This Farcical Shot Is Everything That's Right And Wrong With Modern Cricket
Sport evolves and that's a good thing.
If your favourite sport -- any sport -- was the same as it was 100 years ago, you wouldn't watch it.
This is not to write off history. We sports fans love and cherish old traditions, old rituals -- from the club songs of the AFL to the NRL's suburban grounds, to archaic but iconic items of clothing like cricket's baggy green cap.
But we embrace change too. Look at the way even big men run now in AFL. Look at the speed and precision of a modern netball game. Look at the clever kicking that wreaks excellent havoc with the old single dimensional lines of rugby league.
And look at cricket.
Cricket has probably changed too fast, and in too many ways. Cricket can't even schedule its own seasons anymore, such is the complicated, often convoluted world it now inhabits.
But many of cricket's changes are exciting. Look at the shots they play, the balls they bowl, the catches they catch, the balls they stop on the boundary rope that once would have thudded into the pickets.
In particular, look at the innovative batting. The reverse sweeps, the switch hits, the upper cuts, the tweeners, the ramps. They're incredible. Watch any kid in a backyard game and they try every one of them. Sport evolves and that's a good thing.
But sometimes, the new stuff doesn't quite work. Example: Batsman Ben McDermott's face shot in the Big Bash on Thursday night. ("Face shot" should actually be its official name, and if you see it morph into general usage, remember you read it here first.)
McDermott, 24, is the son of former Test bowling great Craig. He's played T20 Internationals for Australia and knows where his off stump is. Unfortunately, last night, he didn't know where his face was. Or if he did, he grievously miscalculated the trajectory between bat and throat.
Estimated discomfort breakdown: 50 percent physical pain, 50 percent embarrassment.
In essence, this shot was everything that is right and wrong with modern cricket. History is remembered in epochs, but the present is measured in moments. And this moment was cricket in 2019.
Which is to say, it was a slightly farcical moment that left you marvelling at both the innovation and the silliness of the modern game.
As a cricket purist watching a deliberate wide full ball like that, you'd love to have seen McDermott thrash it through the off side. He might have even taken a step forward, got underneath it, and lofted it over the cover point boundary. Take that, cynical new age bowler!
By contrast, a modern cricket fan understands that it's actually very tough to land the ball just a couple of centimetres inside the wide line, and that the best way to deal with new-school bowling tactics is new-school batting strategies.
It's just that, on this occasion the strategy failed in a highly amusing manner.
McDermott's awkward moment aside, on balance, this was a good moment. If sport is to survive, sportsmen and women have got to take the game by the throat.
Just maybe a little less literally next time.