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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Neesham unleashes 6s ~ infographic tool : wagon wheel !

We are a Cricket Crazy Nation ~ Modern day game is not played on the stadium alone, not even a mind-game alone,  there are so many technological tools that depicts beautiful infographics and more importantly analyses, each player’s style, trying to pop out their strength / weakness and more .. ..  here is a wagon wheel ~ that of Rohit Sharma and can you predict the age of the technology or hazard a guess on when it was used first ?

For every player making some significant score we see :  Wagon-wheel depiction.  A wagonwheel in common parlance would mean  :
1.         The wheel of a wagon, including railway wagons.
2.         (cricket) A graphical representation of the cricket field, with lines showing the trajectories of the scoring balls hit by a batsman; singles, fours and sixes are shown in different colours.

A Wagon wheel is also called  a Batting shot placement. This is a graphic that represents the top view of a cricket field. Lines are drawn from the batsman’s position towards the field that portrays the path of the balls hit by the batsman. It shows the runs made in 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s & 6s.  It has dot ball option too. When batsman is out, it can depict the  type of out like catch, stump etc.  Understand that BCCI and TNCA have gone technical years ago, with scorers recording them on an application in the tablet – the scorer details what happened to a particular delivery – everything else – of the player info. Is available in the database, which gets updated realtime.   

New Zealand all-rounder James Neesham  made his last international appearance in June 2017, in a Champions Trophy match against Bangladesh.  Neesham never really made it to the international side in a long time, until this present ODI series against Srilanka.   The first ODI of the year 2019 brought a pocket full of surprises. Jimmy Neesham went berserk at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui today and hit five sixes in one over, from Sri Lankan seamer Thisara Perera.  He walked out to bat when New Zealand were in a pretty formidable position at 5 down for 316. It was the end of the 47th over when Henry Nicholls returned to the pavilion. With only three overs remaining from there, a maximum total of 350 was predicted for the Kiwis. But new at the crease, Neesham had some other plans.

Soon wicketkeeper and debutant Tim Seifert was dismissed in the 48th  over but that didn’t hamper Neesham’s charge. In fact, in the 49th over, he hit each of the first five legitimate deliveries for a six. Narangoda Liyanaarachchilage Thisara Chirantha Perera  bowled a no-ball in between off which Neesham took a couple of runs. Before the last delivery of the over, it seemed possible that Neesham could break Herschelle Gibbs’ record for most runs in an over in ODIs.

In Nov 2014, against hapless Lankans,  Rohit  Sharma amassed 45 more runs than any ODI batsman had ever managed in an innings, finishing on 264 from 173 balls when he was finally caught off the last ball of the innings.  Rohit's innings was so outrageous that the first 100 runs, which were hit at a run-a-ball, seem achingly humdrum in comparison to the 164 that followed.  There were many incredible shots, from among his 33 fours and nine sixes, but the most gobsmacking was the six off Kulasekara at the end of the 48th over, when he walked across to off stump, took a half volley from about a foot and half away from him and flicked it high over the midwicket boundary. It was the kind of shot, and innings, that seemed in open defiance of physics. The highest individual score had progressed – for sometime it was Glen Turner’s 171 made in 1st WC; then Kapil Dev made 175 n.o in 1983 WC; Richards made 189; Saeed Anwar 194 at Chepauk  ….. Sachin first breached 200; Sehwag upstaged him……….. now it is 264 from the boy who already has a double ton in ODI against Aussies and added up another against Lankans in Dec 2017.

Now this is no post on double hundreds in ODI or on sixers hit ~ but on techno tool – ‘wagon wheel’ rather its introduction.  Web search led to an interesting article on a man called Bill Ferguson. 

They called him Mr Cricket more than 60 years before Mike Hussey was born. On umpteen cricket tours from 1905 to 1954, scorer and baggage master Bill Ferguson, affectionately known as "Fergie", carted luggage for such flannelled gods as Victor Trumper, Don Bradman, Bill O'Reilly, Wally Hammond and Jack Cheetham.  His greatest claim to fame, though, was that of having created cricket's wagon wheel. During lulls in play, as a creative aside to his main function of recording the score, Fergie produced the first official wagon wheel a hundred years ago. His wagon wheels were drawn in pencil, or in ink, using an ancient dipped nib with meticulous, loving care, neat as a pin - or as Bill Lawry would say, "clean as a whistle."

