April 22, 2008

Brutish and short

Twenty20 is seen as a concentrated form of the game, but on the evidence so far, it's more like a crude edit
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The IPL centres around the profit motive and is concerned chiefly with the self-admiration of India's media and corporate elites © AFP

Friday was a big night for cricket. A large, noisy gathering toasted the success of the happy band of international cricketers called ... the Yarras.

Yes, it was presentation night at the club where I've been a member 15 years, and have an apparently eternal commission as vice-president. A genuinely global affair it was, too. Harry, our Kiwi clubman extraordinaire, was extravagantly toasted - deservedly so. Knockbax, our Yorkie quick bowler, told us we were all "roooobish" - deservedly so too. Aravind, in receiving the award for most ducks, narrated in hilarious detail the only innings in which he scored a run last season. Nashad, having won the bat raffle, touchingly described arriving from Dhaka five years ago knowing nobody in Melbourne; now, he said, he regarded us as family.

Bangalore was mentioned quite a lot during the evening, although only because two of our boys, Zameel and Ranjit, have gone home there to get married, whereupon they should be boomeranging back to us. Whatever else was happening in Bangalore that night - well, it seemed far away indeed. As Indian Premier League VIPs swanned around looking like they owned the universe, I sat on my couch carefully counting up the A$583.50 in notes and coins we cleared on our event - an amount that wouldn't buy you the g-string on a Washington Redskins cheerleader. The only thing that reminded me of the Yarras thereafter that night was that no batsman bar Brendon McCullum could break 20 in perfect batting conditions.

Since then, I've watched every ball of the IPL. I mean, most anything with a bat and ball is to my taste: I'd watch a Danish Rounders Test match. Some of it's been okay. It's always cheering to see crowds at cricket. It's fun to see the nifty and inventive strokeplay, even if in Robin Uthappa's case it seems to have left him incapable of anything else, and when Rahul Dravid played an off-drive against the Mumbai Indians I was overcome by waves of nostalgia.

Shaun Pollock's craftiness, Muttiah Muralitharan's ebullience, Ishant Sharma's cutting edge - no cricket lover could not enjoy these, wherever they might be on show. The old-fashioned feeling of the Knight Riders v Deccan Chargers was also a delight. Batsmen having to earn their runs? How 20th century! India's chaotic contradictions, too, are also worth savouring. Lotus-eating celebrities watch multimillionaire athletes and ... the lights go out. I can't recall whether it was while he was Kennedy's ambassador to India that John Kenneth Galbraith first considered the coexistence of "private affluence and public squalor", but here was too perfect an example.

 
 
The game's skills are massively rationalised in Twenty20. What we see in the main is not so much batting as hitting, not so much bowling as conveying. The batsman is assessed by the change his strokes are leaving out of six; the bowler is like the fall guy in a comic routine stoically awaiting the inevitable custard pie. To be great under such circumstances is next to impossible. The game is neither big nor deep enough
 

It's early days yet, of course, and nobody has the power of prophecy. "Hopefully it will be a massive success," Kevin Pietersen reckons. "And I think it's going to be, because you have so much money being pumped into it, and you have the best players in the world, so there's no reason why it won't be." But the ICC presented a similar argument ahead of 2005's Super Series, which became a bomb of Dambuster proportions, and the assumptions that players and money are all it takes to manufacture box-office gold are, well, assumptions. Nobody knows whether we will see more Twenty20 as good as last September's world championship final at New Wanderers, or more as pathetic as the fiasco in Melbourne ten weeks ago that couldn't last 30 overs.

Already, however, I'm struck by the fact that what I've enjoyed are those moments when Twenty20 has looked more like cricket rather than less. And this is a problem, because there simply aren't enough of them. Twenty20 is envisaged as a concentrated form of cricket, without the pauses and longueurs that test the patience and understanding of the uninitiated. But it's less concentrated than crudely edited, and what is missing are those aspects of the game that make it linger in the mind, that impress on the imagination, that take time to understand, that need effort to appreciate. It requires nothing of its audience but their attendance and their money. Apparently, the first episode of Shah Rukh Khan's Indianised version of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? airs later this week. Pardon me for thinking that Khan's two new presentations have a few things in common.

The game's skills, meanwhile, have been massively rationalised. What we see in the main is not so much batting as hitting, not so much bowling as conveying. The batsman is assessed by the change his strokes are leaving out of six; the bowler is like the fall guy in a comic routine stoically awaiting the inevitable custard pie. For sure, the players are stars, personalities, megabuck entertainers. But to be great under such circumstances is next to impossible. The game is neither big nor deep enough. No thespian has achieved greatness from a career of sketches; no old master won admiration for a skill at silhouettes. Cricket has traditionally made welcome a wonderful variety of capabilities and temperaments. The swashbuckler will have his day, but likewise the gritty opening batsman, the middle-order nurdler, the doughty tailender; likewise, there are days that favour the purveyor of outswing, googlies, subtle left-arm slows. From the combination of 20 overs a side, flat pitches, white balls, and 70m boundaries, however, emerges what sort of cricketer? (In fact, you begin wondering which great past players would have found in Twenty20 a welcoming home. Kapil Dev, for sure. Maybe Sunil Gavaskar, when not in one of his obdurate moods. But can you see BS Chandrashekhar, Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna? Given the choice, would you select Gundappa Viswanath and Sanjay Manjrekar, or Sandeep Patil and Chandrakant Pandit?)

The argument is advanced that this need not concern us: we are assured that Twenty20 will be only one of cricket's variants. There will still be Test cricket, first-class cricket, 50-over matches. Yet with the animal spirits of the market liberated, how realistic is this? Already players are falling over themselves to make IPL hay, egged on by managers taking a fair clip themselves. The likelihood is that the objective of the majority of cricketers worldwide will become not to play dowdy old domestic cricket that leads on to hoary old national honours, the longer forms of the game that prepare the most finished practitioners. The economically rational behaviour will be to adapt their methods to maximise their IPL employment opportunities. Consider for a moment just who is closer to the role model of the moment: is it Rahul Dravid, the "Wall" with his 10,000 Test runs, or Yuvraj Singh, who once hit six sixes in an over? Who will a rising young cricketer earn more by emulating? If maximising individual income is what matters - and if any cricketer feels otherwise, he is keeping such a heresy to himself - then Yuvraj might well be the cookie-cutter cricketer of the next decade. Twenty20 has rightly been called a batsman's game, but it is a very particular kind of batsman: the type whose game is built on eye and strength. If a new Dravid were to begin emerging now, I suspect he would face a career as a second-class cricket citizen.



Will it be possible for cricket to produce the likes of Sachin Tendulkar after two decades of Twenty20 as the main event? © Getty Images

Nor is it economically rational for franchise owners to rest content with enterprises that are inactive for 46 weeks of the year. You don't have to be Einstein - hell, you don't have to be Napoleon Einstein - to realise that if the IPL contains even a glimmer of promise, it won't be stopping there: pretty soon cricket's schedule will have more windows than the Sears Tower. What then? What might cricket look like after 20 years of Twenty20-centricity? There will likely been a few more MS Dhonis; probably a great many more Uthappas. But can you imagine another Sachin Tendulkar, with the discipline to budget for innings by the day, with his defence as monumental as his strokes are magnificent? And what price a new Anil Kumble - brave, patient, probing, untiring - in a world measuring out bowling in four-over spells?

