Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gideon's warning

Gideon Haigh is a writer I respect very much. I've only read one of his books (a wonderful biography of Jack Iverson), but have read dozens of his newspaper and periodical articles over the years. He has a keen sense of the history of the game, and thus, is fairly prescient as well. So, when he speaks about the disturbing implications of Twenty20, its worth cocking an ear. While Haigh uncritically accepts the mutterings of disgruntled Aussie players (and also strikes a false note with his suggestion that this is all about wanting to see someone else than Australia win), there is definitely something to his worries that the game is starting to play host to a force that it might not control. I do not think it has been fully understood by people just what doors have been opened by the creation of the new premier Twenty20 league which will let in corporate franchises who can bid for players. These entities will have money, oodles of it. They will be able to bid for television rights for their own games (like Notre Dame negotiates its own rights), and they can pay whatever salaries they think are commensurate with their players' abilities (sporting and money-earning). Test cricket could see its potential pool of players shrinking; Sky might not bother to pay ECB good money for test series any more; the possibilities are endless. While the ICC might make noises about protecting tests, in the end they will do what the greenback tells them. Yes, indeed, be careful what you wish for.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Ottayan said...

Football has already incorporated these changes with success.

Importantly, commercial interests and players salary garner the most interest in that sport.

The game has become stronger for it and if Iam not mistaken it is the most popular sport.

I believe the advent of Twenty20, will do all this and more and go on to strengthen the game.

11:42 PM  
Blogger John said...

Hopefully, the Premier League of cricket will cut down on the number of senseless one-day internationals. Everyone will agree that sport is nothing without context; something needs to be at stake. Try as it might, the ICC's ranking system has been absolutely unable to provide the necessary sort of context for the numerous ODIs, and this will be true for international T20 games also, as the format catches on.
In football, most international matches are played in tournaments, and there is always something at stake.
The franchise format should realise this pretty early on, and sell its points system well.

Test cricket, on the other hand, has never lacked for context. Everyone is comfortable with the series format as it exists now, and the only grudge is that there isn't enough of them.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Uncle J rod said...

Everyone except me loves Gideon.

I must be dereanged.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Ottayan: The crucial difference is that football doesn't have to worry about nurturing different versions of the game.

John: I agree; I really hope so. Rankings provide no context; no one cares. But perhaps annual Twenty20 tournaments could become serious competitors for test cricket down the line.

JRod: You are slightly deranged; no doubt. But seriously, do you find Gideon just too stuffy?

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Ottayan said...

Samir,

You are right.

I missed that point completely.

9:17 PM  

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