In a country where cricket is considered to be a religion, one that makes all other differences extraneous, every aspect of the game is given ample amount of importance. The players put in their absolute best in order to try and win the game, even the ‘Twelfth Man’ puts in everything that he has. Little thought is spared for the heroes behind the players.
Pitch Curator- Frankenstein
The pitch curators do a fine job in preparing competitive pitches that could bring about a good result for either side. The curators need to feed it enough water and sand at regular intervals. They have to follow Laws 8,9,10 and 11 of Standardised Test Playing Conditions laid down by the ICC and stringent requirements laid down by the extremely critical media. Good carry, limited seam movement, limited spin in the first two days are all big A’s they strive to achieve in their report card
Physio- The Team’s Wizard
The physiotherapists keep the players in one piece, often having to rush to the aid of the players even in the middle of the night. India plays a minimum of 20-25 games a year excluding the IPL and therefore the chances of sustaining an injury are increased by a considerable margin. Patrick Farhart is a Lebanon origin physio-wizard with 27 years of experience, having worked for teams like the Australian Cricket Team and Kings XI Punjab before being appointed as the physiotherapist of the Indian Cricket Team
Tour Manager- The Guardian Angel
The tour managers ensure the players have a safe and smooth trip and thus carefully plan out the tour schedules, rest days and practice sessions. Sunil Subramanian, a former Tamil Nadu player and also the childhood coach of Ravi Ash, has been newly appointed as the ‘Administrative Manager’ of the side donning the hat from the second Sri Lankan test.
Umpire- Cricket’s Old Sheriff
The third law of cricket talks about the umpires. The umpire’s decisions are binding and final. The decisions given by the umpires are crucial and can set the course of the game. This had been even more crucial several decades ago when the luxury of technology did not exist. The Golden Bails Award is awarded by the ICC to umpires who have officiated 100 test matches or more. Perhaps the most thankless job, umpires often draw flak for even one wrong decision. The silver lining is that they get the best seats in the house!
Scorers- Team Chroniclers
Law 4 talks about the scorers. Ever wondered whom the umpire signals the boundaries and sixes to? Yes, they are for the scorers. There are two scorers who respond to the umpire’s signals and keep track of the scores. The scorers have to pay attention to each and every ball of the game and update the scores accordingly. In earlier times, runs scored were sometimes simply recorded by carving notches on a stick– this is where the use of the slang term ‘notches’ for ‘runs’ comes from.
Video Analyst- Hawk Eye
Video analysts analyse each and every move the players make, each shot they play, each ball they bowl and then enlighten them about their strengths and weaknesses that may have been previously unknown to them. The Aussie opener and Sunrises skipper David Warner keeps in touch with Shrinivas Chandrasekaran, the video analyst of SunRisers Hyderabad, who is tasked with keeping a close eye on the domestic set-up for new talents. The analysts are a firm believer of the saying, “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little,” as they point out the minutest of things that could actually have a huge impact on the game and playing style of the players.
Media Manager- The Team Raconteur
The media managers have the most tedious job. Cricket has turned into a battle that is only half won on the field, with the other half on the screen. Their job is twofold: to manage the official social media accounts of their respective teams and keep the fans engaged by providing them useful and vital information about the team and its players, as well as to conduct press releases and prepare the players for press conferences. Nishant Arora, the former media manager of the Indian Cricket Team, was sacked after being accused of leaking confidential information to the general public. The BCCI has laid down rules and regulations about the information that goes out and the ones that stay within the dressing room.
Ball Boys- The Side-lined Heroes
The ball boys run with appreciable enthusiasm and passion when the ball is hit in their direction. Even our very own Dharamvir Pal, the captain of the Indian Disabled Cricket Team, standing tall on all fours, forgets about his disablement and darts with all his might to get to the ball as quickly as possible and in that very moment, even the stars don’t seem to too far away from his reach.
Security Managers- Dark Knights
The PCB took a huge U-turn by deciding to host the final of the PSL 2017 in Lahore, Pakistan. A lot of foreign players including Marlon Samuels, Chris Jordan and man of the match Darren Sammy, played in the match despite safety concerns, and at the end of the day, cricket won. The security puppers are a treat to watch as the ‘protectors of the realms’ guard the stadium using their razor-sharp senses.
Fans- A Billion Twelfth Men
Finally, the fans motivate the players to go the distance. The history of the game has never seen an India-Pakistan match without poojas and prayers, fake sick leaves taken by employees in order to watch the entire game from the word ‘go’. The fans give the players a purpose to play for. As players go that extra mile to succeed, fans do their share to be a part of that success. Rushing to an IPL game after work, tuning into an India-West Indies match at midnight- sacrifices and pushing limits is a two-way game in cricket.
These twelfth men are just as important to the game as the players are. Their excellence off the field is reflected in the form of the players on the field. They are often invisible to the human eye, much like the hand that keys the doll. The world is in awe of the doll, while the hand silently takes the backstage and claps along with the rest of the audience.