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Cricket and the attraction of the imperfect dashers

sreshtha das
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
885   //    10 Jul 2017, 16:13 IST
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18:  Fakhar Zaman of Pakistan celebrates his century during the ICC Champions trophy cricket match between India and Pakistan at The Oval in London on June 18, 2017  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The unconventional Fakhar Zaman tamed the Indians in the Champions Trophy

Champions Trophy Final, 2017. Jasprit Bumrah steams in with the new ball, bowls a delivery that angles across the batsman. The batsman pokes at it, no feet movement. The ball has taken the edge; the keeper completes the catch.It’s all over for the young opening batsman.

And that would have been it for Fakhar Zaman, had it not been for the extra-long strides of Bumrah. Zaman would have been accused of playing an irresponsible shot in the final of 2017 Champions Trophy, letting his team down and we might not have heard of this name at all. As it turned out, Zaman made the full use of the lifeline; brutalised the Indian bowlers and went on to make a century that will be remembered for years to come.

It’s not the first time that a dasher has made the difference in the game of cricket. Whether it was Jayasuriya winning the 1996 World Cup for Sri Lanka; Sehwag bludgeoning the Pakistani attack in Multan 2005; Gilchrist smashing the bowlers Srilankan bowling in the final of the 2007 World Cup or Gayle making a mockery of the Australian bowling line up at the T20 World Cup in 2009.

There is just something about these images that makes them stick to our imagination. Isn’t it?

The relatable

TAUNTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 03: Chris Gayle of Somerset bats during the Natwest T20 Blast match between Somerset and Essex at The Cooper Associates County Ground on June 3, 2016 in Somerset, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Chris Gayle is the epitome of what we call a “dasher”

Sure Sehwag never moved his feet, Agreed Gayle nicked one too many times, and granted Gilchrist never had a sighter before attempting his first shot. But this is what we love about our dashers. Don’t we?

The fact that with all their flaws, the dashers still manage to often outperform the best in the world; how they are able to intimidate the most disciplined of the bowlers, or how they outscore the most classical of batsmen.

We all agree that Gayle’s slogs will never have the panache as Kohli’s cover drives and Sehwag’s slashes will never compare to Tendulkar’s straight drive or Jayasuriya’s heave over midwicket will never be able to match the finesse of Laxman’s wristy flicks. But that is where the speciality of dashers lies.

They might not be able to bedazzle you with their elegance, or the class of their stroke play might not set your heart beat racing, but in their own style and manner; somehow, someway, they are able to reach their goals.

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And yes, even though we will always admire Bradman and worship Tendulkar, it is somehow easier to connect with Chris Gayle because of this very reason.

The common man’s dream

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - 19 September:  Virender Sehwag hits another boundary during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Championship Super Eights match between England and India at Kingsmead on September 19, 2007 in Durban, South Africa.   (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Swinging it like Viru and making the perfect connection: A dream

The dashers signify the common man’s dream. They tell us a story about how despite having glitches in our skill, we can still succeed with self-confidence. They make us believe that you don’t have to be a genius by birth to succeed at the highest level.

They are the ones who are always under the scrutiny of the selectors, they are the ones who are blamed every time the team underperformers, their techniques are criticised by the experts and their on–field character is often questioned by the media.

In a sport that is obsessed with gentlemen and their classy techniques, where the five-day format is still glorified as to be the pinnacle of the game and where commentators are often biased towards the type of stroke-play than the runs the shots make, it is incredible how despite all the hindrances and criticism, the dashers continue to dominate the cricketing world.

The future is of the dashers

The dashers signify the current youth. In a world that is increasingly supportive of people who make their way through unconventional mediums –  where your own identity is highly valued and where end result justifies the means; the dashers and their following continue to grow.

With T20 cricket gaining popularity and pitches becoming more and more conducive to batting; with the bats becoming bigger and the fields becoming smaller; this is truly an era staged for the dashers. These big hitting guns are finally getting their due, and are steadily getting recognised as match winners, not only on their day but pretty much all the days.

Fakhar Zaman will poke at a delivery again, and perhaps this time it won’t be a no-ball. Perhaps this time, the critics will denounce the aggressor or maybe this time, yet again; the dasher will prevail despite all odds.

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