Watching the match the other night made me wonder about the element of ‘luck’ involved, not just in relation to cricket, but also in general. As Wikipedia puts it, ‘Luck can be defined as a chance happening, or as that which happens beyond a person’s control. Luck is also regarded as superstition, but it can be interpreted in many ways’.

Usually ‘luck’ refers to matters that are beyond one’s control, so the adage ‘you make your own luck’ would be in direct contradiction to this concept. However, there is always a case for arranging factors that could possibly lead to maximizing potential for the best possible outcome in any given scenario, but the chances that would determine the outcome would, in the end, depend on that element of ‘luck’.

We are informed that there are different ‘types’ of luck – luck as lack of control, luck as a fallacy, luck as an essence and luck as a placebo and the analysts have broken these down to elements of each type. For instance, luck as lack of control has been broken down to ‘constitutional luck’, or ‘luck with unchangeable factors’ such as the place of birth or one’s genetic makeup. ‘Circumstantial luck’ refers to ‘accidental’ causes and ‘ignorance luck’, which could only be assessed and identified after the event and may reveal one’s own part played in the ultimate outcome.

Luck as a fallacy is the view that ‘luck is probability taken personally’, which is typical of a Rationalist’s thought process, where the rules of probability and sticking to empirical values are of prime importance. So the Rationalist would argue that ‘luck’ is nothing more than a result of inferior reasoning or wishful thinking of those who think that because a result is sequentially connected, it is connected in other ways as well.

Luck as an essence has to do with believing its association with the spiritual or supernatural and that it could be influenced through prayer, the performance of rituals and/or avoiding certain practices. I guess that here in Sri Lanka, most of us are familiar with the endless rituals at Kataragama or any temple or kovil, where incredible numbers of folk perform all manner of rituals in attempts to influence events, or to get lucky with what they want as a desirable outcome. This type of ‘luck’ is based on superstition and also on faith, although from observing many individual cases it doesn’t appear that failure of receiving a desirable outcome has much of an effect on the believers.

Luck as a placebo is when the encouragement to believe in luck as a fallacy may result in a positive attitude that will alter one’s mental outlook positively. Both Sartre and Freud felt that belief in luck had more to do with a point of psychological influence over events in one’s life, leading to belief that personal responsibility is less to blame for a result. This view posits that those who take their misfortune to be ‘bad luck’, would be found to be those that had more risk-prone occupations or lifestyles, whilst those that considered themselves to be ‘lucky’ to be in good health and in a state of physical and mental well being, were those that were leading lives that included taking care of their health, bodies and having satisfying social relationships.

So ‘luck’ has many faces and these depend on who is doing the perceiving and in the end we find that ‘luck’ is a pretty nebulous entity, left to the individual to interpret. But getting back to cricket, how much do you think ‘luck’ will play a part in the end result? And will calling correct at the toss of the coin be the element of ‘luck’ that will play a major role in how Sri Lanka fares?

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