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Kieron Pollard's Clash with Mitchell Starc in the IPL a Sign of a Changing Sport

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01:  Mitchell Starc of Australia celebrates the wicket of Kieron Pollard of the West Indies during game one of the Commonwealth Bank One Day International Series between Australia and the West Indies at WACA on February 1, 2013 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Paul Kane/Getty Images
Freddie WildeContributor IJanuary 9, 2017

"Cricket is boring they say" wrote one user on Twitter as they posted a vine of a fuming Kieron Pollard hurling his bat in the direction of bowler Mitchell Starc.

Indeed, the reaction on social media to Tuesday's drama in the IPL was overwhelmingly positive. And it was impossible to deny that the match became infinitely more intriguing for the overflow of aggression and emotion between the players.

It was not the first incident of its kind, nor will it be the last. In fact, in this age such conspicuous bad blood and aggro will only become more common.

Let's get something straight, the "Spirit of Cricket" has never really existed. It's a fad. An imagined moral compass, founded on nothing but stereotypes and generalisations.

But it has undeniably been a pervasive fad; one that has in an abstract kind of way kept a lid on the behaviour of cricketers and itself wound its hypothesis into the fabric of cricket's image. Its notional guidelines overstepped but acknowledged.

Yet, as the apparent magnitude of cricket has become increasingly heightened by the end of the amateur era, the age of 24-hour news and celebrity lifestyle of sportsmen, behaviour in all forms of cricket continues to erode the "Spirit of Cricket."

Of course, Pollard's bat throw was an act of an angry man in the heat of the moment, but it bears the signs of the times and is in that sense both revealing and prescient.

While Test cricket remains the "ultimate" format in the eyes of most players, the speed, power, aggression, strength and testosterone-fuelled intensity and pace of T20 cricket no doubt lends itself to increased conflict between players.

"With all due respect to cricket being a gentleman's sport," said Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh Khan earlier this year, "I think it needed to become a man's sport. And T20 does that. The gentle part of it is separated."

Khan's sentiments may disgust purists and traditionalists, but despite the fact that almost no cricket fan would question the "masculinity" of Test cricket, its stereotype is one entwined with the notion of the "Spirit of Cricket" and genteel behaviour.

T20 is doing its best to distance itself from such generalisations as it continues its capitalist surge for more markets and audiences.

Nothing showed this more clearly than the comments of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland following the altercation between Marlon Samuels and Shane Warne in the 2012 Big Bash League.

I'm not in any way condoning breaches of our code of behaviour... Players are entertainers, they're putting on a show, but first and foremost they're also sportsmen who are competing for big prizes and I think whilst we can stand here and say we don't condone anything that happened last night, this sort of thing is probably something that only inspires a greater rivalry between the Renegades and the Stars and creates greater interest for the Big Bash League.

T20's nature encourages it; the administrators encourage it.

The kind of behaviour displayed by Pollard and Starc today will only happen more often, will only get more extreme and modern society will love it.

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