Damn. One of the downsides (among many) of being away from my “homeland” is being unable to follow cricket matches on the telly—even if I am barely able to catch the ones involving India sometimes, there is absolutely no chance of following matches played by other countries.
Which is a pity because you can only appreciate the subtlety of this great game when you are watching a match between two teams—none of which you feel emotionally tied to.
Double damn then because I missed out on watching live the South Africa-Australia game (even though I followed the last overs on Cricinfo) and thus was deprived of seeing what is being touted as the greatest ODI in history.
But wait, here’s my question. Based on what is this the greatest ODI ever?
In general, I have issues with the use of absolute superlatives like “best” and “greatest” in serious sports writing. Of course we do use such terms always—like “You are the best husband”, “This chicken is the greatest”, “Anna Nicole Smith has the biggest…”
However, we usually confine such hyperbole to informal conversations.
We don’t use such words in a research paper. Neither in a presentation to the boss. Not also in a job interview (Saying “I am the best candidate for this job” may not be the best way to ace it—perhaps Gautam Ghosh can tell us more).
If such be the case, then why do serious sports writers use superlatives in such a loose way?
Coming back to the main question: What makes this the greatest ODI ever?
It would be a combination of these three, non-independent reasons.
1. An unheard-of, unbelievable number of runs (434 ) were scored by Australia and even that mammoth total was overcome by South Africa.
2. The finish was extremely close.
3. The cricket was of an exceptionally high standard —so high so as to have never been seen before in cricket.
With respect to point 1, it is undeniable that this match has set a new standard for what a safe total is—-it has now been shown that even a required run rate of 8.5 over 50 overs is attainable. Anyone who has ever played cricket (as opposed to Stickcricket) knows how nigh-impossible this rate of scoring is. And yet it has been done–a barrier has definitely been broken.
But such barriers have been broken before too. There was a time in the not-so-distant-past when a dream start meant 50 runs in the first 15 overs. Krish Srikkanth’s over-the-top hitting in the 1985 B&H Cup changed all that. No captain had the courage to go into a ODI match with spinners—and that too with two of them. Gavaskar did in 1985 and India became the best team in the world. This was pretty revolutionary for that age. And then Jayasurya came in 1995 and 100 runs in 15 overs now became par for the course.
However none of the matches where the bar was raised on scoring rates would ever deserve the label “greatest” —would it?
Now point 2. There have been several matches as close or even closer than this game. At least South Africa was on course for the total from the get-go—there are countless games where one of the teams have fought back with their backs-to-the-wall and scrapped out a miraculous victory. How come one of these matches do not qualify for the sobriquet “the greatest”?[For example: the India-Pakistan Shajah Cup Final 1986]
Lastly point 3. It is very difficult to quantify “standard of cricket” and almost nigh impossible for anyone to say that the high standards (if they were indeed high in the SA-Australia match) have never been attained before.
Here’s the bigger issue. How is “standard of cricket” quantified ? Merely by the number of runs scored? There are pitches where scoring 30 runs takes more skill than scoring 178 on such feather-beds. Also remember (and it is difficult to remember this) that cricket is a battle between “bat and ball”—if the batsmen can pile on runs at 8.5 p/o over 50 overs: how does that translate to great cricket? Great batting–perhaps. Great bowling—oh no sir.
In this respect, this match was not a close contest. It was total domination of bat over ball—a one-sided battle where one of the fighters had no chance. How is it in any way different from one of those myriad Australia-Bangladesh matches where the only point of interest is to see if Rajin Saleh crosses 10 or not?
A four and six are exciting because they are supposed to be few in number. That will not be the case if teams regularly make above 400—as a comparison, how exciting would goals be in soccer if they became as commonplace as baskets in basketball? [There was once plans to do away with the goalkeeper to make soccer more exciting—-ridiculous]
I fail to understand how this match is any “greater” than a match in which a side chased down 270 in 1988 [Getting 270 then is about as miraculous as getting 440 now] or a match where 123 was successfully defended?
Call me an old timer but I pine for the days when chasing 250 was a challenge. Even then we had close finishes, dramatic reversals, moments of drama but the game in itself was more equitable.
I remember an unofficial (I am not sure of that) match in 1984 in Delhi (day and night) where India squeezed out an almost-impossible victory against Pakistan. There it was Kirti Azad who played a dramatic, hard-hitting innings that helped us win once our top order collapsed (somethings don’t change). At the height of his orgy of sixes, Mohammed Nazir the Pakistani spinner bowled a maiden over to Azad with supreme skill.
That was what defined the “greatness” of cricket—a seamless interleaving of two battles —one between two teams and one between bat and ball.
Not any more.
93 thoughts on “The Greatest ODI Ever ?”
Spoken like a true prodigy. All this talk about greatest is typical nature of humans (especially media) to glorify all and sundry. The match was an amazing slugfest, probably the greatest. Greatest ODI, naaah!
I too long for the days when 250 was a winning score… & have not been able to grasp the event in entirety. 434!! Ru kidding me? Did i see that right?
I dont think barrier-wise, it wud be like breaking the “300” mark – which became so commonplace later, that it’s become boring. I think this way, quite simply its not possible to play 50 over matches like 20-20 games consistently. But who knows.
As far as greatest is concerned… I do think it is as great as it has been called. Simply becoz of the well nigh impossiblity of the whole match!
As far as standards of cricket went, I dont think anybody considers the match to be greatest cuz of standards. No it’s simply becoz it was a “freak” match. Sure, we’ve seen “freak-chases” before… India chasing 314 & Australia thrashing SA’s 324 (or something).
But i do think it’ll take quite a doing to get over this one.
Dont dwell too much in superlatives! They are always going to be subjective 🙂
Good. Now lets have next post on why “greatbong” is great!
@Naveen: Exactly. A slugfest a great match does not make.
@Freaky Chakra: I think within a few years 400 wont seem like a “freaky” thing anymore. My issue is not that 10 critics called it the “greatest”—its that people by and large equate a “lot of runs” with “high quality”.
@Ashish: I dont call myself greatestbong do I? Plus the “great” in this case is derisive(refer to my FAQ section)
I agree that if you think a great game is a contest between bat and ball this match was one-sided.
But it was very remarkable. There are 3 things that make it remarkable
1. First and Second times in history that an ODI team surpased 400.
2. Prior to this game, South Africa had played 354 ODI matches and successfully chased a score in excess of 280 only six times and in excess of 300 only once.
3. 872 combined runs allowed by the bowlers and Sukvinder Singh and Ajit Agarkar weren’t even bowling.
On the other hand, can you believe Mick Lewis’s reaction? He gives up 0/113 off 10 – worse than any Kenyan bowler ever dreamt in his worst nightmare, and says, “That’s just the nature of the beast isn’t it? Some days you have a great day, some days you have a s–t day. That’s life mate, it is no big concern. It won’t worry me.” (from cricinfo). The man has no shame and no imagination. He will never play international cricket again.
U bring back some great memories. Especially of the times when color TV had just become mainstream in India in the early 80’s and the incredibly amazing telecast of Channel 9 from Australia bowled the TV audience away.
As regards the match, I tend to disagree a bit. In terms of content….I think it ranks right up there. Of course its the greatest only till the next greatest game comes along.
@Michael: I dont doubt that it was very remarkable. My beef is about it being called the “greatest”.
1. How this any more significant than the first time both teams crossed 300? Or 250 for that matter?
2. Thats too country-specific—how does that make this the “greatest” in all ODI history?
3. Hmm. Interesting is the person who scored 32 runs off Sukvinder Singh.
Wont blame Mick Lewis totally. Firstly, such was the pitch that the others didnt fare better either.: its not that the others went under 5. Secondly its Ponting’s fault that he was allowed to bowl 10 overs–how bad must the part timers be so that the captain kept him on.
I am of course confident that if McGrath was playing, SA wouldnt have gone past 250. That man is just something else.
@arZan: I know exactly what you mean. And again cant agree to the “greatest” bit.
Well, the greatest game would be when GreatBong2 (aka Ganguly) comes back and scores a century, mind you, international ODI only counted 😀
[GreatBong] Maybe not the greatest match, but this would surely go down as “one of the greatest matches of its kinds”. And we are talking about Aus vs SA, not someone hammering Kenya or Bangladesh or someone of that sort.
Great htting though..
Damn it ! I was starting to write about this today – have to change some stuff around before I post since I was making exactly the same point. By what definition is this game the greatest ever ?!
You soccer analogy is apt – if you have a 0-0, 1-0 or 1-1 score there, you would think that the strikers were not that good or the defense was incrdible. A 2-1, 2-2 or even 3-2 score is usually a keenly contested game with both the offense and the defense playing well. If you happen to see a 5-4 or 6-5 scores (without the game going to the penalties), it means shitty defense on either side.
The SAF-AUS game was similar – great batting, great chase no doubt – but really shitty bowling. In my book, the WC’99 AUS-SAF games were much better since we saw an equal battle between the the bet and the ball.
Would it have made a difference if they just had a bowling machine in this particular game ?
I saw this match on TIVO. While it was not the greatest ODI ever, it can certainly be called the greatest run-chase ever which implies that it was all about bats, batsmen and runs.
..aah that knock by Kirti Azad and that sweet Indian victory. And people coming out in the street bursting firecrackers in that cold night.
That game was “unofficial” because, IIRC, by that time matches played under artificial lights were not accorded “official” status. It was one of the first (probably *the* first) such matches in India.
