Originally published on Sportskeeda on 11 Jul, 2012
Basketball rules. Cricket sucks.
That’s what it may feel like this is about. But I don’t intend to diss cricket as much as point out how much more fun basketball can be in comparison.
It’s like knowing that two plus two equals four. It’s the most obvious thing in the world but being asked to explain it would make you pause.
Not anymore. The next time a cricket fan comes over and starts playing on your basketball court (something that happens all too often) you can have a rapid-fire list of points to blast off at them and send them slinking away, or better yet join you on the court. We now have 25 reasons why Basketball is more fun than Cricket.
Every single basketball fan in India can claim to have had the following argument at some point or other while talking to a cricket fan: “You ought to try this game. We use a bigger ball. All the players on both teams are on the move at all times. No one has to wait hours upon hours for their turn to bat or bowl. Everyone gets to play and…”
The basketball fan tries to reason. To point out that basketball may be the most physical form of creative self expression any sport can provide. The music of the ball ripping through the nylon. The squeak of the sneakers in time with the beat of the bounce.
The train of crystal clear reasoning is cut short by loud screams from cricket fans screaming at the top of their lungs: “It's a gentleman’s game! Played by men. What’s this basketball shmasketball? Soo many rules! Double dribble! Palming the ball (which sounds a little twisted), Triple double (which sounds like a shirt size), backcourt violation (which just sounds wrong), and what not."
All to no avail.
It’s like getting a blind man to appreciate art. You can describe your utopia in vivid detail, but the blind have no frame of reference to relate it to. You may as well be barking the Pythagoras Theorem in dog speak for all the good it does them.
These arguments usually end in both parties agreeing to disagree or as is more commonly the case the basketball player’s voice is drowned down by popular opinion. Rejoice basketball fans! For those days are over.
Disclaimer: To each their own. Every sport has its own unique appeal and comparing basketball and cricket is akin to comparing rap to blues. Each are distinctly apart, yet charm us in their own way.*
Here are 25 logical and coherent arguments which will leave no room for doubt which game can be more fun.
1. In cricket, you make one tiny error and you’re out.
In basketball, you miss one shot and you can go get the rebound or run back on defense and redeem yourself by playing good defense. In cricket a batsman makes one tiny error and gets out, his chance at redemption comes when the innings change.
2. While fielding, you stand for hours trying to appear productive while waiting for the ball to come your way.
Three overs can go by without you needing to move a muscle. Just stand, and watch and stare and catch butterflies as they flutter by.
And suddenly, out of nowhere, a ball rolls towards you as the batsmen run across the pitch to complete a run. You sprint at it, pick it up and throw it towards the wicket. The keeper catches it as the batsmen complete their run.
And you stand still for the next two overs. So much of standing still.
In basketball, there’s no room, rhyme or reason to stand still, unless you are setting a screen or setting up to take a charge, and in both cases you can expect a heavy body to collide with you.
Which brings me to the next point.
Backing down your man. Boxing them out for rebounds. Setting screens. Taking elbows. Taking charges and crumbling, only to piece yourself together back again.
Basketball is war.
If Chris Gayle and Dhoni are matched up in basketball, their differences in physique will make for a very heavy advantage for Gayle. Cricket renders the physical attribute of players down to the extent that they can get by with skill and not have to chisel their physique to peak conditions.
Not taking a dig at potbellied cricketers, as long as they get the job done well and good. But basketball does not excuse potbellies.
4. Time is money.
Time is money.
Time taken to bowl one over.
Time to play one match.
Time for one delivery.
Time between overs.
Time between change of innings.
Cricket consumes time. Time when half of the players are sitting in the pavilion and a bunch of others are milling about on the field waiting for something to happen.
Sometimes players lie down on the field itself.
On the other hand:
48 minutes. Four quarters. Clock stops in timeouts, out of bounds plays, free throws and at the ref’s whistle. You do the math.
5. Pavilion players awaiting their chance to bat, secretly hoping for some teammate to get out
Captains call the toss. Your team wins and chooses to bat. You are batting 4th down. The openers stride over to the pitch to bat.
And you wait.
The openers play it safe. Testing the pitch, feeling the bowlers out, warming up, take few runs here and there.
And you wait in the pavilion, bat laying across your legs patiently awaiting your turn.
Five overs trickle by, 30 balls have been bowled.
You’re a study in still life. Birds perch upon your head. You’re immobile, a statue. Waiting for the wickets to fall. You patiently await your chance to prove your mettle.
And you get it finally when the third batsman goes out. You make the long walk from the pavilion to the crease. You face the bowler with a steely glint in your eyes. He bowls. You swing.
And the bails fall. Clean bowled. And you make the walk of shame right back to the pavilion. While batting, the most physical exertion you did was the walk to and fro the pavilion.
Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment.
6. Bench players cheering on their teammates
In basketball there is something called a bench on which substitutes sit. It’s right next to the action and players often cheer their teammates from it. They can be substituted at any point during a dead ball situation.
The bench in basketball is in close proximity to the action and players can easily talk to their teammates and taunt the opponents if so inclined.
The bench in cricket is a dugout where players sip tea.
7. Highlight plays
Basketball requires the athlete to work on strength, speed, quickness, balance and explosiveness. Blake Griffin going up for a rebound can become a highlight play.
And following are the highlight plays one can see in cricket:
Swing a bat. Chase a ball. Throw a ball. Catch a ball.
A ball hit for a boundary, four or six.
A wicket taken by bowling over the stumps, getting a batsman run out, or a catch.
A leg bye, case of misfielding, bloopers by the batsmen
In fact, here’s a time lapse video of a cricket match.
Its all in fast motion and it almost put me to sleep. Even fast forwarded, it still makes me yawn.
In basketball, every single second holds a potential highlight play.
There are infinite ways of making layups.
You can choose to shoot, pass, dribble, or just hold the ball watching the play develop.
Every second the possible combinations of sequences of actions change. One glance to your left makes the defender turn his neck and in that split second you can blow by him.
8. In basketball, every single player is involved in the action at all times
On offense, players move off the ball, set screens, fight for position inside, etc. On defense, everyone is keeping one eye on the ball and another on the opponents to deny them position, being alert for screens and switches, boxing out as soon as a shot goes up, leaking out on fast breaks.
In cricket more than half of the players are passive spectators to the action more than half of the time.
The act of shooting a basketball is one of the most beautiful actions in sport. It takes years to develop a form. Allow me to quote myself:
If you think about shooting a basketball, the way a maths student thinks things through, every time a player launches a shot, he is basically:
-throwing a ball (9 inches in diameter)
-towards a ring (perched 10ft high, 18 inches in diameter)
-from a significant distance (3 pointers are from 19”9 ft away)
At this point logic kicks in and shows that the odds of the ball going in are pretty low. Now add the factor of pressure filled game situations. Off balance shots. Defenders doing their best to distract the shooter by waving their arms in his face, trying to get a piece of the ball. The odds just dropped lower. There is a poetry to launching a high arcing shot, the kind that looks like it has no hope of going in, and then watching it drop softly, swishing the net on its way.
Compare that to swinging a bat in cricket. Yeah that calls for skill and grace too, but it doesn’t compare with shooting a basketball.
Metta World Peace, who should be a reason by himself, says that shooting is so addictive it ought to be outlawed like a banned drug.
Here’s a shot I made, absurd notion, dumb idea, but it taught me something.
After each attempt, and observing the flight of the ball, I kept changing the angle and position of the shot. And finally when it did go in, it was the farthest attempt I had dared to try.
All I was thinking of while trying that:
- there is one basket
- there is one ball
- it has to go in sometime. Its pure maths.
When I feel like the odds are stacked up, I always look at the moment when I made that shot and realize that the odds I’m facing have to be lower than the odds against making that shot.
10. Fixed duration and clutch shots
In basketball there’s a clock ticking. That allows for clutch shots. In cricket the clock is ticking, but it doesn’t give much room for clutch hits. Basketball has a shot clock too, allowing for countdown moments every 24 seconds.
Yeah you need skills in cricket too. But those are a narrower skill set. Not that those skills are beneath those of basketball but in basketball you have more scope for moves. Moves off the dribble, floating in the air, playing puppetmaster with your defender, moving the ball like a ping pong through crisp passes, I could go on on this one.
In one game you manipulate a bat throw ball. In the other you do crazy things with a ball and your hands, dribbling, passing, shooting, etc and there’s a rim perched 10 feet high to add to the craziness.
12. Action and reaction
The game of cricket involves action and reaction between the batsmen, bowler, and about three-four fielders on one delivery.
If one fields at long on and does a tap dance, it won’t affect the on field action.
The game of basketball is an alive organism, fluid and dynamic, constantly changing shape through the relative movement of the ten players and the ball.
basketball can be more fun than cricket.
13. Slam Dunks
In cricket, a sixer is the most exciting shot. In basketball, there’s this thing called slam dunks where a player rockets upward, often collides with a fool trying to stop him, and pummels the ball through the rim.
There’s this guy called Blake Griffin, who may be the most explosive athlete on the planet. Here’s why:
Find me an equivalent moment in cricket.
14. Everyone gets to do everything
In cricket you have a wicketkeeper, a bowler, a couple of batsmen and fielders. And all of their roles are fixed for a good duration.
