Cricket Without The Stiff Upper Lip: T20 Is The Way To Go
Long before an ECB marketing manager made it official, we have all played twenty20 cricket.
Most of us played it because our batters couldn't go beyond twenty overs, nor did our bowlers have the capability or the stamina. We have played it on school and college grounds, at club level, in corporate matches.
The shortest form of the game is a spectator's delight; each ball is critical to the game's fortunes, you take your eyes off and you might miss some spectacular action. At the same time, purists scoff at the version that they believe can kill Test cricket.
Chris Gayle escaped being punched in the eye when he said that he wouldn't feel sad if Test cricket were to die. He was speaking the truth, from the heart, telling the purists to read the writing on the wall rather than saying that the wall itself doesn't exist.
The so-called saviours of the great inheritance called Test cricket hounded him so much that he shut up and promptly lost the Test and the one-day series to an England team that screams in surprise every time they win anything.
But then, why shoot the messenger? The same purists—it was a different set of people in the seventies, but the similarity in thought and inaction is striking—made the same noises when the 50-over variety was introduced and caught everyone's fancy, even bringing new followers to cricket.
Today, the legends of the game acknowledge that one-day cricket has had an influence on the way Tests are played, and most of this influence is positive. Batsmen have discovered new strokes, run rates are rarely below three an over, fielding standards have gone up (including those of the Indians, accused of escorting the ball to the boundary in the sixties), and more Test matches are producing results.
Will the purists get upset if the run rates in Test matches start going beyond five an over? Will they wail and cry if all Test matches are gripping contests, and a greater number produce results? Will it trouble them if batsmen take greater risks, and bowlers find new weapons to take advantage?
Lastly, will they lament the fact that more people across the world start following cricket, and all forms of it?
The game is changing. Its time the purists welcomed the new, and used it to make the game more attractive for every one, especially the spectators and followers.
Wake up my friends, because that's where your next pay cheque is coming from. But let that not be the only reason: welcome the change and see what you can do with it.
The days of slow motion test cricket are over.
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