The evening tea-time here at the Indian Statistical Institute often witnesses the heat of intellectually-involving debates, many of which, owing to the paucity of time, end in open-ended questions. One such question arose during the last cricket triangular series between India, Sri Lanka and the West-Indies. The question was: Why is cricket coming to be known as the batsman’s game? Interesting enough to switch on the light of cognitive ability, this question kept me occupied for a while past tea-time. Now, as it turns out, the answer is simple: There is a maximum limit to the number of wickets (20 in test cricket and 10 in the one-day format, the latter being of primary interest here) that can be taken in a game. But that isn’t the case, as has been observed so far, with the number of runs scored (at least relative to a theoretical maximum based on reasonable, yet ambitious prerequisites, say for example, scoring 600 runs in a one-day international—ODI). Once you’ve observed the fall of 10 wickets (i.e. when a team has been bowled out) in an ODI, you do not expect any team to top that in the future. But, even after the epic match in which South Africa successfully chased down Australia’s 434, you were still open to (and in fact, hopeful about) seeing some team topping that.
Sports entertainment is often accompanied by the thrill of witnessing new records on the field. I was personally overwhelmed to witness Sachin’s record-breaking 35th test century at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Since, for the reason already mentioned, new batting records have been hitherto more frequently observed than new bowling records, the cricket-audience has formed its expectation accordingly. The batting side gives the audience more than the bowling side to look forward to. Now, a question that immediately follows is: What would a bowlers’ cricket look like? Someone not fain to invent meaningless reasoning would immediately observe that winning, in the existing form of ODI cricket, is about scoring more runs in a limited/fixed number of overs/deliveries and wickets (subject to certain rules). It, therefore, logically follows