December 18, 2009

Disarm the bowler, kill the contest

Administrators must keep cricket from turning into a computer game where the player can hit a six off every ball
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Rajkot was a cricket occasion, not a cricket match. It was a spectacle, not a contest. It wasn't good for cricket.

Yes, there was a close finish; yes, Sri Lanka chased a virtually insurmountable target with great gusto; yes, India's bowling in the last three overs was top-class, but the ball was rendered incapable of throwing up a challenge. At the heart of cricket's magic, the reason all of us are so enamoured by it, is the fact that every ball is a contest. The bowler conceives the challenge, sets his line, his length, his movement, the placement of fielders, and presents it to the batsman, who must then unravel it and respond.

And then there is another challenge. It is relentless and it must be that way. The moment the delivery of the ball to a batsman is no longer a challenge, the contest ceases. It is no longer cricket. Or maybe it would be to the same extent that boxing would remain a sport if each boxer is allowed three minutes at a punching bag and the winner determined by who hits the bag better.

And so it is imperative that we get the surface right. The vagaries of the surface, and therefore their role in the presentation of a challenge by the bowler to the batsman, lies at the heart of cricket: favouring the batsman a bit one day, then ensuring that he has to hop against the bounce or crouch to smother the turn the next day. It is the inherent mystery in the surface that defines the contest. And that is what cricket's administrators have to protect. They must be obsessed by the need to retain the contest. Chocolates must have their cocoa, cricket must have its contest; neither exists otherwise.

In Rajkot, 825 runs were made in a hundred overs. Many cheered, as they might have in ancient Rome when Christians were thrown to the lions. The hitting of a boundary was no longer an event, no longer a victory for the bat over the ball. It was routine, almost par for the course. Was the bowler thinking of getting a batsman out or was he fearing where he was going to be hit? Was there a sigh of relief at a dot ball? Did submission accompany a bowler back to his mark in place of aggression? The earlier we outlaw such pitches, the better it is. We must start today. An 825-runs-a-day wicket is as bad as a 200-runs-a-day wicket.

The moment the delivery of the ball to a batsman is no longer a challenge, the contest ceases. It is no longer cricket

Having said that, let us pause a moment and see if another point of view exists. Could it be that what we are seeing is a redefining of possibility? Is this just a quantum jump of the kind we are seeing in the computing world? Are batsmen compelling us to reassess the definition of risk? Are they taking us to a world we didn't know existed? Is this going to be the norm from now? Will we hit 1000 runs in a day? Possibly. Certainly hitting through the line and driving in the air are not as risky as once thought. But even if we grant that we are at an exciting phase in the evolution of the game, we must never reduce a bowler's chances of taking a wicket. Otherwise how are we different from computer games where the player sets all the parameters and the batsmen hit a six off every ball?

Maybe we can start, us in the media, by defining what a good pitch is; not one on which batsmen can score a lot of runs but one on which ball and bat have equal opportunity. Every time a curator says, "I have prepared a good wicket", let us ask him what he really means.

Bowlers are not waiters, they should not have to serve deliveries on a platter at a batsman's command. We have already produced monster bats and brought the boundary rope in so much that on some days it looks like we are playing in a small park. And increasingly we produce pitches like the one in Rajkot. Is it inconceivable that a day will come when a bowler is given a list of balls he can bowl, it is announced on a public address system, and then we all wait to see what the batsman does with it?

Hopefully that is a doomsday scenario, but it doesn't reduce the great need for the cricket world to come together to ensure that every cricketing occasion is a contest between ball and bat. We must be obsessed by the need to maintain it.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • R00ster on December 21, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    very well written Harsha. if there is one thing that will make the five day game extinct it's these dead and dusty wickets that are criminally altered in batsmen's favor. none wants wans to give bowlers any freebies. certainly not i. but at the same time it has to be a fair contest. additionally , these free hits and power play restrictions are awful. having said all of this , the way the insurance is bought for cricket matches and the involvement of merchandising and televison revenue you can forget about the good old days green tops.

