Sunday, August 30, 2020

"A tie is like kissing your sister": The Americanisation of cricket

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Because I go over to my mother's to cook on Sunday afternoon I could not see the return of live cricket to BBC television today.*

But I did keep an eye on proceedings via Twitter and at one point saw this:

I thought of the 1970s, when the North American Soccer League came to British attention because of an influx of ageing world stars like Pele and Bobby Moore.

We smiled when we found out that the Americans could not cope with the concept of a draw - the saying "a draw is like kissing your sister" was widely quoted at the time.

Instead, the league had a penalty shoot out in case of a draw at full time. Later it introduced a revised version in which a player ran towards the goal from 35 yards out and had five seconds to shoot.

Now this mentality has invaded cricket - limited overs cricket at least - with the advent of the super over.

This strikes me as unfortunate: the reduction in outcomes from three to two makes the game a little less subtle and a little less complex.

The same mentality has even invaded chess. It used to be that the world champion kept his title if a match ended with the scores level. Now there are play-off games at increasing rapid time limits until a winner can be declared.

I can't help thinking we all need to grow up a little.

* Though I might well have watched Talking Pictures TV's screening of Cliff Richard's 1973 Birmingham-set musical Take Me High instead.

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