Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chris Gayle and test cricket

Is West Indies cricket a basket-case? Is the Pope Catholic?

Now that that is settled, lets talk a bit about Chris Gayle. On the face of it, a test captain talking about the stresses of the job in the middle of a test series is no big deal. Other test captains have done it before (my encylopedic knowledge of test cricket history fails me at this moment, but I know its been done). What bothers most people is the expressed preference for T20 cricket over test cricket (in the middle of a test series). Now that really seems to indicate Gayle's mind is not on the job. And given the context of his late arrival for the test series from a T20 tournament, the IPL, its made worse. The proverbial last straw of course, is that Gayle's comments have been made in the middle of a test series against England, in England, in the glare of the spotlight of a media that has appointed itself the Defenders of the Faith when it comes to test cricket. But I'm a bit of a Defender of the Faith itself when it comes to test cricket, so whats the story here? What judgment shall we pass on Gayle? (Passing judgment is fun; I highly recommend it to all and sundry: do it at least once a day, and preferably more often if possible).

Here is mine: Gayle showed a poor sense of timing. That's about it. I think he rates test cricket highly and takes it seriously. His expression after the win in Kingston over England earlier this year spoke volumes about what he thinks about tests. If you are a serious cricketer (and despite his hang ten demeanor, Gayle is a pretty serious cricketer, rest assured), you have to have figured out that test cricket is the highest form of the game and that winning a test is a big deal. At the same time, its not surprising that a man dealing with a board like the WICB, which arranged a two-test series which counts as a Wisden Trophy defense so early in the English season after West Indian players had signed their IPL contracts, and an English captain thats sniping at him, would get a little snippy.

But if Gayle loves test cricket, why is expressing a preference for T20? Well, fundamentally, (besides the ludicrous variance in the time spent versus money earned equations for test cricket and T20 cricket) if I was made to play on the lame roads that are now routinely prepared for test cricket, I would be indicating a preference for T20 pretty darn quick. Test cricket suffers worldwide from dead pitches (and a host of other factors, but this is a good one to start with) and its stars have to be frustrated by a situation in which their efforts come to a nought because of the obsession of the world's boards with preparing pitches that 'go the distance' without considering that this might be killing the golden goose.

And its being killed, no fear. I'm a bit of a Cassandra when it comes to this matter, and there'll be plenty more to say about this because this discussion isn't going away.

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Anonymous spin said...

"What bothers most people is the expressed preference for test cricket over T20 cricket (in the middle of a test series)."


3:42 AM  
Blogger samir said...


Thanks - thats a typo. I'll fix it.


6:03 AM  
Blogger Subash said...

I think the idea of Boards preparing pitches that go the distance is counter-productive in terms of the public at the gates. In this economy (and for some time to come) no one is gonna shell out money to go sit in the sun five days in a row (who's got the time, anyway?). Test Cricket is slightly anachronistic, really. So, here is what you could do. Separate the test playing nations (8 of them - kick Ban and Zim out of it please) in to two tiers. You have perform well as a team to move from tier 2 to tier 1. This right away puts good product on the field (with teams of relatively equal skill levels) playing each other and less number of tests played by each team. Although, the CUMULATIVE TOTAL number of tests played in a year could still be the same. Tier 1 could be: Aus, SA, India, SL. Tier 2: Pak, Eng, SL, NZ. (I am really not sure Eng belong in tier 1 especially when they are away from England). Each team will play about 6-8 tests a year (max) and teams pushed down or up from their tier would happen over 2 year span of performance. Of course, this could mean the removal of "rivalries" like the ashes, chappell-hadlee etc. So be it. Cricket doesn't revolve around the old colonial powers and traditions any more and that should be reflected in the new way it packages itself. Now, you've cut down on number of tests (for each team) while increasing the quality. This could provide a better window for T20s as well as ODI. It provides time for R&R as well. Of course this makes too much sense and no board will bite.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Subash said...

Oh by the way, screw the FTP. Its already irrelevant.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Subash said...

At least Cricinfo has the primacy of test cricket firmly in place, even on a day the play was completely washed out!! The first story on the page is the Eng v WI match and then the IPL match. Bravo Cricinfo!

12:19 PM  
Blogger SATADRU said...

I agree, Test cricket is dying very quickly. A big part of the problem, I think, is the way in which the national boards and the ICC are managed. When the key decisions are made by a collection of politicians, bureaucrats, bean-counters and CEO types, the quality/quantity question will inevitably be answered in favor of quantity and quick profits, and the classical game will be seen as irrelevant. What do Sharad Pawar and Lalit Modi know or care about cricket? It's no surprise that India is the spearhead of this tragedy, since making a fast buck (no matter what the cultural cost) is now central to the Indian ethos. We're quite shameless about it.

2:39 PM  
Blogger samir said...

Satadru: And in fact, I suggest this is a quick looting of the glory created by test cricket. IPL and T20 will not create stars of the same kind and their market value will drop soon. If there ever was a case of killing the golden goose, this is it.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Deepa said...

This is probably in the wrong place but what are your thoughts on Javed Miandad's recent comments on the IPL being a joke..

1:18 AM  

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