally believed that when it rains during a cricket match, and when the target for the chasing team has to be revised, an ICC representative calls either Duckworth or Lewis, who in turn scientifically takes into account the temperature in the stadium at that particular point of time (in Celsius for all countries but in Fahrenheit if South Africa is the batting team), the inflation rate of the country bowling and the real estate value of where the stadium is located.

The Duckworth-Lewis rule has faced a lot of criticism, especially during the 2003 World Cup when South Africa, in a rain-affected game against Sri Lanka, ended up in a situation where it was required to score 3.14159 runs off the last ball. The match ended in a pi.

But the thing about ICC is, it wouldn't need Duckworth & Lewis formula to flummox outsiders. The 2007 World Cup is a case in point. (The 2007 World Cup, it may be recalled, faced a lot of criticism including from the BCCI which could not understand the stupid format that did not allow India to get past the group stage just because it had lost 2 of its 3 matches.)

2007 World Cup final

The final of the 2007 World Cup has confounded everybody till date. The match slipped into total farce as it was total darkness with just 3 overs to bowl. The Aussies started celebrating that they had won till the umpires pointed out to them that the Lankans had walked away the trophy using the cover of darkness. Okay, that was an exaggeration. But nobody really knows what happened in those final moments of the World Cup. Worse, the tournament was such a bore that nobody was really interested to figure out what actually transpired. Everybody was basically happy that it had ended. We might get to the stage in this World Cup, too.

But what could the ICC have done to avoid such an embarrassment of damp squibs in this World Cup? For starters, maybe ICC should have stayed away from conducting tournaments. In our experience, anything that ICC does leads to a lot of embarrassed faces.

Anyway, most people say that they should have had 'reserve days' for the matches. The reserve days would have helped the teams to come back the next day and continue cursing the rains again because these showers have been mostly heavy and relentless. If there had been reserve days, the tournament, which is already accused of being too long, would also have gone into colder months, in which case the bails would possibly icify on the stumps and refuse to fall off.

As it happens, in this tournament, the bails are already unable to be dislodged off the stumps. The ICC sure needs to explain that, if not to the Americans, then at least to the rest of us.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more