Knocked for six by the latest signals
First there were the umpire’s signals – hands raised over the head for a six and so on. Then there were the bowler’s signals to the wicketkeeper to warn him of the kind of delivery to expect. And now, thanks to the spot-fixing scandal in Indian cricket, there are a whole new set of signals. A towel in the trousers means, “I am ready to sell my sport for a few dollars”.
Cricket, an already complex game has just been made even more so. To keep track of what is happening on the field of play, here are a few signals explained:
Batsman rubs stomach: “I knew I shouldn’t have had all those prawns last night. Gosh, when will I ever learn the importance of self-restraint?”
Bowler takes out a handkerchief, waves to the crowd and then wipes his face with it while singing the national anthem: “I need to be paid more for doing all this, please arrange that. Why can’t I be paid like that other fellow who raised his T-shirt twice and made a million dollars?”
Wicketkeeper bites an umpire on the arm: “This is what I think of your last decision.”
Umpire jumps up and down a few times: “How did that pebble get into my shoe?”
Incoming player smiles at a fielder: “I’ve forgotten what the signal is for ‘Get the heck out of my face’, so I shall simply smile at you and hope you understand.” A player calls the umpire a fool: “You are a fool, umpire.” Player looks at the expensive seats, looks for his wife, and scratches his nose: “Hope you learnt to switch off the air-conditioner before you left home. Remember what happened last time?”
Player throws his cap into the air, does a somersault and smiles as the cap lands on his head again: “See, if I can do that free of cost, why shouldn’t I be paid a truckload of money for doing simpler things like underperforming?”
Bowler reaches the top of his mark, shakes his head, starts to bowl, stops, shakes his head, goes back to the top, stops and shakes his head, gestures to the fielder nearest to him: “Heck, I’ve forgotten the second line of that Beatles song that goes, There are places I remember... Can you help me?”
It will take years of watching television to get a grip on these signals. And don’t forget the surrealists, those who make complicated, meaningless gestures and then spend a lifetime watching ‘experts’ decode them.
A couple of generations from now, when all the signals have been decoded, those watching cricket matches will wonder what the business with the bat and ball is all about.
is a writer based in India. In his youth he set out to change the world but later decided to leave it as it is.