Of course, it is too early to tell, and perhaps it will all sort itself out - but that, I fear, is what it will have to do, because you know that nobody involved in IPL gives a toss about any of the foregoing. For it is an enterprise concerned chiefly with the self-admiration of India's media and corporate elites, where nobody much cares what's happening on the field so long as Preity Zinta can be shown clapping her lovely hands, and the long-term interests of cricket are of no significance compared to how quickly the Kolkata Knight Riders can be reinforced by the Benares Baywatchers and the Mysore Melrose Placers. Profit maximisation is the name of the game - and that goes for administrators, franchisees, players, managers, broadcasters and sponsors alike. The possible negative consequences for other countries or other forms of the game are of no account compared to the commercial, and doubtless also political, ambitions of the likes of Lalit Modi and Sharad Pawar. It is not even about giving the people what they want; it is about giving the people what Modi and Pawar want them to want, and can then make a packet out of selling them.

Exactly why the people deserve this is not abundantly clear. Perhaps it is an instance of what I once saw defined as the Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences: "Whoever has the gold makes the rules." But the contrast I noted earlier between the proceeds of my own humble cricket event and the IPL's was not merely a matter of quantum. All of the Yarras' hard-won $583.50 will go straight back into the game's beneficiation. Of what proportion of the billions raised by the IPL, I wonder, will that be true?

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY stholas on | April 25, 2008, 18:34 GMT

    Tough crap. Get used to it. Cricket will never be the same, and it doesn't need to. Do you know why test cricket doesn't seem to be filling the grounds anymore? Maybe because people don't want to wait 5 days for a draw? I love all forms of cricket, but T20 will be the future, no matter how many articles are written against it. Get with the times or go quietly into the night.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | April 25, 2008, 16:54 GMT

    There are a lot of things you don't test if you don't go for five games at five days each. Three-Test series don't tell me much. IPL is therefore somebody else's business. If enough money were put on it, I think the game could be shortened to one hit per batsman. Isn't that the real test of skill, being able to hit the ball out of the ground from any point, every time? Ultimately, I think the batsman should fire the bowler out of a canon. Imagine you and your group of punters being able to catch Shane Warne with his shirt one fire.

  • POSTED BY Ajay42 on | April 25, 2008, 6:16 GMT

    Mr. Haigh's points are all valid. The greatest fear is that this abbreviated excuse for the game will end up cannibalising cricket itself.One T20 game will run into the next, till they are all a blur. The first thing to disappear will be the art of spin bowling, which has already seen such a decline, in this era of small grounds and bats that allow mishits to go for six. Will anybody in authority who loves the game wake up before it's too late? To expect this from any of the Indians controlling world cricket would be a pipe dream.The only hope is that an overdose and lack of brand loyalty, which cannot be built up overnight,will kill spectator interest in this farce masquerading as cricket.

  • POSTED BY spirali on | April 24, 2008, 16:38 GMT

    Gideon- superb article, as usual. A lot of cricket fans seem to be debating the advent of IPL in terms of the quality of the cricket- and I agree with your comments, both positive and negative, on this front. However the real issues here are, as you say, to do with money and power. I fear that a lot of cricket fans are very naive about this, and will only realise what is actually happening to the game once it is too late (which will be in about 3-4 years' time, I'd guess). It's certainly a strange day when going to watch a county championship game feels like a subversive act, but, well, we're living in strange times.

  • POSTED BY ketan13 on | April 23, 2008, 18:29 GMT

    You are right Mr Haigh ,we are watching what Powar & Modi want and not what we want .We dont want a multi-million dollar pajama cricket league . If we needed a legue so much why could not have all international teams plying yeach other in 5 match series home and away over two years .Even test matches could have been structured like that with 3 match series over four years and money would come in.I also agree that this t20 is no breeding ground for the Tendulkars or the Laras of this world.

  • POSTED BY leg_before_wicket on | April 23, 2008, 14:30 GMT

    As for your comments on batting and bowling skills on display until now, I hope players, teams and owners are trying to win hard. If that happens, they will go with the best set of players. They will know that good bowlers and fielders can cripple or send all those hard hitting batsmen back. It is no coincedence that until now, McGrath has the best bowling economy among all the bowlers you have bowled their full quota of overs. His team has won both of its games. A low scoring Twenty20 game on a good batting pitch is not unlikey with some very good bowling, fielding and strategies.

    I wish your comments on IPL and comments on Twenty20 cricket were separated. The IPL part I hate while Twenty20 has great potential to be one of the enjoyable flavours of cricet. I hope Twenty20 cricket on this scale (in terms amount cricketing talent) can be played without the sight of movie stars and politians.

  • POSTED BY rmenon on | April 23, 2008, 10:20 GMT

    Good one Gideon. I couldn't agree with you more. A few more ugly sides to the DFL IPL that we could do without. These ones are outside the cricketing field.

    1. I do not know whether Pepsi is good or not, but blatantly endorsing Pepsi by commentators is definitely not good. Cricket must already be the ideal sports for marketing with breaks during bowling changes. We do not want any marketing during the game.

    2. Inviting celebrities to the commentary box. Akshay Kumar has done enough to sustain the egos of the stars at their mind numbing heights. I felt so bad for Tony Cozier who was trying to keep the conversation on cricket.

    3. The PA system during the chargers and daredevils game. It must have been terrible for Symonds to bowl the last ball of that expensive over with a guy at the mic bellowing through out. At one point, the commentators even ended up repeated his thoughts. We cannot blame the commentators this time, as the din would have affected their thought process.

  • POSTED BY Carmilla on | April 23, 2008, 8:57 GMT

    I must admit I think that this IPL is a just an ego trip for the Indians and Indian players with a few money grabbing Ausies, SA's and Kiwis with perhaps one or two WI's. It is all the more awful when you see the spectators being kept behind wire fences and the ground being patrolled by Police and Army. This is changing the face of the Gentlemen's Game of Cricket altogether, I just hope it does not edge out a real Test Match, I was not for ODI's but did realise that the game had to have something in addition to Test Match Cricket and thoroughly enjoyed the WC. I was definitely not for 20/20s but here again accepted it because it is for the families and must admit have been to the WC in SA for the 20/20s. Never though will I watch the IPL. Now we have the Stanford League? Will there be a split and divide between the continents?? Carmills Fitt (Member of the ESCB and Barmy Army (quite mild to those hoards of Indians))

  • POSTED BY Seshan on | April 23, 2008, 7:59 GMT

    Great article! While I confess I enjoyed some Twenty20 matches, especially the close ones, two points stand out in my mind. The first concerns cricket itself. The best matches I've enjoyed from a cricketing perspective are by far Test matches. Whether it was India vs England in Oval 1979, or the tied test in Chennai against Australia, there was a beauty in the duel between bat and ball. Twenty20 is good dessert, but health and fitness come from meals.

    Secondly regarding the IPL - your comment is spot on. The BCCI has rarely focused on cricket's well-being. The money hunger simply recognized that a fusion of Bollywood, Indian business and cricket can only extend the BCCI's existing wealth. India's premier sport following the American way of managing sport appears to be a natural extension of other aspects of urban India which mirror the American worldview.

    The pity is the much of the beauty of traditional cricket is lost on the baseball-type audiences.

  • POSTED BY psbanerjee80 on | April 23, 2008, 5:55 GMT

    Exactly why the people deserve this is not abundantly clear. Perhaps it is an instance of what I once saw defined as the Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences: "Whoever has the gold makes the rules." But the contrast I noted earlier between the proceeds of my own humble crick

  • POSTED BY stholas on | April 25, 2008, 18:34 GMT

    Tough crap. Get used to it. Cricket will never be the same, and it doesn't need to. Do you know why test cricket doesn't seem to be filling the grounds anymore? Maybe because people don't want to wait 5 days for a draw? I love all forms of cricket, but T20 will be the future, no matter how many articles are written against it. Get with the times or go quietly into the night.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | April 25, 2008, 16:54 GMT

    There are a lot of things you don't test if you don't go for five games at five days each. Three-Test series don't tell me much. IPL is therefore somebody else's business. If enough money were put on it, I think the game could be shortened to one hit per batsman. Isn't that the real test of skill, being able to hit the ball out of the ground from any point, every time? Ultimately, I think the batsman should fire the bowler out of a canon. Imagine you and your group of punters being able to catch Shane Warne with his shirt one fire.

