Yajurvindra Singh

By: Yajurvindra Singh


May 12, 2023: The rapidly changing face of cricket is transforming it at a phenomenal pace. The shorter format of the game, the T20, has taken the cricket lovers by storm. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is just one such tournament with many more to come to cascade cricket into worldwide entertainment.

The T20 has made cricket once again into a sport to enjoy and revel in. The format is easy to follow and the hits to and over the boundary are extremely enjoyable to watch.

The shorter game of baseball, invented to diminish England and English cricket, is now a slow mover compared to the newer nuances of the game of T20 cricket.

This takes one back to the famous adage from William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet argues that “A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet”.

Cricket too is going through a sweetness of three different formats of the game, each one having its specific scent of enjoyment. Cricket was conventionally looked at as one that needed patience, stamina and plenty of time to play it. The slow pace was suitable for the way life was in the past. Test cricket still exists, however, one feels it is hanging by a short thread. One is unsure as to how long it will survive, even if the pace of playing it increases through an aggressive and newer approach. The cricketing world and the ICC do see the problems Test cricket may face in the future and it will be up to the boards from various countries to keep it alive.

Test cricket will never get the eyeballs or sponsorship revenue that T20 attracts and therefore, infusing funds to make it attractive for cricketers would be essential to keep it churning. Another way could be to recognise a cricketer by giving him a country cap only if he played Test cricket. This will give some sort of exclusivity to differentiate between the elite and the cattle-class cricketer.

Cricket, like the rose, may smell as sweet but the colour, the size and the exclusive variety differentiate roses and cricket too needs to do the same. One does marvel at the strokes and innovative shots that the shorter format of the game exhibits, however, these are possible because of the restrictions that have been enforced to make the game spicy.

One cannot take a blend of French cut, the Indian Gilly Danda, a farmer’s wheat threshing and a helicopter shot seriously. The bat has become like a club that a warrior of the past would have used to demolish one’s enemies.

The serious worry for cricket is that the T20 format, sweet as it may seem, is here to stay. The IPL 2023 has shown an increase in digital viewership by leaps and bounds. The attractive interactive games to keep viewers absorbed and interested in a match through the multi-media platforms are truly revolutionary.

Cricket has taken a completely different direction, wherein, franchise cricket around the world will take precedence over playing for one’s country. India is the only country at present that restricts its cricketer from playing elsewhere. One may be able to diffuse this in the short term, however, with the IPL franchise owners owning teams in other countries as well, a cricketer will have a choice on hand.

The IPL’23, similar to its earlier editions, has brought to the fore several Indian cricketers, who are ideally skilled to play the T20 version. Several of them will now have the option to pursue a life by playing cricket professionally. There will be many who are on the verge of retirement, some having played for the country and others who have played quite a few years of domestic cricket. The lure of money could also be a substantial reason for a young cricketer to join the leagues rather than play for one’s country. One can already see the trend of cricketers preferring to play in the IPL rather than for the country, especially, in the longer format of the game. These will be the pool of professional cricketers all ready to popularise the franchise model that will be the core of cricket activities in the future.

The next five years will be interesting, as many of the established Indian players would be facing retirement. They will be hot properties for the cricket leagues from other parts of the world who want to establish themselves.

Cricket for cricket lovers will be wonderful to follow. Cricketers will benefit. As youngsters, they will aim to play for their country or a T20 franchise. However, thereafter they will have all the options and cards up their sleeve to go elsewhere. Cricket will become a business with opportunities for everyone to flourish. The IPL is just a small appetiser of things to come. The world of cricket will blossom and so will the sweet smell of success.

Cricket will chirp itself to glory.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer. Views expressed are personal.)

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