The Irresistible Force Paradox: What Physics can teach the younger crop

Posted: January 11, 2011 by thecognitivenomad in Cricket, Opinion

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan


11 January 2011


What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? The theory notes that the immovable object and the irresistible force are both assumed to be indestructible, and furthermore assumed to be two separate entities.

If there exists an irresistible force, says the theory, there cannot be anything such as an immovable object, and vice-versa. Strangely, I’ve just finished witnessing it.

If you asked me, what was the most fascinating cricketing event I’d witnessed over the last year, I wouldn’t shy away from mentioning that I’d seen the irresistible force paradox in motion up and until the end of the recently concluded series between the top two teams in world cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis are far from refraining to the pleasure of playing the sport.

As the paradox would once again question: Can God create records that are so mighty that they cannot be broken, not even by God himself?

People often think of champions as repositories of unique skills, who, by reason of their immense talent can survey things that others cannot. Mortals are inspired by a certain awe, one that is directed towards their ability and stardom, if not for the human being that occupies it.

But it is that very human being within that fights out the battles ranging from the ones within his mind, to the ones penned down by nefarious critics who yell out to those who care to listen. Tendulkar and Kallis have had their share of critics over the years, critics with obnoxious perspectives on the approaches taken by these greats during games when they haven’t been at their best.

If these loudmouths had known better, they’d have been on the field playing in their national colors. But the fact is that they didn’t, for they don’t, and will never possess the repertoire of skills that champions possess – commencing from a sheer work ethic to the ability to outmaneuver opposition in their territory. Alastair Cook and Michael Hussey, who’d endured through a nightmare pre-ashes window, ended up topping the batting charts for their respective teams, with the former even collecting the inaugural Compton-Miller medal.

With stardom often comes a lot of controversies, but these two men have shied away from anything that attracts media glare. A lot of talented sportsmen have come in to the big arena and vanished instantaneously as they couldn’t quite handle their exponential rise to stardom. To sustain one’s star status over a span of more than a decade, or even more, is no doubt a daunting task. Few have managed to sustain thus far.

This moves me towards addressing the focal point of this discussion. The advent of T20 cricket and more so IPL in particular, has enabled the world to witness cricketers who, in some cases, were unheard of. The recently concluded IPL auction does justice to the statement. Although I must admit that personally, tagging players with numbers & running an auction surely is a precarious approach towards hurting the ego of cricketers, but I haven’t seen an alternative that works better – so there ends my displeasure.

Cricketing greats were dwindled to insignificance because of their inability to do a Babe Ruth in cricket. Relatively unknown and unproven players have gone for unimaginable sums of money owing to their ability to bang attacks out of the park. That is what T20 can do to you, yet, when you examine the last few IPLs closely, one can’t hesitate to point out the fact that two men under the scanner in this prose have done exceedingly well to expand their game to adapt to this version of the game.

This certainly calls for the younger crop of players to model their game and approach based on Tendulkar and Kallis to be successful in all forms of the game, and more importantly, not let the idea of stardom get on top of their heads. Rohit Sharma, one with immense talent and from what I gather, one with a poor work ethic, has been lucky to have got the number of chances, after repeated below-average performances, to sport the blue colors of India. I’d be very keen to see how he mends his ways to cement a place in the team, in all formats of the game.

There’s a lot of talent around the globe that needs to be tapped, and tapped with caution. A few young batsmen have caught my eye during the last year or so, and I’m quite sure that the world is going to see a lot more of the likes of Dinesh Chandimal from Sri Lanka, Lendl Simmons from the West Indies, Ajinkya Rahane from India, the lattermost being a heavy run-getter in the domestic and India ‘A’ circuits.  What I like about these lads is their fearless approach towards stroke play at a fairly young age.

Eoin Morgan of England and C Pujara of India have their names carved in the cricketing Rosetta Stone, batsmen destined to achieve greatness, with the former stamping his authority in limited overs & T20 cricket, and the latter proving to be another immovable object in the longer form of the game.

Kemar Roach is a youngster who has been around for a while, and is definitely one of those bowlers from the Caribbean who can bring back memories of the pace bowling armory that they’d once possessed. Suraj Randiv, the spinner from Sri Lanka, seems another impressive talent and with the height he possesses, I’m sure he’s bound to mature and trouble a lot of batsmen around. Mitchell Starc of Australia has looked every bit a potential weapon, from the little that I’ve seen of him.

We’re also seeing a lot of players, who’ve been around for a while, slowly stamping their authority in international cricket and paving their paths towards greatness. Cook and Bell from England definitely seem to have the temperament to carve their names alongside the likes of Boycott and Gower from England, possibly even out-achieve them. AB de Villiers is on his way towards cricketing greatness, and one can only hope that the additional duties as keeper do not have detrimental effects on his batting. Hashim Amla can be bracketed in a similar category with a large section of the South African crowd looking up to him as the man to replace Graeme Smith as captain of the South African team – even though that is quite some time away.

Other names that hit the top of my mind include Angelo Matthews, Cameron White (a potential Australian captain in my mind –he needs to work on his approach in the longer format of the game), Adrian Barath, Craig Kieswetter, and Tim Paine. Unstoppable and Immovable can be the echelon adjectives for greatness for all these men. Can they defy physics? Only time will tell.

On the other hand, I was forced to exclude a few Pakistani bowlers, as they’ve had their share of defying mathematics to bowl from 18 yards, instead of 22. One can only hope, for the betterment of the game, that they’re cleared or eradicated.

Either ways, I’ll definitely miss watching Mohd. Ameer’s rise to stardom in case the stars don’t favor him.

  1. Prasad Moyarath says:

    Good article on the emerging cricketers around the world. Greatness of Tendulkar is not only on the runs he scored but also on the way he handled fame so far.I don’t think any other player in the world can handle it like him.Looks like cricket is becoming like modern tennis.We don’t have dominating players like Becker,Edberg, Lendl and Sampras now and I fear cricket will also go the same way.Players will come up and vanish in 20-20.We have to wait and see whether this new breed of athletic cricketers can last long.Only time will tell.

  2. goutham says:

    Top article, Chandra. It is very difficult to explain greatness, but yeah, no harm following their work ethic. Indians especially face the problem of having to imbibe the right ingredients into their IPL gen. But they are also blessed with a core of senior players who have conducted themselves well and have achieved great deeds in Test cricket.

    In the times of t20 leagues and t20 specialists, mentorship by players and administration is the key in driving the game forward and maintaining the balance between excellence and entertainment.

  3. Chandra says:

    That’ll be a huge challenge – mentorship by the likes of Warne, Dravid, Tendulkar etc. It reflects on an interesting comment that Alex Ferguson had made every now and then – he finds a talented player, nurtures him, the player becomes a star, the attention gets over the top of his head, he begins to earn a lot more than what Fergie does – by virtue of which he ends up questioning Fergie’s advice. Fame and money can do funny things, and mentorship, as you rightly say, is the key to take the game forward in the right direction.

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