Twenty20 only a money spinner
The ongoing Indian Premier League, which has attracted a galaxy of
stars in world cricket has also attracted a lot of attention. It has
been a money spinner changing the fortunes of not only the cricketers
taking part but changing the destinies of the game as well.
The lucrative Indian Premier League was introduced to take the
glamour off the Indian Rebel League. Initially, much attention was
focused on the Indian Rebel League but the ICC and the Indian cricket
authorities took prompt action to control the situation. When the top
international players were warned not to associate with the rebel
league, they naturally settled for the official one.
Unimaginable lucrative deals were offered to international
cricketers, who struck deals of their lives. For example, our own Sanath
Jayasuriya, the master blaster, had one of the highest offers - USD
975,000 way ahead of his team captain Mahela Jayawardena.
Several other Sri Lankan cricketers, including Mahela Jayawardena,
Kumar Sangakkara and Chaminda Vaas, had attractive offers. They joined
the star-studded line up of Indian side teams which comprised many
reputed international cricketers.
The organisers and the sponsors of the Indian Premier League made
every endeavour to get worldwide attention for the Indian Premier
league. Surprisingly, none of the international tours or ICC schedules
did not affect the Indian Premier League, probably because of the money
But what is happening actually in Twenty20 cricket is nothing but
some instant cricket, which ruins the game. It's neither the established
game that we are used to for centuries nor the traditional limited over.
Perhaps Test cricket may look boring to the Western world. With lives
of people becoming too complicated and busy, sports enthusiasts may not
get a chance to allocate a full five days to watch a Test match.
But a result for this too was found in the early 70s with the birth
of limited over cricket. Initially from 40 to 45 overs a side games it
has now become a standard 50 overs per side one day internationals.
Once, the ODIs were considered the real 'cowboy' game. With coloured
clothing and day/night matches, the ODIs turned out to be a real crowd
puller and money spinner.
But that status the ODIs had for nearly three decades is fast fading
away with the Twenty20 cricket. As my colleague and Consultant Elmo
Rodrigopulle described in his widely-read column on Tuesday, Twenty20
cricket could be best described as 'Kill cricket'. In short, the
Twenty20 version has turned out to be a killer syndrome that the would
soon put the glorious game to an unexpected death.
As Rodrigopulle points out, there is no exquisite timing, no straight
bats, no playing the line etc. It's just baseball-style sans the finer
points of batsmanship.
A batsman does not need that much technique or that much of thinking
but a wild hit at the ball could earn him the boundaries.
Also this style of game is not played by opposing schools, clubs or
countries. So the participants are playing 'pandu'.
True that we need sponsors to support sport but the finances that
they pump should not become the ultimate decisive factor. We should not
let the desires of the sponsors or the money the Twenty20 cricket
generates to decide the future of the game.
The Twenty20 version of the game put players under tremendous
pressure. Though it could become a lucrative trade for pinch hitters,
participation in too much of Twenty20 cricket could ruin any top bowler
in the world. Unlike in the Tests or even in ODIs for that matter, the
Twenty20 cricket puts bowlers under severe pressure, thereby preventing
bowlers from any attacking actions.
Instead, the bowlers would prefer to be on defensive mode from their
very first over. From their first run up to the delivery mark a bowler
would only think of a strategy of preventing a boundary, instead of
aiming for a wicket.
It is high time for the ICC to establish a high profile panel of
eminent cricketing personalities and evaluate the whole process. They
could do some comprehensive research and make an effort to ascertain the
current situation. Of course there is no harm in having Twenty20 cricket
without much official status or having it once in a while. But the
present level of progress would definitely be the killer.
When the rebels started a Twenty20 tournament, the ICC was not in
favour. Perhaps they would have thought that there is too much of
cricket and also that they are going to lose the grip. The ICC outlawed
the Indian Cricket League, tagged as Rebel League, but gave their
consent to the Indian Premier League. But there was a reason for that.
The ICC was probably frightened of the clout the Indian Cricket Board
wielded and had no other alternative, but succumb, as Rodrigopulle said.
Repercussions of the Twenty20 cricket would not be seen immediately.
But within the next decade, we should be able to witness the pathetic
downfall of the game. In future, batsmen with technique and excellent
timing would be hard to find. Anybody, who could do a bit pinch hitting
for a few minutes, could become a much sought after batsman.
Similarly, there won't be any attacking bowlers. Bowlers who have
courage to dictate terms to batsmen would be hard to find. Instead, we
could find some defensive bowlers, whose aim would be only to prevent
sixes and fours. At the same time, there won't be any more bowlers who
could take a chance of adopting various tactics to capture wickets. No
serious thinking or strategy is needed.
Unless we take remedial action right now, the future of the game
would be gloomy. I am not saying we should scrap Twenty20 cricket
altogether. But there should be a limit.
An overdose of Twenty20 cricket, just to cater to the demand of
sponsors and to fill the coffers of cricket governing bodies, and
players would definitely have a huge negative impact on the game.
Hence, it's the duty of the ICC to take prompt action. The ICC has
been tagged as a toothless tiger but one hopes when it matters the most,
in a situation like this, the toothless tiger would sprout some teeth
and move into action.