Fair and Unfair: Cricket, TT, Chess, etc

       Recently, the captain of a major cricket team first faced ball tampering accusation and then was cleared of the charge. But that was enough for I guess everyone in India to throw their expert opinion up in air. Everyone started talking about Fair and Unfair sports. Why do Indians like Cricket so much ? ( some of you may say I don't, .. the others will exclaim, You.. Indian ! ) A convincing answer is not known ( to me ) and to all of them with whom I have discussed it. Ofcourse some of them claim to have solved the puzzle, and some point me to articles with the explanation. But all those analyses are like theories around the origin of universe ( minus a Stephen Hawking's one )
      The reason why I started thinking about it is because I myself am a big cricket buff. Like many Indians I have played it at various competitive levels. ( these so called levels range from inter-building to inter school / college, and corporate tournaments, and that's about it. ) Besides cricket, I enjoy TT and Chess a great deal. That also makes me think, they are not at all similar to cricket. What is it that got me hooked on to them ?
      While casually going through the newspaper, an article talking about cricket increasingly becoming a batsman's game gave me some clues. Cricket, a team sport with equal number of players on either side doesn't look to be a fair game anymore. While both sides can stuff their respective line up with an appropriate ratio of batsmen and bowlers, few crucial factors can disturb the balance. A dead pitch, for instance sways it in favor of the team with a deep and strong batting line up. Add to it, the willows crafted with modern technologies, smaller boundaries, fast outfield and a day night match setup. Most of the sports journalists start typing victory for whichever team that wins the toss and (obviously) selects to bats first.
      Unlike this, I believe TT and Chess offer reasonably fair opportunities to either sides. You can't have a lengthier table where a taller person has an upper hand by just sending drops near the net so that a shorter opponent can't reach there. Yes, bat's with superior rubber quality can make a lot of difference, but the other can get it to equalize the 'strength at hands'. With chess, one can't change the number of squares on the chess board, or have something like mightier and fast moving pieces. The Bishops have to move diagonally, knights confined to 2 and a half and the King is as sluggish as it's rival on the other side. And all of them do not carry any weapons, unlike armies of countries with unequal military strengths.
      Talking about other sports, combative ones like boxing, wrestling are fair in the sense the opponents start without any external factors that would imbalance their strengths. My personal favorite is Sumo wrestling. It's fun!! The high or medium contact team sports such as Rugby, football, hockey, basketball, volley ball also offer a fair chance to both the sides. So do the individual non contact sports besides TT, Chess, like tennis & Badminton.
      Athletics is fair, but it's way different. IMO, the most enjoyable part in sports is not just playing the best you can, but resisting the opponent while doing so. That's exactly what one can't do when it's a high or long jump contest. Or an x mt. sprint, Javelin throw, etc. ( Why don't they have an event with something like two athletes throwing discus at each other ;). I find gymnastics very odd. It's tough for me to believe that they get unbiased judgment. Car, motorcycle racing goes as close as it can get to my definition of an enjoyable sports as you can offer some amount of resistance to others, but the technology and positions at the start of the race are two big external factors that somehow don't make them look all that fair. I find games like golf, bowling, shooting, ( basically all target sports ) very amusing. All have points and so many times I have seen a player piling up the lead while others cannot offer any direct resistance. ( it's very fair, but somehow I think there is no fun. ) It must be very awkward for a snooker player to watch his opponent clear the board while he rests back on his chair sipping from his glass of water. I sometimes imagine suggesting the helpless guy to gently jab the stick into the opponent's ribs ;)
      The strength sports puzzle me. Why should someone lift a few hundred kgs of weight !! Skiing, skating, dance sports are good to watch.. I can only watch and not participate ;) Other adventure sports are good to read about and experience once in a while if there is no competition. I am talking about sky diving types. What's that !? BullFight ! well let's ask the bull about it :) Shouldn't the game be enjoyable to everyone involved in it ?
      Hey, seems the India – Aus match is about to start.. let me stop here.. oh ...mmm..!! why ? Why do I like cricket so much ? It doesn't appear fair to me. A person darting a small but hard object at another standing 22 yards away with a willow. Who cares anyway. I must catch Sachin in action..


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