  • acrazycricketfan on December 21, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    The ICC is to be blamed for this.Never mind the ODI's.Even in the tests too , the host nations are given the preference to produce pitches to their bowlers likings.ICC should act immediately & see that all the grounds all over the world produce the same kind of pitches & then we can compare the talents.The way the pitches are prepared right now , I dont see good technically correct players deserve their recogition as a lot of players who dont have that technique to survive the international standards hit all over the park with these kind of pitches.WAKE UP ICC.

  • ofni on December 20, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    Here are my two bits -

    1. Get rid of bouncer restrictions - let bowlers bowl as many bouncers as they wish per over. 2. Change the leg side wide rule - If a ball pitches in line with the stumps and then goes outside the leg stump it should NOT be considered a wide.

    These two simple changes allow the game to be better balanced between the ball and bat - even with all the other rules (powerplay et. al) in place, dead pitches and smaller boundary lines.

  • ashok16 on December 20, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    Good article. About time. Also why is the power play considered such a sacred cow. The two fielder maximum outside the circle has turned out some worthless batting talent while killing the incentive for bowlers. Now we have a bewildering complexity of power plays. Why not just say a maximum of 5 players can field outside the circle at any time and be done with it. With the way cricket is set up right now, I think umpiring and bowling would be better served by robots.

  • noufal2010 on December 20, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    Yes ,this kind of batting formula never help the cricket,it is just show of batting not technically

  • nomro on December 19, 2009, 21:58 GMT

    A kid growing up on a regular diet of T20 may grow up with an inability to differentiate between a Sachin Tendulkar & a Shahid Afridi, in the years to come.

    He may grow up with the wrong impression of who is the greater batsman of the two.

  • mahesh3 on December 19, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    The title is apt and it means a lot, we cannot have any sport going forward or sustain its popularity with one sided contests, here in this sceario was bat dominating the ball, from the word go, cricket from its earlier days was considered a gentlemen's game and it stood its reputation, with even stevens when considering the oppurtunites the wicket offered to its players, as the days gone by and during the current trend of commercialiazation of the game, it is evident that the people who put in money would like to rule the game, hence the current scenario, where ICC has no control over the type of wickets being prepared and there are all but restrictions on the bowler these days. I see there would be a day when there is no term in cricket named as bowler, there would be 11 batsmen or more if they wish, they would go out and bat with the machines bowling to them and whichever team scores the most , they win. I don't know how much attractive this would be, But I bet there is no differ

  • alipk52 on December 19, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    Indeed, cricket is going towards downfall, pitch should'nt be batting nor balling, realy if we see normal tracks in future, then anyone who perform well, will win, and this is a kind of entertaiment cricket requires, and i would like to make you look towards test cricket as well, we are seeing batting tracks in majority test matches since many many years, which results in draw at the end of match.

  • S.K.Chowdhury on December 19, 2009, 17:43 GMT

    Thanks Harsha, I have seen the battle between Aus and SA in world cup semi-final 1999 or in 2006 either. That was only 213 runs all total Aus made and unforgettable tie....yeah huge runs from both sides don't turn a match alive.....a real battle is among batsman and bowlers, fielders. But now a day's pitches becoming desert for bowlers and paradise for batsman! High scoring matches becoming more likely. We may not find one day batsman like S. Tendulkar, Jayasuria, Lara, Ponting no matter because teams will get runs and more runs without them because cricket is not going to find any Washim Akram, Glen Macgrath, S. Pollok or Waqur Younis or Murali because no one will dare to become a bowler in such dead pitches and this is not cricket. All rules of cricket is changing it's becoming a computer game....its losing its uniqueness..everyone wants runs even 8 runs per over but not want see the true art of in swing or out swing how batsman survive himself against such bitter attack

  • citizen1_8 on December 19, 2009, 17:10 GMT

    I agree that a contest between ball and bat is good.It just does not appeal to the paying audience.While watching in home,I know what a bowler or batsman is trying to do over all the analysis shown through numerous replays from the television. However,when u r one in the crowd,all u knw is a dot ball,4,6 or wicket.So "most people" wud choose 4 or a 6 over a dot ball.Yes, a wicket is cheered but only when the home team is bowling.This applies to all countries.So batting friendly pitches are the way to go(for ODI & T20). But the size of the ground can be bigger so that the batsman has to work hard, run harder & earn their runs rather than mishits flying to sixes-this would call for an intriguing contest like in Nagpur.I see people complaining about cricket is all about money.Well,its nt BCCI paying the money right?Its the public right?All are not millionaires u see, they pay a lot.So BCCI just tries to satisfy,what is wrong in tht?Wudn't you want your monies("most people") worth?