I didn’t see the match as I don’t have a TV here. But I know how an ODI even greater than this ‘greatest’ one can be made… both teams should play eleven specialist batsmen. Then probably we will see real landmarks being achieved.
As I didn’t see the match, I don’t know what the quality of bowling was in this case, but as a general trend, ICC has been trying to make things difficult for bowlers for quite some time now. The rules are being changed in favour of the batsmen. This is an issue which needs to be reconsidered after this match.
what is your take on bradman being called the greatest player, shane warnes ball of the century and gary sobers west indies team to be called the greatest so far?
Didn’t watch the game, though followed last half of SA innings on cricinfo. I find it difficult to believe that all the bowlers on both sides suddenly lost their forms at the same point in time and gave a collective “shitty” performance. Given this match and, as you pointed out, that >250 runs in today’s ODIs is nothing to write home about, I wonder if it is time to put “competent groundsmen” under the endangered species list.
It is borderline criminal to prepare such pitches.
I have seen sentiments similar to the ones you have expressed in several other blogs. There’s nothing to get riled about, mate. The media revels in hyberbole. To you and me a great match might be a tussle between bat and ball but to others it might be a runfest. The sports media is chock full of phrases such as “best batsman”, “best bowler”, “best captain”, “best left handed-batsman”, etc. Some can be supported by stats (even though stats can be analysed in many different ways. Eg. I refuse to believe Bradman was the greatest batsman irrespective of his average), others cannot.
I think one thing that helps make a good match into a great one is the history between the teams and whether the match was a final or not. Think about the NatWest match in 2002. That match was the highest successful run chase for a while. What made it really special was that India always made the final and always choked. And once again, everything went according to script: the bowlers threw it away, the top order collapsed. It looked absolutely hopeless like a dozen previous (and subsequent) finals.
But two batsmen hadn’t read the script. Yuvraj and Kaif (and Kaif was a real unknown then) staged an improbable counterattack. And when Yuvraj fell, it looked hopeless again but somehow Kaif managed with the tail to get the winning runs. It was a great match. But the context matters.
Anyone who follows Australia and South Africa knows that Australia has the wood on SA. SA always choke in the big game. In 1999, they were chasing only 213 to win. Klusener came in with the game almost beyond hope and banged a few boundaries then crucially got a single to keep strike. He hit another two boundaries and they were just about to win when he ran out number 11 (Donald). It was always that way with SA.
This series started well for SA and they won really big in the second match but lost the third and came so close to winning the fourth but couldn’t get that last wicket. Then Ponting and Co. score 434. It isn’t hard to see why the SA fans would think, “Oh no, they always do this to us.” Until two years ago, SA never chased down 300. This was so far beyond hope it seemed absurd. But I guess Smith and Gibbs and Boucher had had enough of losing to Australia. Given the context, it really was an incredible match.
I think this one definitely rates as the greatest one.
The highest successful run chase was 330 by NZ against Aus…. and highest 2nd innings total was 344 by pakistan when they lost by 5 runs.
Now this time the target set was HUNDRED runs more than what had been done by anyone… and so doing it successfully this time is in no way comparable to crossing 250 barrier for the 1st time… this one is best possible chase just by sheer volume of runs scored…. i am still unable to digest 434… and am sure it is gonna last for many years before it gets broken….
and it is one of the best matches because in the end it became unbelievably close in terms of balls/wickets everything…. it becomes great by the sheer courage shown by SA in pursuit of 435…. the mountaineous nature of the task is the key in this one…..
earlier also teams batting first have scored in excess of 350 but wat happened to teams batting second in those matches… they lost by at least 100 runs… and this time it was 85 more than that 350 mark…
Anything that can come close to it will be when someone successfully defends 75 or 80…. that too in a as closely fought contest as this one….
Yeh sab to thik hai but would you have said the same had this been an India-Pak or India-Australia match?
I wonder what not you would have written had Sourav played an innings like that of Gibbs and won the match for India.
You forgot to use delicate emotion along with the crude logic, something you do expertly while writing about ‘Sourav Dada’ and well..Prabhuji!!!!!
Come on man, it was not a series infested with run piles…..it was just one match with a flat pitch that turned out a batting heaven but the bigger point is that IT WAS AN AMAZING CONTEST. PERIOD.
Scoring 400 plus is a shocker! And chasing it successfully in the death over is even more of a shocker.
This post sounds like compulsive cynicism. 🙂
Seriously, it really looks like a “compulsive cynicism”… forcibly trying to criticize something that others are finding truely great…..
I think its not right to define the quality of the match throguh quantitative criteria. For me, simply from the host of matches that I have seen so far in my life (memories ranging back to 1991), this has simply beaten any game in terms of excitement… and that is what matters. Maybe since India was not involved, people may not have been that excited… but it was the most exciting game that I have ever seen, and the most unbelievable chain of events in an ODI that I have ever seen.
Don’t know about the game sin the 80s… but since early 90s, I haven’t seen any better
game for a cricket fan.. again a personal opinion… maybe you might have agreed if you had seen it live, or if India was involved
@ Nitin: I’m sure bowlers all round the world would deeply appreciate your sentiments.
It is no surprise that seam bowling standards are getting more mediocre each day throughout the world. With the kind of pitches being made- cricket deserves this. I don’t see too many complaining though.
Firstly let’s get the unpleasant things cleared up first.
@Nitin/Cricket_Fan: Dude. Before you look at my compulsive cynicism (incidentally a cynic means someone who questions everything before accepting it), why dont you rein in your compulsive hatred of what I write.
From your comment on the Ganguly post.
Now I dont hold this opinion against you. You have every right to be intelligent, balanced and non-parochial.
However what I find very compulsive/impulsive on your part is posting under different names on this post—-why do you think your opinion is so weak that it needs to be butressed by multiple comments under different identities?
Cricket Fan and Nitin both have the same IP : 18.104.22.168 –the meaning of which I think I dont need to explain to you Nitin since you access my blog from a machine in the computer science department of an university in North Carolina (we both know which one that is).
You are free to abuse me but please under one name please.
@GHE: Please dont bring in Sourav—see we already have the loonies coming in without any mention of Bengal. How long do you think it is before the Bengali angle starts—oh wait……. too late….it’s started.
@BongoPondit: Totally agree.
@Gokul: Greatest run-chase ever? How many games have you seen to warrant the use of “greatest”?
@Vinay: Yes I think it was the first game under lights in India.
@Joy Forever: And the reason ICC does so is because some dimbulbs think that watching sixes and fours is cricket—lets paint our faces in national colors, raise paper banners and shout….
@PC Mitter: Bradman’s statistics are so much superior than all other batsmen that if anyone is to called the greatest then it has to be him. He scored runs against all opposition, at an amazingly fast rate, on uncovered pitches, in crisis situations. A batsman’s job is to score runs consistently —which is where Bradman is Godlike. Note to cricket-fan/Nitin/22.214.171.124—–Bradman isnt Bengali.
As to Shane Warne’s ball I think thats also hyperbole. I didnt know Sobers’ team was ever considered great—it was Bradman’s 1948 team which has sometimes been called the greatest team ever—again something I dont think can be supported.
@Debasish: And we all know why such pitches are made.
@Soumya: Again my point is that if someone is to called greatest, i.e. if that judgement can be made then stats show that it has to be Bradman. However statistics cannot judge the quality of a cricket match—because its quality is measured by both batting and bowling and there is no single measure that can take both into account.
@Michael: Never disputed the fact that it is an incredible match.
@Mukul: See how you guys try to bring Sourav in….talk about bias. Incidentally Sourav did play a Gibbs-like innings when we chased 314 in Dhaka off 49 overs.
@Nirav: Why should my opinion change because India is involved? Dont you know I am Bengali and I hate India? Incidentally and this is besides the point Nirav, I have seen more matches from mid 80s to 1999 (which was when I left India) than you can imagine.
My point about India being involved was not with you as reference… but for the general public, India being a side does make a lot of difference. And I agree with you about me being ignorant of the matches played in the 80s… which is why i just maintain the personal opinion about it being just the greatest ODI i have seen… and not the greatest ever.
Also, I wish that you wouldnt so often take up the Bengali/Sourav bait that some of the comments throw up… ignoring them is the best way forward
Exactly my feelings. Chasing 300 has become such a common place that ODIs have become common place. Give us test cricket anyday (even the slow attritional varitey seen in Nagpur) These days, its not just the quality of cricket (especially bowling) that has come down, but the quality of coverage too. With the advent of commentators like Tony Greig, et. al. the use of hyperbole, sensationalization of trivilaities has become a common place. And now every Tom, Dick & Harry, who couldnot make it as an intnl. player or the ones who are now over the hill naturally takes his place in the box and gets to write a column in the papers. This I think is partly responsible for the current situation.
I did not comment on the “whether it qualifies as the greatest ODI” bit in my earlier comment because I was truly hoping that this one time you will come out and accept that your post was off the wall. For a moment I even toyed with the idea that probably you wrote this just for kicks… to stir reactions from people… only to realize that a blogger wouldn’t do that coz it will have adverse effect on the credibility of subsequent posts.
I won’t even go to reason why I think it was the greatest ODI ever coz that’s not my point.
