Unlike Cricket, I am not a very keen student of football and its history. In 1998, a 10 year old kid feel in love with the Dutch football team because they wore orange colored shirts (I love Miranda too). So, my father relented and get a cable connection in the year 2000, I started following Manchester United because they had Ruud van Nistelrooy. Since then I have been following Man United religiously. There is passing interest in the Spanish league too. But not much more.
So, I am not sure how old this tactic of passing the bus. Jose Mourinho, mastered it and became the poster child of this type of football, sort of an antithesis to the genius of our generation Pep Guardiola. Ironically after having more than decade of Sir Alex’s style of football, I am not defending Jose’s style. But I digress. With the most interesting tournament in the world, the Football World Cup going on (sorry Cricket, you have been elitist for way too long), everyone draws their own analogies with things they associate. Cricket is my thing.
We have a 10 team World Cup coming up. The argument provided is that quality and competitiveness of matches goes down when lower ranked teams are involved. Footballing nations and clubs have found a way to compete against higher ranked and well-resourced sides “Park the bus”. You know what that means. While, drawing is an option in football and a worthy one at that, it is not possible to draw out games in limited overs cricket but test cricket?
Here is how you do it. Teams like Bangladesh, Ireland, Afghanistan, even Sri Lanka and West Indies, could prepare placid batting wickets and play 11 batmen (one keeper). Out of the 10 batsmen, even if two to three could roll their arm over and bowl some form of spin; that should do or set a 8-1 field, bowl well outside off stump with medium pacers. Would require tremendous fitness and some skill but who said international cricket would be easy? Curtail the run rate. With the bat, play 5 opening batsmen, to deal with the two new balls. Discipline would be key criteria for selection.
The objective would be, even if the opposition bats 1st and scores a million runs, we won’t give away 20 wickets easily. It’s a negative strategy, but one that hasn’t really been tried or my limited knowledge is being exposed here. Perhaps this strategy will fail. But is it even not worth trying?
With the Test Championship coming up, and the division of cricket resource more unjust than ever before, perhaps we will see a cricketing Mourinho. Someone who doesn’t care about how the game is supposed to be played, and what people say about him. Rather he focuses on making his team competitive. It takes a man who is extremely confident and secure to accept that his 1st instinct is not to lose. Who will do it?
Parking the bus, as they say it not as easy as it seems. Football writers have done a lot of work in explaining how it works. At least in this Football World Cup, it has allowed lower ranked teams to be competitive. Perhaps, if this inequality in cricket continues, we will see teams finding a way to survive. After all, ICC makes all attempts to favor the batsmen anyway.