  • R00ster on December 21, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    very well written Harsha. if there is one thing that will make the five day game extinct it's these dead and dusty wickets that are criminally altered in batsmen's favor. none wants wans to give bowlers any freebies. certainly not i. but at the same time it has to be a fair contest. additionally , these free hits and power play restrictions are awful. having said all of this , the way the insurance is bought for cricket matches and the involvement of merchandising and televison revenue you can forget about the good old days green tops.

  • acrazycricketfan on December 21, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    The ICC is to be blamed for this.Never mind the ODI's.Even in the tests too , the host nations are given the preference to produce pitches to their bowlers likings.ICC should act immediately & see that all the grounds all over the world produce the same kind of pitches & then we can compare the talents.The way the pitches are prepared right now , I dont see good technically correct players deserve their recogition as a lot of players who dont have that technique to survive the international standards hit all over the park with these kind of pitches.WAKE UP ICC.

  • ofni on December 20, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    Here are my two bits -

    1. Get rid of bouncer restrictions - let bowlers bowl as many bouncers as they wish per over. 2. Change the leg side wide rule - If a ball pitches in line with the stumps and then goes outside the leg stump it should NOT be considered a wide.

    These two simple changes allow the game to be better balanced between the ball and bat - even with all the other rules (powerplay et. al) in place, dead pitches and smaller boundary lines.

  • ashok16 on December 20, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    Good article. About time. Also why is the power play considered such a sacred cow. The two fielder maximum outside the circle has turned out some worthless batting talent while killing the incentive for bowlers. Now we have a bewildering complexity of power plays. Why not just say a maximum of 5 players can field outside the circle at any time and be done with it. With the way cricket is set up right now, I think umpiring and bowling would be better served by robots.

  • noufal2010 on December 20, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    Yes ,this kind of batting formula never help the cricket,it is just show of batting not technically

  • nomro on December 19, 2009, 21:58 GMT

    A kid growing up on a regular diet of T20 may grow up with an inability to differentiate between a Sachin Tendulkar & a Shahid Afridi, in the years to come.

    He may grow up with the wrong impression of who is the greater batsman of the two.

  • mahesh3 on December 19, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    The title is apt and it means a lot, we cannot have any sport going forward or sustain its popularity with one sided contests, here in this sceario was bat dominating the ball, from the word go, cricket from its earlier days was considered a gentlemen's game and it stood its reputation, with even stevens when considering the oppurtunites the wicket offered to its players, as the days gone by and during the current trend of commercialiazation of the game, it is evident that the people who put in money would like to rule the game, hence the current scenario, where ICC has no control over the type of wickets being prepared and there are all but restrictions on the bowler these days. I see there would be a day when there is no term in cricket named as bowler, there would be 11 batsmen or more if they wish, they would go out and bat with the machines bowling to them and whichever team scores the most , they win. I don't know how much attractive this would be, But I bet there is no differ

  • alipk52 on December 19, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    Indeed, cricket is going towards downfall, pitch should'nt be batting nor balling, realy if we see normal tracks in future, then anyone who perform well, will win, and this is a kind of entertaiment cricket requires, and i would like to make you look towards test cricket as well, we are seeing batting tracks in majority test matches since many many years, which results in draw at the end of match.