In May 1912, Fergie charted Jack Hobbs' shots in his 81 for Surrey versus Australia at Kennington Oval. Hobbs hit one six, 13 fours, two threes, three twos and 11 singles. Over the years Fergie recorded many great and famous innings, including Bradman's 334 for Australia against England in Leeds in 1934 (46 fours, six threes, 26 twos and 80 singles), Wally Hammond's 336 in 318 minutes for England against New Zealand in Auckland in April, 1933, and injured New Zealander Bert Sutcliffe's unconquered 80 against South Africa in Johannesburg in December 1953.

Opposing bowlers and captains used to try to commandeer Fergie's charts but he fiercely stood his ground: they were his private property. Once, before the Kaiser ruined cricket for four years, a journalist tried to patent Fergie's charts, and their inventor contemplated legal action.   Ferguson hailed from Sydney. At the age of 24 this slim, frail man worked for the Sydney Directory, filing names of householders, streets and districts - an occupation he called the "most monotonous task known to man".  The lunch break was his dream time. He would stroll down to the waterfront and gaze longingly at the ships from many nations. He fantasised about distant exotic places but was tied to the dreaded card index drill. How could he realise his dream to travel?  

In the early summer of 1904 the answer came swiftly, like a Tibby Cotter yorker. The Australians were due to sail for England in January, 1905, the Ashes tour. They would need a scorer. Fergie reasoned that a formal application might be lost among the many such a plum job evoked. Even if it reached the desk of tour manager Frank Laver, Fergie's chances were zero. He had never been a scorer in his life.  He decided to put his future in the hands of the future Test captain Monty Noble, a leading Sydney dentist, by expressing his willingness to have every tooth in his head filled, capped, polished or extracted if it meant the chance to talk to Noble about the Ashes tour job. No extractions were necessary, but Fergie bought enough gold fillings to last a lifetime. The pair struck up a friendship. Fergie was subtle in his approach to the subject of cricket and then the tour. Noble was impressed with his patient's passion and earmarked the little clerk for great things. Fergie was introduced to two of the game's heroes, Trumper and Laver. He sensed a real chance of an England trip, but when the team duly left Australia, alas, he missed the boat.

Then a letter arrived from Laver. Dated February 3, 1905, Laver wrote that it was his honour to inform Fergie that he had been appointed to the job at a salary of "£2 a week and to pay your train fare to the various grounds upon which we play". Fergie paid his own fare to England: £17 one way. For a while he had been hoarding half-crowns, shillings and sixpences, and by the time the chance presented itself, he had amassed a monumental £25 - he wasn't quite a millionaire, but he felt like one. He immediately set off for the offices of the White Star shipping company in Sydney and booked a one-way ticket to England on the good ship Suevic. In his book, Mr Cricket, Fergie notes that "England was a very sedate country in those days. Manners, etiquette and breeding were the paramount virtues, and, wanting to be taken for a gentleman of distinction, our manager, Mr Frank Laver, followed the English fashion of the day by appearing frequently in top hat and frock coat.

The first wagon wheel: Ferguson's depiction of Jack Hobbs' 81 against the Australians in 1912 © Nicholas Kaye ~ cricinfo,.com

Victor Trumper, the greatest of all batsmen before Don Bradman, was Fergie's favourite player. Don Bradman once confided in Fergie, telling him that "plenty of batsmen watch the bowler's fingers, hoping to detect what sort of ball he's going to deliver, but that's no good to me. Let me see the ball coming, and then I'll decide the best place to hit it."  Fergie's first scoring duty was at Crystal Palace, London, where he penned the "demise" of WG Grace, out for 5. This was seven years before that first wagon wheel. His last tour was with New Zealand to South Africa in 1953-54. In 1957 he was awarded the British Empire medal for his services to the Commonwealth, receiving his award from the Australian prime minister, RG Menzies at Australia House in London.

Despite the interruption of two World Wars, he made 41 tours with international teams and scored a total of 204 Test matches. His travels took him 614,000 miles at an estimate. After World War Two, Fergie said the South Africans and the MCC were the most generous of employers, both of whom granted him a £25 bonus at the end of the tour. As for the Australians, "they sent me a letter of thanks". As long as the game of cricket is played, Fergie's wagon wheel, which he created more than 100 years ago, will be his lasting legacy.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Jan 2019
PS : the later part excerpted from Cricinfo article by Australian offie - Ashley Mallett  who took  132 Tests wickets in 38 Tests for Australia and authored over 25 books, including  biographies of Clarrie Grimmett, Doug Walters, Jeff Thomson and Ian Chappell

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