I fail to understand why you are so hung up on the word “greatest”. That’s how normal people react. The word came out just minutes after the results. You expect people to rush back and check all the records of all the ODIs ever before applying such qualifiers to describe something so unbelievable and historic in nature? When something of that magnitude happens, that’s how people describe things. For similar reasons, I won’t go into the Bradman being the greatest batsman issue.
Just one request. When, in future, your kid calls you the greatest dad in the world because you bought him/her the coolest bike in the neighborhood, please do not burst his/her bubbles by saying, no, actually I know three other people who bought their kids, what I think, better bikes. Let the kid enjoy the moment and you enjoy it too while you can.
Don’t over analyze, Arnab. It will just make everything very insipid.
P.S. You may notice one Debasish commenting from 2 IP addresses. It is because I access your blog both from home and work. It is really the same me… or am I? BTW, at the rate I am going soon it will be only the home machine. And yes, despite the occasional moments of irritation, you are still my most favorite blogger. 🙂
PPS: And yes, I totally agree with Nirav on the Bong angle. From one Bong to another… you do not need to take that Bong “kataksh” that seriously all the time. More times than less, it is done in jest you know? And really, it is okay. So chill!
GB…..what??? you cant see cricket matches. WTF???? When me ….yourfan2 sees all the matches!!! Yup even saw Bangladesh and Sri Lanka a few days back. Last year saw the challenger trophy on TV too. You just have to know the websites. Right now I know as many as 13 websites which have the Aus/ SA match/ highlights uploaded. Who said you cant watch cricket from US. Of course you do!
Who needs cricinfo updates when you can see the match yourself. And after that you wont like reading verdicts and bulletins. :)…..nah….im an avid cricket reader too and follow the india eng series on as many as 7 Brit newspapers. All you need for watching cricket is a good broadband connection. Ok….illl pass on links for important matches from now on.
Now coming to the match. It was indeed one of the all time great matches. But I have my own reservations in calling it the all time best. I think Australia’s golden run in the 99 world cup coupled with the occasion of a semifinal made that Edgbaston match the best ever. Plus there was Warnie…and I am a big yourfan of Warnie too.
But fighting on wheather a match is the greatest or not is a futile exercise I feel. It was one of a kind match and the baap of all high scoring , octane pumping, adrenaline rushing matches. But i am a strong strong oppser to the theories cropping up that we are see this everyday from now on. Simply because the venue was Joberg….and the scars of 2003 March have not healed. Dont forget that a few matches ago , Aus were bundled out for Part1
If you want to see SA innings Ball by ball then here it is:
Also I rather loved this Guardian article.
No doubt it was a cliffhanger and a remarkable match in its own right. But, ‘the greatest ODI ever’? Naaaah…….don’t think so.
Even without taking anything away from Gibbs, Ponting, Hussey, Smith and others I just can’t agree to the fact that it was the ‘greatest’ ODI ever.
Cricket is all about bat v/s ball, not bat v/s bat or ball v/s ball.
If a one-day match which had teams scoring 434 and 438 can be termed as the ‘greatest ever’, so can be a match which had teams scoring 45 all out and 38 all out. Is that really good cricket?
In our childhood days when we used to play gully cricket, chasing targets of 150 in 10 overs wasn’t a big deal. Nor was defending a team total of 25 successfully.
Now, if the quality of international cricket comes down to that level, then it’s just not good for the game, is it?
True, I took a while to come to terms with what happened at the Wanderers on Sunday but it wasn’t because I thought it was the ‘greatest ODI ever’….it was largely because it had set me thinking. Honestly speaking, what I believe is , if this is the way cricket is going to be in future then it’s just not good – neither for the game, nor for the lovers of the game.
It’s no longer a game between batsmen and bowlers. Batsmen are dominating all the proceedings. The thrill is missing.
If there are 87 fours and 26 sixes hit in a span of 100 overs, where will that cheers and joy and thrill and excitement come from everytime the boll crosses the rope?
It just reduces the value of each boundary.
Boundaries are just not 4/6 runs, they are special shots, executed by talented skillful professionals and cheered by the spectators. Rise in quantity takes down the quality.
Arnab, if longing for the days when 240/250 used to be considered as good totals means being ‘old fashioned’, then like you, I too don’t mind being one.
Playing a classy cameo on a difficult pitch, bowling a dream spell on a batsman-friendly wicket … these are the real beauties of cricket, the great game (not so ‘great’ nowadays). These things are vanishing from the game and we, the ones who love these are getting deprieved more often than not from what we actually want to see in the game.
I would love to see matches like this (imaginary, of course): Aussies scoring 249 (Ponting 100, Pathan 4/37, Patel 2/29) at Perth and with McGrath, Lee, Kasprowicz, Symonds all charged up, India chasing it successfully in 49.4 overs for the loss of 7/8 wickets with Sachin not out on 102 and McGrath taking 5/41….where there would be good batting as well as god bowling performances. Once the batters would be on top, once the bowlers.
This is what the beauty of cricket is. Period.
Completely agree with you-this is not the greatest ODI ever. I still rate the AUS SA World Cup semi final above this one because it was more evenly contested and there were 11 significant players in both teams as against 7 or 8 batsmen here (bowlers were made into mere accessories)
If the trend continues this way, we might as well start playing with 11 batsmen and a 12th batsman as a supersub to cover these 11. I bet Ricky Ponting could have tossed the ball upto Gilchrist and he would not have gone for 113 off 10 overs on a good wicket 🙂
Great matches are those in which teams come out fighting out of a hole like the India Pakistan test match where Sachin scored a century with a sore back and Saqlain cleaned up the tail when Pakistan almost had lost the match or the ‘great’ Ind-Aus test match when Laxman scored 281. Bowlers getting their asses kicked does not make for pleasant cricket, not for me atleast. Let this happen in every match and then we will see if Tony Greig calls them the greatest ODI’s……I bet it can be boring to death if starts happening everytime.
Anyways, hats off to Gibbs and the spirit of the SA team for showing such courage and Ponting for accepting what Gibbs had done and not accepting the joint man-of-the-match award with Gibbs….the tag of ‘chokers’ will not haunt them again…..hopefully
How did u trace the ip and that it belongs to some univ in NC?
What IP is mine and where am i from?
This is another comment from the same CS department of some univ frm NC. I am addicted to ur blogs for around last 1.5 months. i think they are really very well written, and generally very humorous. many of ur blogs i have read multiple times, and made other people to read them as well. i consider myself a big fan of ur writing, but ur saurabh ganguly post seemed very biased. And above all it came frm someone whose analytical abilities i admired. It just seemed to strengthen a feeling that all bengali peoples views are highly biased on ganguly issue, which was highly unexpected by me abt u. anywayz, i think i overreacted on that one.
But today i think it was u who overreacted. someone else whom i showed ur article on my comp wrote that with his name, and it never occured to me that it can lead to such an hyper-analysis of the whole thing. Ofcourse finally, it doesn’t really make a difference to you or to me.
But only thing that i should clarify (for which i am writing this) is that i am a fan of ur blog and am almost addicted to it [and not what u might think– as in- “compulsive hatred of what u write” ]
It is just that i was being casual and didn’t think about the possible conclusions that could be deduced from the whole episode.
btw my name is sudheer sahu, and i am doing a PhD in CS.
Agree with the point about contest between bat and ball. It was a slugfest all right. But if some one had asked me before this match, what would be the most exciting ODI match? I would have said, score above 400 in the first innings and the second team overhauls it. That way it did meet the most exciting spec for the time being.
The question you raise around the one word “greatest” in your entire post is worth a debate for sure. How do you quantify “Greatness”?
No idea about that.
But I sure can appreciate Debasishâ€™ thoughts(regarding over analyzing stuffs). For, at the end of the day, itâ€™s a game of cricket that many around the globe enjoyed. For sure, a knowledgeable few create hype by using superlatives, which again tends to hang around only for a few days. This again is with regards to all the examples you have given through your post. These matches remain as memories, few of them where adjudged as the best or the greatest then, but now are no more than mere references.
Wow ! I’ve been getting hits like crazy on my blog from this post of yours !
Sorry to have disappointed the cricket fans who landed there, hopefully these posts of mine might be of some consolation 🙂
I think it was a good game…saw Gibbs’ and Boucher’s batting…but yes, ‘greatest’ might be stretching things a tad too much…
As Barry Richards’ said…they’ll start chasing down 600 targets in 50 over matches in 10 years :-))
IMHO I just dont understand why we even talk about these other teams. Risking sounding like a racist, I really dont like Australia, South Africa and English teams. They are snobs and when they start losing a game they turn into crybabies.
Their ex players criticise other teams in the press. Even the current players do.
I wonder why chucking allegations are only over Harbhajan, Shoaib and Murli. These teams try to play mind games and sledge at every opportunity. I wonder who invented the term “gentleman’s game”.
I dont watch a lot of cricket but this is just the way I think. Any takers?
“Greatest” is a subjective word. It’s as true as saying that the most beautiful woman is Aishwarya Rai, the best novel is Ulysses, the best actor is Robert de Niro. It’s not the same as saying that the Petrons Towers are the tallest buildings in the world. Qualitative v/s Quantitative.
Plus, I think the white press would rather call an Aus-SA match the best rather than Indo-Pak one. That said, this match would be in my top ten ODI list. Of course everybody’s top ten list will also vary.
YOURFAN writes: @Debasish: I usually donâ€™t send any comment on subjects relating cricket because although I enjoy cricket I am not at all good at any record and definitely donâ€™t understand all the complexities of the game.
