As a great and avid fan of the sport, I welcome any change and development that will enable me to watch more versions of the sport. And thus when a third format of cricket called T20, because of 20 overs per side, I was excited as to how batsmen and bowlers who are so accustomed to getting at least an hour to ease into their game will fare. I was also extremely happy to see those players who are often criticized for being rash and aggressive succeed in this shorter format. People are also often surprised that while appreciating the T20 format, I can still love and withstand the longer Test format played. I feel that with a game as old as cricket, one needs to appreciate the roots from where the T20 game came. Cricket is a different game all together. Football (soccer) has a simple formula – 2 goalkeepers, 22 players, a pitch, 90 minutes. Tennis is slightly varied – singles, doubles, different surfaces to play on like grass, clay or hard court. But cricket is varied because of the duration of each format played. So each player needs to adjust his playing technique according to the length of the game. And with this, different types of players are developed and noticed at the international level. Whether it was Rahul Dravid who was known for his dependable batting power in Tests and surprising us with his shot selection in T20, Ricky Ponting who was one of Australia’s most successful captains ever showing that age is no bar when it comes to playing the shorter format or even Joe Root who at a young age has shown that the England squad is the right place for him no matter which format.
But recently this beautiful game that I love so much has come under fire for various scams, in India alone, along with players behaving as if they do not care for the reputation of the game or for their own careers’ reputation. It also truly disappoints me that some people can even think about destroying the very foundation of the game and talk about stopping Test matches altogether because it has become cumbersome in the wake of T20. When bringing about changes in any sport, you do not go about completely destroying the foundations upon which the game was built. That would be like a goal being counted even though it was offside or unlimited serves! If you start ruining the foundation of the game, then it won’t be long before the game itself is ruined. To top it all off, the current Champions Trophy 2013 tournament being held in England and Wales is to be the last edition. This is because the International Cricket Council believe that T20’s rising popularity has threatened the survival of Test cricket and therefore the middle child, One Day Internationals (ODIs) must be sacrificed in some way to ensure that the foundations remain steady.
This still does not change my opinion of the benefits of T20 to cricket in general although I am beginning to understand what some of the critics have to say. But what the ICC are doing is not a solution. There needs to be a balance between all the three formats to ensure that one format is not favoured in place of another format being forgotten. The ICC need to take lessons from FIFA and country football associations. Each country works its football league breaks around international matches which allow players in those leagues to compete for their country without losing out on club playing time, their job the year round. Balance is always the best!