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Soup of This Day #304: Step Outside And See Another World

March 29, 2013

Cricket ball
Just over 22cm in circumference and weighing around 160g, a cricket ball is a real missile when fired in at 140kmph. To bastardise a Groucho Marx quote: Outside of a dog, a protective box is a cricketer’s best friend. Inside of a dog, and it’s too dark to play cricket – Photo: Ed g2s, 2006. Ed g2s is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I think it’s kind of strange that people don’t want to compare apples to oranges.

Sure they’re different but that’s a pretty good reason to put them side by side – So that you can explore their respective strengths and weaknesses. You could poke and prod, maybe discover early on that the apple has a thin, palatable skin, while the orange has a pithy, bitter rind. Straight away you’ve got yourself some valuable information there. You can use this intel to work out that while a toffee apple is a crowd pleaser, a toffee orange is bound to disappoint.

Candied orange yes. Toffee orange no. It’s a subtle but critical distinction and you’re able to make it thanks to your comparison.

So it’s ok to compare. Not always mind – Sometimes it’s just not feasible to analytically weigh up 2 things. Like how pain is measured in 2 individual people. Pain is subjective because the tolerance to pain is a very personal thing. A simple paper-cut to me might be the equivalent of a a broken finger to somebody else. A kick to a man’s testicles might be the equivalent of a…

Well, we can’t work that out. That’s your real apples and oranges conundrum right there. We could and maybe should replace that easy saying about the differences in fruit with 1 that is a little more visceral.

Except that voicing that you can’t compare a kick to the testicles with an ice cream headache doesn’t have the same lyrical ring about it.

I have, to be fair, taken a bit of a literary liberty with that. I can tell everyone that a kick to your very own double scoop is nothing like an ice cream headache. If it is for you then can I suggest that you are a. A little mistaken by the location of your testicles or b. Confused by what you should do with ice cream.

If your answer is b. then it’s ok not to share – I’ll buy my own ice cream thanks.

The hurt when you take a blow downstairs is describable though. It’s sort of like a punch to the abdomen in that it takes your breath away. But then it’s also like when you whack your funny bone (Not actually a bone or that funny – Instead it’s the potentially painful ulnar nerve through the elbow) and the resultant feeling is a deep, sustained ache. All in all it’s really crippling, and about the most effective way of dropping a guy to the ground and out of the fight.

Which is why it is the kind of contact that is sportingly frowned upon in most arenas. Take boxing for instance, where you are allowed to repeatedly punch an opponent to the head, causing their brain to bounce around alarmingly inside their skull, substantially increasing the risk of later brain degradation and disease.

You’re definitely not allowed to clinch their cojones though.

In cricket too, it’s considered cool to soften up a batsman with a barrage of short balls, peppering the poor bugger about the body with a succession of lifting 140 kmph deliveries. You can bruise his arms, cork his thighs, break his fingers or even grind his toes into pulp.

Just don’t swing a ball into his balls.

Nothing gets a fan feeling sympathy for the opposition like the sight of them curled up in the foetal position mewing helplessly because a small hard cricket ball flew right on into the danger zone. If you can take a look around the ground as this happens you’ll see men collectively wincing, some of them reflexively crossing their legs protectively. You’ll hear them too, with a sort of hiss as air is drawn in and then a breathy groan as it escapes again. You might even hear a muted protest, a muttered, ‘Settle down mate, that’s not right,’ aimed at the offending bowler.

The evolutionary scales that have seen our family jewels vulnerably strung outside our bodies can get some artificial balance though. To protect their precious stones cricketers wear a device called a box.

Because that’s where you store your valuable jewels – In a jewellery box.

This kind of jewellery receptacle though is not really box-shaped. There is also no dancing ballerina on top, nor a musical accompaniment when the lid is opened. Instead, it’s silent and more typically curved like one of those small breathing masks. Although, instead of this mask bulging out to cover your chin and nose, it’s rigid, convex shell puts a lid on your gems.

And your sceptre.

This is essential kit for a spell in the middle. You’d not want to forget that strong plastic protection, at least not twice anyway. This kind of painful lesson was learned early on in the game. Padding would almost certainly have been inserted down there in the early 1800’s if not earlier and by the late 1800’s aluminium toolboxes were worn to protect the male bolt and nuts of procreation from the mechanics of the demon bowlers. This was well over 100 years before the 1st full-face helmet made it’s professional debut in the Test arena, via Australia’s Graham Yallop in 1978.

Before that we were covering our heads, but not all of them.

And this protection has evolved, has got better, mostly by necessity. Even with today’s hi-tech materials and nanotechnological miracles a whack to the hotspot is still able to fell a bloke quicker than anything else and in some discomfort. Researchers are surely now working on the next progression, tirelessly innovating in the hope that man will be able to stride out to the batting crease with confidence. Perhaps now that the Space Shuttle has been retired those special tiles from the belly of those ships might be re-purposed to shield a man’s sputniks from the scorching of a cricket capsule’s re-entry.

It’s not just for cricket either – Baseball players, including the pitcher and catcher, also wear a helmet over their other heads. Ice hockey players, football players, rugby players and wrestlers too can put a shell on their coconuts. In fact, pretty much any sport where you have a risk of copping a low blow either allows for physical protection or mandates stiff penalties for violating the bro code.

And fair enough too, you’d have to be nuts to willingly allow damage to your nuts.

Actually you can even be crazy and still have the biological imperative to protect your walnuts from being prematurely cracked. Alfredo Aceves is a great example of this:

Recently the enigmatic Boston Red Sox reliever was heading out for a game he was not scheduled to pitch in. Pitches often wear a protective box but it isn’t overly comfortable so if they don’t need to they won’t. So it was a little unusual that Aceves was spotted ensuring that his huevos were cupped for a stint on the bench. I’ll leave it from here for the Boston Globe’s Extra Bases blog to explain:

‘So, Alfredo, what’s the deal?

“You have to be prepared,” he said. “What if [Jon] Lester hits somebody and there’s a fight? Somebody might try and kick me in the [place where you don’t want to be kicked.]”

Then Aceves pointed to his head.

“Prepared,” he said.’

See what I mean? Bat@#$% crazy but still with it enough to protect his peas in a pod.

Even with all that protection and lunacy it does require a fair bit of courage to risk a harpoon of a ball with a relatively free willy. Which is ironic as bravery is often associated with larger testicles and that in turn just means a bigger target. For all that, the largest testicles with respect to body weight can’t be found in baseball. Nor can they be found in cricket. It is though accurate to say that cricket can be found in them.

Yep, making up a whopping 14% of their body weight, the testicles of Platycleis affinis, otherwise known as the Tuberous bush-cricket, are the largest known to science. If that ratio was applied to a 90kg human then he’d be hefting around a 13kg package.

Forget oranges and apples, if you want to compare a serious disparity try humans and bush crickets.

Step Outside And See Another World

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