The Indian Premier League cover story, ‘Magic of IPL’ was one of the best cricket stories to come tumbling out of the media. The world really has never seen anything like the IPL before. I won’t add anything more to the millions of words already written about IPL, except that Twenty20 is what will make the world take to cricket in a big way. Test cricket was way too long—people from non-cricket playing nations would just shake their heads at the monstrosity —a game that swallowed five full days, and that without the guarantee of a result. Chess was faster! Now the new game is going to create waves worldwide.
The IPL has done a service to cricket by showing the world that there is a game that can be enjoyed under three hours. Also, Twenty20 is perfectly suited to the needs of TV channels, commercially speaking. There is at least a two-minute after every over, which channels can capitalise on. Forget Test cricket, even one-dayers will not attract an American or European TV channel. However, Twenty20 is perfect because major broadcasters like SKY, Fox, NBC and so on can slot a three-hour match with their 24-hour programming. That’s the kind of sporting event that brings in the audiences and the cash flows.
Twenty20 may spell the demise of Test cricket. Senior players are making excuses to avoid playing Tests. Andrew Symonds cried off the Aussie tour of Pakistan. And now the master of deceit, Ricky Ponting, says Test cricket is boring. Looks like he’s sending feelers so he can announce an early retirement and play Twenty20. Like Warne, who’s living the dream retirement.
While the market and the people are the best judge and the final arbiters, the fact remains that there is nothing like Tests. The current and future generations will never quite understand the feeling that overtook us as Sunil Gavaskar braved the West Indian salvoes and scored a century or double century. They will never know the pleasures of watching Gavaskar square drive Andy Roberts, even if the master shot fetched no runs! They will never be awed by the sight of seven slips, two gullies, and a wicket keeper waiting for the snick off Jeff Thomson’s thunderbolts. In fact, they will be appalled by the generosity of a captain who leaves those open spaces undefended. They will never be seen clutching transistor radios glued to their ears. They will never be caught in class, like I was, with earphones plugged into my radio watch, listening to K. Srikkanth blow the Pakistanis away. My guess is my generation will lament the passing of Test cricket but the new followers of the game will hardly notice.
Business Down Under
Who is Geoff Hiscock? He says India and Australia are natural business partners. But that’s being overly simplistic. Just because we are both large countries in Asia doesn’t mean India and Australia must come closer. In fact, India has every reason to doubt Australia’s credentials. Are they reliable? Not at all. Canberra has been at the forefront of sanctions against India. The current government there says India lied and stole its way to nuclear weapons so they won’t sell us uranium. They are perhaps the most racist nation on earth. We should stay away from them.