November 5, 2012

First-class cricket

Negligence to first-class cricket dangerous

Many of the Indian players who are a part of the squad for the first Test against England are trying to get match practice through the Ranji Trophy. That's a welcome move, says Dileep Premachandran in The National. He points out that five cricketers who were voted Widen's Cricketers of the 20th Century spent most of their careers playing domestic first-class cricket, unlike today's players. The case of Pat Cummins, who has played just four first-class games and has suffered a few injuries in his short career, is testimony to the fact that negligence to first-class cricket is a dangerous trend.

Change is inevitable, but it is hard to overstate just how much upcoming players may have lost out by being deprived of the chance to play first-class cricket with the stalwarts.

The alarm bells have begun to ring in Australia with Pat Cummins, the 19-year-old fast bowler, set to miss another full season through injury. Cummins has played just four first-class games, while representing Australia and others in as many as 28 Twenty20 matches. Trying to run without perfecting the walk is risky business.

Venkat Ananth, writing in Yahoo Cricket, believes Ranji Trophy isn't "dying the tiger's death." Though it is a colourless tournament devoid of excitement, its charm lies in that very nature, and in its usefulness to the mundane cricketer who doesn't dream of representing the country one day.

On a typical flat wicket, medium pacer ploughs outside off-stump all day, glued with eternal hope of an edge that may never come, the batsman as stubborn as ever, plays it back, the bowler picks the ball again and drags himself to the bowling mark - all in one go. Even when he gets the wicket he's looking for, celebrations are scant, out comes the next batsman and back to routine. For the romantic, it's akin to agriculture yet competitive - the joy of watching a farmer till his land all day, coming back next morning, same old, same old. In its own way, it's repetition at its perfect best.

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