  • S.K.Chowdhury on December 19, 2009, 17:43 GMT

    Thanks Harsha, I have seen the battle between Aus and SA in world cup semi-final 1999 or in 2006 either. That was only 213 runs all total Aus made and unforgettable tie....yeah huge runs from both sides don't turn a match alive.....a real battle is among batsman and bowlers, fielders. But now a day's pitches becoming desert for bowlers and paradise for batsman! High scoring matches becoming more likely. We may not find one day batsman like S. Tendulkar, Jayasuria, Lara, Ponting no matter because teams will get runs and more runs without them because cricket is not going to find any Washim Akram, Glen Macgrath, S. Pollok or Waqur Younis or Murali because no one will dare to become a bowler in such dead pitches and this is not cricket. All rules of cricket is changing it's becoming a computer game....its losing its uniqueness..everyone wants runs even 8 runs per over but not want see the true art of in swing or out swing how batsman survive himself against such bitter attack

  • citizen1_8 on December 19, 2009, 17:10 GMT

    I agree that a contest between ball and bat is good.It just does not appeal to the paying audience.While watching in home,I know what a bowler or batsman is trying to do over all the analysis shown through numerous replays from the television. However,when u r one in the crowd,all u knw is a dot ball,4,6 or wicket.So "most people" wud choose 4 or a 6 over a dot ball.Yes, a wicket is cheered but only when the home team is bowling.This applies to all countries.So batting friendly pitches are the way to go(for ODI & T20). But the size of the ground can be bigger so that the batsman has to work hard, run harder & earn their runs rather than mishits flying to sixes-this would call for an intriguing contest like in Nagpur.I see people complaining about cricket is all about money.Well,its nt BCCI paying the money right?Its the public right?All are not millionaires u see, they pay a lot.So BCCI just tries to satisfy,what is wrong in tht?Wudn't you want your monies("most people") worth?

  • Thomas_George on December 19, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    The bowling quota must be removed. A bowler should be allowed to bowl as many overs as he wants to.

    Pitches must provide bowlers an opportunity to take wickets.

    The body line, or rather the anti-body line) rule of not more than 2 fielders behind square on the leg side must be removed.

    ODIs must not allow any ball above shoulder height because it does not give the batsman enough opportunity to score runs off the ball.

    Bowling and batting teams must be allowed 2 power plays each which they can take at any time during the match.

  • LourensGrobbelaar on December 19, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    Your article is much appreciated. I have also been of the opinion that part of the problems in ODI's, the boring results lately and spectators boredom with cricket has more to do with an unequal contest between bat and ball. I have a DVD of the 438 game between SA and Aus and enjoy watching it, but this is not the norm for these types of games. They usually dwindle to nothing when the second team dies all guns blazing. People may think they want fours and sixes the whole time, but what they need/want is a good shot from good bowling resulting in maximum results. Todays test between SA and Eng had a few good sixes and fours in difficult circumstances and was an effort to dominate the bowlers so they don't dominate you. It is a mental battle that is enthralling to watch.

    For modern spectators even pro20's will become boring as teams start to play more for results and not for entertainment, pushing singles and sometimes hitting boundaries. This was what happened with ODI's in the 90's.

  • butch123 on December 19, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    i like cricket and i support sri lanka and england. but i have to say, i must agree with harsha. the games like between sri lanka and india are killing the contest of the game of cricket. nowadays its not a big deal to hit a six whenever batsman wants. but 10 years ago, it was a real value of hitting a six. was rare and needed actual talent of the batsman to hit a six. but now thanks to specially indian good wicket(pitch) its like a programmed computer game.. ha ha.. for me, now cricket is really boring than it was 15 years ago. too many 6s and 4s like a computer game. no contest at all. thanks!

  • nithbhas on December 19, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    I agree with Harsha Bhogle 100%. He has said exactly what I thought when I watched last two matches of IND V/S SL. I would say the pitches were intentionally made for the Srilankan tour, because the pitches were not like this when Australia toured India. The pitches were much better and it was beauty to watch the cricket. But now its really disappointing.

    And no need to worry that the pitches would be made like this for WORLD CUP. It would help bowlers. Indian curators can make the pitches that can help bowlers too. It was proved even in the recent times when Australia toured India.

