Lucky? Don’t be such a bastard

I am apparently, among other things, a bastard. I dared to suggest on Cricinfo’s commentary today that India had enjoyed a slice or nine of good fortune. Edges flying past fielders, or falling short; edges sneaking past stumps; balls passing the bat countless times. Yet the feedback we received from our loyal India fan-base suggested I was watching a different game entirely. “You bastard,” fumed one of them. “How dare you suggest luck has anything to do with it. India deserve their position.”

I don’t deny any team deserves their position – England are on the back foot, and rightly so – but the criticism was a little unfair to say the least, especially when the evidence was so damning. If a team enjoys their share of luck and then capitalises upon it, they fully deserve to have their noses in front, as India currently do.

But why is luck treated as such a dirty word? Judging by some of the emails, my use of “luck” implied India had had an easy ride; that they were relying on luck alone to drive them forward. This is simply not true and not what I meant in the slightest, but the India fan is a passionate beast and not to be argued with. Not often, anyway. India got lucky today, but England might enjoy all the luck tomorrow (and they probably will if it continues to tear down with rain, as it currently is).

But it did get me thinking about how much luck plays its part in sport, and of course it features heavily in cricket. The toss, the weather, the players themselves – how will they perform? Will they be fit and last five days? If a bowler gets a fingertip on a fiercely struck drive, and richochets it onto the non-strikers’ stumps, is that luck? Anyway, enough rhetoric from the bastard.

Sambit Bal, our esteemed editor, has written of similar musings so go and read it immediately.

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