Sat | Apr 30, 2016

Think on these things

Published:Sunday | October 28, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Shivnarine Chanderpaul ... scored Test century off 69 balls against Australia in 2003.


Sometimes in life you move on, and to your satisfaction, you discover, probably in a short while, that you have made a wonderful move.

Sometimes, however, you make your move without looking at what you have done, or what you were doing, and then, probably shortly afterwards, you notice that you have remained in just about the same place.

Sometimes, this happens to all of us, and it happens in the most unusual things, including sports, and also cricket where there have been changes, many changes, in recent years.

Cricket was long considered a Test match game, a five-day game, with First-class and club matches thrown in between for play at the lower level, and that remained with us until a long time, some 100 years, when the game started to spread beyond recognition.

Today, it has spread to Test cricket, to one-day cricket, to First-class cricket, to club cricket, to Champions Trophy cricket, and to T20 cricket, with Test, one-day, and T20 cricket being the order of the day.

According to the ICC, the world governing body of cricket, cricket has only moved with the times, and nothing else.

According to the ICC, with the Champions Trophy about to be dumped, it is Test cricket, one-day cricket, and T20 cricket in that order barring, probably, the place of the one-day game.

While I agree that cricket, like everything else, must move with the times, cricket has not moved with the times, and it has not moved with the times for one simple reason:

Golf, professional golf, played over four days at a time, continues to be played for four days at a time, and it continues to be popular among those who play golf, those who love golf, and those who love seeing the best golfers in action.

It is the same with cricket: those who love cricket pay to see Test cricket, and to see the best in action.

I believe that the problem with cricket is the ICC's love for money, that the more money cricket brings in, the happier will be those in the ICC, and there is little doubt that T20 brings in the money, up to now anyway.

number one attraction

The ICC says that Test cricket will remain the number one attraction, but how will it remain so when everything is being done to make T20 cricket the number one attraction in the world.

T20 cricket offers the players more money, much, much more money than Test cricket, and the game, much shorter, is made more attractive - brighter clothes. shorter boundaries, leg-side wides, and super overs to bring a finish to each game, prizes and surprises, music, and dancing girls, etcetera, etcetera.

Cricket need not have gone this way. It could have done so with three versions of the game internationally, or it could have gone with Test cricket, with a few adjustments, and one of the two limited-over games, one, the heart of the game, the other, the bread-and-butter of the game.

The Test match version could have seen the inclusion of the third umpire and the tightening of the game to include such calls as the wides.

T20 brings in the money, so says the ICC, and so believes the ICC. How much longer will it last, however?

How long will Indian television money last, and how long will it keep subsidising the gate receipts?

money or no money

The last ICC World Twenty20 gave a hint of the crowd they can expect in a few years time, the current T20 in South Africa did likewise, and the thing to do, for all cricket, money or no money, is to produce star performers?

I like T20 cricket. I like the sixes, and I like the brilliant fielding.

I love Test cricket, however. I love the bowling - the test, the subtle change of pace and change of spin, the brilliant fielding - the catching, the stopping, and the throwing, and the glorious batting - the magnificent extra-cover drive, the hook, the late-cut, the on-drive, and the straight drive, especially when they are reeled off with meaning, with authority, and with confidence.

I like Richard Levi's century off 48 deliveries in a T20 match against New Zealand in 2011-12, I like Chris Gayle's century off 50 deliveries against South Africa in 2007-8, and I like Brendon McCullum's century off 50 deliveries against Australia in 2009-10.

To me, however, Viv Richards' century off 56 deliveries against England in a Test match in 1986 was something special, and so was Adam Gilchrist's century off 57 deliveries against England in 2006-7, so was Joe Gregory's century off 67 deliveries against South Africa in 1921-22, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's century off 69 deliveries against Australia in 2003.

I watched Jamaica's Senior Cup competition deteriorate to a few weeks per season these last few years and open to almost any team, however.

I also noticed an increase in T20 competitions this year, again open to any team, I noticed the JCA top competitions are now played anywhere, and I am wondering, seriously, where will it all end.

I noticed also the return to the playing of the West Indies four-day game and the West Indies 50-over game together next year, as it used to be once up on a time, and I wonder how will the West Indies manage to get three different kinds of players for three different types of cricket.

Every other sport has suffered at the gates throughout the passage of time, but apart from a few tightening up here and there, nothing has been done to their sport.

They simply went on the hunt for better players and for better performers.