Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cricket losing shine???

Well, if a ball loses shine, there's always a spinner waiting hands stretched open ready to accept it and make the ball do some talking, or in some cases, one sided shine will attract pacers to reverse. But, what if the game is losing the classic shine in the mind-frame of the so called "cricket fans"? But, who is ready to revive it???

For quite a few years, I think people have become less of a follower of the game, but more of a supporter of an individual, or a club (Of course, you have to be a fan of your nation, no finger-pointing there). This is healthy, as far as people do appreciate the game whenever it is played well and boo when it is not. But, off late, I don't think that is what is happening. I mean, when someone goes on the front foot, leans up front, elbow high and coming down, meeting the ball in the middle of the bat and strokes the ball through cover and the smooth follow through (even if the effort was for a single), as beautiful as a dancing peacock in the forest, but, not many seem to appreciating it. I see more people cheering the "lemon cut", a shot which NEVER EVER can be played deliberately. Ridiculous. If the batsman himself doesn't know where the ball has gone, whats the point in celebrating the runs ?(ofcourse, one will accept the runs, runs are welcome how so ever they may come by). I don't think any batsman will take any credit when an edge goes past the 'keeper. He is bound to get a cold "taste that!" sort of snare from the bowler, to which the batsman can only say- I was lucky.

The classic cricket strokes are losing appreciation, and slog hitting have become a hit! hahahaha!!! It was still a treat to watch Hick, in his last season to hit a sixer down the ground rather than any one from the "youth brigade" slog one over mid-wicket/cow-corner. Sunny once rightly said - " We used to move our feet to the pitch of the ball and caress it or lift it over, now, batsmen move their feet away from the ball and slog it". Thanks to these shots, fielders in deep mid wicket, mid wicket and long on have become more busy.

Err... I hope you readers also remember that bowlers are a part of the game too. Just a confirmation...many people I come across have almost no concern for a bowler. All they ask is "is XYZ batting? How much did ABCD score... I will watch only so-and-so bat. Many people of the 20th century generation who might've just read the papers or watched the games on the telly or live in the stadium can still tell you what the shine on the ball is for. Most of the present day "youths" don't now much about it, not even on a comparative scale with respect to the yester-years. In my college, every evening, we have the evening practice sessions. Once, I went to the college team's captain, one of our college's best pacer, and asked him for an advice to generate more swing. I was shocked to know that he explained the concept of swing completely wrong!!! He said, ball swings to the shiny side, NEW BALL swings towards the shiny side!!! God!!! I gave the ball to him and left. Never did I go for practice again! I didn't want to play under someone who was alien to the game.

Reverse swing... Aaaaahhhhh.... How beautiful it is to watch the fast bowlers make the ball heavy on one side, roughen the ball, shine the ball, and what not!!! Marcus Trescothick once said, a particular variety of mint that he chewed helped him generate saliva that shined the ball pretty good. Think Ashes '05! Think Freddy, Jones...those snake like swinging deliveries! Ecstacy!!!
Now a days, people aren't even patient enough to watch the test match till reverse swing shows up. Test match, as glorious as it is, doesn't seem to have attracted most of this 21st century, T20 infected "fans". Some say, not all tests generate a result. I say, its an art to save a test match from a possible loss. The struggle to keep the tail up and wagging is an interesting war with more than the result at stake. Some say, T20 gives you a result in 3 and a half hour, max. I say, I would rather watch test cricket over the 5 days and enjoy it than watch three and a half hour of fizzy entertainment(note, I said entertainment, not cricket). Tests are test of skills, test of patience, test of character, test of plans, test of tactics, test of strength and test of cricket! A T20, is now, not more than "Batsman's Day(evening) Out". With a white ball that is maximum 20 overs old, there's not going to be much of spin, or any reverse swing to enjoy. I just don't understand the low turn out during the test match at Mohali, between India and Australia. Mohali is one of the best Indian cricket stadium with a wonderful pitch, bound to present the best contest between any two teams, let alone India and Australia. While, a T20 game attracted thrice the crowd!

I just hope, cricket fanfare increases in the coming days. Its time to bring back the same thrill and cricketing fun that the game had. Its time when the new blitzkrieg format, T20 has to be used to invite the member nations to develop their cricket, so that they can step into the longer formats of the game. T20 is an important aspect to bring in more cricket lovers. I pray there is no reverse psychology associated with it.

Hoping for the best!