September 27, 2007

20-20 - Not So Plenty

September 27, 2007 Posted by Vijay 1 comment
And so, India brings back the World Cup. Albeit the 20-20 version of it. A celebration definitely deserving of such a wonderful achievement. The craze of the fans to watch their demi-gods come from the land of the springboks, was almost unimaginable. The crowds were pouring on the streets of Mumbai, even as the politicians tried to make a point themselves. Forget rooting for the victorious team, they were not even bothered to display the Indian flag, and were all too happy waving their party flags. The icing so to speak (pun intended) was indeed the seating arrangement at Wankhede once the team arrived after a 6 hour victory parade. All except Dhoni seated in the front row, were the able BCCI officials and politicians. Some things never change in India.

After India defeated Australia in the semi finals, The Australian newspaper reported that India was celebrating as if it had won the Soccer World Cup. Well, India sure did win the Cup finally, and Australia will have to wait for 2 or more years to get a crack at it. What The Australian probably doesn't realise is that cricket is a religion in India, and is the only sport where India can still claim as being a dominant force. India did win the Asia Cup Hockey tournament which recently got over, but it almost went unnoticed. In all the hype and hoopla of the first Indian Test series win in England in 2 decades, it was lost. And now, the Hockey players want their share of the booty. Is it a fair demand ? I would say yes, simply because, India still failed to perform in the more grilling 50 version format at the World Cup. And if one has to go by sheer weightage, 20-20 deserved only 40% of what a 50-50 should have received.

As a cricket fan myself, I was thrilled to watch the Indo-Pak final and the now famous 666666 by Yuvraj. Without doubt, moments which will forever be etched in everyone's mind. But just because T20 had a World Cup suffixed, one should not get carried away with the Indian team's success. There has been no doubt in anyone's mind of Indian cricketers' potential. So, the victory in T20 itself is probably cathartic after the World Cup debacle in March. But what was never thought to be a major World Event in International Cricket, has now been given the tag of THE Cup to win. Well, atleast that's how India perceives it as.

Nobody was giving any importance to T20 until it actually started. Nobody took interest in India, until the bowl out India won against Pakistan. And until then, T20 was never thought to upstage 50-50 as the major tournament event. Now, there is a fear, this may well happen. Indian public has gone berserk after the victory, but don't quite realise that it is only 40% of what it takes to win the more arduous 50 version game. There are various reasons why this Indian victory at the T20 World Cup could be harmful to the game of cricket itself.

As many critics have pointed out, it is but a fast food version of the game of cricket. Though pleasing and exciting to the eyes, there can be ridiculous results on some days of cricket in this format. If one were to think Zimbabwe winning against Australia once in 2 decades is a shock in the 50-50, it will be much more likely in this format. Ironically, the first time Zimbabwe played in it's 50-50 World Cup format in 1983, it shocked Australia, and the same happened here too. As one of the commentators pointed out, this is probably the world stage where talent is on display, and not necessarily temperament. And cricket has seen many go by the wayside due to sheer lack of temperament. Teams will now be in a dilemma whether to include their best players in this version, since just about anything can happen.

With all due credit to the Indian team, one needs to think whether 3 million $ was something that they really deserved. The Hockey team is rightly peeved, since their win went unnoticed. However, the only argument that goes against the Hockey Team is that they haven't won any World Event for quite a few years now. More ironic was the fact that SRK (Shah Rukh Khan) who through his movie Chak De wanted to promote the game of Hockey, was all too happy wishing the Indian Cricket team, eventhough he does claim in Chak De, that "Hockey mein chakke nahi hote hain". Chak De has brought back good spirits into cricket, while Hockey still is in oblivion.

Most importantly I feel, India winning the tournament can be detrimental to the game itself. Simply because, Indian cricket is the major contributor to the ICC coffers, and the game's best ambassador with jampacked crowds wherever the Indian time travels. So if T20 is the way to go, to rope in the moolah from Indian cricket, ICC may not hesitate to have more of T20. That fear is now very real. If India had not fared well, T20 may have remained as a one off event. But now with the T20 World cup victory, the pressure and demand for more of this version will be unavoidable. That could spell doomsday for the 50-50 version very soon. The fact that the 50 over version of the World Cup this year was a debacle, and T20 such a huge success does not augur well for the long followed ODI format. As long as the 5 day Test Cricket format is intact, cricket will retain its charm and skills. Series like the 2005 Ashes need to happen more often for this though. The success of 20-20 is also a reminder for ICC that making changes to the 50-50 format should now be seriously considered.

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Mitesh Ashar said...

hi vijay

i wanted to contact u by email..
but couldn't find ur email address.
can u please shoot me a mail at