  • POSTED BY Ajay42 on | April 25, 2008, 6:16 GMT

    Mr. Haigh's points are all valid. The greatest fear is that this abbreviated excuse for the game will end up cannibalising cricket itself.One T20 game will run into the next, till they are all a blur. The first thing to disappear will be the art of spin bowling, which has already seen such a decline, in this era of small grounds and bats that allow mishits to go for six. Will anybody in authority who loves the game wake up before it's too late? To expect this from any of the Indians controlling world cricket would be a pipe dream.The only hope is that an overdose and lack of brand loyalty, which cannot be built up overnight,will kill spectator interest in this farce masquerading as cricket.

  • POSTED BY spirali on | April 24, 2008, 16:38 GMT

    Gideon- superb article, as usual. A lot of cricket fans seem to be debating the advent of IPL in terms of the quality of the cricket- and I agree with your comments, both positive and negative, on this front. However the real issues here are, as you say, to do with money and power. I fear that a lot of cricket fans are very naive about this, and will only realise what is actually happening to the game once it is too late (which will be in about 3-4 years' time, I'd guess). It's certainly a strange day when going to watch a county championship game feels like a subversive act, but, well, we're living in strange times.

  • POSTED BY ketan13 on | April 23, 2008, 18:29 GMT

    You are right Mr Haigh ,we are watching what Powar & Modi want and not what we want .We dont want a multi-million dollar pajama cricket league . If we needed a legue so much why could not have all international teams plying yeach other in 5 match series home and away over two years .Even test matches could have been structured like that with 3 match series over four years and money would come in.I also agree that this t20 is no breeding ground for the Tendulkars or the Laras of this world.

  • POSTED BY leg_before_wicket on | April 23, 2008, 14:30 GMT

    As for your comments on batting and bowling skills on display until now, I hope players, teams and owners are trying to win hard. If that happens, they will go with the best set of players. They will know that good bowlers and fielders can cripple or send all those hard hitting batsmen back. It is no coincedence that until now, McGrath has the best bowling economy among all the bowlers you have bowled their full quota of overs. His team has won both of its games. A low scoring Twenty20 game on a good batting pitch is not unlikey with some very good bowling, fielding and strategies.

    I wish your comments on IPL and comments on Twenty20 cricket were separated. The IPL part I hate while Twenty20 has great potential to be one of the enjoyable flavours of cricet. I hope Twenty20 cricket on this scale (in terms amount cricketing talent) can be played without the sight of movie stars and politians.

  • POSTED BY rmenon on | April 23, 2008, 10:20 GMT

    Good one Gideon. I couldn't agree with you more. A few more ugly sides to the DFL IPL that we could do without. These ones are outside the cricketing field.

    1. I do not know whether Pepsi is good or not, but blatantly endorsing Pepsi by commentators is definitely not good. Cricket must already be the ideal sports for marketing with breaks during bowling changes. We do not want any marketing during the game.

    2. Inviting celebrities to the commentary box. Akshay Kumar has done enough to sustain the egos of the stars at their mind numbing heights. I felt so bad for Tony Cozier who was trying to keep the conversation on cricket.

    3. The PA system during the chargers and daredevils game. It must have been terrible for Symonds to bowl the last ball of that expensive over with a guy at the mic bellowing through out. At one point, the commentators even ended up repeated his thoughts. We cannot blame the commentators this time, as the din would have affected their thought process.

  • POSTED BY Carmilla on | April 23, 2008, 8:57 GMT

    I must admit I think that this IPL is a just an ego trip for the Indians and Indian players with a few money grabbing Ausies, SA's and Kiwis with perhaps one or two WI's. It is all the more awful when you see the spectators being kept behind wire fences and the ground being patrolled by Police and Army. This is changing the face of the Gentlemen's Game of Cricket altogether, I just hope it does not edge out a real Test Match, I was not for ODI's but did realise that the game had to have something in addition to Test Match Cricket and thoroughly enjoyed the WC. I was definitely not for 20/20s but here again accepted it because it is for the families and must admit have been to the WC in SA for the 20/20s. Never though will I watch the IPL. Now we have the Stanford League? Will there be a split and divide between the continents?? Carmills Fitt (Member of the ESCB and Barmy Army (quite mild to those hoards of Indians))

  • POSTED BY Seshan on | April 23, 2008, 7:59 GMT

    Great article! While I confess I enjoyed some Twenty20 matches, especially the close ones, two points stand out in my mind. The first concerns cricket itself. The best matches I've enjoyed from a cricketing perspective are by far Test matches. Whether it was India vs England in Oval 1979, or the tied test in Chennai against Australia, there was a beauty in the duel between bat and ball. Twenty20 is good dessert, but health and fitness come from meals.

    Secondly regarding the IPL - your comment is spot on. The BCCI has rarely focused on cricket's well-being. The money hunger simply recognized that a fusion of Bollywood, Indian business and cricket can only extend the BCCI's existing wealth. India's premier sport following the American way of managing sport appears to be a natural extension of other aspects of urban India which mirror the American worldview.

    The pity is the much of the beauty of traditional cricket is lost on the baseball-type audiences.

  • POSTED BY psbanerjee80 on | April 23, 2008, 5:55 GMT

    Exactly why the people deserve this is not abundantly clear. Perhaps it is an instance of what I once saw defined as the Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences: "Whoever has the gold makes the rules." But the contrast I noted earlier between the proceeds of my own humble crick

  • POSTED BY MickP on | April 23, 2008, 3:16 GMT

    Twenty-20 is desert without the main course. It is the famous last stand without the whithering odds. It is the turning point of the game, without the game. Even backyard cricket plays out as a more compelling narrative. When such moments occur in the one-day form, or the full opera, they are so much more potent for the context they sit in. Tellingly, perhaps, I dont think those moments are in any way diminished by the spectacle that is Twenty-20. That said, the Indians certainly put on a hell of a party. The sheer exuberance and energy takes a run-of-the-run-down-mill stadium draped in brightly coloured bunting and turns it into a magical other-world reminiscent of those classic moments we remember from the real world. Like a scent in the air that reminds us of our first date. Its a dream factory, but the raw material comes straight from "old cricket". Allow it to run wild, and to choke out the longer forms, and it will starve itself.

  • POSTED BY mathematicised on | April 22, 2008, 22:47 GMT

    Thank you Mr. Haigh. A wonderful presentation of your opinion. Yes, only time will tell what becomes of the game that we love so much. Fear and Greed are very powerful tools. Together, they are possibly unstoppable. "If I don't grab the opportunity, someone else will." And so it goes. It is certainly possible that cricket as we know it will survive this ridiculous monopolisation by the ridiculously power-crazy and powerful and that we will have the good fortune of being blessed with players of Tendulkar's class. But what if this changes cricket forever? Is it worth it? As with anything else, this is also a matter of opinion. And maybe the classical opinion doesn't count for as much anymore. Money does indeed make the world go round.

  • POSTED BY Capitan on | April 22, 2008, 20:49 GMT

    I could not AGREE more with Gideon Haigh's comments. Twenty-20 is a novelty and should remain that way!!! The ONE game played before the start of a test/one day series is the perfect way to draw attention to the series and get the spectators' interest.

