Monday, October 08, 2007

Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am!

Disclaimer Not many people expect me to write about cricket and I don't blame them either. But unforeseen circumstances saw me writing something about cricket for my campus magazine, Entelechy. I am just copy-pasting it here for everyone's inconvenience. Okay. That's about it.

Lights.Camera.Action. Seems like a scene straight out of Hollywood, right? But it might very well have been your friendly neighborhood T20 Cricket Match. T20 has very subtly (or not so subtly) turned cricket into a Power Game. Power here does not just imply physical prowess. It has several other connotations. Commercialization and vested interests being just some of them.

Test Cricket was not named Test Cricket because nothing else caught the fancy of erstwhile gurus. It was named hence as its purpose was to test the sportsman in all aspects of the game. A five day marathon would bring out the best and the worst in the cricketers, be it stamina, skill, temperament, endurance, or leadership skills. Even Ricky Ponting, the Australian Captain, says that Test Cricket is the real cricket.

When Kerry Packer launched the World Series Cricket in 1977, the global cricketing establishment fiercely opposed him. Top player from several countries wanted to join him at the expense of their international sides. Cricket aficionados were aghast. They believed that one dayers would kill the finer nuances and subtleties of cricket. You can very well imagine how petrified they might be of its newest avatar. Kerry Packer must have been all philosophical when he said, "There is a little bit of the whore in all of us, gentlemen. What is your price?" It’s all about Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am!

T20 format seems to have undermined the importance of skill and finesses in a game like cricket. We no longer feast our eyes on textbook cover drives or leg glances. Instead the game is made to look like a joke as all that matters for the batsman is blind swinging of the willow, which he wields like a sledgehammer. Luck plays a far dominant role than technique. One bad over and you are out of the tourney. Two quick wickets and we have the tail wagging. According to Pakistani legend Javed Miandad, “They [ICC] are turning cricket into baseball.” Minadad said he was also concerned that if youngsters were introduced to cricket through T20 games, the sport would eventually be deprived of quality players.

Sometimes, and those sometimes came more often than not, the T20 World Cup seemed like a battle. Flintoff sledges against Yuvraj. Yuvi goes after Broad like a madman, hitting him for six consecutive sixes. I felt like I was watching a remake of Gladiator. Glimpses of Flintoff were shown while this mass slaughter was going on. He seemed to be thanking God for not making him a cricket ball. According to one of our alumni, “What Yuvraj did to Stuart Broad, could not be called anything short of cricketing sexual intercourse. Broad will have nice children, half English, Half Punjabi.”

As the T20 World Cup drew to an end, the verdict was crystal clear: T20 is a roaring hit. Revenues are higher than ever. Legions of new fanatics have been drawn to the game. But this audience is looking for an adrenaline rush, akin to the one you get while watching snowboarding. It’s not bothered about technique in Tendulkar’s cover drive. It’s not concerned about the lack of it in this new avatar of cricket.

Yeah..I should be happy that we won the T20 World Cup and indeed I am. But as another legend said, “Winning any tournament is an achievement for any team but this is not real cricket.” T20 seems to be attacking the traditional bastions of the sport. With so much money in it, it won’t be long before all the cricketers everywhere in the world switch to the new version of the game and place more emphasis on it. Will it be good for the game as a whole? Maybe so. Maybe not. Not unless there are three different sets of cricketers and three sets of batsmen in particular.

It does not seem like the game of cricket and, definitely the art of batting, will ever be the same. Only time will tell whether it will emerge from this tragedy unscathed and unharmed.
References: The Times of India, Cricinfo, Jamaica Gleaner


  1. I won't actually call it a 'tragedy'...thats too heavy a I said before, this might just benefit cricket as a whole in the longer run...

    and yes, I'm glad you put up this post..will give the blog some much-needed fresh air...looking forward to more of this kind !

  2. After a long time.. made something out of this post.. Not the above the head bouncers as you had been throwing lately...