Opinion: Monkeys, typewriters and broken records
'What is surprising is that Shahid Afridi's 17-year long record stood for as long as it did,' writes <b>Freddie Wilde</b>, in reaction to Corey Anderson's century.
The staggeringly beautiful mountain range in the foothills of which the Queenstown cricket ground nestles are aptly called The Remarkables. The ground itself, not far from Lake Wakatipu, is perhaps the most picturesque in international cricket.
You've probably seen the photo of an aeroplane taking off, flying low, with the cricket in the foreground and the mountains in the background – that's the Queenstown cricket ground. That photo incidentally, with the plane, a symbol of modernity, does nothing to stain the serenity of the scene, and in fact, for me at least, only serves to reaffirm the idea of this being a setting so very distanced from the rush, clamour and energy of every day life.
It was therefore poetically appropriate that it was at this ground, on the first day of a new year, that in a rain-curtailed ODI, Corey Anderson wreaked havoc, hurtling even the Queenstown ground, the most tranquil of settings, into the age of power, strength and speed.
His hundred, coming off just 36 balls, was not only a world-record for the fastest ODI hundred of all time, but it was another innings in this remarkable chapter in the game's history that reaffirmed the scope, breadth and depth of the evolution of modern cricket.
No record is safe but nor too it seems are the deepest, rawest heartlands representing hackneyed views of cricket's meandering past. The resonating thing about this was not necessarily the innings itself, but the reaction it received.
Granted, that it was scored by Corey Anderson, essentially a nobody in international cricketing circles, probably took a sting out of the innings, but as word filtered through of what had happened it seemed the response was one of a proverbial shrug, albeit an impressed shrug, of the shoulders. "Wow. But it's not at all surprising." Indeed, what is surprising is that Shahid Afridi's 17-year long record stood for as long as it did.
And the thing with this Anderson innings is that, much like Aaron Finch's world-record T20 international century at the Ageas Bowl last year, people will go faster, hundreds can and therefore will be scored in fewer balls than 36.
It is the idea of 'can and therefore will' that really touches a chord. After Finch's innings the concept of 'perfect overs' where every ball is hit for six was first mentioned; innings like Anderson's today make you wonder whether a 'perfect innings' could ever occur.
Such is the growing inevitability of sixes being struck, it almost seems as if cricket has entered a phase in which one record being broken merely takes cricket one, or two balls closer to the statistical vertex of batsmanship of the 17-ball hundred.
The infinite monkey theorem which states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare, bears resemblance with such statistical refinement as the 17-ball hundred.
But while the monkey and his typewriter is merely a theory, give batsmen big enough bats, small enough boundaries and enough balls to hit, eventually, somewhere, someone hitting them all for six no longer seems so ludicrous.
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