    I would go so far as to day that the ICC should cap the number of international Twenty-20 games played each year!

    We have on field rules to preserve the dignity of test cricket and the SPIRIT OF THE GAME, should those rules not apply to the executive and the governing body of our world game?!?

    When Bradman died we said we may never look upon his like again. When Warne retired people said we will never see such genius again. We seem to have said those things because Twenty-20 (if overused) will ultimately destroy our great game and such players won't be interested in playing a discredited and undignified game.

    It's just not cricket.

  • POSTED BY LaxmanFan on | April 22, 2008, 20:47 GMT

    Another grumpy Australian writing with a severe bias. And to couch the bias, he has used Indian examples and names. No sir - it is quite apparent, the colonial grouse due to the shift of power. How about some comments on Stanford and what the ECB is doing with him? That kind of thing is preserving the tradition of the game I suppose?!!

    "Players are falling over themselves..". Well how about English and Australian journalists falling over themselves to damn the IPL? and we are to believe that this is keeping in mind the traditions of the game!!

    And let me tell you one thing - I am a Laxman fan, and I am pretty much aware that this form of the game will kill touch artists like him. But, would rather not agree with you since the bias in this article is so obvious that it cannot be missed

  • POSTED BY bonaku on | April 22, 2008, 20:46 GMT

    for me it is too early to say any thing. we had hardly 6 games. But i think this will bring more non cricket audience to cricket. This will be a big plus for the cricket.

  • POSTED BY waqas.iqbal on | April 22, 2008, 20:32 GMT

    (part 3) ... Given that the English Cricket Board is also considering creating an IPL-style league, Mr. Haigh is left with some contradictions to address.

    For brevity's sake, a final point is the profound irony lost in the comment that A$583.50 "wouldn't buy you the g-string on a Washington Redskins cheerleader." This potshot at Dr. Vijay Maliya's ingenious marketing plan ignores the most obvious of replies: that it is a WASHINGTON Redskins cheerleader. If one would not have criticised the beautiful young woman while she performed in America, leave her alone while she is in India.

  • POSTED BY waqas.iqbal on | April 22, 2008, 20:30 GMT

    (part 2) ... As I gather, "Brutish and Short" is a lash against the perceived crude commercialisation of cricket by the Indians. It is, I believe, a stand against the erosion of something pure, noble and gentlemanly. I'm sure that many writers commented similarly when women began playing cricket.

    However, the essence of Mr. Haigh's article rests on a critique of capitalism. Yet, to discuss the IPL without drawing equally damning comparisons with organisations like the NBA (basketball) and NFL (American football), football clubs like Real Madrid, Inter-Milan and Manchester United, and men like David Beckham (of LA Galaxy fame), among many examples, is troubling. Indeed, the precise difference between the above and the IPL is that the locus of profit is located in the "developing world". It seems that Mr. Haigh begrudges the IPL for succeeding at the precise socio-economic mechanism (capitalism) formulated by the great empires to amass great wealth and power ... (to be continued)

  • POSTED BY waqas.iqbal on | April 22, 2008, 20:27 GMT

    Without an absolute sovereign to police the savage and competitive desires of man, Englishman Thomas Hobbes argued in 1651, ordinary life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Forgive my ignorance, but I fail how references to the "state of nature" in describing the Indian Premier League may be construed as anything but a gesture of ill-will. As a Canadian graduate student of international relations, I've had the misfortune of studying in great detail the long, storied and contemptable history of colonial conquest and pillage. I see traces of the very same ideology that Rudyard Kipling would once describe as the "white man's burden".

    Though seriously motivated to more thoroughly analyse the arguments presented, given that I am not the sort of journalist Cricinfo would publish, and that this is merely a "comment," a few simple points will be made. (to be continued...)

  • POSTED BY SalmanHKhan on | April 22, 2008, 18:56 GMT

    Great article. For me, the best part is: "what is missing are those aspects of the game that make it linger in the mind, that impress on the imagination, that take time to understand, that need effort to appreciate." The real game, and true cricket, is test cricket. I support Pakistan and find it very disappointing that the PCB pays such scant attention to tests. Other countries, in particular Aus, Eng, S Africa and India make sure that despite the overload of one-dayers, they play at least 10-12 tests a year, sometimes more. This allows their players more time to entertain, shine, and to maximise their chances of achieving notable records. Wasim Akram and Miandad played 104 and 124 tests in 18-year test careers, neither missing many through injury. Both should have played 150+ tests. While one-day cricket is important for the money and 'dessert' value, it can never take the place of tests. Individual countries cricket boards should take more responsibility and schedule more tests.

  • POSTED BY kingofspain on | April 22, 2008, 18:41 GMT

    20/20 will eventually prove far less of a success once the novelty wears off because of the reasons listed in this article- at its core, this form of the game is rubbish.

  • POSTED BY SachinIsTheGreatest on | April 22, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    Ah, right. Pardon my earlier rants but now I know what Mr.Haigh wanted to say. He summed it all up in this "...It is not even about giving the people what they want; it is about giving the people what Modi and Pawar want them to want,...". You see, cricket fans are bunch of dim-witted slobs who can't figure out what they want and hence they fall for every cheap trick!! It required the magnificent vision of Mr.Haigh to figure this out!!! If Mr.Haigh is to have his way the veto powers would be restored to Australia and England while the BCCI would be suitably "punished" for attempting to shift the balance of power in world cricket.

  • POSTED BY Shantan on | April 22, 2008, 17:22 GMT

    To answer the question in the last line, I think zero! Not a single penny will be put back into the game of cricket. I'm a traditionalist as far as cricket is concerned... and I like to see a contest. Class definitely counts as McGrath, Pollock, Asif & Murali have shown, but generally going for 7+ RPO doesn't make much sense. No batsman is that good, and no bowler is that bad to consistently end up giving 30+ runs off 4 overs!

    I think cricket is much poorer with the advent of Twenty20. Players & Sponsors have become richer, but the game of cricket has lost it's charm. It will never ever be the same... I can already see future India series being something like 1 Test, 5 ODIs and 10 Twenty20 matches... all cramped into a 20-day schedule.

    There will never be a Rahul Dravid or a Sachin Tendulkar or even a VVS Laxman again... atleast not in my lifetime!

  • POSTED BY Georgie_boy on | April 22, 2008, 15:11 GMT

    20:20 is cricket...but not as we know it and betrays a shallowness that is surprising even from the narrow minds of the BCCI. 20:20 was conceived as a hit and a giggle; something a bit different in a long English summer.

    Now we are told it is the future of the game. And yet surely it won't be - cricket fans are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a McChicken Burger and Claridges's Coq au Vin. Both are immediately satisfying; only one is ultimately fulfilling and eventually the sheer unsubtlety of 20:20 will be its downfall. Like single-wicket contests and super-subs, 20:20 will not stand the test of time. Here are just two reasons why:

    First, 20:20 is even better than one-day cricket in producing one-sided, tedious matches (the first 3 games of the IPL between supposedly matched teams). Second, the bowlers are now no more than pitchers which makes it a simple game of who can slog the most runs off average bowlers. Without an even contest, there is no game.

  • POSTED BY mash_steve on | April 22, 2008, 14:18 GMT

    Its just six weeks of t20 cricket bringing international players of different countries together,which is something good for cricket.I really enjoy seeing this type of cricket once in an year.

