T20 – The Machine That Will Terminate Cricket?
If Terminator-3 saw the Rise of the Machines, maybe the way things are progressing in the game of cricket, I cannot help but foresee this machine called T20 going on to terminate the sanctity and existence of this game itself. At the outset I would want to clarify that this debate over the merits and demerits of the modern game is inconclusive at-least in my humble opinion. In the subsequent paragraphs I shall propose my viewpoint and also don the role of a devil’s advocate and leave the judgment to the fate and the imagination of the informed readers.
Adopt, Adapt and Adept
I am an engineer and never had substantial exposure to the world of evolutionary biology, however am aware of the“Survival of the fittest” theory. Going by Darwinism, this newest format of the game is certainly something of a worthwhile innovation which has captivated spectators, commentators and athletes alike and is truly testing the survivor skills of these cricketers. The audience is thrilled with the whole idea of more runs and boundaries and sixes while the presenters have more instances of shouting and cheering and why wouldn’t they love it when it gets them the same amount of greenback for lesser talking. Finally and most importantly the format does help players display some of their swashbuckling skills which would in the longer version of the game only get a severe reprimand. Anything that is going to make the game more popular in the test playing nations and help the game spread its wings to uncharted territory like China and Latin America is definitely worthy to adopt into the scheme of things.
If one were to consider the players, such variations to the game provide the necessary tests that only the fittest can manage to survive. To think of an analogy the modern game is like a CAT exam with all sections on Math and verbal ability and hence the student to score high on both is much more preferred over a Math genius with a poor vocabulary and vice versa. Suresh Raina can walk into any side today because he can notch up a century in all 3 formats of the game. This is true for many other players today who have portrayed their faculty of adaptation quite well and any team which can boast of such talent is sure to dominate the game in the future. Finally if the athlete has the aptitude and attitude to adept to such curveballs (probably have to call them googlies in the cricketing context) he can literally cement his place not only in the squad but also in the history books. A player like M.S. Dhoni clearly fits this bill with his limited potential but unlimited chutzpah. When he started out he sizzled on the pitch with his lofty(pun unintended) strokes, but with the passage of time he demonstrated that he can nudge and stay put on the wicket too, and this is where he proved that being adept at something, takes you far.
Change and die
This is what some of the greatest traditions and institutions of the world would say if ever somebody recommended them to change and modernize. The Wimbledon championships never allowed Andre Agassi to play at the All England Championships until he agreed to abide by their “Whites only” rule. Neither would they allow the turf to be changed into something other than grass nor would a ceiling be allowed to be constructed over the Centre Court because any change would take away the originality of The Championships. I believe that the arrival of T20 is slowly but very steadily paralyzing the game and its most vital parts. Americans and the English have always been at loggerheads and the former have invented ways to break away from the tradition and custom of the latter. If the English drove their automobiles on the left, the Americans made it “keep Right”, and the US decided to have 110 Volts for operating their electrical appliances because the British used 220 V and the list can just be endless. However in the field of sports it is almost like the Yankees designed the game of baseball as an answer to the game of cricket. I am not qualified enough to write or opine to the detriment of any sport but I am confident that what separates Cricket from its cousin on the other side of the Atlantic a.k.a Baseball, are the elements of character and application. Ask Rahul Dravid and he will tell you how Test Cricket is the easiest way to separate men from boys, but all that T20 has managed to achieve is bridge that gap between Cricket and baseball. Off the top of my head, T20 to cricket is like something that would happen to football if the game was reduced to just Penalty Shootouts. Why is it that we also do not have a classical, fearful speedster today? The closest we have today is a man named Dale Steyn and even he, I am afraid, would not appear in the top 50 greatest fast bowlers of all time. Cleary I need not have an Oxford degree in Nuclear physics to understand that players today want to develop all round facets to match the demands of a 20 over-a-side game rather nurturing pure skills and strength to bowl 20 overs in an Innings. The great Michael Holding has similar complaints against this format and hence to this day he has not watched a single game of this slam-bam-sham mediocre cricket.
Every sport goes through changes over a period of time, and a certain degree of it is warranted like FIFA trying out the Golden
goal and Silver goal rules and ATP trying to do away with the ‘Deuce’ point to make the game more entertaining but a monumental drift away from ‘Old School’ type Test cricket might just turn to be the nemesis for this great sport. Until time delivers the answer let us pray that a ‘John Connor’ comes to the rescue against this money-making crowd pulling machine called T20.