So back we are, to the world cup of the newest and arguably the future of cricket, the T20 world cup. This format has all the ingredients you need for a perfect entertainment, you got action, drama, suspense, thrillers, climax, etc. The popularity of this format has ballooned since the first edition of the T20 World Cup held in South Africa. And what helped was the team with the maximum number of followers in the world, going to win the tournament, India that is. Yes, because of the win, we now have the richest cricket tournament ever, and with this, it can be even spread to other countries where cricket it still at it’s infancy, like the US.
Well, to be honest, I don’t like this format. It calls for none of refined techniques that were applied by many legends to give cricket a professional game. There are very games like cricket, where the techniques of the players are appreciated more than the results. But that was the old times. Now with the onset of T20, it may be a bye bye to all these techniques. The batsmen now hit at any ball, no footwork, no proper stance, the edges of the bat becoming thicker…… My dad certainly doesn’t like it. He hates seeing a batsmen lucky at hitting the balls with their eyes closed, when they smash every damn good delivery out of the ground. He hates to see bowlers giving so much disrespect, though he enjoys watching batsmen play (especially Dravid). What this game has done is that it has blinded people from the subtleties of the beautiful game, the foot movement, the balance, bat-eye co-ordination, the wrist movement, the leg-glance and more. But with T20, we only see balls going out of the park, bowlers pulling their hair off, captains thinking endlessly of where to place his men on the field. That’s what it was initially thought…….
T20 has taken a nice turn now. What I noticed from the last IPL tournament, the bowlers did play a huge role in winning matches. The batsmen had to resort to many methods to keep the runs ticking. Also, clever bowling changes can do the trick for the team, and the captain has a huge role at that! That’s why I like the IPL Season 2 more the inaugural one.
But now with the onslaught of T20, the cricket merchandise have adapted. Recently it came on TV a bat manufacturer showcasing the future bat. This bat had a shorter handle with more body, and the edges very thick. What they say is that with this bat, any one can hit of the park, and certainly will give the bowlers nightmares. With already many players doing the same job, why would anyone want to deepen that? Isn’t the current configuration already enough? And with latest innovations these that favour the batsmen, won’t the art of bowling die down?
But what the people love to see is the balls coming speeding towards them, going high in air and deep into the crowd. People would less likely to enjoy more wickets fall, after all only 10 wickets are there to hold! A match would be boring when a team losing wickets like a pack of cards, and have a paltry score on the board, with the opposition steam-rolling them. Yes, there are instances which interest people, like low-scoring going down to the wire. But still, who would not like to see the many runs on board?? Would not the guy with more runs in his bag be appreciated more? People tend to remember the batsmen scoring centuries, six sixes of Yuvraj, the scorching knock from Tendulkar against Pakistan on WC’03, etc, but not the 6 wicket haul of Ashish Nehra in the same world cup, Pragyan Ojha’s important strikes in IPL and so on. What I’m trying to say is that batsmen are more respected than bowlers, and T20 format won’t help this in any way.
But on the brighter side, we can see how cricket is being viewed now after this T20 charge. This format has come in blend with other games like football, baseball etc, where people after work can queue up in the stadium to watch the action, as also watching it on TV. Cricket has now become a game for entertainment, with families coming to the stadium and enjoying a nice time there. Since the game is short, it also is ideal for ever-working professionals. Also it’s become a fashion to host an ‘IPL party’ at many homes around the country. The glam, glitter of Bollywood has stormed the scene in the matches (the Preitys, SRKs, Shilpas), taking the cricket by their hands. And with other forms (like cheer-leaders……. 😉 ), it’s never ending entertainment in T20.
Come June, and the World Cup is in England, and it’ll be really interesting to see how the traditional cricket country, where more people come to watch test matches than one-dayers(well, that was a fact a few years ago)! But I doubt that would be any problem, for the football frenzy nation (the famous EPL) it’ll be the thing in cricket. More and more fans will join cricket. Many football loyalists have now taken a liking to this format, and it’s popularity will grow even more with this world cup. I guess in the near future, we will see this tournament being held in non-cricket playing nations like the US, most of Europe, Africa, Asia and of course South America(interestingly not a single nation from this continent I’ve noticed playing cricket!).
So, now what? Should we embrace it, or should we discard it saying it’s not cricket? NO, I say. Of course not! This is the future of cricket, and this way we can popularise cricket, to the new audience who had not pertained to the idea of having to sit for five days, or a whole day. But the fact remains, T20 is not the real cricket. The real test for any cricketer still remains the same, Test cricket. One day cricket will remain, though it’s sibling will have a major impact all over the world I guess. Certainly the number of test matches and one-dayers will die down, with many tournaments for T20 coming up round the year. Also the prospect of cricket become like soccer, where the players have their say for whom to play and in which tournament, and also the players themselves will be an independent asset, one that Mr. Modi would like to see in the coming days, one will only see a new dimension to this game. And I am (hopefully!) wrong to say that future of cricket is bright as ever! Chak de cricket!