But I am sending my comment here to show that I agree with the miss-use of the superlative term â€“ in this case the â€œgreatestâ€. You wrote â€œJust one request. When, in future, your kid calls you the greatest dad in the world because you bought him/her the coolest bike in the neighborhood, please do not burst his/her bubbles by saying, no, actually I know three other people who bought their kids, what I think, better bikes. Let the kid enjoy the moment and you enjoy it too while you can.â€ I am sure you have seen ads where the lady says that she is going to buy the product because she is â€œworth itâ€(to me it denotes the same meaning as â€œthe greatestâ€). I have strong reservations about it. What does â€œworth itâ€ denote? The people who can afford some product are â€œworth itâ€ and others who canâ€™t afford are not â€œworth itâ€?
As with regard to kids: why should one let his/her child to think that he/she is â€œTHE specialâ€ kid (which is the other side of the coin of â€œthe greatest dadâ€) to him/her? If so, then if a person has two children then who is â€œTHE specialâ€? And who should be the â€œgreatest parentâ€? This is American culture not ours. Although I must admit it is infiltrating our minds now. But mercifully, not rampant yet. We are taught and are teaching others that everybody is equal. In Indian ethos, even if one thinks that his son is very good at something or other, he does not say â€˜my son is the greatestâ€™.
Besides, in your example, you are giving your son/daughter the impression that if you can honor their wishes only then the children should consider you to be â€œthe greatest dadâ€. In other words, if you canâ€™t honor any of their wishes then would you feel happy if your children called you â€œthe lousiest dadâ€? Of course you are free to pursue any culture.
I donâ€™t like to use the word â€œgreatestâ€ at a wink of my eye. It should be given the respect that the word deserves â€“i.e. it should be used in very very special case.
I really dont understand this ……are u against adjectives in general or just pertaining to cricket??????
When i heard about the scores after this game…..there was a sense of awe ….and India wasnt even playing this game. I am sure that these scores will also b surpassed in the years to come, but for now, if somebody asks me which is the greatest odi match…….this is the only one that will spring to my mind.
Arnab, c’mon man. This was a petulant post from someone who normally does better. Why crib about the use of the word ‘greatest’? For many people who watched the match it was indeed the greatest ODI match they had ever seen, and I was one of those people. When the match ended, I could scarcely believe that I had been witness to such a spectacle and I have watched many, many ODIs in my life. (Oh and I am a great fan of Dada as well.)
It is all well to say that it was a ‘slugfest’ as some people have commented. But my answer is to ask them to watch the match again when they replay it on ESPN or Star. No one but the most avid Aus/SA hater would call Gilchrist’s and Ponting’s shots or Gibbs’ assault as ‘slugging’. Gibbs especially was exquisite. His fours and sixes over cover were things of beauty. Please don’t demean his achievement by calling that “slugging”.
Most teams would have lost the match at the lunch break when faced with a score above 350, as India did in the WC finals. But SA didn’t, and fought back. That alone qualifies this match to be the greatest ever for me.
And what excitement, what tension! Right down to the wire, 9 wickets down Ntini batting against Brett Lee. Aus could have still won it. Till the 49.5th ball, no one could predict with any certainty who would win. This is the stuff of legends, regardless of critics.
As for the bowlers, they did their best, especially Bracken, but it was not good enough. Maybe the pitch is to blame, because the same thing happened to India on the same ground, but at least that was equal for both teams. And I would rather have a batting fest than a bowling paradise (think India’s tour of NZ before the World Cup). Ideally it should be an even contest between bat and ball, but then ideally Dada would be in the India team now. :))
Finally all I can say is, the last time I had so much terrifying fun was the Natwest finals, but inspite of all my love for Dada and my country and my cricket team, I have to admit that nothing I have seen to far can hold a candle to this match for the sheer excitement. And India was not even involved! And to top it all, the bloody, visceral satisfaction seeing the Aussies being beaten at their own game!!! Take that Ponting, and wipe that GWB-like smirk off your face!
Just for that, this was the greatest ODI – EVER!
The Indian Express had an eye witness account of the GODOAT. How come no one was calling for an investigation into the pitch while the moment a pitch misbehaves in favour of the bowlers, cricket boards, umpires and players call for help and [on 2 occasions] even abandon the game?
Jagadish, loosen up on the indignation, will you? The reason people complain about a bad pitch is because of the following:
Bad pitch (in bowlers’ favour):
Ball hitting batsman = bad for batsman’s health bad for continuation of game
Too good pitch (in batsmen’s favour):
Bat hitting ball hard = good for batsman crowd no one hurt except bowler’s feelings
Get over it.
It wouldn’t have been called the greatest ODI ever if SA had fallen 100 runs short or even 1 run short. This match is the greatest ever because it is comparable to the first 4-minute mile, the 10-second 100 meter sprint or the 6 meter vault. South Africa broke a barrier, in the same way teams have in the past edged past 250 and 300, but at a time when even 300 is still not considered always gettable, they chased down a 400 score. THAT is great.
The next greatest mile run would be when someone gets there in 3 minutes, or when an athlete runs a 9 second 100 meter sprint or someone gets past 7 meters in polevault or someone chases 500..though I am not too interested in seeing that happen.
which also brings us to the greatest test EVER 😉 Lots of amazing test matches of which India beating Australia at Calcutta, the tied test match at Madras, and a few others would be up for contention
Agreed to your point. But didn’t greatbong already mentioned that in his post.
“In general, I have issues with the use of absolute superlatives like best and greatest in serious sports writing. Of course we do use such terms always â€” like ‘You are the best husband’, ‘This chicken is the greatest’, ‘Anna Nicole Smith has the biggestâ€¦’
However, we usually confine such hyperbole to informal conversations. We don’t use such words in a research paper. Neither in a presentation to the boss. Not also in a job interview”
I personally don’t like such superlatives to be applied in serious sports journalism.
On a different note, the WC 1983 final could be one of the greatest matches in cricket history, where a team with a weak bowling attack successfully defended 183 runs (in 60 overs) against the strongest batting line up of that era.
Oops! You are right! What the heck was I thinking? I think I was so engrossed in the rest of his post that I completely forgot about that paragraph.
Ignore that smartass example from my comment and pretend to forgive me. 🙂
I stand by the rest of my comment though.
Calling your parents/kids â€œthe greatestâ€ is â€œAmerican cultureâ€? Who told you that? Forget about America, my parents never visited more than 3 states in India. Their knowledge of American culture was close to zero. That didnâ€™t prevent them from calling me the greatest kid any time I did something that really pleased them. (It is a different matter that at times I was the “worst kid” as well but I won’t go there). I might have called them the greatest a few times myself. You see, no kid (or parent for that matter) takes the expression of love literally. Such expressions are used and are necessary at times to convey how special the relationship is and what one means to the other. You read too much into things.
And I do not think the â€œworth itâ€ ads are trying to exclude anybody. In fact, they are trying to convince even those who think they cannot afford by saying â€œyou are worth itâ€¦ so go buy itâ€.
well I both agree and disagree with your post…. I totally agree with you that “the greatest” title cannot be just gifted on the basis of just a superb batting performance…. however if you try to think in this way… SA and the Australians showed something which was never tried before. May be in future more teams will cross this mark, but they will be the first one who attempted and achieved this. At the end I would call it “the greatest” becoz it frees us from the shackle of impossibility… it redefines the whole grammar of cricket… it reveals the character of the game. I would call this match an epic in the saga of oneday cricket history.
YOURFAN writes: @Debasish: I still disagree with you on both the points. Your parents might have called you the greatest kid when you did something that pleased them enormously. But your parents are exceptions. I must say that none of the Indian families whom I, my family, my friends or relatives know of, ever call their kids the greatest when the kid does something which pleases them enormously. All they say is that â€œyou have made us proud of youâ€, â€œkeep up the good workâ€ â€œwe are very happyâ€ or â€œGod bless youâ€. I watched an interview of Sachin Tendulkar where he emphatically said that â€œmy parents always make sure that my feet are firmly on the ground â€“ they never praise meâ€. I liked that line so much that I still remember that. And donâ€™t tell me that Sachinâ€™s parents donâ€™t think that he is praiseworthy. That is the norm of Indian ethos â€“ we are taught and we in turn try to teach our children to be humble and thus usually refrain from using the superlative words.
With regard to the second point: it is not a question of â€œexcludingâ€ anybody â€“ it is pumping up oneâ€™s ego by saying â€˜you are worth itâ€™ or pumping down oneâ€™s ego if he canâ€™t afford it. You wrote: â€œIn fact, they are trying to convince even those who think they cannot afford by saying â€œyou are worth itâ€¦ so go buy itâ€. There is no question of â€œthinkingâ€ â€“ either one can afford or not. So why rub in the line of worthiness to it?
Are you the same Debasish who in one of his comments expressed his worries about his daughterâ€™s physical safety in India? Just curious.
Arnab, I will agree or disagree with you based on what Mandira Bedi thinks about this match 🙂
@GB…looks like you spam blocker took away the middle chunk of my comment above(about 500 words or so. 🙂
@Debashis: I agree with what you said. But then the quality of all the posts cannot be the same. Not that this one is bad.It just simply fails to live up to the past posts.
If you want to talk about semantics of using the word “greatest” you are right. I guess in this marketing world, a superlative itself is used in a comparitive manner.
