Monday, June 27, 2005

Life of Cricket

ICC has come up with new rules for one day matches. Field restrictions for 20 overs with lot of intricacies. A team can have 12 players, and I find rules strange enough to confuse me cricket for football. Making the game shorter kills the real interest and changing the players rule is like killing its soul. ICC wants cricket to be more attractive, innovative and crowd pulling. 20-20 format has also been introduced. All this is to increase the popularity of the game, which is limited to former English colonies.
But isn’t ICC, in an effort to make the game more entertaining, turning cricket into baseball. First let’s get our basics clear. Cricket is a game which requires tons of patience, not only on the part of players, but also on the part of followers. If one is a real connoisseur, ask him about his preference between test cricket and the faster versions of the game. Test cricket still beats them as far as real cricketing thrill is concerned. The game was invented for the upper class men of English society. They had sufficient time in their hands. In those days, the game did not need great deal of fitness levels as compared to other games.
If you look at the picture of father of cricket, W. G. Grace, and call him physically fit to play any outside sports, than I would call myself as Superman. He was a human bulldozer.
But as time moved on, Union jack started returning back to Britain. And cricket had to find new supporters in form of locals of former British colonies. It had to compete with local games as well. Life also became a lot faster. Games demanding lesser time like basketball, football became bigger threat for cricket. Most of Caribbean talent goes to games like basket ball and foot ball. And we all know the stage of West-Indian cricket.
Hence need to bring the shorter version of cricket was felt. For over 30 years, 50 over format have been very popular. But over last few years, even this shorter version has not been as successful as it should have been. So ICC has decided to bring new rules to keep people interested in the game.
But are these rules not killing the soul of the game. They are killing bowlers. All over the world pitches are as dead as a glass shield. A score of 300, which was a rarity, not so long ago, has become regularity. Bouncers rule, new body protections and 15 over restrictions means anyone can come down the track and throw his bat around, not matter who is bowling. And with 20-20 format, cricket looks more like baseball. But still ICC keeps tilting the rules towards batsmen. And this is what killing the interest of people, probably more than its time taking capacity. 80% of the ODI are one sided and boring. Why the hell I would spend 8 hours watch cricket. And if you shorten the game and make it more batsmen friendly, it will become even more boring.
If we want cricket to survive as a game, first accept one thing. Its future is not going to be very bright. Because life is going to become even more fast and we are going to have lesser chances of spending 8 hours or 5 days on entertainment. So why not choose a niche of followers rather than appealing to masses. Let it have the format it has, better cure the basic reason. Better make the game more balanced by improving the rules and state of pitches all over the world. ICC should make a panel of curators which will be responsible for cricket-friendly pitches all over the globe. On the same hand they can continue their experiment with things like 20-20 versions. But believe me, test cricket sought a shorter alternative almost 100 years of its birth, but it’s still surviving. ODI format has started looking for even shorter version to support the game even before it is 35 years old. Shorter versions will have even shorter life.
Cricket is not going to survive as a sport for a long period of time. So better let it live its original life and make it better.


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