Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cricket: Bemused administrators, injudicious media

After two decades cricket is at the crossroads again. I remember it was in the late 1980s that there was a raging debate about the future of cricket. There were two camps, the purists and the futurists. The former felt that Test cricket would survive, while the futurists thought One-day cricket was the future. I am neither a purist out of touch with ground realities and current trends, nor a futuristic know-it-all swept away by the fads of the day. I am a cricketer, a cricket diehard, and I think I understand this intriguing sport pretty well.

Though I had never ever been published before, I sat down to write a book on the subject in 1990, and India's leading publisher of cricket books thought that my maiden effort was good enough to get into print. And so in 1992, coinciding with the fifth World Cup, I was delighted to see my book 'Test Cricket - End of the Road?' see the light of day. In it I argued that Test cricket is the real thing and would survive the onslaught of 'pop cricket' that I thought was One-day cricket. Many people thought I was a fool; talking through my hat.

Now look what has happened. A new imposter Twenty20 has arrived, and there is talk all around about the extinction of One-day cricket, the 50-over format. The exhilaration at the bat bashing the ball out of sight, the frenzied crowds, the surging television ratings, the heady cocktail of cricket icons, movie superstars, flashy tycoons and gyrating cheerleaders, all in one frame, have once again clouded the real picture. And, have you noticed, no one is saying that Test cricket is dying. It's the One-day format they think is in the ICU. Once again these are hasty, ill-judged and ill-informed conclusions. One can forgive the multitude, for all they are looking for is instant fun. But what about the venerable administrators and the holy media, one as confused as ever, the other wearing blinkers unlike their forbears who understood the subject they pontificated about.

A month or two ago the peerless Sachin Tendulkar said that Twenty20 is like dessert, while Test cricket is the full course. He is dead right of course. And when you come across the latest fashion, you do not change your entire wardrobe overnight. If boxer shorts are the flavour of the day, you do not throw away all your designer suits; if hot pants are what the design moghuls decree, you do not give away your chiffon sarees. Even a kid will tell you that people will always go back to designer suits and chiffon sarees, for that is what they look most elegant in. They are timeless like Test cricket, Wimbledon and the Derby.

The question then is: what is the way forward for cricket? Doubtlessly, there is need to fine-tune Test cricket, but only just. Sure, we need to take a fresh look at the 50-over game. But we need not get swept away by the box-office bonanza that is Twenty20 at this point of our existence.

So what should be done? That is a subject to be dealt at greater length in another piece. Suffice it to say at this moment that cricket’s administrators should not flog the golden goose as they did with One-day cricket; nor should they give step-motherly treatment to Test cricket which is actually the mother of all cricket. And the media should refrain from drawing hasty conclusions. They should look to men with perception, towards those who understand the evolution and ethos of the game, those who know what makes cricket the way of life that it is.

(Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter # IVRajpipla).


  1. Hi Teddy, Lovely blog.You are a great writer.Enjoyed the piece.Take care.God Bless

    1. Hi Chinna, Thank you for your kind words. Trust you are all fine. Best wishes.