  • POSTED BY karthikhg on | April 22, 2008, 14:11 GMT

    Haigh sounds like a gumpy old man, discontent with any changes outside of his cozy apartment and his comfortable rocking arm-chair, sitting in which he grinds his teeth and curses all non-'proper' happenings in the 'real world'. I still remember his shrill attack on Sunil Gavaskar (who needs a spanking himself) which suggested there was a personal agenda behind his words. The bitterness can be cut with a knife! The NBA, the NFL, EPL all started to make the most of the money in those respective sports and to offer a chance to sportsmen to make a true profession out of sport. They did not start with the evangelistic intentions of the 'greater good of the game'.. That was incidental. There is no reason to believe that will not be the case here. Be it the Twenty20 format, the IPL, Lalith Modi, Sharad Pawar... These are the present and the future. Get with it. PS:There was a party a couple of nights back, where my American friends sat through the 4 hours of IPL and left happily. Tea anyone?

  • POSTED BY concerned_cricketer on | April 22, 2008, 13:58 GMT

    The style of batting is almost always dictated by the situation in the game. It is also dependent on which player is at the crease. I remember the time when Kapil Dev hit 4 consecutive sixers to get to the score needed to avoid follow on against South Africa. As long as test cricket is played, there will be a place for artists like Tendulkar, Dravid, Warne, Lara, Akram etc. Whether test cricket will survive or not is not dependent on the current players - rather it is dependent on what each of us in the society demand. So if test cricket dies, it won't be the sole responsibility of Robin Uthappa. Gideon Haigh anwill be as guilty for not belonging to a group that was strong enough to save test crciket. Guilty for keeping cricket far away from the ordinary people and for not having the foresight to forsee that it would be the ordinary people who have the money to fund the game one day! For not innoculating the masses from the temptation of the short term gratification of 20/20 cricket.

  • POSTED BY Shivv007 on | April 22, 2008, 13:38 GMT

    Brilliant analysis of the extent of damage T20 is set to unleash on the sport of cricket. Instead of making tests/ODIs more interesting by coming up with sporting pitches, BCCI is out to make the most of the moment. Are these boards there to make money or to protect the game?? People get the 'KICK' in today's t20 because they know the value of a 4 or 6 in a traditional match. But after 2-3 years, whats will be left in a t20 match when even SIXERS become a norm??? Maybe some more glamour displays from the bollywood stars and more skin show from the cheerleaders!!!!

  • POSTED BY StealthCrawler on | April 22, 2008, 13:34 GMT

    I think u've hit the nail on it's head. I've read a lot of articles on what the IPL will lead to and what not; but none as clear as this. No one really knows where the game will go from here but one thing you can be sure of. The inception of T20/IPL has been, less to take the games forward, and more to satisfy the greed to select few. You're damn right about Dravid. He wouldn't have made the cut if he were to arrive now. Same goes for Langer/S.Waugh. Players like Jaffer would be sidelined in no time. The Grit aspect of the batsman's game is almost completely taken away. People compare cricket to other sports around the world and say, cricket should follow them. I say, WHY? We have a game which is different. Has a charm no other games seems to be able to match. So WHY follow? Why not lead? Having said all this, I still think, a few wise heads at the top can make so much difference in where the game is after 10 years..Make it 5. It's a critical time for cricket. We can just wait.

  • POSTED BY scp3 on | April 22, 2008, 13:06 GMT

    Good to see that amidst ostentatious abuse of money and blinding glamour of IPL there are some who think alike. Mr. Haigh's opinion is in total coherence with, avid but not so influential, cricket followers like me. There is no harm in drawing inspiration from the west (EPL, NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB), but trying to package cricket in a similar wrapper as football, soccer and basksetball blows my mind off. The demands and nature of these games are so disparate that it appears to me when I am watching IPL, as once the royal highnesses have renounced the elephant's back and are trying to tame bulls as matadors for the pleasure of spanish kings. No points for guessing who the matadors and the kings are in this context.

  • POSTED BY SriLax on | April 22, 2008, 13:04 GMT

    IPL is for rich people to make money, by fooling the middle class Indians. I dont understand what the people gain by watching endless sixes flying over them. Test is the only true form of cricket, and that will be finished, thanks to this rampant over-commercialization of cricket.

    I am also upset that cricinfo and others are covering this stupid event, even after the heavy handed treatment they have received by the bunch of jokers at BCCI.

    People should put a stop to this by not watching the event, so that BCCI and the other bunch of industrialists, cinema stars etc. are handed such heavy losses that they would think twice before putting their money in such stupid events as the IPL.

  • POSTED BY mikeindex on | April 22, 2008, 12:46 GMT

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read on Cricinfo, or indeed about cricket anywhere. Well said. And more power to the Yarras.

  • POSTED BY sureshji on | April 22, 2008, 12:36 GMT

    This article smacks of typical petty jealousy from a British writer. India has staged a great 20-20 tournament. The Opening Ceremony was magnificent, and yet Gideon Haigh focuses on lights going off in Calcutta for a brief period. It is about time the Brits overcome their ex imperial sourness.

  • POSTED BY din7 on | April 22, 2008, 12:31 GMT

    Excellent article by Gideon haigh. I agree with his comments that 20-20 can produce only stroke players but not batting technicians like Rahul dravid or sachin tendulkar. I still like to see sachin's magnificient strokes rather than 20-20 specialists. T20 can't produce any great players. If 20-20 becomes cricket's future i woulid stop watching cricket.

  • POSTED BY drinks.break on | April 22, 2008, 12:17 GMT

    Nice article. While it is still early days, I have a suspicion that even in Twenty20, in the end good, all round cricket skills will rise to the top. The contrasting innings of Watson and Jadeja in last night's match are a case in point. Watson moved his feet well and played with a straight bat wherever possible. Jadeja's first instinct was to back away and play cross-batted swipes at everything. While they were equally successful on this occasion (although I wonder if Jadeja would have been as successful if he and Watson's roles in the innings had been swapped), you always felt like Jadeja was one well-directed leg-stump yorker away from seeing the furniture cleaned up, while Watson looked simply impregnable. In other words, Jadeja was fortunate, Watson was in control. Shane Warne's spell was further proof that class will out.

  • POSTED BY TESTBEST on | April 22, 2008, 12:15 GMT

    Very correlative given the circumstances. I guess the repeated use of "it's too early to tell" was used as a weapon against the Indian connoisseurs of the game. I admired the way you made fun of some of the Indian greats adjusting to the twenty 20 format(I have to accept that it's not your objective). It's very true that after 7 games barring Yuvraj Singh no Indian stalwart currently playing has made a mark on IPL. Liked your logic in explaining things that matter for cricket- like the nostalgic Off-drive of Dravid, the 4 over prodding spell from Kumble -which would mean nothing and wouldn't show the real genius that he is- even if we see back at it after 50 years from now should be applauded. But I do wonder Ponting's been having Kolkata blues- whatever the format. You forgot him or something- he's another modern great.

  • POSTED BY Jawz on | April 22, 2008, 12:12 GMT

    A very apt analysis. The talent which is visible in the 20-20 format now like Ravinder Jadeja and Salunkhe is exciting news for Indian cricket. How they perform in Tests is another matter. That's the problem. and that's the moot point. Gideon has raised some pertinent questions. And those who have played and are involved in the game have raised similar questions. One thing is sure, Lalit Modi & Co. do seem more interested in making Cricket the Grand Money Spinner than unearthing the Indian Talent. Easy money spoils. Will Cricket survive? Only time will tell. We all hope it survives.

    I would like to thank Cricinfo.com for providing us with such well-written articles. Your coverage of the IPL is great too. I wish Mr. Modi had understood what service is being rendered by Cricinfo.

