A second-by-second breakdown of the most chaotic piece of fielding you will ever see
@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
By now, you’ve seen the footage, of a man misfielding about a dozen times before throwing a ball into his own foot and sending it for four.
It’s been shared by every ‘Crap Out Of Context Cricket Laughs’ account going with little more than a few cry-laugh emojis captioning it, and you know what? You can’t blame them. It stands up on its own as a piece of pure sporting humanity. The clip is only 21 seconds long, and seven of those are a slo-mo replay. But it will live on into enternity.
But we can also strive for more. Such a vulnerable, breathtakingly funny moment deserves greater examination. Let’s delve second by second into an instant classic of the ‘Cricket is a stupid sport’ genre.
How do you even begin to make sense of this video?pic.twitter.com/k3aAJrpzRP
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 13, 2023
Second 0: Before we get started, the first question is, why is this being filmed, and to such high production values? There have been dud England white-ball games this winter with less spend behind them. No, we are not going to look up what ‘competition’ this ‘game’ is in, it would only shatter the illusion. Let’s just establish the match situation. The chasing side (R4, apparently) are 9-3 in seven balls chasing 41 in four overs against P4. So far, so nonsensical.
The second question is, what is the umpire wearing? Two hats is de rigueur these days, though the backwards baseball cap is rogue. The shirt, chinos and kicks suggests he’s got places to be as soon as this game ends.
Second 1: Yep, it’s a tennis ball. Makes sense.
Second 1.5: You know what? Let’s give some credit to the bowler here. We are constantly told it’s a batter’s game with bowlers little more than cannon fodder. In this case, Santosh B (remember the name) has seen Amit P go across his stumps to aim for the leg-side and followed him. He’s done him all ends up, and the leading edge is the least he deserves.
Second 2: Our Hero enters. The bowling side have a lot less coordination in their outfits than the batting side, and the man at short third lacks coordination in general. The ball goes up and the arms begin to flail, as if he’s been caught mid-floss.
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Second 3: For a split-second Our Hero considers going for the catch, but that ground does not look like the kind you want to sprawl yourself onto. Little does he know. Instead he back-pedals in anticipation of the bounce.
Second 4: Watch. The. Spin. It’s amazing how something every parent shouts at every child from the moment they first dream of them being the next Sachin can catch out even the best. Which is not to say that Our Hero falls in that category, but there is some mitigation. He should probably still get a mitt to it though.
Seconds 5-7: Side note – those are the worst boundary Toblerones you will ever see (Other triangular chocolate is available. Anyway: The chase begins. Our Hero sets off in pursuit like a man wearing a towel escaping a fire, but slowly but surely he catches up with the ball. It’s bobbling horribly. He rounds it. He steadies himself…
Second 8: He grasps it! He falls, though whether it’s out of shock or jubilation at his own competence isn’t clear.
Second 9: He lands on his backside, legs spread straight in the kind of pose that, for a second, must feel quite good.
Second 10: Looking back you think, ‘Just take your time. You’re not saving any runs, or any face here. Cut your losses. Get up, get it in’. Honestly, based on all the evidence of the last 10 seconds, what possesses Our Hero to think he can pull off any sort of accurate throw when lying prone on his back, deep in the outfield? He’s aiming for the kind of athleticism Temba Bavuma would be proud of. He achieves something that’s rather more Buster Keaton.
Second 10.5: Has a man ever been so surprised by his own leg? I mean, where does it come from? It’s not as if it was already in the air. It shoots up as he throws, as if someone’s marionetted him from way on high. And if that is the case, we take back everything. You’ve seen what happens at this point. Ball is thrown. Ball hits foot. Ball travels for four.
Second 10.7: There’s a split-second of utter heartbreak in here, when Our Hero’s arms fling out just the merest amount, as if he thinks, ‘Maybe, just maybe I can still stop this’. It’s the tiniest flicker, and then resignation sets in. Tragic.
Second 11: As the camera cuts away to follow the ball, Our Hero is lying on his back, motionless. You wonder whether he’ll ever get up.
Second 13: The camera cuts back. He’s sitting, but also, very clearly, he’s done.
Bonus slo-mo second 17: Sometimes you need an incident so stupid extremely slowed down to spot that little moment extra. In this case, it’s a pathetic puff of dust from the shoe as the ball makes contact. The kind of eerily mesmeric thing that American Beauty’s Ricky Fitts could write an epic poem about. We are told this is four No.167 of the season, but it’s also all of its own.