Sunday, May 20, 2007

Cricket at the cross-roads !!!

As mentioned in my last post (which was some time ago :)), this post is about the two main issues facing our favourite game post the World Cup.

These are:
- The thorough dominance of one team
- The balance between bat and ball

Coming to point no. 1, it is rightly pointed out that Australia's victory was the most comprehensive ever seen in any team sport, forget cricket. And that, to be frank, is quite unnerving. To see a team simply terrorize their opponents time and over again is not good advertisement for the game. I am sure even a die-hard Aussie fan (and there are quite a few in India as well) would have wished their team a more hard-fought and competitive title defence. The other way to look at this is to say that the Aussies raised the game at key moments, especially in the final. But then that is the hallmark of a champion and it does not hide the poor challenge offered by the other teams. McGrath or no McGrath, the Aussie juggernaut seems set to roll on without any consistent challenger in sight. South Africa are too one-dimensional and lack the flair, England are not upto the standard, West Indies are sadly in decline while India and Pakistan are too inconsistent to pose a sustained challenge. It is left only to New Zealand or Sri Lanka to look the Kangaroos in the eye. What would cricket give to have a Nadal-Federer rivalry ?

Now coming to point no. 2. One memory that I have of the final is this: Vaas came back for his second spell and was bowling to Hayden. He bowled full and Hayden hit him back over his head. He did not quite get to the pitch of the ball in fact, his bottom hand slipped from the bat in the process of striking the ball and he ended up playing one-handed lofted stroke which looked quite ugly. He deserved to be caught in the deep, however, the ball simply went off and landed in the crowds. Some of the credit does go to Hayden's strength, but still, to have a one-handed heave go for six is indicative of the dominance batsmen have in the modern variety of the game. From test cricket (where you need good bowlers to take 20 wickets and win you the game) to one-day cricket and now, the age of Twenty-20, batsmen simply hold all the aces. Again to draw a similarity between cricket and tennis, the latter also have suffered from such a change once wooden racquets were replaced with graphite racquets in the 80s. The grace of a McEnroe or Borg were replaced with the speed and power of Becker and Ivanisevic (who themselves look pedestrian as compared to today's guys when it comes to power play). Again, how I long to see the days of Gower and Azhar using light bats and carressing the ball through the covers or square leg !!!

So, as the dust settles on the World Cup and normal service begins (the English summer has already begun) these two issues need to be keenly addressed. The ICC can surely look into the latter while their member nations will have to devise an out-of-box solution to the Aussie menace. The game is at an interesting stage.


1 comment:

Samcho said...

i liked the Hayden example.good read.but at the same time these days there are most test results than draws..isn't that paradoxical??