Thursday, August 07, 2014

School children must be missing their 3s

And, I did not when I was going to school.
I learned my arithmetic at the cricket score table as published in newspapers everyday of a Test match (excepting the rest day as the score box will not appear on the day after). Of course, I am talking about the early 1960s.
Against the line for every batsman the box will dutifully and diligently record the singles, doubles, triples and the fours and the occasional sixes. It was my compulsion, much against my father’s wishes who thought I found a nice way of hogging the newspaper, to check out whether the numbers add up, line by line. This obviously took time. It is how I got to be OK in arithmetic, focused exercise.
It is in this context the column by Greg Chappell [1] opened my eyes. I came to know from it how rare the sixes were those times, indeed earlier. One line from the piece is enough: “Bradman went through his test career only hitting six sixes.” Bradman was before my times but I do remember the glee I experienced when we heard over the radio (slipping away from school to a friend’s house that was very close) how Salim Durani hit one over the fences, straight long on or off, 15 of them in a career of 24 Tests. Of course, as a batsman he was no patch on Bradman. Yet, in sixes he reigned higher.
Coming back to my arithmetic, I always had trouble with multiplication table for 3. It is the cricket score box that set me on the right course. One can expect enough number of threes, even against a single or low double digit score of a batsman to hone the school boy’s ability to recite the multiplication table for 3. This became a habit, to my benefit, I might add.
This is what I miss in today’s cricket. Scoring three runs is as alien to batsman in the ODIs or T20s as thanksgiving dinner with no turkey on the table. As Greg Chappell says this might be due to “ever-shrinking boundaries” and/or “missile launcher” bats. Or, it might even be better fielding techniques of the players. Whatever it may be, I think this is bad for our school children.
There may be many things I do not like about the shortened versions of the game, including the cheerleaders in IPL matches, but my abiding complaint is about the circumstances conspiring to deprive the score box of 3s.
Triples are rare in baseball, but they do appear oftener than in today’s cricket. When the ball ricochets off the wall in the corners, you can expect the batsman to reach the third base. When the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US brought in 3-pointers (shot from outside), I was delirious. I knew I will never lose my capability in reciting the multiplication table for 3! I am hoping ODI and T20s will give me back the same pleasure. Our school children too, with or without their calculators, computers, MS Excel, will benefit, I am sure.
Raghuram Ekambaram


Palahalli Vishwanath said...

had made a comment here yesterday. did no register/disappeared. Anyway, I think batsmen of today DO NOT KNOw that 3 runs can be taken ! As you said shorter boundries ? or different field placements today? 3rd run was mostly taken by stealth - do players take less risk now a days?

mandakolathur said...

Your highlighted reason seems the most correct, pala!

I have seen that by the time the ball reaches the boundary the batsmen are only half way through their second trot. I hate this. Any number of times I have heard on the radio the commentator saying that fielder is still chasing the ball when the batsmen turn around for their third. There was an excitement to three runs which is missing now even for a four to the boundary. This is not good.