Third Man was sitting on the sofa watching England v Bangladesh just after five o’clock this morning and mulling that great metaphysical problem, Time.
He was in a typical early morning trance with only a mild buzz coming from his on board computer as he attempted to picture what weather vane would be most appropriate for Lord’s when it holds its first IPL match, whilst simultaneously a deeper, older part of the brain was watching England creep along at less than three an over against Bangladesh. (Or as we might once have said, “42 an hour”.)
Has Old Father Time finally handed over the family business?
This is how Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball Live Scorecard covered the moments Third Man was watching:
90.1 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, FOUR, well, it doesn’t help if you bowl like that. Gentle full toss on the legs, and Prior says thanks a lot and clips the ball easily through midwicket.
(N.B. not 5:10 am, but 90.1 )
According to Bob Willis on Sky this takes England to ‘three-an-over’ for the first time in their innings.
90.2 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, FOUR, and again. This one, if anything, was an even filthier full toss from Shakib and is put away emphatically by Prior.
To Third Man’s befuddled pre-dawn mind it is not a certainty that this second shot is not yet another TV replay of the first. Because every four is such a cherished event for the broadcaster each is repeated three or four times in the interval before the batsman takes guard again. It can be confusing to the serial mind when, as in this case, a similar shot to a similar ball receives similar treatment.
90.3 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, no run, pushed back to the bowler.
At which moment of time Third Man is asking himself The Great Question facing cricket lovers at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty first century:
“Which would you choose if you could watch England live from Dhaka batting against this club bowling OR (by time shifting) yesterday afternoon’s ITV4 coverage of the Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab T20 match stored on your Sky Plus machine?”
90.4 Shakib Al Hasan to Prior, OUT, Prior goes, bowled by Shakib as he charged down the wicket and swiped towards midwicket! Was he a little overconfident after the lollipops served up earlier in the over? He ran down the pitch and swung wildly at that, and was comprehensively beaten in the flight. There was a touch of turn, too, as the ball pitched well wide of leg but went on to hit the stumps. Is that the moment of inspiration Bangladesh have been searching for?
But The Great Question is no longer metaphysical. To borrow from Obama, “Yes we can.” We can cheat time and watch the Super Over climax that took place yesterday afternoon four thousand miles distance away and a million light years from our sitting rooms. The Plus Box remote controller is in our hands.
We should not blame poor Matt Prior for his injudicious slog but, more than his wicket, he may have lost his audience. And, in the world of cricketainment where so much depends on the revenues from Sky, the Director of Cricket will tell you, “That, young man, is a sackable offence. You’re out … of the game.”
Old Father Time has replaced his scythe with a time shifting remote.