Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mother of all bets

Akbar notes that it looked as if a god fell when Tendulkar was bowled in the Karachi test. This brings to mind an old Amar-Anthony conversation.

Anthony: I want Waugh to break Sunny's record.

Amar: Centuries?

Anthony: Yes.

Amar: He won't. Or rather, he might, but he will probably never hold the record for most centuries. Tendulkar is ahead of Steve already with 31. I think Waugh has one test more for this series, then probably nothing till India.

Anthony: He'll get it, then Sachin, then Ponting.

Amar: Ponting won't break Tendulkar's record.

Anthony: Bet?

Amar: Sure. Five books?

Anthony: No, one classy collectible book of the winner's choosing.

Amar: I find that ambiguous.

Anthony: Winner chooses a book that he considers to be a collector's item.

Amar: Umm. Signed first copies of Midnight's Children cost thousands of dollars you know.

Anthony: Yes, exactly. But we have years before this is settled.

Amar: During which time the price will increase even more. Especially if Rushdie dies. In the meantime, okay, to get the bet right - I am saying Tendulkar will get more centuries, you are saying Ponting will get more centuries.

Anthony: It's not Ponting vs Sachin.

Amar: Well?

Anthony: Ponting will break Tendulkar's record of most test centuries — Anthony for, Amar against.

Amar: Alright.

Anthony: If Tendulkar doesn't make that record but Ponting does, I win.

Amar: No problem.

Anthony: If Tendulkar doesn't make that record, but neither does Ponting, no one wins, even if Ponting has more tons than Tendulkar.

Amar: If either player's career significantly cut short by injury or death, bet is invalid. If through bad form, or being dropped, tough.

Anthony: Define 'significantly'?

Amar: I think this would depend on specific fact scenario, so rather than trying to define it now, would leave it as is, and argue about it later if it becomes an issue. I see significant as at least 'some years' in the eyes of expert commentators. But willing to leave it to reasonable and mutually agreed interpretation in future.

Anthony: Happy to leave it for now. What about being banned for cheating?

Amar: I think that should make bet invalid, at least I am making it in good faith of cricketers characters.

Anthony: I disagree.... it's a result of the cricketer's own action, just like poor form. Injury is not of choice.

Amar: Oh alright, what do I care, fine with me. So done deal?

Anthony: Done deal.

Amar: Done deal here as well.

Anthony: Oh one more — if war or political upheavals shorten a player's career it is treated same way as injury.

Amar: Yeah.

Anthony: We have to think of every exigency.

Amar: Mind you, what if you want the Gutenberg Bible first edition?

Anthony: Then you just have to work f…ing hard — or you'll die with the shame of indebtedness.
Amar: Hmmmm...if you are rich, let me warn you, I am going to screw you over pretty bad to make sure I can live in comfort.

This conversation was had in the middle of 2003, when Tendulkar had 31 centuries against Ponting’s 17. Since then the score has moved in Ponting’s favour, though he still trails — currently it is Tendulkar 35 against Ponting 28.