Sunday, December 7, 2008

The death of Test Cricket

 As a member of the mid-80s gang ( my birth decade) I have grown up on a healthy dose of test and one day cricket. It has been a time when I saw people inventing reverse and paddle sweeps to pacers and even saw some down-under guys score at 5 runs per over in Tests. 
  Whatever said, I am a firm believer that achievements in test cricket define the pinnacle of sporting glory as it involves a test of patience, stamina, fitness et al. And all was well till the time 20-20 arrived. It is not that 20-20 is bad for cricket as such, rather, it adds a new dimension to cricket. The adrenalin-surge just got better and the crowds just got more wilder, all good for the game.
  But when the amounts involved run in millions, the best is often sacrificed. A case in point would be ICL - the rogue league. Many good players who signed the ICL contracts were thrown out of their national and state sides as the big boss of world cricket - BCCI did not fancy it all because they would lose on the crucial sponsorships and TV rights and so IPL - the approved league was born which mirrored ICL in terms of passion but was a notch higher on the crowdd capacity and entertainment front. It is just shameful to see that BCCI can arm-wrestle their way even around ICC and get things done, the reason being the deep pockets of the BCCI members. And it is just the beginning. When you let someone get so powerful, sad things happen ( read Hitler's rise and fall). Things get defined by the whims and fancies of a chosen few. Moreover, 20-20 can rake in moolah like no other form of cricket as is evident from the player auctioning and prize money at offer. On the other hand the old-fashioned test cricket is treading a difficult path. The game still has its own charm and oomph, as people still throng to watch a Ponting pull a flintoff for six and a Tendulkar come 2 down and resurrect the Indian innnings with a classy half century or for that matter see a Murali rip through the entire batting line-up.

I hope that the passion stays put, but for  some smart people in the room, it does not make business sense if the dough does not flow in. We are not far away from the time when a test match is converted to 1 odi and 3 20-20s spread over 5 days just to ensure a sell-out crowd. 

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