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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

mind your bails

English is a very confusing and complicated language. Some aspects were dealt with by Dharmendra in that super hit film ‘Chupke Chupke’ where he co-starred with the legendary Amitabh Bachhan. Dharmendra had problems with pronunciations of similarly spelt words like ‘but’ and ‘put’. However, in other areas also confusion prevails. Even when words are spelt same, they convey totally different meanings. This is probably one of the reasons why English speaking classes are mushrooming all over the countryside and is considered to be a lucrative business with the minimum of investment!

Let us take the case of a word ‘bail’.

To the commoner, it denotes a temporary escape route from the clutches of the Law. Ordinary thieves, pickpockets and other lowly criminals seldom enjoy this benefit. To them, leniency via this channel is non-existant. ‘Bail’ is basically for big time crime and criminals. ‘Anticipatory bail’ is one step ahead and is a favorite of super operators. This type of bail, as its name suggests, is in anticipation of a situation that may arise when the criminal is likely to be confronted by the Law. Once he gets wind of it, the person simply telephones his lawyer who arranges for the necessary papers. As a result, when Law does descend on the scene, the criminal smiles and flaunts the ‘anticipatory bail’ papers. Checkmate. A very familiar scene of Bollywood cinemas.
The other ‘bail’ is an even more important one. Sometimes, the sentiments of a complete Nation depend on whether the bail is in place or not.

Yes, I am talking about the bail that forms an integral part of a wonderful outdoor game called cricket. Long long ago, it used to run for five days at a stretch. Nowadays, an abridged version has become extremely popular.

The game is played on a stretch of the field. There are two sets of wooden stumps placed vertically in the ground at each end of the pitch. On top of these stumps sits the pair of bails – one pair for each end. These bails are made of wood and are as smooth as egg shells. The spin bowlers try all sorts of tricks to entice the batsman to come out of the crease and hit the ball. In case he misses, the wicketkeeper standing behind the stumps can collect the ball and dislodge the bails. The batsman can, then, be declared ‘out’ so that he can return to the pavilion and try to analyze what actually went wrong. The pace bowlers, on the other hand, try to pitch the ball in the corridor in front of the bat so that, if the batsman misses, the ball can ‘kiss’ the stump and dislodge the bails on its way to the wicketkeeper. Once the bails are down, the batsman is out. Yet another scenario is when the batsman attempts a run and the fielder is quick enough to collect the ball and throw it at the stumps – again to dislodge the bails. In order to determine whether the batsman had his toes in the crease and whether his bat was grounded before the bails were dislodged, we take the help of precision equipment and accessories like the snick meter, the stump camera and a whole lot of other cameras located strategically all around the field. An incorrect decision by the on-field umpire means adverse criticism – hence, refer to the third umpire for safety. At the end of it all, we have animated display boards to declare whether the batsman is ‘out’ or ‘not out’.

A simple pair of bails can provide so many opportunities to so many persons to capitalize upon. Protecting the bails sure is big business!!

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