Friday, July 18, 2008

T-20, my take on it...

First, it was started by the makers of the game, to play some non-tiring cricket during off seasons, just for fun. It then found place in their domestic calendar, and had a good fanfare. Both players and the management loved it. The players would then come back to the classical versions too.

A couple of years passed by, and the little version had spread around the cricketing world. During that period, it was played as a game of cricket. Then came Mr. Alan Stanford, the Billionaire from Texas, who loved the game and wanted to add some shine to West Indies’ cricket, which it had apparently lost since its glory days. He started The Stanford 20-20 league, which revived cricket fanfare in the Caribbean. But, money played a big role in it.

In India, not many know that there was a domestic league of Twenty-20 last year, eventually won by Tamil Nadu, who beat the domestic giants, Mumbai. But, the BCCI planned to make things grand. Instead of improving publicity of this league, they started another league featuring clubs from cities. The IPL, just to counteract the ICL, which was gaining some popularity then, but did not get the BCCI’s consent, thus remaining a rebel league! The IPL was more of money than cricket. The official review was IPL was a big success. I think, it was so, monetarily. IPL had some big time effects on the game of cricket, negatively. It has made cricketers more money minded (money is the root cause of all evils, another example for the one-liner). The pitches became flatter and flatter, that mostly saw ball swatting by batsmen. Bowlers had very little to cheer about, just the “purple cap” award. Three had hat-tricks, thanks once again to crazy shots played by batsmen. It seemed like, batsmen forgot to bat properly. Very few impressed me in pure cricketing sense.

My biggest fears came true when the one dayers were played after the IPL. Pitches were very flat in the subcontinent. West Indies pitches were slower than usual, and very batsman friendly. English grounds have been fine, as of now at least. ECB seems to be looking forward to start English Premier League (cricket). So, that makes it 2 T20 leagues in one season in the English domestic calendar. Pro-40 has been scrapped! Ridiculous! The Asia Cup was conducted in Pakistan a couple of weeks ago. Dreadful! Very monotonous pitches were made, very one sided, non-competitive. All batsmen friendly ones, just about every single one of them. It was ‘no mercy’ for fast bowlers. Any ball, even a tad short would’ve been punished, no matter what pace it had when released from the palm of the bowler. An average score of around 300 in this tournament was disappointing picture. More so, when they were chased down very easily. Will not take away anything from the bowlers, they all bowled well. Gone were the times when it was difficult to chase under the lights in the subcontinents, thanks (sarcasm meant) to the pitches. It remains batsman friendly all throughout. If Champions Trophy is going to be held there, I hope it IS held to preserve cricket in the talented country, it should see better quality pitches there. There should be close encounters, a good contest, not only between the teams, but more so between the bat and the ball. Else, I don’t see the point of a squad including any bowler (fast bowlers specifically) for the tournament. It is nice to see that the ICC has noticed this issue and is looking forward to improve the pitch standard through its exclusive committee to monitor international venues and their laid wickets.

The thin crowd during the course of Asia Cup tournament has made the ICC raise an issue about reforming the game, tinker with its format. So, it is confirmed that the flashy, lusty, lucrative Twenty20 is here to create chaos and kill the much better One Day format, mind you, I mean the ones with 50-overs a side. Now, the players are trying to convince their cricket boards to shift their tours and series away from the IPL window. I think money means more to them, than service to their nation. Just when the IPL fever was about to be over, Sir Alan Stanford landed in a chopper right in the middle of the Lords and offered $ 5 million to the team members who can defeat his XI in a match to be held sometime later. It’ll take a some time for people to come out of this money-fever. I would’ve rather loved to see Mr. Stanford invest in building more institutions in the Caribbean to improve the standard of West Indies’ cricket and help produce better tracks there.

Some recent news have raised concerns about this T20 format. Ponting wants cricketers to keep the spirit of test matches right on top. Gilchrist fears test and ODIs may lose their sheen. Arjuna Ranatunga, ACC chief, has asked cricketers to concentrate on their game and not be inclined to money. Ryan Sidebottom has even declined joining IPL saying that he wants to concentrate on playing for the Nation. That’s the spirit. Compare that with Sri Lanka requesting their board to shift their tour of England just because the tour clashes with IPL. It seems as if they hold money over glory for the nation!

It is a pity to see cricket in this state. Looks like its being auctioned. I would like to see more cricket lovers, yes. But, I don’t think these T20 leagues will help. How many of the “T20 cricket fans” do you think know that a particular stroke was a piece of classic, even though it might have just yielded a single? How many know that it was sheer luck and fluke in that shot that went over the slip cordon for a four? This generation will witness very less of the beautiful art of reverse-swing. I was laughing to see spinners bowling with the new ball! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaaaa! I would’ve never dreamt of letting an ace spinner open the bowling, either. Cricket is now like a cat on the wall. Now is the time, to revive it back, else, we may see the end of some, if not all, greatest qualities of the game.

I pray the game survives the test of time, and the players survive the test of money!

1 comment:

  1. looool never knew u blogged until i saw ur comment :D