  • POSTED BY CoolDust on | April 22, 2008, 11:31 GMT

    Bravo, Bravo. This is truly an excellent commentary, from the hilarious notion put forward by Mr. Haigh that seeing a cover-drive in the Bangalore-Mumbai game made one quite nostalgic for the good ol' days to the all true point that what we are getting from the likes of Modi and especially Mr. Sharad Powar is in fact a dazzling illusion that they are here to serve in our best interests.

    Like Mr. Haigh I have to say that the IPL is not a terrible thing in itself but we must at all time be wary that no such people like those who own the franchises and those who are administering the leagues come in the way of recognizing that cricket is ultimately a people's game and that whatever direction the game may lead, it must always remain a marriage between ball, bat and fan...

    P.s Mr. Haigh, it seems that I haven't had such a pleasure of reading a commentary so detailed with wit, style and exuberance in quite a long time that I must say I am dearly looking forward to your next article.

  • POSTED BY kkp394 on | April 22, 2008, 11:18 GMT

    I would not call it utterly cynical , but i somehow feel Mr.Haigh is too much concerned. Agreed , that the traditional form takes a beating coz of t20 and it would be difficult to produce sachin tendulkars. But wasnt the same said when they started 50-50 . Arent we worshipping tendulkar more for his heroics against australia in Sharja amongst others. Is it vindicated if Tendulkar plays as slow an innings as Gavaskar used to play.

    The point that administrators at BCCI are forcing T20 on to people is wrong. One of the basics principals in marketing a product is to meet the demand if it exists or to create the demand if it doesnt. If you go by this it isnt as bad as Mr.Haigh portrays. Atlast , i would say change is the only thing that is constant. It is better to welcome it than feeling sad about it.

  • POSTED BY dibbu on | April 22, 2008, 11:16 GMT

    Though I agree with most of what the article says and especially dont feel that that there is any skill required in this format. In fact, it makes baseball look so much more skillful! But I dont agree with Sanjay Manjerekar in your list- he was an average player and now makes career through average commentary, and oft below par comments against Sachin. That asided, oh! What I would give to see another Perth test between India and Australia!

  • POSTED BY Abhimehta on | April 22, 2008, 11:07 GMT

    Mr. Haigh: you do a masterly job here of completely missing the point, concentrating purely on the negatives and in general pandering to the anti-commercialization lobby that mostly sits in the "mens only" MCC stand at Lords. How about the fact that IPL is giving so many young Indian players a chance to display their skills to players and selectors alike? How about the fact that deserving international cricketers from countries whose boards are less well off can now also aspire and achieve a good lifestyle ala their compatriots in England, Oz and India? The argument that IPL will breed only T20 type players is wholly refutable. For the serious cricketer, Test cricket and the ODI WC will be the prizes most cherished. T20 has a place but it definitely won't hog the entire trophy shelf. One only has to turn to Warne's display yesterday to understand real skill will ALWAYS have a place in any form of cricket and that, really, is what its all about. Time to expand your horizons.

  • POSTED BY jamrith on | April 22, 2008, 10:51 GMT

    I agree 100% with Gideon Haigh's sentiments. T20 is a very crude and unpolished form of the game, maybe okay as a Sunday afternoon alternative on a country ground in England or South Africa but hopelessly out of place in the amphitheatres of India or Australia for that matter. There is absolutely no attachment between the crowds and the so-called home teams. Hopefully the whole experiment will fail and leave the BCCI with egg on its face.

  • POSTED BY honjumark on | April 22, 2008, 10:51 GMT

    I found your lotus eating metaphor to be in poor taste. Had you written an article at the advent of the Packer series I'm sure it would have been just as cynical. There is a place for cricket historians and it is clearly not in the future.

  • POSTED BY Derekr on | April 22, 2008, 10:47 GMT

    Too true, too true. It's not only IPL that will be creating windows in international programmes already fit to burst at the seams, but the ECB have a gleam in their eye that looks vaguely pound-shaped to me! I'm sure every nation will want their own version of the circus, and that will simply leave no time for tests. I won't be sad to see the 50 over ODI go - exceptional matches are few and far between now - but would hate to see tests slip to becoming a second division, second rate sport, the "real tennis" of the 21st. century. Worse, a split could emerge, like rugby league and union, two separate sports with separate talent pools.

    It's no use wringing the hands though - the mighty dollar (or rupee) will win; tests are likely to be the loser. Good luck to the Yarras - some of them might be playing tests in a few years.

  • POSTED BY SPrakash on | April 22, 2008, 10:35 GMT

    Brilliant ! Just that. Have always followed Gideon's writing and this is yet another brilliant write up. Any hardcore supporter of more of these games will find it very difficult (if not impossible) to answer the questions in the article concerning the great players.

  • POSTED BY dazzler_arpan on | April 22, 2008, 10:31 GMT

    I wonder why cricinfo is so critical of IPL. i guess IPL is best thing to happen to cricket and in comming years IPL and EPL-cricket n other such leagues will give games like football and others run for their money

  • POSTED BY sirhc8 on | April 22, 2008, 10:12 GMT

    Let me preface this by stating that I am a bit of a traditionalist. Riveting for me is to see the contest between bat and ball. Sometimes that involves masterful strokeplay, sometimes that means 10 runs scored in an hour of cricket with the batsmen fighting to survive. My thoughts on twenty20 cricket therefore largely spell themselves out. I've watched much of the IPL so far, and there have been snippets of high entertainment.

    My concern, and what I can realistically see occuring in ten years time, is that cricket will be like football. It will be a franchised sport played throughout much of the year throughout which will be international windows. Tours, as they now exist, will be a thing of the past. We'll still be holding the Ashes and India-Pakistan/Australia but to what extent will international cricket truly exist?

    No sentient being would argue that the ICC isn't spineless and largely inept, but I'm not sure they hold the power here.

  • POSTED BY long_handle9 on | April 22, 2008, 9:44 GMT

    "It is not even about giving the people what they want; it is about giving the people what Modi and Pawar want them to want..." You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Haigh.

  • POSTED BY lestokes on | April 22, 2008, 9:32 GMT

    I am an Aussie and have been watching the games. Although a game is a game, it certainly dosent leave a memorable impression but more of an afterthought once the game is complete. Although it is fun to see big sixes and some excellent stroke play it just dosent seem like cricket. I also find Preity Zinta's summation of the game perhaps the best way to explain what most of these owners and admin think of cricket and the 2020 concept '..fours, sixes, wickets' well if this is how cricket is defined by some then cricket is doomed. This makes me wonder who is the real winner here. Is it cricket? Is it the players? Or the owners of these franchises of whom most of us have no idea who they are, what they do, and why all of a sudden they think they know what's best for cricket. So to finish why is crcket so deserving that it is now becoming a mockery, you dont see football diminshing it self to such absurb concepts. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that 2020 cricket should never been born.

  • POSTED BY long_handle9 on | April 22, 2008, 9:11 GMT

    You said it, Mr. Haigh. The good thing about Test or ODIs is the change in tempo; 20 overs of nurdling and nudging may be followed by a sudden 10-over blitz. In T20 (not the IPL specifically, but mostly so) it's just the same thing, over and over and over; the only good match so far has been on a brutal track. If you notice, T20 commentators and administration play it all up by shouting, showing repeated flashes of cheerleaders, and bellowing about the speed of the game at the same time. In that case, why not watch either the death overs of an ODI, or a Test team veering on declaration? Kudos to this article, Mr. Haigh.

