Wednesday, May 27, 2009

T20 is DLF (Destined to Last Forever) Maximum?

These mornings seem a little quieter with the IPL having completed its second version in South Africa. For the past month or so, I had IPL being relayed to my television set at home for my father to enjoy watching some cricket in between breaks of taking care of his grandson, and also at TV monitors across the Microsoft Redmond campus, where one could catch a few glimpses of the game while getting some coffee or heating some food.

I have not been fully convinced by the twenty twenty format, but I am at least fully convinced that it is here to stay, with the IPL 2 also having completed its edition successfully. This year was more interesting than the last because the bowlers actually had a say, unlike the first edition where a bowling machine would have served the very same purpose. At least some batting skill was required, which allowed ‘test players’ like Dravid and Kallis to display their wares and actually make it to the final.

I won’t go into details on how the tournament went. There are reams of paper and online space devoted to it. Some things that stood out for me was the repeat success of an Australian captain, supposed oldies playing so well, the fake IPL player blog providing more entertainment than the cricket at times, the unbearable level of commentary and Tendulkar’s destiny to never succeed as a captain.

With talks of two IPL editions in the same year, a T20 world cup to follow with hardly any breathing space, a champion’s trophy for T20 teams at the end of the year and the seemingly unstoppable momentum of the different cricket boards in adopting T20, the fears for the health of test cricket are well and truly alive. As Rob Steen pointed out correctly in this Cricinfo article what motivation do players have to play for their nation when they could be earning big sums of money for a few good games a year? Andrew Flintoff already screwed himself and the English cricket team ahead of the Ashes by playing for money. How much more time before we have T20 specialists who have no ambition to play either test cricket or any other form of cricket for their country? How much more time before the FTP (Future Tours Program) is abandoned by the ICC? How much longer before test cricket will cease to exist beyond the top four teams or series might have not more than two test matches?

There are two parties involved here who will call the shots: the administrators (a.k.a. Lalit Modi and the ilk) and the players (including Bravo and Flintoff with altered priorities) in deciding the direction cricket will take in the future. Administrators can focus on preparing dead pitches to ensure no one is interested in test cricket, and players can keep choosing T20 tournaments over playing in a bilateral test series. Aiding and abetting are the consumers thirsty for instant gratification, the curse of our generation. The dwindling minority with people like me will fume and fret and blog about it and in another decade resort to watching old recordings of Tendulkar’s 155 not out against Australia in Chennai or Warne’s ball of the century. C’est la vie.

Friday, May 01, 2009

And Then There Was Light

Rays of light
Break through the cloud.
Rummaging the earth
Like words scrambling,
In search of a metaphor.