Bring back the eight ball over: The cultural significance of spin bowling

While we are talking  about the cultural heritage of western civilisation, everyone is these days, so don’t miss the IPA/Mannkal extravaganza in June, here is an important contribution, a history of spin bowling.

So it is with a degree of confidence bordering on brassneck that Amol Rajan begins his publishing career with a history of spin bowling: an aspect of the game so arcane that its main function, which cannot be overemphasised, is to confuse professional cricketers.

How hard would that be? you might say, but that would be unfair, after all I was a demon  offspin bowler (the breakthrough bowler in the team). Offspin bowlers are the intellectual giants of cricket, we have to be, lacking the intimidation of the fast bowler and the fierce spin of the leggie.

I once told a leading philosopher that all the big questions in philosophy arise if you think hard about cricket but he did not ask for an explanation which was a shame, being of Austrian descent I think cricket was not one of his interests. Anyway this is how you turn up some fundamental issues in the social sciences if you think about the game from the offspin bowler’s point of view. You wouldn’t expect Warnie to go down this path.

Reverting  to the concrete;  at any moment in the game the  rival captains  have  the option of playing for a win or a draw  (or, less  likely, a  loss  but  this could be  rational  under  some circumstances,  for example if one captain has been bribed or  if the  game is unimportant and a quick finish will allow more  time in the pub.) Depending on the choice of aim (which can be revised as the game proceeds) certain consequences will follow in the way of instructions to batsmen, field placings and the like.

 

According to the theory of the objective mind, a change in aim is not just a change of mind (though mental events are involved), it can  be  a  rational response to arguments and appraisal  or  re-appraisal  of the situation.  These arguments and  apraisals  use theories  to predict the likely outcomes of various options.  The use of arguments and theories to evaluate critically alternative plans  introduces  new dimensions to decision-making  and  social change  generally.  Considerations  of  logic  and  relevance  of arguments and truth and relevance of theories arise, and also the morality and consistency of aims.

To cut a long story short, human consciousness (a function of the brain) enables us to form intentions, to grasp abstract ideas and to  use  language to describe and argue the merits  of  competing ideas, whether aims, theories, or policies. These ideas, in their objective  form (spoken or written) have some kind  of  autonomy even  though they were produced by people in the first  instance. They can also have profound effects upon the world though to  do this they have to act through the agency of individual people who assimilate them (often in funny ways).

The autonomy,  or partial autonomy of these ideas in their spoken or  written  form eliminates the need for a full  historical  or psychological explanation of ideas. This enables us to get a grip on  some aspects of social change (and social order) that  create endless  problems  for social theorists who usually end up  in a historical or psychological regress through trying to account for ideas using subjective theories of knowledge.
So there!  Another interesting aspect of the history of cricket is the way it was used as a vehicle for massive bets by the English nobility in the early days (don’t think that started in India!) and the fact that the early international tours were commercial ventures, some of them organised by the players themselves. More on that side of the game.
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12 Responses to Bring back the eight ball over: The cultural significance of spin bowling

  1. daddy dave

    All the innovations in the game over the past half-century have been towards, shorter, faster games.
    However I don’t quite see how the 6 ball over accomplishes that, because it means that more time is spent rearranging the field in between overs.

  2. Rafe

    Precisely! I don’t recall the rationale for the change, maybe to reduce the time it took for an over but you still get less cricket in the day even with more overs.

  3. Infidel Tiger

    3 rules to improve cricket.

    1. 8 ball overs.
    2. Back foot no balls
    3. Get rid of boundary ropes.

  4. Pickles

    4. Eskies allowed
    5. No mullygrubbers

  5. Infidel Tiger

    I’ll settle for number 4. Pickles.

  6. C.L.

    Ban helmets. This man wouldn’t have been seen dead in one.

  7. And I think chucking should be allowed so long as speed less than 100 kph, I once took 4 wickets in an over with my very slow chucks (the only way I could bowl an offie).

  8. Rafe

    Chucking would never have been an issue if only offies did it but something had to be done when nasty fast bowlers like Ian Meckiffe took too many Pommy wickets. Off spinners should be allowed to chuck because we are not only the intellectual giants of the game but also kindly, helpful and inoffensive.

  9. Infidel Tiger

    Off spinners should be allowed to chuck because we are not only the intellectual giants of the game but also kindly, helpful and inoffensive.

    Off spinners aren’t really bowlers, so I suppose If they chuck it’s all right. We pace bowlers and our leg spinning friends still won’t talk to them.

  10. Pedro the Ignorant

    Offies only get picked to bowl when the pacemen and the leggies are too tired (or in the case of club cricket, too drunk).

    Some of the finer exploiters of the old back foot no ball rule could effectively shorten the pitch to 18 yards and knock the block off a helmetless batsman before he had a chance to dodge. Not necessarily a bad thing in the case of of some of those old time pommy drone “batsmen” like Boycott.

    Fond memory of being one of the pallbearers of a bathtub full of ice and beer being ceremonially borne into the hallowed precincts of The Hill at the SCG. They would call out armed TRG cops if you tried that today.

  11. Infidel Tiger

    Fond memory of being one of the pallbearers of a bathtub full of ice and beer being ceremonially borne into the hallowed precincts of The Hill at the SCG. They would call out armed TRG cops if you tried that today.

    In the 70’s there was a two carton limit per spectator. There’d be a Royal Commission into that behaviour nowadays.

  12. Braddles

    The rationale for the six-ball over is that it allows more advertising in TV coverage. It was introduced in Australia by Packer, just after World Series Cricket when Channel Nine took over TV rights from the ABC.

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