It is being called greatest because never before did anyone manage to score 400 . One team did that, and another one, with a reputation of choking (especially against the first team, especially in final games), managed to surpass that score.
Again greatest is in context. Had it been game 2 of the series, it perhaps would not be called the greatest… or at least as widely acknowledged to be so.
Had it been Aussies to successfully chase 434, it wouldn’t be called the greatest.
Perhaps, if Andrew Hall hadn’t lost his wicket, it would have been a little less great than the current greatest (my lame attempt at being funny).
I guess all these factors go into this game being tipped as the greatest. And the tag stays until the next great game…
So no, I don’t agree when you say:
“That was what defined the â€œgreatnessâ€ of cricketâ€”a seamless interleaving of two battles â€”one between two teams and one between bat and ball.
Not any more.”
But I agee with the overall gist: that greatest has come to represent something that much more than great, not necessarily more than the greatest. To really do that, you need objective criteria, not (subjective) opinions.
Yes, I am the same Debasish. LOL!! Should I expect personal attacks now? [I tell you, these desi’s (i.e. me!) who spend a few years in the US completely forget their Indian culture and values!!! And they find India unsafe for their kids!!! Pseudo characters!!!] Just kidding, girl! Smile!!
It is perfectly all right to disagree with me. You speak from your experience and I from mine.
I am glad that my parents were not overly obssessed with those values that you talk about on which apparently we Indians have complete ownership, nor did they shower me with such formal sounding words of encouragement as you mentioned. It sure felt good when they said what they did and I still count them as very fond memories. And I guess I turned out all right after all… except for an occasional bout of arrogance, of course 🙂
I am amused by your assumption that I am such a moron that I would try to tell you that Sachin Tendulkar’s parents would not think he is praiseworthy. Your example of Sachin brings another angle to the thing though. Could it be possible that his parents sensed the extraordinary talent in their lad and thought it would bring more balance in his character by not praising the obvious? Whereas, my parents thought that an occasional ego booster from time to time would not harm their poor little timid boy? Just a thought.
And look how we are spoiling Arnab’s blog! We are totally off topic now and adding no value!
@Nirav: Its very difficult to not pass away the opportunity to respond when discussions about totally unrelated topics threaten to degenerate down the tried-and-tested path of “Bengalis suck”.
@Masked Masquerader: Tony Greig is, as you point out, a repeat offender of this hyperbole—-in 96, he once called a Kalu knock as the ‘greatest innings you will ever see’. Now the deal is that Tony Greig isnt talking to Tony Lewis over a mug of Fosters—he is commentatering and this influencing the cricketing tastes of millions. He has a duty to be ‘objective’.
@Debasish: Okay the first part of your comment has been dealth with by Anirban and you have also seen my line of reasoning. Now as to the remaining part of your comment.
1. My parents never said I was the best. That maybe because it was true: as a matter of fact my mother would praise everyone else to the skies and pointedly not me. However this is quite besides the point here.
2. There is no “over analysis” here IMHO. If you call this match “the greatest” 100s of times sooner or later it will become the greatest. And I can see I am in the minority here:—but a match in which there is not one bowlers moment (with the exception of Nathan Bracken upsetting Dippenaar’s furniture[that too an inside edge]) cannot be called the “greatest”. It is this kind of attitude where the only thing that people care about is runs is whats responsible for the detoriating standard of bowling.
I am a real cricket fanatic—but not of the sixes-and-fours kind. I am afraid however that with such metrices of “greatness’ thats what its going to become. So please dont think this is over analysis just for the sake of writing—I do not want my favorite game to be bastardized such.
@yourfan2: Bizarre…that it took out your comment from the middle. It got caught in spam blocker because of the number of links. However why WP took out the middle of your comment is beyond me. I apologize for WP.
It will be great if you could mail me the links for future matches mainly because I dont want your comment to be eaten up as spam.
Fighting over whether a match is greatest is futile.,, I agree. But as I said in the previous reply, I am afraid that bowling standards will decline if scoring 400/500 runs is considered as a benchmark of greatness. [For example, this powerplay thing exists so as to extend the 2-man-out thing to 20 overs so that more runs are scored.]
@Dev: I agree with you totally. That would truly be an amazing match. Yes I would be much more comfortable with calling such a match “great”.
@Golmaal: Yes agree with you too. Amazing fightbacks against all odds—thats what I am talking about (like Laxman’s innings at the Eden). What makes it “great” is the fact that India as a team were down on its knees after that Mumbai Test and following on. The Aussie bowlers were on top and this was when Laxman turned the heat on. Thats cricket for you.
This was just Hong Kong sixes.
@Shravan: This blog isnt a place for challenges—show me my IP address. As you can see Nitin/Cricket_fan has not denied that I caught his IP address properly. Also I do not claim any great “hacker skills” for which I caught his IP—its WordPress that compulsorily tags source IP. So why the “challenge” …
@Sudheer: Again I have nothing against your opinions. Nothing against you disagreeing. I did feel that your comment on the Sourav post (where the post had nothing to do with Bengalism) as blighted, biased and unduly abrasive. But I dont grudge you for posting it.
Now as to the story of another person using your machine to post a comment –well I reserve my judgement on that.
Michael, Chetan: This incident reminds you of something else?
But thanks for clarifying and for visiting my blog.
@Maniman: I respect your opinions but as to what a great match would be like, I would tend to go with Golmaal’s dream match.
@Anon1: No it doesnt hang around for a few days. It shapes our perception of what “greatness” in cricket is—which sadly gets defined as “smashing the hell out of the ball”. Which is why ICC makes ridiculous rules that hamper bowlers and encourage groundsmen to produce such pitches.
@Gautam: He is right.
@Vivek: Agree with you partially about the “white” teams. But this point is not relevant here.
@Deep Third Man: I partially agree in the sense that a thrilling match between india and pakistan is not going to be so easily accepted as “great” as a match between white teams. After all, we can bring in the money…but …you get the point.
@yourfan: As I said before, my parents also never used superlatives with respect to me nor did i use it with respect to them (and that was not because I didnt want to spoil them but because I always found other parents better !)
@Rahul: Again your opinion. I have my own and I have made my justification.
@Shan: Aah well.
@S Jagadish: We know the answer to this…dont we?
@Shan: Sometimes pitches get criticized not because people can get hit but because the ball spins too much or the bounce is low—-so get over your simplistic analysis—since we are all “getting over” something or the other.
@Comic Project: Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile was the absolute standard of greatness in racing. Cricket is not about scoring runs only—hence the comparison is moot IMHO.
@Sounak: And what thing did the SA-Aus match show which was *not* present when India chased 314 against Pakistan?
@Ashit: Point taken.
@Niket: If you do not agree with the battle between bat and ball being the embodying principle of enjoying cricket, then obviously my point is lost.
There’s more to this than whether it can be called the “greatest” ODI clash or not. It is unfortunate that these “great clash” tags almost always refer to matches in which bat totally dominates ball. This has to do with the mindset of the viewer and the way the rules are made. Each time a batsman scores a run- you can see it on the scorecard (who cares if it is the top of his bat handle while he is looking to keep his nose in 1 piece). The bowler may plan his three overs cleverly and get a wicket on his fourth (which is all the card shows), but that does not seem to stay in the viewer’s mind as easily. This is not as big a problem in soccer- if Zidane’s “scheming” wins Henry a goal- due credit goes to Zidane for setting it all up.
Sadly, almost each rule that comes up makes it even more lopsided in favour of the batsman than before. How about giving the bowling team a run for bowling each dot in an ODI? Also, a run to the oppositon for every ball below the 50- over period that it manages to get the side bowled out in. That would make the game more comprtetive, it would keep either sides of the scoreline dynamic (as does in soccer or hockey) till the end. Trust me, this would ensure more matches being played closer to the 100 over limit. That will partly remove the tendency to make featherbeds- if a side is bowled out under 50 overs, and the other side gets those runs in 35, you don’t get to show as many ads- the dynamics behind batting paradises.
In case you are wondering what’s wrong with me (Apart from everything), here’s an example:
Team A gets bowled out for 182 in 44.5 overs.
Let us say this innings contained 139 dots.
So, team B starts with 170 runs (139 dots 31 balls under 50 overs it manages to get A bowled out in.)
Let’s say it gets 183 runs in 45 overs for 8 wickets- with 163 dots (sounds fair ?).
Now A has 353 points (170 183), and B has 345 (182 163). Match will continue as B can still get a maximum of 30 points by bowling dots or getting the remaining 2 wickets. In this case, B gets this “advantage” because its bowlers managed to bowl more dots- i.e. it gives an incentive to a bowler for going tight, in addition to picking wickets.
Now consider this: With all this jumble,South Africa is 4 points behind India in the last over of the game. Pathan bowls the last over with such guile that Ntini misses 5 of his deliveries. Last ball- yorked in the slot, Ntini gives a desparate swing and inside edges it to fine leg for 4. SA wins ? Wrong. The 5 dots have taken the equation to 9 of 1 ball. Unfair ? Well, not more than winning of nanometer thick edges.
Bring your knives on now. But may I ask something- if this “overdomination of batsmen” thing is just a myth- and “going down to the wire” everything, why would the Aus- SA match be the greatest ever ? Why not the India- WI 1991 Benson and Hedges clash in Perth- both teams bowled out for 105 ? Nobody ever called that “greatest ODI ever”.
P.S. I wouldn’t consider this post to be off-topic. In other words- I HATED the Aus-SA ODI. This ain’t cricket.
