<b>close-in:</b> Pop some corn, grab your seat
Ranchi will be exciting what with plenty of activities on and off the field
The Indian cricket team has shown that they are made of sterner stuff by winning the second Test match in Bangalore. Australia had the world number one side on the run, but were not able to take the advantage. This defeat will have a tremendous psychological effect on the Australians. India now once again look like a side that has regained its confidence. A victory without a major contribution from their star captain Virat Kohli should make them feel even more positive.
The wickets at both the Test venues, Pune and Bangalore have been way below Test match standards. The unpredictable bounce made stroke play very difficult and the batsmen needed resilience, patience and oodles of luck to survive. India, fortunately, had the advantage of winning the toss in Bangalore and from the first hour of the first days play one knew, that batting on the last day, chasing even a small target,would be an arduous task.
The series is progressing according to the predicted script that one had visualised. A close contest with plenty of activities on and off the field to gain an advantage. The latest being the word “cheating” being coined about the character of the Australian captain Steve Smith. The DRS is playing a major part in this series as the under prepared pitches are fuelling enough opportunities for its use. Smith made the cardinal mistake of looking at the dressing room for assistance, like one sees a tennis player doing so towards his box on a questionable line-call. The controversy, thereafter, has been quite ridiculous and reminds one of the school boy days of the phrase, “Cheater cheater Pumpkin eater.” The rhyme does not finish on that note, however, the issue should be put into, as the saying goes, into a pumpkin shell and kept there for another day. The word cheat is a very strong expression and as much as one would not like to associate it with Smith, every player who does not walk, according to me, is as much of a cheat. So the quicker this controversy is put to rest the better it will be for cricket.
The DRS is creating quite a stir. Technology should definitely be the way forward in ensuring better judgment for all concerned. One, however, fails to understand the laxity given to an umpire’s call. To me, if the ball is hitting the stump when given out or not out should be out, irrespective of the call. Cricket now has a third umpire and his services should be used to the hilt. Having three umpiring heads with one having additional time to rectify an error could eliminate issues such as no-balls and other blatant howlers even if there are no reviews left for a team. The basic idea is to ensure a correct decision and avoid a controversy. A player has a lot at stake and I can assure you that the saying, “it evens out finally,” is a fallacy that needs to be buried.
The ICC is introducing some new laws with regard to penalty of runs to a team for misconduct, disapproval of a decision and so forth. Excellent for the umpires to control the game and save it from disrepute. The law of run-out, wherein once the batsmen has grounded his bat beyond the popping crease, even though his bat may not be touching the ground thereafter, will be a sensible introduction. The one that should make a significant difference is the length, width and thickness of the bat. The piece of wood had become a club that one associated with the cavemen of the past. The bat had become a tool that even a school boy could hit the ball well into the stands without an effort. The future that one can see as regards the development of a modern bat will be the use of dual wood.
Presently there are bats that have two pieces of wood stuck together, one being the hard Kashmir willow with the English willow as the front face. This is being used at club levels keeping the pricing factor in mind. Professional cricketers may utilise this technology to put two well pressed pieces of wood, to get the same effect of the present bat as well as ensuring that they keep to the stipulated thickness being enforced from 1st October 2017 by the ICC. The next step would be to soften the outer edge, maybe with another strip of wood. This may help in curtailing the ball flying to the slips or gully. Earlier the skills were to ensure a soft hand which could now be quite easily replicated by soft wood. Cricket equipment is the next phase of a change and a modern cricketer will need to keep abreast with it.
Cricket needs a bit of excitement and the present series is providing plenty of it. The last laugh will be naturally had by the players. They will be finally sharing and reminiscing over a glass of beer with their IPL colleagues their verbal duals and how the world took them seriously. The Gavaskar-Border trophy 2017 is now a cricket battle that has rekindled an interest through the aggressive attitude shown by both the teams. A clash of the titans as one can term it. Great for the game of cricket.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Indian cricketer)
Columnist: 
Yajurvindra Singh
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