Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Tony Deyal | This cricket business

Published:Saturday | November 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I once compared Pavarotti with the Prince of Port-of-Spain, multiple batting record holder, Brian Lara. It is true that in music, the conductor uses a baton, and the cricketer a bat. In opera, while the person in charge of the music, the conductor, yells at the players, in cricket, the players yell at the person in charge, the umpire. There are uproars in cricket while there are only operas in music.

When you add up all the costs, cricket is the most expensive game for Caribbean children, but opera is worse. It is "like a husband with a foreign title: expensive to support, hard to understand and, therefore, a supreme social challenge".

In music and cricket, 'form' is extremely important. In music, it is the plan of organisation that a composer follows in assembling his musical materials. In cricket, it is everything for the player, whether batsman or bowler. If you are out of form in cricket, like most of the West Indies team, you can only pray for someone else to have worse form than you. If you say that aloud, it is not considered good form and hence not cricket.

It is the same with 'pitch'. In music, this is the height or depth of a sound. In cricket, it is centre stage, the point where the crucial action takes place. Nowadays, losers in cricket generally blame the pitch. A pitch that is 'flat' is not desirable in cricket. However, in music, a flat is a note played below the natural note. Some notes are also 'double flat' like the pitches in Guyana, St Kitts and Trinidad. These create considerable discord with the players. Many have voiced their concerns, demanding that our groundsmen change the tenor of their ways.

William Temple, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, once described cricket as "organised loafing". Harold Pinter, the playwright, described it as being better than sex.

Robin Williams once said that cricket is baseball on valium, which is what you need when you watch a West Indies game and see them losing by wide margins these days.

Music is not a bad comparison if you substitute the bat for the baton and remain composed. There is form, pitch, score and even runs, although the latter is something that players get while in India and Pakistan because of the curry. Beat is something that cricket and music also have in common and, as one colleague said, unless we improve dramatically, the beat will go on.

There is a kind of comparison with architecture. They have 'form' in common and now with the World Cup coming up in England next year with all these opening ceremonies, a lot of 'function' to attend. Shape, as well, since batsmen 'shape up'. Buildings need an earthquake to fall down, but not the West Indies. As the Indian tour has made very clear, we are back to collapse-o cricket.

However, I believe cricket is more like business than anything else. You start with turf. It is the stuff that you play on in cricket. In business, people hang on to their turf. There are turf wars in most organisations. In cricket, when the best advice is to bat in your crease, in business, it is stay within your turf and guard it with your life.

 

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

 

In cricket, you get a freak dismissal and it is tough luck; in business, you get booted out of your comfort zone and it is turf luck. Then there is the playing field. In cricket and in business, people say they want a level playing field and then do their best to ensure that it is not level. Many business people are not on the level to start with. All the turf wars in world trade are about ensuring a level playing field. In cricket, people prefer an umpire who is on the level and players who are level-headed.

There is also the matter of boundaries. In cricket and in business, there are always boundaries. While in cricket, you get the biggest profit by going over the boundary, in business, you have to be careful, since if you go beyond your boundaries, you might eventually suffer losses. Some business people take the risk and do well - expanding beyond national boundaries and going global.

Cricketers and business people are always looking for a big score. Some business people who try the hard way and get stumped, then try the easy way and end up having to be bailed out. Cricket is played on grounds and business people are always looking for grounds on which to jack up prices or to sue. Cricket has a pitch and every good businessman has a sales pitch.

The most important similarity is that there is one indispensable thing in cricket and business. To succeed, or merely just to take part, you must have balls.

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that the way the team is playing now the best comparison for West Indies cricket is with a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers. In other words, the business is about to "bus".