Some interesting comments above.. I really don’t see the point to adding to what everyone else has said… it would be simple re-iteration.
I don’t think it is possible for any match to ever assume the mantle, regardless of the stats; the performances; or the circumstances… today Aus vs SA reached 434 – tomorrow Bangladesh might beat a bigger team after scoring a 100. Underdog team beats big name in impossible scenario. Sounds like a great match.
It was a brilliant match for sure.. it boggles the mind to believe that 400 could be crossed twice in the same day. One can only wonder what happened on the day to the 2 teams.
Your main point is perfect though.. the competition between bat-and-ball truly makes for great cricket. Great cricket.
Now I am confused. This is what you sayâ€¦
â€œ@Debasish: Okay the first part of your comment has been dealth with by Anirban and you have also seen my line of reasoning.â€
My interpretation after rereading your original post on Anirbanâ€™s prompting was that you understood and appreciated such personal and informal superlatives, though you think they have no place in professional world … the part I had overlooked.
But then you go on to say,
â€œNow as to the remaining part of your comment.
1. My parents never said I was the best. That maybe because it was true: as a matter of fact my mother would praise everyone else to the skies and pointedly not me. However this is quite besides the point here.â€
And you also said something similar to yourfan.
My question is do you share yourfanâ€™s view that using such superlatives as â€œthe greatest dadâ€ or â€œthe greatest kidâ€ is against Indian culture and values? Or, were you just stating that in general, you do not have any use for superlatives as qualifiers, period and that my interpretation above was wrong (though that was not the message that came across which is why I had taken my â€œsituationâ€ back)?
Michael, Chetan: This incident reminds you of something else?
🙂 Seems to be a fairly common affliction.
Come on you can do better. Not definitely your “Greatest” post.
@Anonymous: Very interesting comment. And very radical ideas. What wouldnt I do for more comments like these !
@SEV: I am glad we agree as to the definition of what cricket is. I can see there are many others who think of the game differently.
@Debasish: Okay hope this clears up the confusion. I made the point that the use of superlatives is pretty common in informal conversation—and there is nothing objectionable in that. However when we speak “formally”–in a research paper or in a company presentation, we avoid the use of “extreme” words that cannot be properly justified. Since sports-writing/commentary is a “formal obligation” (and things on which opinions are formed) I think that the use of superlatives should not be as “loose” as it currently is. However, a child saying “My daddy best” or a mother telling her son “You are the best son a mother ever had” doest require a measure—simply because they fall under the “informal interaction” category.
Then there is the separate issue which has got nothing to do with the post. It is about “parenting” (I cannot claim to be an expert here in any way)—whether the use of superlatives is against Indian values. Now growing up, my parents have always avoided superlatives when I was concerned. I have been told that this was done deliberately so that I do not take it “to heart” and get too big for my shoes.
There is some logic here.
When a father tells a son “You are the best” the son is going to take it literally. He will not catch the assumption of “informality” that mature adults do . As an example, if my wife says I am the best husband, I know she just wants to cuddle up with me—-I would never think I am *really* the best husband ever. Thats because I am aware that such a thing as a best husband can never exist. And also because I know I am the farthest thing from even a good husband. However a child cannot make such an evaluation. Which is why parents are careful while using such words.
Which is why I think as a parent I would never tell my kids they were the best. There are other ways of encouraging them without the use of such words.For the same reason, most Indian parents desist from using such adjectives while describing their offsprings. Of course sometimes they over-compensate and become hyper-critical—–that’s obviously not right either.
@Chetan: Yes it is…
@Sunil: (notÂ Sunil Laxman) I am sad you didnt like it. I shall strive to improve myself. But what exactly didnt you like? The content? The logic? The English? Â
Maybe you would get it if you had seen it.
I thought media people (print people, TV people; wise or otheriwse) had this liberty of using adjectives at will. I have seen far worse. Though dissecting everything so clinically would leave little doubts in anyone’s minds 🙂
Watching a match in real time and reading or watching the highlights does make a difference though. Enough maybe to make great as greater but probably not the greatest.
@Anya: Please explain why the highlights dont do. However if you do not look upon cricket as a battle between bat and ball and tend to look at it as just a competition like a horse race then yes I agree: if I had seen it I would have liked it. [Mind you, I never said I didnt like it, I just said it cannot be called the geratest]
Cricket to me is more sublime—-you have to feel it to get it.
@Nikhil: I thought they shouldnt—-its not that they dont. I have made the point before:—by calling this “greatest” presswallahs foist on the credulous publicÂ the idea thatÂ what makesÂ the “greatest” game is a shitload of runs and a close finish. Its not that. A close finish, a thrilling turn-around on much lower scores can also be “greatest”….
I think sachin bowled the greatest over when he gave away only 4 runs in the 50th over to south africa when 6 were required.
My thoughts exactly. I told my friends that this is one of Australia’s worst performances as a team – ever…because they were not able to defend 400 runs…Its the ODI equivalent of “gully” cricket – nothing more to it. period.
Ok there seems to be a second Shan here as well. The first two posts were by me, and I am the one with a capitalised S and without a link, just in case the second one writes something I don’t subscribe to…:)
YOURFAN writes: @GB: This is precisely why I call myself Yourfan â€“ you took the whole explanation right out of my mouth and presented it in a very very appropriate and positively superior manner than mine in your reply to Debasish. Thanks a lot.
P.S. May be you are â€œfarthest thing from even a good husbandâ€ but you sure are a sensitive husband (â€œif my wife says I am the best husband, I know she just wants to cuddle up with me —–â€). It is so amazing how the character of a person opens up thru just a blog!!
Hated the whole gad damn affair. Made a mockery of cricket. Any ball being hit reached the boundary. This isnt the cricket I had hoped for. Incredible but not complete. It was “incredibly ruddy”.
All this brouhaha about this match “not the greatest” originates solely from the fact that India was not part of it !!
Hitting 434 against strong bowling line up like SA or Australia is no child’s play in intl cricket.Just see the top scores till now have been mostly against second rate oppn like Kenya or Zimbabwe (in rare cases India !!).Remember, the mighty aussies got all out for 93 in the second match of the series..and SA couldnot win a single match in the whole VB series against Australia (again there was no Mcgrath there and most were very true pitches).Coming from such a background, I think this performnace was out-of-the-world by any standards.
ODIs have long become a batsman-only game (allowing people like Dhoni to prosper). There is no point now in saying that since this was a match dominated by bat, this will not qualify as the greatest. Even here, SA lost 9 wickets..if it was not good bowling then what is?
Lastly, I don’t think 400 scores will become a standard…the transition from an average 250 to 275-285 nowadays has happened in a period of about 5-6 years…this transition will take much much more…probably a lifetime !!
Till then , according to me , this undoubtedly, hands-down, wins the GREATEST ODI played.
agrees with bangabandhu again.
just as having the biggest sets doesnt make anna prettiest around , most # ofruns doesnt make it the greatest ever. The greatest ever perhaps could be put in where someone staring in defeat has brought the game single handedly to another level altogether. Kapil dev – turnbridge wells
@ Anon : 17-Mar, 11.48 a.m.
I totally agree with you.
Alas! No video footage of that great match is available as there was a strike by all Electricity board staff across England on that particular day.
Hmmm. You’ve raised a phisophical issue – what is ‘greatest’, what is ‘best’, what is ‘beautifullest’? Media shouldn’t get into these superlative desriptions as a norm. It should, and is mandated, to stick to facts. Truth, after all, is relative. Aishwariya Rai might be ‘beautifullest’ to some, may not be for some. Anna Karanina might be the greatest novel for some, some others might pitch for War and Peace or One hundred Years…
In this case, when the media calls the match the ‘greatest’ I assume that it is because of the quantifiable aspects of the game — highest runs scored in one day, twice 400 runs being scored for the first time in the same match, etc. I think that’s fairly obvious. Just as if we were two win 2 gold medals in the next Olympics, it might be called India’s ‘best’ performance, even though the Games in which Milkha Singh broke the world record and yet came fourth and the Indian soccer team qualified might be considered ‘better’ by some in terms of romance and excitement.
But I feel bad you missed the match. It was BIG in terms of excitement and entertainment. And I personally, always like it when the Aussies get a bloody nose (altho’ many would say that’s mean and that ‘cricket won at the Wanderers’, etc). Get the DVD and check it out. Cheers!
There is a vast difference between parents heaping (or not heaping) superlatives on their child and branding a cricket match or a work of art/literature as â€˜the greatest ever.â€™
A relationship between parents and a child or between spouses is based on unqualified love which is rooted deep inside them whether or not they choose to be vocal about it. So, even if a boy grows up to be a neâ€™er-do-well, his parents might continue to consider him as the best son they ever had. Thatâ€™s because love isnâ€™t based on logic or parameters of reciprocity.
However, when itâ€™s a case of rationally considering the merits of a sporting event, film, work of art, or a renowned individual accomplished in some way or the other, itâ€™s more complicated because it involves human society at large. Since beauty/greatness is in the eyes of the beholder, one might choose not to agree with the majority of people who think that Mona Lisa is the â€˜greatestâ€™ work of art in the known world or that Muhammad Ali is the â€˜greatestâ€™ boxer ever to rule the arena.
