Another day of cricket in India, another belter of a pitch, another plethora of records and again an improbable chase achieved with minimum fuss by Indian cricket’s crown prince, Virat Kohli.
Should we rejoice or should we worry?
Another day of cricket in India, another belter of a pitch, another plethora of records and again an improbable chase achieved with minimum fuss by Indian cricket’s crown prince, Virat Kohli. Ably supported by Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, Kohli has made what was considered a Mount Everest of a challenge even a couple of years back, a walk in the park, that too twice in two weeks. Seventeen centuries in ODIs, eleven of them in chases, all this before he has even reached twenty five years of age; we can only marvel at where he is going to take his career if he continues this rich vein of form, before the law of averages finally catches up with him. What is more commendable is how he has taken his temperament to an altogether different level, seldom losing his focus or patience even while facing an uphill battle. Having Captain Cool at the helm does help though and Dhoni’s calm demeanor has spread like magic throughout the team.
After the euphoria has settled, one should really introspect at where the 50-over version of the game is headed. The impact of the T20 format on the players involved is evident to all concerned, with 300- plus scores being achieved with minimum trouble and with alarming regularity. The new set of rules by the ICC to revive a supposedly dying format, are instead at the risk of pushing the ailing patient in to the coma. Twenty overs of field restrictions with only two fielders outside the inner circle, and even after that, only four are allowed outside; as Dhoni correctly wondered aloud at the post-match presentation, people are not likely to sit through seven hours to see only fours and sixes.
Initially it would add to the entertainment value, but gradually the interest would dwindle, as people wouldn’t prefer a repeat of what they already see at the shortest version of the game, that too at half the time. Increasing the number of bouncers each over wouldn’t help change the tilt of the game mercilessly stacked against the bowlers. It is unfair that bowlers like Mitchell Johnson, consistently bowling at over 150 kmph and visibly swinging the ball both ways even on a deadpan pitch, end up conceding 70-odd runs in ten overs.
Pitch the same bowler against the same batting lineup at Melbourne or at Perth, and we might possibly see an altogether different story. Eight consecutive losses on responsive pitches the last time India played a test series away from home are testimony to the fact that the faulty techniques of the modern- day Indian batsmen due to the advent of the T20 have hampered their progress. The board is not doing the team and the cricket fans of India any favors by arranging for unnecessarily long ODI series on designer pitches to produce one-sided encounters. The fans wish to see an even contest between the bat and the ball, after the chutzpah provide by the month long IPL tournament.
The dwindling crowd response to the Champions League T20 is an indicator of too much cricket playing into the mindset of the people. However, it’s all about the money, honey.