THE HEAVENLY GAME
Nev and Vic – two ninety year olds – have been life-long friends. Vic’s dying and Nev’s visiting him every day.
“Vic,” says Nev, “You know how we love cricket and how we played together all those years. Vic, will you do me a favour.
When you get to Heaven, and I know you will go to Heaven, somehow can you let me know if there’s cricket in Heaven.”
Vic looks up at Nev from his death bed, and says, “Nev, you’ve been my best friend all these years. This favour you ask, if it’s possible, I’ll do it.”
Shortly after, Vic passes on. It’s midnight a couple of nights later and Nev is sound asleep when he’s awakened by a blinding flash of light. A voice calls out to him, “Nev….Nev”
Sitting bolt upright, Nev says “Who’s that?” “Nev, it’s me, Vic.” “No. You’re not Vic. Vic died.” I’m telling you,” insists the voice. “It’s me, Vic!”. My mate Vic? Where are you?”.
“I’m in heaven. I’ve got good news and some bad news.”
“Great. What’s the good news” “There really is cricket in heaven. All our old buddies who’ve gone before us are up here too. Better still, we’re all young men again. It’s always spring time and it never rains or snows. Best of all, we can play cricket all we want. We never get tired!”
“Really?” says Nev, “That’s fantastic … wonderful … beyond my wildest dreams!
But … what’s the bad news?”
“You’re opening the batting Tuesday”.
SIX … ALL RUN
It was in the late 80s, a twilight game, a soft ground and a must win game against the Imperials. It’s getting dark and I’ve slogged a ball high in the air to cow corner and set off for an easy single. Deep square leg runs around the boundary to cut it off but runs past the ball plugged into the ground covered in mud. Fielder can’t find the ball, so partner and I go for a second and then a third run. Team mates start yelling instructions confusing the fielder. We take off for a 4th run. Opposition captain and bowler are getting agitated and call for reinforcements. By the time the cavalry have arrived and found the ball, we’re turning for the 6th.
So a six, all run, no overthrows and it’s fair to say the opposition are not amused.
Batting partner: “I’m buggered”
Bowler: “You’re a %$#@ cheat”
Sth Gippsland Vet: “Show me the scorebook. Let’s see what’s that says”
THE CRICKET TOSS … NO MORE ‘HEADS’ OR ‘TAILS’
The decision by the Big Bash marketers to replace the coin toss with a flip of a bat has brought a smile to the faces of backyard cricketers across the country.
Rather than calling “heads” or “tails”, team captains will be guessing if the bat will land with its flat side upwards (called “flats”) or downwards (“hills”) in BBL8.
Most seasoned veterans of backyard cricket tend to favour a call of “hills”, thinking that the bat will more likely roll over if it lands on its uneven side, compared with if it lands flat.
The Big Bash League’s Kim McConnie is confident predictability will not be an issue. She said bat-maker Kookaburra had developed a special bat for this purpose:
“You’d be surprised at the science that’s gone into this. It is a specially weighted bat to make sure that it is 50-50”.
Although the flip will bring a different look, the philosophy behind the toss remains unchanged. The new method though raises questions over the fairness of the process.
Howzat for fairness?
Professor Stephen Woodcock (Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at Sydney University Of Technology says even a standard coin, whose two sides are far more evenly weighted and shaped than any cricket bat, can never be said to be truly a 50-50 proposition.
The simple fact is that there is no such thing as a coin that is absolutely fair. Even a completely symmetrical coin could be biased towards one outcome – whether deliberately or otherwise – by the action of the person tossing the coin.
Some people’s technique will push the coin higher. Others might give the coin more rotation.
In a 2009 study, researchers at the University of British Columbia concluded that even a regular coin could easily be made to produce biased outcomes when the person tossing it was told “how to manipulate the toss of a coin” and incentivised to make it so.
Of 13 participants, each flipping the coin 300 times, all managed to produce more heads than tails. Overall, of the 3,900 tosses, 57% landed heads. One participant was able to obtain heads more than twice as often as tails.