  • OkyaBokya on December 19, 2009, 9:42 GMT

    (Don't blame India only)..Administrators in India, Pakistan and West Indies.....Listen...Why you guys make pitches maaan...Just treat it as Baseball...bowlers will deliver full tosses only..at least every full toss will not get hit..(Hitting full toss is ART :) ).....So there will be no argument on Pitch conditions...bowlers wont need to think what delivery to bowl..and batsmen also need not think what to expect..Just make the game so simple....Gooooooooddddd...HELP CRICKET...

  • gorky_s on December 19, 2009, 9:36 GMT

    "Or maybe it would be to the same extent that boxing would remain a sport if each boxer is allowed three minutes at a punching bag and the winner determined by who hits the bag better...", bingo Harsha, a fine analogy to show the farce that cricket is tending to become sometimes in order to satisfy the apparent appetite for thoughtless entertainment.

  • MB81 on December 19, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    To me it seems that the pitches in the Sub-Continent are Bowler Killers just flat low tracks with no bounce, which are batsmen paradises. The ICC should be investigating the pitches and making sure they're of a certain standard. Where have the Green tops gone. It seems the best pitches are in Australia,South Africa,New Zealand and England. You ask any current bowler which pitch he would like to bowl on it would be the WACA(Perth,Australia) over Rajkot(India). Cricket is turning into a batsmen's game and batsmen who 10-20 years ago would be averaging 35 are now averaging 50.

  • IanJF on December 19, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Now, now... When SA chased AUS 434 no one was in this mood were we ?? But what happens when SL gets to 411 ??? Batting Paradise huh ?? This is utter rubbish ! IND batted well to get to 414 and SL batted even better to get to 411 but were unfortunate due to Kandamby's "Lazy Heroics"... Yes Harsha, the pitch was good and the outfield was lightening but dont take anything away from Sehwag, Dilshan, Sangas breathtaking knocks. T20 has infact spiced up 50 over cricket and injected life into a much more complex game !!

  • ARTWELL on December 19, 2009, 5:08 GMT

    The Indians are clearly trying to promote Twenty20 cricket. The 2011 world cup will be the worst ever. Just imagine if India were to play a teams like Canada, Bermuda, Kenya etc...

  • KingOwl on December 19, 2009, 2:44 GMT

    I am glad that Harsha has acknowledged the role of the media in flat tracks. They keep referring to flat tracks as good tracks. I wish all journalists had at least a semblence of inquisitiveness to challenge the norm. I think it is too much to expect from ordinary journalists, who I doubt have training in critical thinking. But, there are many, many fans who knew this for ages. It is good to see Harsha pointing this out, albeit, rather belatedly

  • KingOwl on December 19, 2009, 2:39 GMT

    Firstly, ww113 should research some facts before displaying his ignorance. Sri Lankan wickets give a lot of help to the bowlers, yes to fast bowlers. Just look at the statistics over the last few years. So, don't generalize about so called 'sub continent' wickets. And let us also look at the Australian wickets - they are basically flat track doctored to fit their players. English wickets are difficult during early season but then become flat tracks later on when the weather improves. Only South Africa prepare consistently tough wickets that help fast bowlers - but that is because they do not have any quality spinners! So, let us not ignore the big elephant in the room. It is self interes that determines the type of wicket prepared.

  • WeNeedSportingPitches on December 19, 2009, 2:10 GMT

    I do not think sporting pitches supporting bowlers will ever come into sub-continent or at least in India. I blame fans (I would not call them as cricket lovers- but just fans) for the current condition. I was in that group when I was young. I wanted Indian batsmen (each of them) to score at least a century in every match and our bowlers take out opponents under 100 runs. Hmmm ridiculous isn't it? well, my friend thats the state of most of the people who visit the ground just to see the ball being disposed out of ground but NOT the bowlers hurling wonderful skillful deliveries.

