From Timeless to Time-pass – The Next Test for Cricket !
Ed Cowan, the new Australian top-order batsman recently came up with a gem of a quote, it was something which not only made me look at cricket in a whole new different context and contemplate whether the future generations will still be interested in the sport; especially the traditional form of the game – Test Cricket.
“A more poetic man than me suggested that the difference between watching Test cricket and first playing it could be likened to that between reading a romance and experiencing it”, said Cowan.
The saying brought about many emotions within me – do we really love Test Cricket? From the fact that today our association with Test Cricket is one where beyond the occasional look out for an update on the score, interest in the overall passage of play is well, minimal. While passionate cricketers such as Cowan do exist, their numbers are fast dwindling. With the increased mass appeal of the sport through the advent of Twenty20 cricket and the huge popularity of the One-day format in the sub-continent and also South Africa and the West Indies, the state of the game’s most traditional sport looks pale if not altogether bleak.
Series’ such as The Ashes and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy might be tournaments that are looked forward to by the cricket loving public, however its sustenance as a widely followed format might not last very long.
From a time when timeless Test matches were at the core of cricket to the present when Test matches have just become a time-pass for the common cricket follower – filler before the main event, the one day series begins. Cricket today, except for a few staunch followers of the traditional game and a few passionate cricketers has transformed into a source of entertainment – less sport and competition, more oohs and aahs. While before a Test match was considered a test of a cricketer’s character, today some even call it a test of the viewer’s patience.
The ICC on its part has proposed many ideas to make the game more interesting and engaging, such as a Test Championship and experimentation with day/night cricket matches. Though the intent is positive, the execution of the same can only be achieved through a systematic and inclusive approach, while still not harming the core ethos in which this great game has found his resonance.
With decreasing footfall at stadiums and declining TV viewers, largely due to lack of sporty wickets and new age cricketers who lack basic ability to sustain and build an innings. Test cricket today looks to be headed towards a long and strenuous future with the next generation of cricket followers.
The rock solid defense of Rahul Dravid, the innate ability of Brian Lara to muster up huge scores, Sachin Tendulkar’s silky straight drive or Glenn McGrath’s implacable line and length and Murlitharan’s gnawing deception – all fall-outs of long Test careers which have made them players at the pinnacle of their sport and gentlemen who have performed at the highest level, consistently over two decades. It is quite evident from each of these players, owe their feats in Cricket to their long association with the format.
If our administrators do not wake up to their own folly of placing emphasis on the shorter formats of the game and an overdose of the sport in general, the oldest format will soon move towards the beginning of its eventual end and the legends of the game which we so truly admire will soon be replaced by a crop of cross batters and full toss bowling run stoppers and not wicket takers. Gone will be the days when we will discuss a possibility of a match saving hundred and begin discussions about the fastest hundred.
With no one but themselves to blame for their inability to promote what was existent and an overt flair to develop a device which threatens to destroy the gentleman’s game as we know it.