Saturday, January 23, 2010

BURGER CRICKET

Cric-sis. What is it? The name of this blog talks about 'Cricket Crisis'. The dictionary meaning of the word 'crisis' is 'a condition of instability or danger'. And that is what cricket is going through right now, was going through six months ago, a year ago, four years ago, a decade ago, a century ago and that is what cricket will go through every moment of its existence. At the risk of sounding a boring philosopher, I have to observe that just like cricket, life is all about crises, and just like in cricket, the one who can manage crises well comes out on top.

So, the issue I have chosen for today's blog is about the 'SURVIVAL OF THE TRADITIONAL FORMS OF THE GAME (TESTS and ODIs)'. I know that every known cricket expert (even the self - proclaimed ones like me) has a view on this topic. This is where I will express mine.

Some of you must have noticed (and if you haven't, please do so now) that I have included ODIs in the 'traditional' form of the game. The extreme purists will scoff at me, but indulgent purists will laud me (I hope!). Let me explain what I believe is cricket in its traditional form. For me, it means cricket played by batsmen and bowlers, not by batsmen alone. For me, it means cricket where everyone knows that only 10 balls are required to dismiss a team instead of thinking that 10 balls can fetch 30 runs in the Powerplay. I have included One Day cricket in the 'traditional' form of the game because I believe that it still is capable of producing that quality of cricket which will delight the purists.

But before talking of ODIs, let me talk about Test cricket. There are fears that Test cricket will soon become extinct and that it has already lost its importance due to the sudden relevance of Twenty20 form of cricket. I find them all baseless. The best cricketers in all the major Test playing nations are unanimous in their stand in favour of Test cricket. Admittedly, crowd attendance has been a discouraging factor in Test cricket in all cricketing nations except for Australia, England and South Africa. However, I do not believe that this warrants questions over the existence of this form of the game. The game is still popular, even in India, where the attendance of crowd has been especially disappointing. However, in every Test series that India plays against a major Test nation, there is still a lot of interest generated, even if the crowds don't flock the ground to show it. People do talk about it in their offices, keep track of the scores in the internet and analyse it (sometimes even without watching it) and yes, everyone has a theory and strategy even for Test cricket (even if they do not enjoy it).

And if we continue to have Tests of the quality of the South Africa - England Series 2009-10, Ashes 2009 or even like Ranji Trophy Final 2009-10 at Mysore, one can be sure that Test cricket will not only survive, but also thrive. It's like what Navjot Singh Sidhu once said about T20 cricket - "This cricket is like a burger, you can have it once a week but for a whole meal, you need to return to Test cricket. More than once a week, and it will give you a tummy ache".

One Day International Cricket. It started and soon revolutionalised cricket. It came, it saw, it conquered. Now is it meant to be vanquished? I do have certain misgivings about this form of the game. I love this form of the game, and I fear for its survival. The concept of ODIs started as an alternate form of cricket that used up just 1 day instead of 5 and guaranteed a result. Prima facie, it even seemed a more exciting version. It enabled the concept of multi - team tournaments and the World Cup was born.

Today, T20 cricket has seen two World Cups, the winners of which have a combined population of more than 30% of earth's total. It uses up just 3 hours of a spectator's time, guarantees a result and produces close encounters with a greater frequency than the ODIs. Moreover, it is a currency - printing machine for the administrators. All of a sudden, the ODIs have lost favour. Meaningless scheduling of tournaments such as the India - Sri Lanka - Bangladesh tri - series earlier this month have helped ODIs self - destruct. In fact, this series reminded me of the advertisement of 20 - 20. No, not the game. But the advertisement of 20 - 20 biscuits that appeared on the TV where the toss winning captain takes away the winners' trophy. Even men like Sachin Tendulkar have expressed their concerns and suggested remedies for the game.

Too many negatives. Is there hope for ODIs still? Oh yes, I certainly do think so. Recent bilateral ODI tournaments have drawn in crowds who have done nothing to suggest that they are bored with this form of the game. Youngsters have had their chance to prove their mettle by fighting it out in high pressure situations (Virat Kohli would enjoy his Kolkata ton a lot more than all the runs he has scored in IPL so far). The oldies have shown that even they still enjoy the game (Sachin - Hyderabad - 175 - need I say more?)

I believe that there is a very simple solution to give a boost that the ODI cricket may or may not require. ODIs have to regain the relevance they enjoyed in the 1990s. Meaningless tournaments should be scrapped. Bilateral tournaments should be limited to 5 - game affairs instead of stretching them to 7 - game affairs. The predictability of result at the time of toss needs to be eliminated. Bowlers need to be brought back into the batsmen's game (I quite like the idea of 2 bowlers having a quota of 12 overs each and it'll become even more interesting if 1 of these 2 bowlers is to be announced at the time of the toss itself).

There is so much of T20 cricket around that the common man is bound to get fed up of it sometime soon. It is One Day cricket that he will look to once again. After all, too many burgers do create indigestion.

5 comments:

Ace said...

nice 1...keep it goin....

Prerna said...

Hey. Good one. Dnt have any views about the cricket aspect of it. But I like ur writing. Congratulations.

ANKIT said...

just continue nice things. it will pay off in future
All d best

avish said...

great dude.

Shridhar Jaju said...

thank u everybody!

SAVE OUR TIGER!