Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Test cricket, we hardly knew ye

Years from now, when test cricket is finally done and dusted, elbowed off the stage by the pressures of Twenty20 or some other mutant form of cricket, we'll all look back on the creation of the IPL as the moment that things really started to go pear-shaped. Franchises, some of whom are now worth as much as NBA teams, have entered the scene, and it scarcely bears thinking what these corporate heavy-hitters will do with the bunch of jokers that has been running world cricket for some time now. They'll want to protect their players, they'll squeeze out good deals (if need be at the cost of the international scene), and they'll go get the best talent, all of whom will find this much more attractive than the rigors of test cricket. The national boards can only watch now, as their precious international schedules will bite the dust, the first move in which eventuality was made today by Lalit Modi announcing that Australian players could join without no-objection certificates from Cricket Australia. That delinks the IPL from the international schedule, and in the future IPL franchises may be expected to want their players to stay fit for the important games, and not bother with bowling themselves into the ground bowling 20 overs a day in test matches. A generation of youngsters will grow up with this as the most visible face of cricket (check out Malcolm Conn's piece on the telecast of IPL matches in Australia). We asked for interesting times, and we have them.

5 Comments:

Blogger Homer said...

Samir,

I dont expect Test cricket to die for the simple reason that it gives advertiser opportunities, over 5 days, to broadcast their wares. And the quality of cricket is not too shabby either :).

What I see happen is for common sense to prevail and a de-cluttering of the cricket calender to accommodate the IPL.

And if they do a good job of it, we could actually end up with fixed "seasons" for cricket across the board, like the football and baseball seasons here in the US.

A more clearly demarcated "home" and "away" season and a defined off season could actually bring in more revenues for cricket ( across the board) because it can then be sold as a marquee event.

Cheers

12:24 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Homer,

We've clearly staked out the glass-is-half-empty and glass-is-half-full positions. Perhaps the other readers can fill in the remaining spaces :)

Cheers,
Samir

2:30 PM  
Blogger David Barry said...

I'm generally optimistic about the future of cricket, and I'm really looking forward to the IPL, which I think will be awesome. (Unfortunately I don't think any French channel has jumped at the IPL, so I'll only catch the last couple of weeks when I'm back in Australia.)

For all the mismanagement and dollar-maximising, I think that a large number of people who run cricket do actually like the game and would hate to see Test cricket disappear. The players will still see Tests as the ultimate form of the game, even if they might jump ship if there's a clash.

So I think that the IPL will get its space, international tours made to fit around it, and if they can please get rid of those boring one-dayers, then it should all be OK.

I do have a little bit of worry in me though. If the IPL decides to expand, it can do a lot of expanding. Baseball teams in the Major Leagues play 162 games a season. Teams in the IPL will play 14.

5:54 AM  
Blogger Soulberry said...

I'm inclined to go along with Samir on this.

If, and only if, league format doesn't suffer a premature death, then it will grow in the direction Samir suggests.

The inconvenience of each other co-existing will ultimately result in either parting of ways or one of them stepping back.

The cash-cow of various boards (limited overs cricket) will soon pass from their hands to clubs. Someone will remain the titular head of course in all such regions which are hosting pro-league cricket. BCCI may just have chopped the tree to have all the fruits today.

Who will be the FIFA of this league? I don't see the existing ICC and its structure anywhere capable of answering the needs of the investors.

Things will change, perhaps not drastically so immediately, but are certain to happen. Test cricket and limited overs could part ways...I'll modify that....test cricket and 50-50 overs may remain on one side followed till such a time that there are no longer a viable fan base to cater to and 20/20 will exist as a separate global entity....more widespread, may attract better talent or dilute it.

Art films exist and survive even today...sure, they need to adapt a bit, and they are doing so, but the targets are clearly demarcated for mainstream cinema and art movies. There is some overlap sometimes, but too ephemeral to matter for long. I see test cricket existing as a niche commodity...classy as a Rolls Royce and facing the same survival problems as the company has been from time to time despite its product.

League-format 20/20 will be the Toyotas....the Maruti 800's of Indian rodas...maybe even the Tata Nano of the future...just so conveniently flexible, portable, saleable...never be a Rolls, can never compete with a Ferrari endine, but it gets you around in a way you can afford. 20/20 is that kinbd of vehicle...the omlette of hostel rooms or the night-footpath eateries of Delhi. They get you by and they sell.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous The Sporting Spirit said...

Its funny how you link IPL to NBA...and I think you are right...we will now be seeing managers for players who would be getting them the best contracts...and God what not...

However...the only difference being...cricket is a gentleman's sport but NBA or EPL for example is not....

10:30 AM  

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