  • POSTED BY elsmallo on | April 22, 2008, 9:03 GMT

    Taking India as an example, how many of their superstars of the last ten years were built for 20/20? Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Kumble, Ganguly? All were made in test cricket, and to a lesser extent 50 overs. By contrast, Brendan McCullum too often looks reckless in Test cricket- an impatient basher. KP says he'd like to see more people playing shots in the longer form of the game, but I wonder how he'd really feel if everyone played like him- he'd be out of a job. I just hope the novelty will fizzle out before everyone starts spending the advance millions. Sky, who don't have the IPL deal, have been showing beach cricket instead, but I wonder what the difference is. The IPL players are doing it for the money- and that alone- KP might like it but we all know what Ponting thinks of it. Good in moderation, but essentially, as GH points out, brutish and short.

  • POSTED BY striker_force on | April 22, 2008, 8:38 GMT

    All valid points. We dont need to see the glitter of the bollywood to appreciate the beauty of cricket's subtleties. This is just the self ego-thumping by the BCCI's elites. I am disappointed but given the chance to see my favourite cricketers in domestic garbs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would prefer to take IPL more like a snack than my staple food.

  • POSTED BY vinjoy on | April 22, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    IPL is only one more step towards degrading the game of cricket. It is only a reflection of the society that we are part of, in administration, politics, media, education, cinema, sports, civic sense, and in fact - life. What matters is money, that's it. People flock stadiums to have an outing, to be a part of crowd that pretends to busy if it is a test match, and that relishes more a Yuvraj's sixer more than a Dravid front-foot defense. Everybody knows how the game is run by BCCI, and I do not disagree with Mike Atherton, the former England Captain who once said that India's control in the game is dangerous for world cricket. The effects can be seen when players like Ponting and Sangakara have echoed the voice of an IPL window in FTP. It is shocking to see the balance between bat and ball on cricket field. The game will no more about skill, character, courage or temprament, but only those will survive who will be shown a red flad to run, hit, smash, maul.

  • POSTED BY SachinIsTheGreatest on | April 22, 2008, 7:52 GMT

    This comment will not be published but Mr.Haigh should read this.

    This hypocrite is counting his $583.50 as if he lives in unimaginable poverty. Does he have ANY idea what poverty is? This man will talk as if his $583.50 is gold but does he REALLY know what hard-earned money is?

    Living in "poor" cities like Sydney and London his $583.50 raised as "charity" is more than India's per capita income. So whats his problem with the IPL? Didn't he realise T20, invented because British kids don't have an attention span of more than 20 seconds, was an evil? Why is it an evil just because the BCCI has discovered its potential?

    I was going through the list of all his articles on CI and four years since the inception of this form he hasn't raised a voice as sceptical as this.

    Grow up, Sir!! Try to look out of your mansion and face the truth that earning money is not just the wealthy socities' domain. Povertry stricken societies also have the right to dream big and make those come true.

  • POSTED BY Dave10 on | April 22, 2008, 7:49 GMT

    ".......But can you see BS Chandrashekhar, Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna?......."

    Well they would have been pretty handy on the Eden Gardens pitch....and Warne won last nights game for his team.

  • POSTED BY wizman on | April 22, 2008, 7:36 GMT

    Here here to all that!

    How long until some American billionaire sees he can get some ratings with compressed cricket just nearby in the West Indies? Make a window for that!

    The a South African diamond zillionaire needs a window for his T20 circus. How about a Russian gangster ... er ... billionaire buying an ICC window for a T20 tournament in England and stuff the old county rubbish. Eventually the younger Packer might see some sense in ditching the 50-over stuff for a mercenary T20 window also.

    When the walls are full of windows, what is supporting the roof? Sage words Mr.Haigh, sage indeed.

  • POSTED BY RolandJ on | April 22, 2008, 7:25 GMT

    Brilliant article. I too will watch just about anything involving bat and ball. Unfortunately, it seems to me that 20/20 distills the main elements of cricket to thrashed 6s, dot balls and the occasional spectacular sliding stop on the boundary. I certainly want more from the game than that. Seeing the ball clear the boundary used to be a novelty, and had a real wow-factor, now it we hardly even blink when it happens. Actually, the dot balls are more exciting than anything else!

  • POSTED BY Radomir on | April 22, 2008, 7:14 GMT

    Excellent article. I think that players of defensive technical ability will start to become increasingly hard to find. In a recent IPL match Dravid showed that you didn't have to slog to score runs. Turning back the clock to 11 December 1979. In the 5th match of Benson and Hedges 50 over matches. Selectors beleived Boycotts slow cautious approach to the game would not suit the ODI format. In his 19 ODI games boycott had an average of 19.46. He made a good come-back when he made 68 in a 3 wicket win over Australia. An even greater performance came when three nights later in Sydney he made his only ODI century. He aslo has the record of the oldest person to make an ODI century at 39 years and 51 days. Opening the innings and facing Lillee and Thomson he made 105 from 124 balls with 7 fours. He boosted Englands total to 264 and England won the match by 72 runs. This proves that you don't have to slog to score runs. Hopefully this Twenty20 problem will sort itself out.

  • POSTED BY Cellinis on | April 22, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    There are times, when the wickets are sporting and the game enticing that I think that T20 is after all, cricket. I loved some of the matches in the T20 World Cup, especially early on where bowlers proved to be a handful. Unfortunately, the subcontinent has very limited perception of what can be considered a good contest between the bat and the ball. The administrators seem to think that crowds only enjoy boundaries. And yes, the future looks quite bleak. A very nice article Mr. Haigh.

  • POSTED BY shumit on | April 22, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    No applause is sufficient for this piece! Anyone who is anyone in Cricket should be thrust this article as a compulsory read. At the start, I moaned - 'Oh no! here's another traditionalist whining away about change.' But by the time I reached the end, I wanted to read it over again. Cricket's changing, and there are no two ways about it. Perhaps things will balance out, but let us not be under any misconception that Test Cricket will survive the onslaught of T20, T10 and eventually T5! But then, the game would only go global by treading this path, no matter how non-conformist it is. I agree that the sacrifice is humongous, but how do I expect the game's stakeholders to continue patronizing a limited field? Something had to give way, and it has, now! That said, I still think true cricket-lovers will continue to rule how the game evolves, and that a Sachin would be embraced any day over a Yuvraj, even after (T)20 years! And yes - Uthappa will captain the Mangalore Mudbloods in 2010!

  • POSTED BY KunalNanda on | April 22, 2008, 6:14 GMT

    All said and done, for cricket to survive you need hype, money and star power. unfortunately, for western countries, they have none. ipl will be a success. cricket will be changed forever. but it will be for the better. imagine taking the concept of IPL to places like the US and China. ICC should be grateful that the IPL came along.

  • POSTED BY vswami on | April 22, 2008, 5:29 GMT

    Again, another rant. Firstly no one is forcing anyone to watch IPL. Secondly its taking place for 44 days in a calendar year of 365. The rest of the days are available for any number of test matches to be played. Thirdly its a domestic tournament, and BCCI is organising it the way it chooses to. There is nothing new in it other than the money involved and foreign players, both of which are . Twenty20 has been around for 4 years and when it was played in England and crowds started turning up, it was deemed as positive for the game. The best form of flattery is imitation .. watch Cricket Australia and ECB fumbling to create their own versions of Twenty20.

  • POSTED BY Idiosyncrasies on | April 22, 2008, 5:23 GMT

    Brilliant article, Gideon. I am very moved by everything that was said. It all seems that cricket is "selling-out", no longer holding true to what it is, and only stripping down for greater appeal.

    No, scratch that; Cricket has already sold out. And I will always begrudge BCCI for it. All the best to your club.

