Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A toast to a Bastard

The skeptics have been proved wrong, and somehow my premonitions have come correct. Twenty20, a bastardized version of cricket invented in England to stem a terminal decline in the game (worsened by their national team's travails), and shunned by the powerhouse BCCI as the more established forms are virtually an entertainment monopoly in India, has really caught on. We won our first World Championship of Cricket in more than two decades, a feat which will possibly elude the fab five of Sachin, Anil, Sourav, Rahul, and VVS.

The inaugural ICC World Twenty20 was a raging success, accentuated by the complete flop-show, which the Aussies won under darkness five months back. The fact that the Aussies lost comprehensively to both the first-round failures from the ODI version, India and Pakistan, who went on to play the thrilling final, was divine justice. Ricky Ponting and Imran Khan, representing two different generations of leadership, still feel Twenty20 is a game of luck. But as the two fantastically close matches which India and Pakistan played showed, any form of the game, where the balance between bat and ball is maintained, is the most enchanting. In recent Test cricket, played mostly on dead tracks, teams that make first use of a batting wicket, can completely out-bat the opponent (a favourite Indian trick). If the wicket has something for the bowlers, not only will be out-batting difficult, but the opposition can come back anytime. And as Harsha Bhogle puts it, ultimately it is all about getting runs and taking wickets. Umar Gul showed that the best dot ball gets a batsman out

I consider myself a connoisseur, and still rate the Test victory against England as the pinnacle, over this World Cup triumph. The reason why Dhoni's rather than Dravid's victory got a gala motorcade (to compare, Ajit Wadekar had a similar victory parade in 1971 after India's maiden cricketing conquest of England, by an identical margin to Dravid's) is the change of generation - the frantic energy of a vibrant version of the game, played over only three hours, and capturing the imagination of the general public much more than Mandira ever managed.

Like Michael Atherton, I expect the biggest worry from T20 to be for ODIs. I strongly feel there are too many meaningless ODIs being played (not to say that if Australia visits India for 15 T20s, played over 10 days in 2011, I will be elated). Yet, T20 can play the role - of expanding the game, becoming an Olympic sport, competing with more entertainment-friendly sport like football (any surprise a Champion's League is planned around T20 now) - that ODIs were supposed to do, but over an 8-hour duration, never really could.

In a fast-paced contemporary life, more traditional and relaxed sports like Golf, Chess and Test cricket will always be an oddity. The trick is to balance art with commerce, with a form of entertainment that supports the real stuff. High-quality Test cricket is a must, all other forms - T20, first-class - should support it. To elaborate, Misbah got a six when he played straight. When he slog-swept a delivery he could have tackled in the same fashion, he lost the World Cup

The strongest counter-argument for T20 came when Daniel Vettori, a spin bowler whose supreme skill in the tournament showed how bowlers can dominate the game, hoped that the version does not establish itself. The strongest argument for came when my disappointed mother called me up to discuss India's below-par batting performance in the final. Within an hour-and-a-half, she sent me a congratulatory message.

1 comment:

sushilsingh said...

Hi, all Friends

Cricket has shed its image as a dull, unattractive and lengthy sport after the

spectacular success of the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship.

The event, which ended on Monday with India beating Pakistan by five runs in a

rousing finale, created such a stir that Twenty20 is now being hailed as a revolution

that will change the leisurely sport forever.

There were more thrills and excitement packed into two weeks of non-stop action

than in the entire six weeks of the 50-over World Cup in the Caribbean earlier this

year.

Crowds thronged the three venues in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban as sixes,

boundaries and heart-stopping finishes provided a cricketing spectacle unmatched in

recent times.

West Indian Chris Gayle slammed the first ever T20 century in the September 11

opener, Zimbabwe stunned Australia, Bangladesh ousted the West Indies, Aussie

Brett Lee took a hat trick and India's Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in an over.

This is Relly Great Victory.

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