    God save cricket. I have stopped watching one-day matches, but I watch every-ball of test-cricket (only top teams though). I can go on and on... but will stop here

  • MiddleStump on December 19, 2009, 2:06 GMT

    Harsha, a lot of us who grew up with real (Test) cricket have already stopped viewing one dayers, let alone attend them. The English started the 60 over game in the 70s but what sounded the first death knell of genuine cricket was the 12 over restriction per bowler. Now, some of us genuine cricket fans pay big bucks to see not only great batsmen but also great bowlers in action, eager for a contest. But from Holding to Imran to Bedi and Warne, we feel cheated by the rules requiring bowlers to be basically taken out of the game after their quota. This has been made worse in modern times by field restrictions, free hits, heavy bats and small grounds. In fact some of us felt that the Rajkot match was a big bore, more like an extended nets session. The only time it was worth viewing was when Harbhajan bowled well enough to make it a contest. That should put some sense into the administrators who are serious about the game. Cricket is about both batting and bowling. Alas, where are they?

  • Criczloverz on December 19, 2009, 2:03 GMT

    I totally agree with you Harsha. After watching cricket for all my life finally I'm finding it to be very boring. I'm about the give up watching it. I don't find it very entertaining to see every ball get hit for a 4 or 6. There has to be some balance between the bat and ball. Thank you for the good article.

  • errapalliprasanna on December 19, 2009, 1:18 GMT

    I remember talking to my brother the day the batting powerplay was introduced, i thought the future would be as follows. 2010: The batsmen can set the field for 10 overs. 2011: Bowling zones will be introduced. 2 squares will be placed on the pitch (by the batsmen, of course) and if the ball pitches outside the square its a no ball followed by a free hit. 2012: Fielding zones will be introduced. Each fielder will stay in a circle of radius 4ft and one of his feet should stay in the circle when he fields the ball. 2013: No 2 consecutive balls will have a speed difference of more than 10kph. 2014: The bowler should mention which way the ball is going to swing/spin. 2015: All the bowlers in the world commit suicide. The way things are going i won't be surprised if these things really happen. Why don't these people understand that bowling and fielding are as important as batting? Why are batsmen pampered? Don't do that people... The game will die.

  • Arsh on December 19, 2009, 1:16 GMT

    Its about time someone started International Bowlers Union and took up this matter with ICC. Gotta feel sorry for the bowlers. Harbhajan was my man of the match for 'only' giving away 58 in 10 over.

    Being a bowler myself, there is another little thing that always bothered me - "benefit of doubt must always go to the batsman".. why so???

    Cricket is inherently biased against the bowlers.

  • faisalnoor70 on December 18, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    The recent test series between Pak and NZ was a good contest between bat and bowl and pitches really helped both entities. That created an absorbing contest where the viewers like me were hooked on to the television. That is cricket at its best where neither bat nor ball are clear winners but still they go at each other creating twists in the plot. Bowlers have been less fortunate lately with everything going against them. First the protective gear appeared, easing the batsmen in facing the fast bowlers without fear, then bouncer limit got applied, furher diminsihing the fear in batsman's heart, then feild restrictions got in, now powerplays etc. So if ICC wants a batsman's game, then why to bother humans to bowl, why not use bowling machines instead??? I would rather watch Kalicharan without any protective gear than virender sehwag. Imagine if Sehwag had to face bowlers of the previous era without helmets and pads and rib cage protections, would he be still able to hit as freely?

  • pankajkumarsingh on December 18, 2009, 21:20 GMT

    Good point Harsha... I dont know why though a lot of the readers are blaming the pitch and the BCCI for this. This kind of cricket has been favoured across the world. Be aware that power plays, field restrictions, free hit, one-boucer-per-over, wide-outside-leg-stumpt were not bcci's brain-child. This is something going on around the world conceptually. A lot of other readers also blame money. What is wrong in cricket making the money. I still remember one-day games (and a lof test matches) had a lot of people watching the game even with empowerd bowlers. I have to agree with Harsha on this. We have to go back to fundamentals of cricket. Bowlers in the game need to be as powerful. People will watch the game. I still remember the amount of draw test matches we had in 80s. We have better wickets than 80s. We, as a group, are killing the art of bowling.

  • AsherCA on December 18, 2009, 20:48 GMT

    Though I agree with people who say that cricket in India is becoming a CONtest, guys just remember - we only get what we ask for.

