Why Don’t The Maidan Kids Want To Be Bowlers?

There’s a lot of wisdom in this Cricinfo chat with Sanjay Manjrekar (e.g., keep Tendulkar and Zaheer for South Africa; drop Sehwag down the order now). I particularly liked this observation:

SM: It’s the culture we have in India. If you hold an open trial at a maidan, 90% of the people would want to bat, it’s the opposite in Pakistan.

I’m wary of cultural explanations, but I’ve seen the same anecdotal data in my personal experience. Play any pick-up game with a bunch of Indian kids, and chances are they’ll all want to bat first. Possible explanations: 1) Bowling is physically more draining than batting and getting fit isn’t why we play cricket; 2) Your chances of success bowling — a wicket — are much smaller than your chances if you’re batting (getting a single or more = success); 3) Batting is more accessible. Have you ever tried to teach a non-cricket fan how to bowl? It’s really difficult — they want to straighten that elbow, and if they don’t, they can’t bowl accurately. I suspect it’s the same with most cricket fans: intuitively, we all think we know¬†how to bat. Like Sehwag said: See ball, hit ball. But do we know how to bowl leg spin? Can we bowl both fast and accurately? The truth is, we’re all medium pacers on the maidan — and no one wants to be Manoj Prabhakar.

The above doesn’t explain why the reverse may be the case in Pakistan. It might just be that they have more bowling heroes than batting ones — if I were Pakistani, I’d rather be Imran, Wasim and Aamer than Inzamam or Anwar. (Hell, I want to be Ajmal right about now.)

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10 thoughts on “Why Don’t The Maidan Kids Want To Be Bowlers?

  1. Yep. The first time I played, I fancied being a batsman.

    When I started seriously watching though, Warne, Kumble and Murali were in their prime. That’s why I’m a leggie. Test cricket is like a cricketing sermon. Or whatever the appropriate church term is.

  2. Russ says:

    Genuine question? How do maidan games work? What are the rules?

    I ask because in most Australian social/backyard games bowling is the easiest way to actually get a bat. ie. bowler becomes next batsman if they are bowled, so the only other way is to make the catch/runout.

    • The way it has worked in most of the games I’ve played, Russ, is a) whoever grabs the bat first gets to bat first; b) some friends are so obviously good at batting, that no one wants to bat before they do; c) some — most — are so bad at bowling that no one wants to experience a 9-ball over (or some extended variant).

      I quite like the sytem you describe — but I’ve never seen it in games with my South Asian friends.

      • Russ says:

        You play in teams too, yes? Australian social games are very rarely played with teams. Or scores, although an individual might keep a tally, especially with compulsory retirement at 50.

        That difference may be a function of limited playing numbers. Most of my games were with 3-6 people, often coming and going, so even in the school-yard we would just scale up. The aim was to just have fun, batsmen are crippled by compulsory running (tip-and-run), one-hand-one-bounce catches, amongst other rules particularly with limited fieldsmen. At school, with more than a dozen people there were no overs either. There’d be 2 or more balls, and the fieldsman would line up like at the nets to take their turn.

      • Angy says:

        And as everyone knows, net bowling is a bit easier than having to grind out whole overs. Bowling full overs in a park game is perhaps like learning to swim at a surf beach. It could be something of a deterrent unless you’re some kind of superhero.

  3. Krishna says:

    I am not sure if this is true for matches that matter. Like in tournaments, we always want to bowl first, because we are less confident about defending a score than reaching a target. I think in casual matches, winning doesn’t matter so much as “participating”. If you bat first, you have a greater likelihood of batting especially if you are down the batting order.

  4. Hey DB,

    Similar topic, of Pakistan producing so many swing bowlers and India producing hundreds of good batsmen, has been often discussed amongst my friends. One of the reasons that we could guess was the ball used in the two nations.
    In India, cricket is played using a tennis ball, which is usually burnt before use. Once burnt, it losses all the fur and comes onto the bat nicely. Bounce is even too. Hence, batting is fun and easy. On the other hand, Pakistani kids used a taped rubber ball. The tapping makes the ball swing and hence bowling is probably more enjoyable.
    So, this could be one of the contributing factors to people in India wanting to bat more, while the other way around in Pakistan.

    • duckingbeamers says:

      I like this explanation, Mayank. I don’t know why Indian kids don’t use taped balls more — I’ve seen hard rubber balls, which bounce a lot more, but I don’t often see taped ones that help with the swing.

  5. I meant loses* all the fur, my bad!

  6. CricketNNS says:

    VERY VERY TRUE. I think that because India has a famed batting line-up, and so all the batting stars take the spotlight, which is why people don’t like to bowl as much. I think someone would want to become a Sachin/Sehwag, rather than a Zaheer/Harbhajan. But in Pakistan, it is the exact oppostie. Their bowling stars have won them so many matches, which is why everyone there wants to become a bowler. So Manjrekar is right, and until we start developing GOOD fast bowlers, then “maidan” kids in India will never learn the art of bowling.

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