A good morning to you all and I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays (for those lucky enough to have one)
I’m sitting in my kitchen enjoying a lazy breakfast, the little ones are destroying their toys in a systematic and brutal manner and in the background I have the radio on, listening to the 2nd Test match, England vs South Africa.
For those who aren’t familiar with the game this is the the 5 day version of cricket.
2 innings each and no guarantee of a result. It is often a slow burner in terms of entertainment with the story slowly unfolding over the course of the game interspersed with flashes of high drama and eventually ratcheting up to an immensely tense climax.
For instance, the first test in this series (they are normally a “best out of five” format) ended in up on the last day with the last two England players (who are not good batsmen) defending in fading light against aggressive South African bowling. One more wicket down and the match was lost. All thrilling stuff.
This slow-burning nature means that it is the perfect sport to follow on the radio. The incomparable “Test-Match Special” broadcast by the BBC is the sporting equivalent of David Attenborough.
Anyhow, that’s all fine and dandy but on to my main point.
Much as I love cricket, I couldn’t say it required the greatest degree of physical conditioning or strength, nor that it was the most popular or best rewarded.
However, putting myself in the captains’ shoes over the course of a 5-day match I would humbly submit that they do have the greatest number of variables to consider when plotting their strategy.
How on earth does one man mesh all of those separate elements together into a cohesive game plan?
I’ll let others chip in with more of those variables but for starters there is
The pitch - what state is it in? how will it change today? tomorrow? five days time? what sort of bowling does it/will it support? what sort of bowlers have you got? how long can they bowl for? what are the weather conditions? what effect are they having on all those points above? what will the weather being doing over the five days, when do I try to throttle the run rate and when to attack? and how do I achieve that with the current state of all of the above, plus the known playing style of the current batsmen.
that is merely scratching the surface as I’m sure others will agree.
Are there any other sports that require a single person to juggle such a workload over such a period?