    Tell me about the last time an audience was rooting for a dot-ball / wicket ?

    The paying audience i.e. guy who buys the ticket / pays Neo TV / Star TV et al to watch the match is looking for 4's / 6's.

    On almost all grounds all over the world, we see placards saying 4 / 6. Remind me of the last placard anyone saw that said dot-ball / well stopped / out !

    Modern day cricket is dished out for the paying customer, not the Harsha Bhogle's of the world who draw their salaries from money received from the same payers.

    So Harsha, you might be right - this is killing cricket as we all knew & enjoyed a few years ago, but Cricinfo & you have 3 choices - like it, lump it OR dump it (go looking for your own money somewhere else).

    Berating supplier BCCI for meeting it's customer's requirement from a functional perspective is a waste of time.

  • NewYorkCricket on December 18, 2009, 20:26 GMT

    Harsha, You couldn't have put it better!! Alas the administrators are not listening.

  • IlMagnifico on December 18, 2009, 20:03 GMT

    Great article. Simply great. Finally, someone sees it from the point of view of the bowler. However, to be fair, I find it rather boring to watch a situation where the bowlers are dominating and the batsmen are trudging along towards a modest target...on tv..or in person. I am **fascinated** by the same contest if I'm "watching" it on a computer...where I can savor each dot ball and the batter's predicament. And hence, I guess it's not very profitable for the powers-that-be. Don't get me wrong, as a bowler who likes to put the fear of God into the batsman with a bouncer or two every over, I totally enjoyed the article. I'm simply pointing out why it's the way it is, imho. Outlawing the pitches will not happen. Let's propose something that'll make a dominant bowler **profitable**....after all, all one needs to do, in life or in cricket, is to follow the money!!

  • ww113 on December 18, 2009, 15:48 GMT

    Well,Harsha,ghastly pitches have been the norm in one day Cricket in the subcontinent for decades.Lots of people managed to inflate their batting averages.I agree with you about giving bowlers a chance.The only problem is,it won't happen in the subcontinent. TV and administrators need their full 100 overs to squeeze in as many ads as they can.That,in turn,demands pitches which deny bowlers even a semblance of a chance.

  • Priyank.V on December 18, 2009, 15:45 GMT

    It is quite sometime that a talk is going on the issue of the (sub)-standard of sub-continent pitches, but i think unless BCCI takes some serious initiative in improving the quality of pithes there cannot be contest between bat and ball. BCCI must call pitch curators from Australia or South Africa so that we can have better tracks and our local curators can learn to make sporting tracks. i think, if not seaming wickets, there should be some bounce in the pitches so that the bowlers have something to exploit.

  • Mark00 on December 18, 2009, 15:32 GMT

    The bouncer restrictions introduced in the early 90s has killed fast bowling. Prior to that we had the greatest explosion of fast bowling talent in all of cricket history. After that it's been downhill. Now the only way a fast bowler can distinguish himself is through a strange bowling action or by cheating. Bouncers are fundamental to a fast bowlers arsenal and there's absolutely nothing wrong with bowling six bouncers in a row. Plenty of batsmen handled larwood and tyson just fine with no helmet and crappy gloves.

  • shiva_slogsout on December 18, 2009, 13:33 GMT

    Simply put, Money Talks and Rules! India is going nowhere, it is all about Money these days, nothing else, Honestly. Only if we we have 600 or 800 runs scored in a day that Crowd would fill up the stadium, and only then the Administrators and Organizers would get Money. Nobody would turn out to watch a 100 or 200 All Out match! What hurts more is that even NZ and SA are preparing pitches like that. So, India is no exception! Full Stop!

  • ToThePoint on December 18, 2009, 12:09 GMT

    This is an "issue" certainly to think about. Though today there are people in the audience who would just come to see the hitting-heros make a mockery of the bowling, the same enthused audience would lose all their enthusiasm if more and more games head the "Rajkot way"! Sooner than later, a sixer would tickle our nerves just as a single does today. Ahh, so may be, then we should introduce some ten'er, twelve'r ??!!! