February 24, 2014

Let's be honest about T20

The format generally, and the IPL particularly, is all about fun and entertainment. It isn't an exacting test of skill

Mohammad Hafeez's analysis of the benefits of the IPL haven't convinced too many © AFP

Without T20 cricket, would we have to contend with the monstrosity of the Big Three? The IPL has much to answer for. It's a money game but players tell us they prefer not to focus on the financial perks. Kevin Pietersen once claimed that India's T20 spectacle helped his game. The massive salary without doubt helped too. Now Mohammad Hafeez, a batsman of inferior quality but bearing similarities in frustration, has lamented the exclusion of Pakistan's cricketers. The IPL, he says, is a great arena to test and develop your skills.

In his defence, Hafeez needs help. His career reflects the modern state of Pakistan cricket. Bizarre selection, minimal development, and arguable progress. Aamer Sohail, the man who oversold Hafeez to a bewildered public in his first stint as chief selector lasted barely a week this time around. Hafeez's potential, if you believe he possesses it, has been trapped for a decade. If you haven't managed to deliver in that time, despite generous opportunities, the odds are stacked against you.

T20 cricket, the least challenging of cricket's disciplines, is unsurprisingly Hafeez's forte. No wonder he craves more. His wish to appear again in the IPL seems unlikely to be met. The tragedy of Hafeez may be that the hero inside himself never landed a leading role on the IPL stage.

Indeed, the Professor's analysis of the cricketing benefits of the IPL are unpersuasive. His hypothesis sprang from his heart not his brain. Auctions, especially human ones, are designed to appeal to our basest instincts, and Hafeez felt love for this year's spectacle.

It is debatable whether the IPL offers any benefit for player development. India aren't dominant in T20 cricket. Pakistan won a T20 World Cup during this period of exclusion. The boundaries are short. The wickets are flat. The bowlers are generally friendly, and any that aren't have only four overs to hurt you. Most importantly, the money is banked. What's left is tamasha.

And that's the point. I do object to the IPL on the basis that it deliberately or subconsciously refuses to consider players from certain nations. Pakistan invariably, and this time Sri Lanka too. This is unfair. I do object to the IPL on the basis that players pretend that it is some grand examination, a finishing school for the elite. That's patently nonsense. But I don't object to the tamasha.

If only more people were more honest about it. T20 generally, and the IPL particularly, is all about fun and entertainment. It isn't an exacting test of skill. Its purpose is to make money for cricket boards, cricketers, and others. T20 cricket is a bookies paradise. And we now know how much money matters. Incidentally, the IPL also provides enjoyment to spectators. Why not call it what it is then? A tamasha. Call it a tamasha and value it for being one.

"It's fun cricket," said Younis Khan on winning the 2009 T20 World Cup at Lord's, and in the next breath he perceptively stooped further, labelling it WWE. Nobody wants their occupation to be trivialised, but, ironically, talking up T20 cricket and the IPL devalues them. Fun has its place in our lives too, although a proper tamasha is better for being open to all entertainers, especially the badmashes from across the border.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on March 2, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Well what i felt is that Hafeez looks more confident in T20 than other formats of cricket... Pakistani players are not allowed to play IPL now I back Kashif on this ground. I seems totally unfair to exempt test playing nation's players. Can someone give me genuine reson for that?

  • siddhartha on February 26, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    Just saying: even if Pakistan is allowed to participate in IPL only Ajmal will be sold at a very good price.Others like Afridi ,Hafeez and Gul will be sold but not at a very high price.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    I am an Indian and I see no IPL bashing in this article. It's more about T20 cricket on the whole rather than just IPL. In today's snobbish times when everyone seems to be riding on the coat-tails of T20 club cricket, you have the integrity to come up with an honest appraisal. It's hard to understand what Pakistan cricket is missing out on by not playing IPL (if anything, it's only the IPL franchises that are missing out on Pakistani players, though it's beyond their control). What Pakistan cricket needs is to restore faith in its First Class structure. I miss the great fast-swing bowlers of this amazing country; when everyone was focused on line-and-length stuff, they remained unaffected by the changes around and kept producing those powerhouses of talent, those precocious exponents of swing and reverse swing.

  • Huss on February 25, 2014, 23:50 GMT

    Lets be honest indeed. Sounds like bit of a sour grapes to me. Pakistan with its population size and popularity of cricket could have been a cricketing powerhouse. But unfortunately they cannot even organize goats in a paddock. Lets not blame T20 or IPL or the Big 3. They did not get to where they are now by accident. just get your house in order Mr Abbsi.

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    For cricket to sustain, as with any other team sport, there needs to be professional leagues. Basketball has NBA, baseball has MLB, football has EPL/SPL and others. IPL just happens to be the major one for cricket. And yes, we all admit that it's not a perfect league and that there are a number of things that need to be worked on. Somebody mentioned the annoying cheerleaders and the loud music...yes totally agree. However, the league is a young one, possibly the youngest in any major sport ...so give it some time.

    On T20 cricket...well, here's the deal. As an ardent cricket fan, of course I'll prefer the Test match the most satisfying. However, if cricket wants to grow and as you introduce the game to newer/casual fans, then you have to something like T20.

  • sayed on February 25, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    @ our Indian friends, before you bubble over with IPL patriotism. Read carefully what's written here, nowhere its says IPL does not require any skills. Even crossing road requires skills. What it says here is "It isn't an exacting test of skill". Comparison to test cricket or even ODIs you think it is a test of skill? Really??

  • Adam on February 25, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    2008 called, it wants its hopelessly uninformed opinion back.

  • Daison on February 25, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    Why certain players are not considered for IPL is totally a different debate. Hafeez has represented Pakistan over the years. To be part of a talented Pakistan national team and stay there for such long time Hafeez should have some talent and credentials. Just because he aired his opinion doesnt qualify him to be ridiculed as "a batasman of inferior quality" bluntly. And if stating his opinion qualified Hafeez for such punishment, the author himself should be questioned of his credentials (doesnt matter he got some or not, should be questioined) because he is doing the same thing as Hafeez did later in the article. As a cricket fan, one thing I remember is how Hafeez performed when Paskistan tourned India the last time. He tore through India bowling in T20 as well as ODI's. If performing in T20 doesnt need skill, why everybody is not national players????

  • Daison on February 25, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    Reading this piece two words comes to mind first - "sour grapes" and then a few others follow. First of all, the author is taking a dig at Hafeez for airing his objection for not being considered in IPL. He stoos down to question Hafeez's credentials as a player. Well, dont berate him for giving his opinion. More in to the article the author himself is doing exactly what Hafeez did - air his anger for some players not being considered for IPL contract. Again he stoops down to call IPL a tamasha. Well, did anybody ask you to "rate" IPL? I dont think so. So if IPL captured your attention and you are visibly upset for not getting take part in it, there must be something about it, isnt it? Its not just India having a T20 tournament. AUS have it, Bangladesh have it, SA have it, SL had it, Pakistan had it. Some have it successfully and some not so. So when your tournament is not as successful as IPL what best to do other than calling it a TAMASHA????!!!!! SOUR GRAPES, isnt it?

  • rajat on February 25, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    Oh Cm'n people! We live in a materialistic world. Each one of us wants to earn more. Each one of us pursues greener pastures.So what's wrong if earning of cricketers has gone up several notches.We mustn't simply start denouncing any cricketer who expresses his desire to play in IPL or any other T20 league. That's not greed and even if it is ,I'd say majority of the people today are greedy.Stop this hypocrisy!

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