But then, why is Mona Lisa or Mohammad Ali considered to be the greatest? Itâ€™s obviously because of the large percentage of people who consider them to be so. Similarly, since public opinion is based on collective social values, preferences, and trends, Mona Lisa and M. Ali may very well be replaced in the recent future by a painting/pugilist currently considered good but not great.
Also, some amount of time is required before true â€˜greatnessâ€™ can be objectively evaluated. Something that aspires to be great needs to be able to stand the test of time. So, whether the Australia-South Africa cricket match qualifies as great or even the greatest, is something that only time can tell.
Hmmn…An Interesting post, to say the least..Quite a few other bloggers too have raised this point and rightly so…
It was a wonderful match just at the end when all the wickets started falling and some grit was shown by the lower order. Would people have liked it as much if Gibbs had carried on and scored the first double-century and won the match? Naah..People liked the match simply coz at the end there was some involement with the ball there.
So, as Arnab rightly said Cricket is a battle between the bat and the ball. So, if you wann see sixes scored of bowlers, you can as well see Hong Kong Sixes or the new shows that ESPN-STAR has brought about where you hit the balls bowled by a bowling machine.
One point missed about the match is the inspid captaincy shown by Ponting. He kept on bowling Lewis till the end. I suspect he dosen’t like Lewis and he wants to make sure that Lewis never touches a ball after this match.
Ponting’s captaincy under such onslaught has always been susceptible and I feel Saurav would have definitely saved the match inspite of having bowlers like agarkar in the team 🙂
And definitely, there would have been murmurs of match-fixing if India and Pakistan been involved in this slug-fest..
Sorry for such a long comment, but I rarely make one..So hopefully, Arnab will forgive me 🙂
Not so fast yourfan! Donâ€™t write me off just yet. I am here to stay. I can almost hear everybody groan, â€œOh no! Not again!â€ But hey, life is a bitch. 🙂
You see Arnab, the whole reason I mentioned that â€œgreatest dadâ€ thingy was to point out that habitual over analysis can lead to such a stretch of a moment of simple elation of a child and with no purpose. Parenting and teaching your child to be humble are not restricted to not telling your child she is the greatest or preventing your child from expressing her joy by saying you are the greatest dad. There are a zillion other things you need to do to achieve that. Putting such golden rules like I will never call my child the greatest, IMHO donâ€™t do much good at all. I learn new things about parenting every day and I will be the first to admit that I am not always right, perhaps even in this case. Similarly you may find out one day that the golden rule is not working.
This has no direct relevance to this post but â€œparentingâ€ was not the subject of my â€œgreatest dadâ€ example either.
Arnab, if I understand correctly, you are pissed because by calling this ODI greatest, the media and people who are valued in the cricketing world are glamorizing high scoring ODIs which is gradually degrading the game as more and more such games are being played. And, if I understand cricket a little bit, then the two main factors causing these high scoring games are 1. pathetic pitches and 2. introduction of weird rules like power play.
Probably, you fear that because of this glamorization, more and more such pitches will be made as the sponsors, the ICC, the country specific cricket boards, sensing that the public demand is actually for high scoring games, will create such an environment that more such matches will end with similar outcome ruining cricket and so you stressed so much on the abuse of superlatives by the powers of the game.
And that is what I termed as over analysis. My reasons are following.
I agree that bad pitches and bad rules are deliberately made butâ€¦ for different reasons and by different bodies. Bad rules are made by ICC to enable high scoring. Now, the pitch is made by the home country. When any deliberate toning down of the pitch is done, isnâ€™t it done to just help the home team win rather than as part of some other grand scheme of things like letâ€™s make a pitch worth 400 runs? I think this time in their effort they just went too far and screwed up. Sheer incompetence. I just do not see what has that got to do with media and big guys calling it the greatest ODI. I think it was just a reaction of witnessing the unthinkable. If you think that was irresponsible then may be so but it didnâ€™t call for so much coverage.
On the other hand, I thought this over analysis of the superlatives was counter productive to your own intention to spread the awareness that the game of your passion is being degraded. It took away the focus from the real problem â€“ pitch and rules. You said that if you call this ODI greatest 100 times, it will be believed to be. In this whole post and the comments the word â€œpitchâ€ was used 18 times and â€œruleâ€ 4 times; whereas after doing â€œFindâ€ on the word â€œgreatestâ€ I gave up after counting 40 and I hadnâ€™t even covered half of the post comments (yes I am that jobless!). So, the real issues of bad pitches and rules were not repeated enough number of times to be believed, in that case. More real estate on the comments section was used in discussing who thought which was actually the greatest ODI, parenting and irrelevant topics than addressing the true problem. (You would say thatâ€™s because of fools like me and you would be right to say that. But hey, you cannot expect me to quietly let others give me â€œgyanâ€ on Indian culture just because they have one way to address all situations and completely missed my point.) If you have an agenda to address a real issue and you over stress the peripheral issues more then not much would be covered on the real ones.
Thatâ€™s where I was coming from.
An aside to yourfan. When you were getting all preachy about how Indian culture teaches the kids to be humble, you came across as anything but humble when you made the blanket statement on how American culture teaches children to think they are great. I do not know how many Americans you know or what your experience is about Americans and their culture. I have spent 12 years in the Mid West. That is one place where you can really see American culture (NYC, DC, LA etc offer more of an international/cosmopolitan culture). I have known a lot of Americans and their families. They do not by rule teach their kids negative things. (And neither was I suggesting to do anything in those lines; it was your imagination that stretched it that far.) In fact, I have learnt a thing or two from them about parenting. I will strongly recommend (a) please shed the stereotypical and wrong viewpoint about American culture and (b) donâ€™t jump into conclusions and try to judge people because they call their parents/kids the best just to show affectionâ€¦ they might be just a tad bit more intelligent than you think. Even my daughter knows â€œEast or West, my baby is the bestâ€ is pure affection and nothing else.
@Shan: Your opinion…
@eM: Gali cricket is what this is. Precisely.
@Shan: Judwaa…..this is getting David Dhawanish.
@yourfan: Thank you…
@Arvind: This is the problem with you people. Before ascribing motivations you dont even do a minimum amount of research. Firstly, I hate India. That has been conclusively been proven in previous posts on account of regional identity. Hence what you should have said was:
All this brouhaha about this match â€œnot the greatestâ€ originates solely from the fact that Ganguly was not part of it !!
@Dev: Yes what a pity. They thought also who cares about a game between India vs Zimbabwe—this was like Canada vs Holland right now.
@Rani: The problem with that quantification is that it is the wrong metric to evaluate a cricket game.
@Mystic Margarita: Evaluating a work of art is a different beast altogether. Right now what we are talking about cricket —-taking the analogy to the art world—is the Statue of Liberty the greatest work of sculpture merely because it is so large ?
@HP: I dont know what Ponting was thinking—even he bowling would have been a better option. And HP this isnt a long comment by RTDM standards—hell no. And long comments are great !
@Debasish: I fail to see your point.
Why have I talked about upbringing if my issue is bad pitches? Why have I mentioned “greatest” 40 times and “bad pitches” only 6?
Let me stress what the real issue is—once and for all. Since you seem to have some problem comprehending it.
Featherbed pitches are caused by cricket administrators. The curators are told to prepare pitches where batsmen can play through the line and across it with impunity 100% sure that the bounce will be true and that the ball will remain straight. Why do administers want that? Because people want runs to be scored. And no administrators don’t care a rats ass if the home team wins–they care for money. In India, people come to the ground only if India wins. Likewise in Pakistan. However, in places like SA it is more “lets go with our mates, have some beers and stay excited through 100 overs”.
These people want to see runs—a lot of them. And why wont they? They are being fed a wrong theory of what constitutes a good cricket game. Experts (so-called) are defining greatest as a run-fest. Soon this is the only type of game which the spectators will love because the definition of cricket has been altered—-if the bowler bowls 4 dot balls it will be considered boring.
Rather than putting ‘we need fair pitches’ 100 times (which seems to be the way you evaluate how important a point is, by the number of times it occurs in a text—kind of like how you measure a “great” cricket match), I prefer to look at the root cause of why unfair pitches are being prepared.
Namely because of this attribution of “greatness” on a Hong Kong Sixes kind of match. Once we all accept that this is what “good” cricket is, then why should a batting paradise be a “bad pitch” at all ? As a matter of fact, a so-called fair pitch is then bad—because we have accepted that a bowlers role is to send down deliveries so that the batsman can whack them. Kind of like the dog bringing in the newspaper so that you can read it.
Which is why rather than saying ” We need better pitches” 126 times I have opted to craft an argument wherein by hammering the point that “This kind of cricket is not great” I hope to imply that creating such pitches is bad. If you want I can write a script that barfs out “We need sporting pitches” 233 times so as to satisfy you.
Now as to parenting. It is not a point I raised. But since it is an interesting topic on which yourfan commented on, I replied to that. Again it is you who is overanalyzing by saying “I have weakened my point” because I talk about parenting. Dude I am not making a presentation to the ICC where by raising child upbringing I have “diluted” my stance. This is a blog discussion for crying out loud. And I am the one who is over-analyzing. Right.
And is calling your kid ‘the best’ intelligent? Well I don’t think so. My mother used to say: ” Other people should be calling you the best if at all. Not me”. Thats the way it should be.
And yes we all know how strong the typical American family is. Having stayed my life in Madagascar, I have never seen an American family….ok chuck the sarcasm. I went to an American junior/high school for a few years. I have seen what American families are first hand—and many of them are not more intelligent than we think. I know you said this to yourfan, but I support her here.
