Satire: Beaten and bruised – A candid chat with a cricket ball in the modern era

A cricket ball opens up about the horrors of modern cricket

Dressed in red or white, depending on the occasion, she can rattle stumps and break jaws. She is a lynchpin in world cricket. When she kisses the willow – her partner-in-crime – she creates music that can throw James Horner and AR Rahman out of the window. Everything that is associated with her is an art; let it be giving birth to her, utilizing her or even maintaining her.

She has made ordinary looking men look horrifying, just by crawling in their hands. As it is the case with the entertainment industry in the world, people fail to perceive the hardwork and attrition she undergoes in order to entertain the masses. I got the privilege to engage in a heart to heart conversation with her recently, where she opened up about the problems she faces.

Q & A with a Cricket Ball

In cricket you have a special place. How much do you enjoy that attention?

Enjoy that, huh? Cricket is a cruel game, especially for us, the balls. People inflict pain on us to entertain themselves.

How is that justified? You are born to be hit, aren’t you?

Yes, we are born to get hit. Even labourers are meant for labour. Does that mean you can suck blood out of them? They have labour rights to save them against exploitation. But we do not have such rights. Everything has a limit. There is a limit to the amount of pain we can tolerate!

So do you mean to say that there should be a limit on the amount of beatings you get?

That might be difficult. You can’t restrict the number of beatings. You can’t tell a batsman that you can hit the ball only a particular number of times. Instead you can alter the laws of the games, to help reduce the number of beatings. Bowlers must be given an equal footing in cricket, so that batsman cannot whack us whenever they want.

So what are the rule changes do you suggest?

Well, the power plays are killing us. Just 4 players outside the ring during non power play overs, mean that batsman instead of being easy on us, try to be brute. They hit us hard to send us to the boundary. I don’t want that. In the past batsman treated us with grace. They used timing to dispatch us into the desired places. It was all too easy for us. We didn’t endure much pain. But now everything is lopsided. Bats enjoy supremacy while we are relegated to the level of slaves.

“There is a limit to the amount of pain we can tolerate”

You say bats enjoy supremacy, but they get hit too.

Yeah that is right. They get hit. But they are stronger and more durable than us. You find the bats living for ages. A bat almost remains permanently in a cricket kit. But we balls? We are used for a day and then thrown off. Of course, there are people who recondition us and re-use, but we can never be a new ball.

Even in auctions, bats go for a higher price, but we are often ignored. Even if we are auctioned, we end up being sold for a mediocre price. Bats are brutal on us. This world is not a fair place for balls.

So you feel that there is prejudice against cricket balls?

Obviously! There is no second opinion about that. Without us cricket cannot be played. Yet, we are not shown the respect we warrant. You know, players spit on us, smear us with sweat. We endure such chagrin to allow swing and drift. To be honest, even though the very idea of getting spit, makes us feel dirty, the end result makes us feel proud.

There is nothing like it for a ball, when a bowler holds you high above his head at the end of the day. Now, it has become a rarity these days.

There was a time when batsmen feared us. Bats could not even get close to us. They cowered and cringed in fear. That was during my granny’s time. That was when legends and Leatherist like Malcom Marshall and Joel Garner were ruling the roost. Now even tail-enders treat us with disdain. How do you stand the embarrassment of being bludgeoned by a guy who can’t even hold a bat properly?

I empathize with you, but still there are laws that protect you. Like the law against ball tampering… (she interferes)

Haha, that’s a farce! What is the point of sending a fire truck when the fire has burnt down a whole city. Law should be exercised to prevent such wrongs from happening. When the damage is done, there is no point in punishing the perpetrator. Vernon Philander was punished 75% of his match fees for molesting a leather ball.

Do you think a fine of 75% would serve as deterrent to stop bowlers harassing us? Even if they are caught red handed,  at the most there will be a penalty of 5 runs. Do you think 5 runs can alter the course of the game? I don’t want laws to exist at face values.

A bat can go on to be useful for a very long time. They are in various shapes and weights. But we are expected to maintain a proper shape and weight. When we go out of shape we are immediately rejected. Now there is a hideous habit of employing two of us in a single game in ODIs. Just because we lose color during a game, people have become promiscuous to use two of us. How on earth is that right?

Discolouration is a reward we get for the tremendous amount of hardship we undergo. Yet we are abused. We are dressed in different colors for different formats. People look at our physical appearance not at our real value: our attitude, character and dedication.

You have spoken at length about the problems you face as a ball in the sport, but definitely you would have had moments to cherish. Can you enlighten us on some of your fond memories?

Yeah I have a few picture perfect memories. As I told you earlier, in the past we were treated with the same reverence an idol of a divine figure would get. I have provided some very good chin music. There was a time when I ardently fed on blood. The smell of blood splattering off batsmen’s head, still has me sniff at the air, wetting my mouth. But the best moment I would say, is when I kicked the so called “Greatest batsman”, Bradman’s a**. That is why I still regard Harold Larwood as my hero.

That’s funny, what about the good things that the law changes have brought to you and your ilk?

Well, as said earlier, there aren’t many. Yet the pitches these days do not corrode us. Hitting the deck is not as painful as it was a few years ago. But on the flip side, that makes it all too easy for batsmen to pummel us.

“They know how to handle balls. They are delicate in their approach”

You spoke of batsman being brutal towards you, but were there any one whom you adored?

Yeah, definitely. Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane and Sunil Gavaskar have all been very kind to us. In a cruel world, it is a real boon to have got such nice guys. They were craftsmen who gave cricket an aesthetic value.

Thank you so much! It has been a pleasure interviewing you. Do you have anything to say to the world?

Yes, this is no world for leather balls. One thing I can say is that, They will take away our lacquer, but they will never take away our thirst for freedom!

This article also appeared in Sportskeeda a href=””>here

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