Considering that there are many different kinds of cricket experts, classifying them into various categories is a Herculean task. In fact, legend has it that the first person to try it got so confused that he gave up the exercise as next to impossible. He told himself- “Charles buddy, instead of classifying cricket experts and breaking your head in the process, why don’t you classify cricket, bats….. monkeys, elephants etc into different phylums, sub phylums etc.”. And that is how Charles Darwin went on to classify various animals, plants etc and stumbled upon his theory too, called- “survival of the fittest”.
Here is an attempt to finish the unfinished work of Charles Darwin. A brief classification of various kinds of cricket experts. It has to be kept in mind that everyone who follows cricket is a cricket expert. There is no category such as a non expert among cricket followers.
1.“High horse” expert: An ex cricketer, turned commentator, he never fails to tell the fans that the fans cannot understand cricket and therefore they should not criticise slow strike rate of cricketers, because they never played the game at that level. Then he himself goes on to criticise the strike rate of the batsman. And one is left to wonder what was different in his criticism and that of a layman. If the layman was not competent to criticise Tendulkar’s strike rate, how is Shastri competent to criticise Tendulkar’s strike rate, seeing how slow he himself batted during his playing days.
2.“Famous last words” expert: The abovementioned ex cricketer turned expert, in his illusion of being more knowledgeable than others, tends to put his foot in his mouth often and gets proved wrong every time. But relying on the fact that most fans have short memories, he himself tells the fans later how he had predicted big things about certain players, when in reality, he had predicted just the opposite at that time. Example: Shastri, during Vishakhapatnam ODI against Pakistan in 2005 continued to tell how Dhoni( then a newcomer), having scored his 30-40 runs, should have thrown his wicket away, because better batsmen were waiting in the pavilion. He continued to commentate like this, till someone must have pointed out to him that Dhoni had scored 148 and the so called better batsmen had failed to match Dhoni’s strike rate.
3.“Cliche” expert: He could be an ex cricketer, or a non cricketer turned expert. He would deal in cliches, and some of his favourite lines would make you feel like cricket matches are quite topsy turvy affairs, a contortionist’s delight. In his commentary,ball will swing, pitch will turn,bowler will bend his back, match will turn on its head, etc. And to add to that, he will have players with tongue twisting names to pronounce. Try pronouncing Lokuarucchihetige.
4.“comparison” expert: In school, this person had memorised an essay on “my friend”, but unfortunately, the examination paper required him to write an essay on “my father”. The pupil,just substituted the word “father” in place of “friend” in the essay memorised and submitted his answer paper.” I have many fathers. But Ramesh is my best father…..” This fellow is now a cricket writer. And continues to treat us with cricket articles where he finds similarities in matches, situations, players, events etc where none seem to exist. He writes full page articles on similarities between Australian and Bermuda cricket team, between Sehwag and Shoiab Akhtar, between Gavaskar’s straight drive and Chandrashekar’s googly etc.
5.“Geography” expert: His knowledge of geography, especially his own region, makes him an expert on players of his area. Such experts also go on to become selectors, who then select players from their own area. Example: *kar selects players named *kar from his city, *Singh selects players named *Singh from his state,*Yadav selects *Yadav from his family.
6.“History” expert: This expert, who calls himself a doctor, as he is a PhD in history, believes that history is a close loop circuit. Sehwag scored runs in the past against Pakistan, so he will score runs in the present and future against Pakistan, that is his firm belief.But what about the time when he was yet to play against Pakistan ? He will refuse to entertain such facts in discussions.
7.“I knew it” expert: Whatever happens on the field, this expert can churn out an article where he will tell you, backed by solid statistics and evidences why this result of A defeating B was preordained and he knew about it beforehand.The next week, he will write with the same conviction why B defeating A was also destined to happen, and he, as always, had already foreseen it, and he will of course have statistics and evidences to prove it.
8.“Political science” expert: He can tell you that the famous win that the team earned owe it totally to the great leaders of the nation. When India beat West Indies, chasing 406 in the fourth innings in 1976, it was thanks to the path shown by the great leaders of the country like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, lal Bahadur Shastri, Chandrashekhar ( the freedom fighter, not the politician or the cricketer), Bhagat Singh, Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, etc.Of course, the great leadership of the primeminister Indira Gandhi and her emergency rule those days, was directly instrumental, in India securing this win.
9.“Weather” expert: During the days of Radio commentary, we had a commentator who would wax eloquent about ( in Hindi of course) blue sky, green grass, white clouds, red cherry, pleasant breeze,trees, with spectators hanging from the branches, etc- and suddenly his voice would be punctuated by ” Aur isi ke saath Vishwanath out”.
10.“Hockey/football/tennis experts“: turned cricket experts: The original prototype was Jasdev Singh, whose clones still rule the airwaves on AIR and DD. But the regional language commentators were the most entertaining. In the 1976-77 test match between India and England, Tolchard and Greig were batting in a sleep inducing 250 runs partnership and the Bangla language football commentator turned cricket commentator was getting frustrated. Suddenly Tolchard was out clean bowled, and the Bangla commentator went berserk with delight as if Mohun Bagan had scored a goal against East Bengal.