  • POSTED BY masterblaster666 on | April 22, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    I don't know why everybody is in a tearing hurry to pronounce judgment on IPL and more to the point T20 as a form of cricket. It's early days yet for T20 and a lot of misconceptions - such as that only 100 mph yorkers and flat-batted smashes will work - are going to be shattered over the duration of this tournament and class will reassert itself eventually. Remember how Sunny used to promote himself up the order and slog at everything just to chase a 'high' target of 250? Nowadays even 300-plus targets are chased down rather comfortably in ODIs because batsmen have realised that 8-10 RPO can be achieved more easily by quick running than wild, indiscreet slogging. A similar realization will dawn on T20 exponents, that when the momentum is faltering, it is better to keep the scorecard ticking than to lunge desperately at everything and consume dot balls in the process. If Mr.Cricket scoring the fastest T20 century can't pacify the naysayers, then I don't know what will.

  • POSTED BY rusty on | April 22, 2008, 4:50 GMT

    Would some reader please distill, in 30 words or less ( no verbosity, please) what they actually like about Twenty20. Is it the 6's? the glam? the hype? the cheerleaders? of just being there?

    As someone who can only see it on TV after midnight, I don't get it. The occasional 6 in a tense match where such a feat after hours of dot balls, is a real achievement. But not endlessly on poor pitches in a noisy slap-dash. I stayed up til 3am for the 2005 Ashes, for me that was the epitome of high drama in sport. But this can't hold my attention.

  • POSTED BY Chalaka on | April 22, 2008, 4:10 GMT

    Come on man think outside of the box. Do we need another Tendulkar? Was there ever an Issac Newton or an Aristotal or an Alexandra Graham Bell born? Live past these petty thoughts. This is the 3rd generation of cricket. Will you be still using your old brick size mobile right now? No I am sure you have up-graded yourself so go on man. think new and positive.

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  • POSTED BY Chalaka on | April 22, 2008, 4:10 GMT

    Come on man think outside of the box. Do we need another Tendulkar? Was there ever an Issac Newton or an Aristotal or an Alexandra Graham Bell born? Live past these petty thoughts. This is the 3rd generation of cricket. Will you be still using your old brick size mobile right now? No I am sure you have up-graded yourself so go on man. think new and positive.

  • POSTED BY rusty on | April 22, 2008, 4:50 GMT

    Would some reader please distill, in 30 words or less ( no verbosity, please) what they actually like about Twenty20. Is it the 6's? the glam? the hype? the cheerleaders? of just being there?

    As someone who can only see it on TV after midnight, I don't get it. The occasional 6 in a tense match where such a feat after hours of dot balls, is a real achievement. But not endlessly on poor pitches in a noisy slap-dash. I stayed up til 3am for the 2005 Ashes, for me that was the epitome of high drama in sport. But this can't hold my attention.

  • POSTED BY masterblaster666 on | April 22, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    I don't know why everybody is in a tearing hurry to pronounce judgment on IPL and more to the point T20 as a form of cricket. It's early days yet for T20 and a lot of misconceptions - such as that only 100 mph yorkers and flat-batted smashes will work - are going to be shattered over the duration of this tournament and class will reassert itself eventually. Remember how Sunny used to promote himself up the order and slog at everything just to chase a 'high' target of 250? Nowadays even 300-plus targets are chased down rather comfortably in ODIs because batsmen have realised that 8-10 RPO can be achieved more easily by quick running than wild, indiscreet slogging. A similar realization will dawn on T20 exponents, that when the momentum is faltering, it is better to keep the scorecard ticking than to lunge desperately at everything and consume dot balls in the process. If Mr.Cricket scoring the fastest T20 century can't pacify the naysayers, then I don't know what will.

  • POSTED BY Idiosyncrasies on | April 22, 2008, 5:23 GMT

    Brilliant article, Gideon. I am very moved by everything that was said. It all seems that cricket is "selling-out", no longer holding true to what it is, and only stripping down for greater appeal.

    No, scratch that; Cricket has already sold out. And I will always begrudge BCCI for it. All the best to your club.

  • POSTED BY vswami on | April 22, 2008, 5:29 GMT

    Again, another rant. Firstly no one is forcing anyone to watch IPL. Secondly its taking place for 44 days in a calendar year of 365. The rest of the days are available for any number of test matches to be played. Thirdly its a domestic tournament, and BCCI is organising it the way it chooses to. There is nothing new in it other than the money involved and foreign players, both of which are . Twenty20 has been around for 4 years and when it was played in England and crowds started turning up, it was deemed as positive for the game. The best form of flattery is imitation .. watch Cricket Australia and ECB fumbling to create their own versions of Twenty20.

  • POSTED BY KunalNanda on | April 22, 2008, 6:14 GMT

    All said and done, for cricket to survive you need hype, money and star power. unfortunately, for western countries, they have none. ipl will be a success. cricket will be changed forever. but it will be for the better. imagine taking the concept of IPL to places like the US and China. ICC should be grateful that the IPL came along.

  • POSTED BY shumit on | April 22, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    No applause is sufficient for this piece! Anyone who is anyone in Cricket should be thrust this article as a compulsory read. At the start, I moaned - 'Oh no! here's another traditionalist whining away about change.' But by the time I reached the end, I wanted to read it over again. Cricket's changing, and there are no two ways about it. Perhaps things will balance out, but let us not be under any misconception that Test Cricket will survive the onslaught of T20, T10 and eventually T5! But then, the game would only go global by treading this path, no matter how non-conformist it is. I agree that the sacrifice is humongous, but how do I expect the game's stakeholders to continue patronizing a limited field? Something had to give way, and it has, now! That said, I still think true cricket-lovers will continue to rule how the game evolves, and that a Sachin would be embraced any day over a Yuvraj, even after (T)20 years! And yes - Uthappa will captain the Mangalore Mudbloods in 2010!

  • POSTED BY Cellinis on | April 22, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    There are times, when the wickets are sporting and the game enticing that I think that T20 is after all, cricket. I loved some of the matches in the T20 World Cup, especially early on where bowlers proved to be a handful. Unfortunately, the subcontinent has very limited perception of what can be considered a good contest between the bat and the ball. The administrators seem to think that crowds only enjoy boundaries. And yes, the future looks quite bleak. A very nice article Mr. Haigh.

  • POSTED BY Radomir on | April 22, 2008, 7:14 GMT

    Excellent article. I think that players of defensive technical ability will start to become increasingly hard to find. In a recent IPL match Dravid showed that you didn't have to slog to score runs. Turning back the clock to 11 December 1979. In the 5th match of Benson and Hedges 50 over matches. Selectors beleived Boycotts slow cautious approach to the game would not suit the ODI format. In his 19 ODI games boycott had an average of 19.46. He made a good come-back when he made 68 in a 3 wicket win over Australia. An even greater performance came when three nights later in Sydney he made his only ODI century. He aslo has the record of the oldest person to make an ODI century at 39 years and 51 days. Opening the innings and facing Lillee and Thomson he made 105 from 124 balls with 7 fours. He boosted Englands total to 264 and England won the match by 72 runs. This proves that you don't have to slog to score runs. Hopefully this Twenty20 problem will sort itself out.

  • POSTED BY RolandJ on | April 22, 2008, 7:25 GMT

    Brilliant article. I too will watch just about anything involving bat and ball. Unfortunately, it seems to me that 20/20 distills the main elements of cricket to thrashed 6s, dot balls and the occasional spectacular sliding stop on the boundary. I certainly want more from the game than that. Seeing the ball clear the boundary used to be a novelty, and had a real wow-factor, now it we hardly even blink when it happens. Actually, the dot balls are more exciting than anything else!