[Update: Just now saw Eddie Murphy calling Richard Pryor the “greatest person to hold a microphone”. And an analysis article calling Richard Pryor as the greatest comedian of all time. Typical American mindset—of not even considering any world or time outside their own. Could this be because of intelligent American upbringing.. I wonder]
Interestingly, Greatbong, your blogs about a particular topic bring out comments on a huge range of issues. From Regionalism to Parenting. To just plain appreciating the blog to fighting about issues which is not the the issue at hand. To plain non-analysis to over analysis.
As to my digression from the blog topic, all possible comments/ideas have been put through and I dont have anything additional to say except a quote from a book
” Dont worry if the glass is half empty or half full, try to enjoy the drink “
@KK: This is in the true tradition of “adda” (a Bengali word meaning open discussion) where opinions are allowed to follow different paths, things are allowed to get heated (within limits), and tangential topics are allowed to come up.
Arnab aka Greatbong can you write a piece on Netaji please?
Netaji did not die in aircrash, says web site
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who is believed to have died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945, actually escaped to Russia and was the victim of ‘India’s biggest cover-up,’ says http://www.missionnetaji.org
Sorry for being off topic, but your previous post made me garner the courage.
Mone hocche adda miss korcho onek. Life in US taking toll on you ? Ha Ha .. adda in US jomanor cheshta ..
All right, Arnab. Since I do not know what SA fans say to each other before they go to a game, I will take your word for it. I am sure you know what you are saying. I am sure one day, the media will stop using superlatives and everything will be fine and dandy. You are after the right target. Silly me!! I also fail to understand if such is your conviction on this matter then why is it okay to call it great? Why aren’t you upset because the media is not calling it a total sham, a mockery of cricket and not staging a walk out? Something tells me that calling it just great will also encourage the administrators to continue to do what they are doing. But then, like you said, I am dense. I will never understand the right in my face reasons.
Incidentally, how do you know how I measure a great cricket match? I never expressed my reasons for thinking why this ODI may qualify to be called the greatest ODI. It may not be because I shamefully pine for slugfest, you know? And you started the counting game – the number of times one needs to repeat “greatest” before the match becomes one. Turned that around on me, huh? Wah bhai wah!!
When did I try to associate your opinions on parenting with your views on the ODIs? Actually, I tried to keep the two as separate as possible… for the simple fact that neither you nor me brought up the parenting or culture issue.
Regd the cultural point, when did I say that all American families are great? I do have problems when people do such generalizations. I have seen good and bad families and their values both in India and in the US. I find such branding useless and ignorant.
Finally, regarding the greatest kid part (oh! gosh! how I wish I had given a different example! grrr!) we just have two different ways of looking at the thing. I do not think intelligence is breached in what I am saying. But I am just tired of that topic.
I appreciate your taking the time to write such a long response to my long comment though. This reminds me of the days when we had such arguments with my friends in my apartment, all the time afraid that the neighbors were going to call the cops.
i liked cricket when it was a seasonal game in india– a touch of chill and the men in white.
for people of my generation the HIGH POINT was us winning the prudential cup.
note that i say ‘us’.it told the cricket world that we were capable of winning matches, that we too, had killer instincts. i saw that match live on a b/w tv. (yes, i am that oooold)
usualy, i pay more attention to the reaction of the people watching a match than the match itself. i need the collective emotions of a roomful of tv viewers to percolate down to me to make me feel excited.
as for ‘greatest’ and ‘bestest’, it is just the journalists earning their bread and hopefully, some butter.
interesting, how much heartburn it has managed to generate!
That Madagascar thing and this intelligent American upbringing stuff were just cheap pot shots. Totally unnecessary hits. Very disappointing! You are taking the fun away from me, dude!
@Ashit: Shall remember.
@KK: Yes that I do.
@Debasish: I fail to see what was cheap about those shots….they werent “personal” by any stretch…just pointing out that I dont think that the American way of raising kids is any good at all. If this was a cheap shot, how come pointing out your years of staying in US wasn’t?— as if that made you somehow more qualified to comment upon American life than someone, who heavens forbid, is in India. Make your point Debasish rather than tell yourfan—” you are in India…how would you know?”.
@Swati: I saw that match on a b/w TV too….and I am pretty young 🙂
Sorry, I am late. Just wanted to add another minority voice. I do not enjoy what one day matches have turned into over the last ten odd years. Now most of them are extremely predictable and are so heavily biased in favor of batsmen that it is no longer the game I grew up loving. One match can hardly be distinguished from another. This match was probably the greatest in the batsman-dominated runfest genre, but it still remains a genre that I do not enjoy. However, I do not grudge its immense popularity as I always have test matches to fall back to – the last ashes seris for example. The one-dayers I grew up loving still had remnants of classical struggle between bat and ball that can only be seen in test matches now.
I also wanted to nod in approval of Anonymous’s choice of the Perth one-dayer between India and West Indies. As opposed to the slugfests that blur into each other, I vividly recollect that particular game. A pace quartet of Kapil, Prabhakar, Srinath, Banerjee (the greatest Indian pace attack ever 🙂 had to defend 136. Azharuddin decided to go all out and bowled four major bowlers out. After 40 overs, the score was 121/9. They bowled superbly, but failed to get the final wicket. Tendulkar had to bowl the 41st over (even today I have nightmares about Shastri coming to bowl the 42nd over). He conceded five runs, but claimed the wicket of Cummins in his last delivery to secure a tie. An inconsequential group league match, but what a game it was.
I also recall fantastic one-day matches between England, Australia and West Indies in Benson and Hedges triangular tournaments in Australia in mid-late eighties and early nineties. Those were the that days of black-and-white DeeDee and nothing else. In Calcutta, we had the privilege of watching the highlights of those matches on Bangladesh television in the evening. I have sacrificed many an afternoon’s soccer practice to finish homework and watch those matches later in the evening. And it was not just Bill Lawry and Ritchie Benaud’s charming and knowledgeable voices, the quality of cricket was awesome. More often than not the bowlers had the upperhand. I cherish and miss that genre.
I actually dont care if its the greatest match ever or not. The only thing that came to my mind when i heard abt the outcome of that match was … “S**t , if only we could do the same in the year 2003, then the world cup would have been ours !!!”
Keep up the gud work Arnab da !
It was a great “entertaining” match – not the a “great” match :). Of course entertainment being the key factor, this game provided everything …. however from a sporting pt of view, it was a complete bat over ball game, with bowlers reduced to jokers.
You are right: “Greatest” is purely subjective, and has no place in a serious match report. Having said that, allow me to tell you why this match was great for me.
I am an Indian South African, born and brought up here. On the day of this match, I was bored and stuck at home because my car was being repaired. I didn’t even know there was a match on. After getting tired of reading, I decided to see what was on TV. Hey, cricket! Australia on something like 280/2. “Ho Hum”. Switch off and find something more interesting to do. Cut to a long time later. I see my sisters watching the same match on TV. “Hey, what’s happening?” “What? 80-something remaining off 50-something balls?” And I had to watch the rest, regardless of the score.
When the match ended, and SA won, I cheered like everyone else. Why? SA is not my favourite team. I don’t particularly like many of the players in the current side (though I do respect them). Why celebrate?
There are no individual reasons, but a combination of many things. Relative unknown JJ van der Wath (from my home town!) whacking 35 runs off 20 balls. Wickets falling..6..7..8..9. Somebody actually managing to make runs off Nathan Bracken. Makhaya Ntini making a single to get Mark Boucher back on strike, when everyone was waiting for him to mess up. And finally Mark Boucher hitting the four that meant the pompous Australians were actually beaten!
Yes, the thrill of chasing a score was definitely there. Especially when South Africa are generally considered to be chokers. But I guess the main thing was seeing the Australian team having to eat humble pie. Yes, I know, I’m happier seeing Australia get beaten than seeing good cricket (batting or bowling), but their high-and-mighty attitude is like English football commentary – really irritating.
There is another point which we have forgotten here. I hope the fact that this discussion has sort of petered out wouldnt make my comment lose visibility. To get on with my point – match-fixing.
It’s Sharjah. India vs Pakistan. Pakistan bat first. Shahid Afridi freaks out for a 100. Younis, Inzamam and Yousuf chip in with 50’s. Pakistan scores 408.
Veeru sets the tone for Indian reply with a 80-odd in 40 balls. Yuvraj, Raina and Dhoni kick-ass. India makes it in the 50th over with Sreesanth managing a tricky single and Dhoni finishing it off.
What would be the reaction of Tony Greig, Chappells et al? How many of you are willing to bet that it would be
“Hint, hint. Bookies were yesterday caught throwing long odds on a high scoring match. Hint, hint, Afridi just bought an expensive watch.”
“What a great match?”
“But i do think itâ€™ll take quite a doing to get over this one.”
Thats what i said after the Asutralian innings and i was proved wrong in a matter of hours.
BTW, when the match just ended the commentator called it, “One of the great one day matches, if not the greatest.” don remember who it was.
For me Yuvraj and Kaif beating Englad in the Nat West will still be greater than this one. But this match was amazing, it blew me away.
saeed anwar is my ideal batsman and he is my favourite batsman too saeed anwar is the greatest batman of the world ever
i want the highlights of sa vs aus match(sa chasing 434)
I don’t care what anyone says, this match will never, ever be forgotten!