Monday, March 24, 2008

The slow slide downwards

And now, there is yet another potential scheduling clash with the IPL that could affect player availability for a test series. This gigantic snafu that is developing in the world of international cricket promises to be the Mother of all Car Wrecks. Perhaps it was inevitable that things would come to this situation, for cricket has been drifting, rudderless, for a long time: one-day internationals proliferated without bound, cheapening themselves in the process, and making their offerings seem mundane and hackneyed; meanwhile, as test cricket's result rates improved thanks to improved fielding and outcricket, aggressive (and looser) batting, and the use of television for line decisions, the ICC sat on its backside and failed to devise a World Cup centered on it; and finally, as Twenty20 went on gaining in popularity, and taking over a vital audience, the ICC failed again to think about how to best figure out the contours of an international calendar that would accomodate all three forms while still paying due deference to the highest form of the game. And this situation continues to be underwritten by rampant distrust amongst the members of the ICC, a weakened set of full members in cricketing terms (including the slow death of one of its premier sides, the West Indies), and a continuing failure of the game to make significant gains worldwide in either popularity or competence. Cricket isn't doing particularly well, in case you hadn't noticed. The tests that India will start playing on Wednesday will assuage my mood somewhat but from now on, I'm not taking anything for granted, and will watch each test with the tender interest of someone looking at an endangered species.

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