The emasculation of cricket

In the old days, cricket was hardcore and hairy. We examine how it became its current metrosexual version.

Ground staff cover the pitch at SuperSport Park on December 16, 2010 in Centurion.


Till the 1960s, it was standard practice to leave the playing area unprotected from the harsh effects of rain and sun. This led to wickets becoming ‘sticky’. The ball would grip, bounce and turn inconsistently. Batting to finger spinners on such wickets was nightmarish, so it needed great skill and concentration. The covering of wickets has significantly reduced the extent of damage spinners can cause.

Vijay Merchant, the man with the highest average after Bradman, thrived on wet wickets. What would he have averaged on the sleeping beauties of the modern era that are accorded Z-category protection? Sadly, fans since the 1970s haven’t had the pleasure of a riveting contest on a ‘sticky dog’.


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