Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers were one play away from taking a sizeable 3-1 lead in the World Series only for the misfield gods to strike. But, what relates the Los Angeles Dodgers to cricket’s infamous misfields?
An error each from centre fielder Chris Taylor and catcher Will Smith allowed the Tampa Bay Rays score two crucial game ending runs. The Rays won the game 8-7 to tie the series 2-2.
The errors could haunt the Dodgers in their quest for a first World Series since 1988.
Playing Hard Ball
England’s Chief National Selector Ed Smith wrote one of my all time favourite cricket books, Playing Hard Ball.
Published 20 years ago, Smith wrote about the time he attended spring training with the New York Mets. Despite both sports being separated by two cultures and an ocean, they have much in common. Smith highlighted how baseball in America derived from cricket after the US Civil War.
Cricket and Baseball
Fundamentally cricket and baseball are both a dual between a batsman and a bowler. In both sports the former is assisted by a team of fielders who play a pivotal role in determining the outcome.
As the Los Angeles Dodgers proved on Saturday night, fielding errors can be the difference between winning and losing, with three of cricket’s most infamous misfields occurred to Kieran More, Shane Warne and Chris Scott.
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In the summer of 1990 England captain Graham Gooch scored an imperious 333 in the first test against India. It was a match for the ages. Gooch also scored a century in the second innings. Mohammad Azharuddin scored a single session century. In doing so Azharuddin struck four sixes off an Eddie Hemmings over to avoid the follow on.
But England won the match and they were eternally grateful to Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More. More dropped a straight forward catch off Gooch when the England skipper was on 36.
Going into the final Ashes test of 2005, England led 2-1 needing a draw or win to regain the Ashes for the first time since 1987.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen scored a match saving 158 thereby ending an 18 year England Ashes success drought. Yet early in his innings he was dropped by the usually reliable Shane Warne at first slip. Mark Nicholas, on commentary at the time, presciently remarked “Was that the moment?”.
Arguably the greatest country cricket innings was Brian Lara’s 501 for Warwickshire in the summer of 1994. But Lara had a helping hand, or a helping drop from Durham wicketkeeper Chris Scott. When the West Indies legend was on a mere 18 he was dropped by the Durham man.
Chris Scott had a solid county career yet he is infamously remembered as dropping the most costly chance in cricket history.
World Series Winners
Thankfully for the Dodgers the ignominy of game 4 did not last. Last night they claimed their first World Series crown in 32 years, much to the relief of Chris Taylor and Will Smith. The correlation between the Los Angeles Dodgers and cricket’s fielding aspect, though, remains.
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