In basketball you have everyone doing everything in quick turns. Point guards grab rebounds, centers shoot threes, pivot players get assists, everyone can do everything in their skillset.
In basketball, a player can stand still and still have an impact on the floor spacing. That’s one of the tougher lessons to implement in youngsters, that they don’t have to keep on sprinting around. Players can carefully set screens.
In cricket you have screens across the fields and that’s different. In basketball players set screens to tie up the defender. Just standing in the right spot can prevent the opponent from getting to a loose ball.
16. Taking charges
In basketball one of the most unselfish acts is taking a charge. As Kobe Bryant has said “I don’t take no charges. I value my health too much.” It takes serious guts and anticipation, to stand still waiting for a wrecking ball to come and hit you just so you can earn a possession.
I don’t see the equivalent of this is cricket, unless you count a bowler obstructing the path of a batsmen while taking a run. And that’s illegal as far as I know.
Another unselfish act. Passing the ball off to someone so they can score. Making plays for your teammates. Moving the ball around unselfishly.
It leads to camaraderie and teaches us the importance of teamwork and synergy.
The closest act to this in cricket would be a fielder backing up another fielder in front of him in case the ball slips by, or one fielder diving and saving the ball and passing it to another to throw back at the pitch.
Yeah cricketers talk too. But that chatter is limited around the pitch. In basketball all ten players often engage in lively conversation, whether it be trash talking like Larry Bird:
19. Free throws
Basketball celebrates fundamentals. A free throw is the most basic skill in basketball, the great test of performing under pressure. Shaq, who was a notoriously bad free throw shooter in games, would claim to be able to make 8 of 10 attempts in practice.
In cricket there’s nothing which compares. Football at least has penalty kicks.
20. Potential for combos of highlight plays
Bunch of plays strung together, leading to a beautiful sequence of a few seconds.
A steal, a save, a tip ahead, a behind the back pass, an alley oop, a dunk.
Just watch that and tell me how cricket can be more fun than that.
There’s a kleptomaniac in all of us. Some steal balls, some steal hearts, some steal tv sets and what not. Basketball allows you to indulge that Kelpto in you to the fullest.
In cricket you can steal in a different way by match fixing, in basketball such instances are more transparent since you can’t throw a game as easily as you can in cricket.
Not in my house! Swatting a shot away makes you feel like you just swatted away the opposition like a fly.
Imagine doing that in cricket, blocking a shot would be like saving a boundary. Now compare the excitement of the two.
Back to the point about crazy things you can do with a basketball. This is one of the most awesome, and the best part is that that the smaller you are, the better you can be at this.
Every time a player dribbles the ball in any direction, he is committed to that direction until the ball bounces high enough for him to regain control and change his direction. The taller the guy, the longer it takes for the ball to bounce back up to a controllable height.
If you are bigger you have an advantage, if you are smaller you have a different advantage.
Anytime two guys are matched up, the one with the ball always has the advantage. The advantage of being one step ahead. He makes his move; the other guy has to follow his lead. Always. Barring the case when the defender tries to steal the ball or pressure the ball handler. In which case the defense is left exposed, again advantage: ball handler. If a guy plays you tight, blow by him; if he backs off protecting the drive, shoot over him. He’s bigger? Drive past him. You have a lower center of gravity so you can change directions quicker. Get him off balance for a second and make your move. Same height or smaller? Shoot over him. Double teams? Pass it off to the open guy.
Basketball teaches you that you can make things happen regardless of the obstacles ahead.
24. Ankle breakers
When you make your defender fall down without touching them, that is magic. That happens with a quick change of direction and pace, when you anticipate their next move and unleash a vicious crossover that drops them down dead like someone chopped off their legs under them.
25. Epic, epic plays
How about the time when the little guy was blocked by Superman and he proceed to choke Superman with his own cape?
Or when you go up against the greatest player to ever play the game and prove your mettle by taking the torch he was unwilling to pass on?
Or…I could go on. Here are 5 In your face you plays from Allen Iverson, celebrating what seems impossible and making it happen.
How about the time Tracy Mcgrady blew up for 13 in 35?
Basketball has endless potential for such magical moments.
Parents who have just been blessed with a child, ignore for a moment the commercial ramifications of pushing your prodigy towards cricket and consider the points listed above. Then decide what would be more fun for your kid. Something where the kid gets to run and play or something where kids stand still half the day.
I can hear the footsteps of angry cricket worshipers thundering behind me and getting louder and louder with each word I type. *ducks to avoid a cricket ball aimed at my head*. I have to go before they *parry away a pull shot directed to behead me* before they express their opinions on this piece. Even though every loud, angry comment forthcoming from cricket fans will add credence to the importance of my opinion, which is just that, my opinion.