11.“Building Castle in the air and living in it in denial” cricket experts:This category is found mainly to the east of the earlier category of expert. The team of this expert hardly wins, but that does not stop this expert from dreaming big before every match involving his/ her team, and living in denial, as far as the real abilities of his team are concerned. The expert writes long articles proving why his team is looking like the next world cup champion. The match thread for the ODI match that this group of experts starts one week before the actual match, runs into 500 pages. First 100 pages of pre match discussion are highly bullish. As the match begins, the bullishmess starts coming down gradually. At 25/5 in the 10th over, the bears take over. At 101/7, they gloat about the 100 ball unbeaten quarter-century made by their wicketkeeper. By the end of the match, rationalisers take over who still refuse to believe that the 10 wicket defeat was because of sheer lack of ability. They continue to describe their players as superstars, even though the batsmen all average less than 22 in any form of the game, and the bowlers average in the 50s.
12.“Statistics” expert: Statistics are the be all and end all in cricket as far as this category of cricket experts are concerned. A averaged 43.07 against Tripura and Goa at a strike rate of 67 in three day matches, whereas B averaged 39.87 at a strike rate of 55 against Australia and South Africa in test matches , then it is clear to them that A is a better player than B, and keeping A out of the national team and keeping B in the national team is a conspiracy. Based on statistics, Tiwari and Badrinath need to be in the test team against Australia ahead of Laxman and co.
13.“Team combination” expert: Whatever the occasion, this category of expert has the playing XI ready for the occasion. If the discussion is on the party thrown by Shahrukh Khan, this expert would come up with his playing XI of players who will be most suited for dancing in the abovementioned party, viz Yuvraj, Dhoni, Sreesanth, Uthappa,Pathan, Rohit Sharma etc. Badrinath and Tiwari, please take dancing lessons to get into this XI.
14.“Establishment man” expert: This expert believes that BCCI is God’s gift to its fans and it can do no wrong, so what if BCCI does not have a website. Talk against the BCCI and the expert will accuse you of being a WUM.
15.“Anti establishment man” expert: He will accuse BCCI of being a mercenary organisation, and he will in return get accused of being a WUM, as described above.
16.“Nostalgia” expert: The person may be only in his 20s or 30s, but he will talk about WG Grace, Fred Spofforth and CTB Turner as if he went to school with the above mentioned 18th century gentlemen. He will tell you how Victor Trumper scored a 90 before lunch on a wet pitch on the first day of an Ashes test in 1902 on a thursday, as if anyone is interested in the details.
16.“Mushrafrafraf” expert: His playing XI for a test match includes, among others, A K Hangal and Asha Parekh, but never Kareena Kapoor or the stinking desi in the NY tube.
17.“Extreme mood swings” expert: He bets his entire possessions and more on certain results, making outrageous statements like ” team P will win the tournament” and then he goes missing for weeks after his prediction goes wrong.
18. “Trying to get cured of cricket addiction” expert: After every defeat of his team, this category of cricket expert would vow to give up taking interest in cricket, only to come back with his expert comments the next time his team manages to win a match.And he would be trying this de addiction routine for the last 33 years.
19. “Individual records over team performance” experts: They are happy as long as their favourite player is in the team. It does not matter if his presence in the team hurts the team results.
20. “As good as the last tournament” experts: A large number of people belong to this category. If the team loses badly in a tournament, they throw stones on the houses of the stars. If the team wins a tournament, the same people shower the same players with garlands and more.
21. “I am right, you are wrong” expert: This kind of expert quotes the posts containing contrary views and comments on them line by line to prove why the contrary views on the subject are wrong.
22. ” Taking it personally” experts: They tend to take cricketing matters too seriously and become uncharitable and even abusive towards those who they think harmed the cricket causes dear to the expert.
23. “Technical” experts: They go down to the brasstacks and pinpoint what is wrong with the game of the player. “Keeper is standing up too early, spinner is bowling too fast, quickie is bowling too slow, Yuvraj needs to play slower, Ganguly needs to play faster, Sreesanth needs to be less aggressive, Ashraful needs to be more aggressive.”
24. “Rana Pratap/ Jhansi ki Rani” brand experts: They believe that their team should play with all out aggression and crush all opposition. They are totally against Dravid brand of defensive batting and they want the team to be full of batsmen like Sehwag and Afridi. Of course, they point out the example of Australia to prove their point.
25.“patience is a virtue” experts : This brand of experts believe than no brand of cricket is all slam bang. There is need for patient blocking even in Twenty20, they point out. Their idea of a great match is where a batsman bats out for 378 minutes to score a century that kills off any chances of result in the match.
26. “Strategy” expert: These experts attach a lot of importance to strategy. And considering that toss plays such an important part in the strategy, they suggest that the captain should practice tossing the coin correctly/ calling correctly at the toss. And after that, the rest of strategy is easy. Win the toss, bat first and score 600 runs. Bowl the opposition out twice for less than your total. Simble !
27. “Past record of matches” expert: This expert looks at the past record of matches between the two teams to predict which team will win the series.Unfortunately, no one believes such experts when they say that West Indies, based on past records are the firm favourite against most cricketing nations.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of various kinds of experts. There are people who may simultaneously belong to more than one category. While becoming a cricket expert, a person makes use of his experience in other fields and tries to use his expertise in that field while holding forth in cricketing matters. Thus we saw how a historian may become a different kind of cricket expert than a statistician.
There are still many professions whose practitioners have yet to become cricket experts. Once they too take to cricket, I am sure we will have some new kinds of cricket experts.