Put to the test
In the haphazard and improvised spirit of backyard cricket, I decided to see how a cricket bat would land when flipped. I did not have access to one of the new Big Bash League bats so had to make do with the old battered bat from the back of the garden shed.
With a nod to procedural fairness, I decided to try two different techniques: low rotation (aiming for two of three flips while in the air) and a high rotation (as many flips as I could manage). Each of these techniques was applied 100 times to the bat being flipped from “hills” up in my hands, and 100 times from “flats” up.
I’ll be the first to admit that this resembles serious scientific rigour about as much as the browning patch of grass next to your parents’ Hills Hoist resembles the MCG.
A greater sample size would have been preferable, but this was as much as I could muster in fading light in a suburban backyard.
Based solely on the results of my backyard testing, you can likely chalk this one up as a win for conventional wisdom.
Especially when the bat was flipped with high rotation, it appeared to exhibit bias towards landing “hills”: 68 times from a “flats” up and 63 times for “hills” up position.
For the less vigorous flipping technique, its initial orientation influenced the outcome more and the results were closer to 50-50: the “hills” 58 times from a “flats” up and 48 times for “hills” up position.
In fairness to the league and its equipment suppliers, I would imagine that the bats used will be a little less prone to bias than the one available to me.
Nonetheless, whatever results Kookaburra’s testing machine produced with its bat, it is difficult to believe that a large, asymmetrical bat will be less susceptible to bias by the flipper’s technique than a simpler, smaller coin.
Finishing off the tail
Even if the bat flip is indeed not as unbiased as confidently claimed, it probably doesn’t matter. The decision to ditch the coin flip for its more unconventional counterpart is not one driven by a desire for sporting equity.
It’s a move designed to further distance the loud, brash, big-slogging and brightly dressed T20 league from traditionalists’ cricket, and to generate hype for the forthcoming season. With all of the international headlines that followed the surprising announcement, the decision already appears to be a huge success for Australian cricket.
THE BAGGY GREEN
Did you know? On the Veterans Cricket Australia Baggy Green, the word Australia appears on a scroll below a Coat of Arms. But it is not the Australian Coat of Arms as popularly thought. The Coat of Arms on the Baggy Green is often referred to as the Australian Cricket Coat of Arms and predates the Federation of Australia. The Baggy Green cap is thought to be the only pre-Federation item with a symbol of Australia still in use.
The Cricket Coat of Arms comprises (1) a crest – the rising sun, (2) a shield divided into quarters by the southern cross with wool, wheat, mining and shipping in the quarters, and (3) the supporters, kangaroo and emu, which in the original, were on the opposite sides. The Cricket Coat of Arms is used only on the Baggy Green cap and the helmet.
Victorians Bill Blair (32), Craig Gislingham (34) and Darren Hill (36) donned the Baggy Green in 2018 with their selection in the Australian Over 50s World Cup team. Victorian Over 60s players to have represented Australia in ODIs are Robert Agg (3), Arthur Pritchard (11), Alan Stephens (16), Bob Phillips (27), Rex Bennett, John Scales (29), John Costello (30), Ian Rowland (35), Ian Marks (37), Ian Pritchard (47), Ron Kasputtis (48), Rex Bennett (58), David Cordy (59), Ian Southall (64), Robin Court (66), Kevin Lanigan (70), Trevor Selby (71), Les Quarrell (74), Wayne Stokes (78), Trevor Saker (81), Chris Carr (82), Paul McDonald (86), Ray Smith (87) and Dale Thornton (92).
Vic Over 70s players honoured with a Baggy Green are Norm McLeod (3), Peter Flack (7), Des Lloyd (11), Terry Dunn (14), Bruce Hotton (16), David Tomlinson (17), Rex Thompson (18), Graham Freshwater (22), Bob Hopkins (32), Ron Kasputtis (33), Graham Cuddon (39), Peter Dell (40), Ian Hammet (43), Dick Stumbles (51), Greg Johnson (55), Ron Lovell (56), Wavell McPherson (57), Arthur Pritchard (58), Tim Spear (59), Ian A Gibson (62), Robin Court (67), Jim Geltch (69) and Ian Rowland (92).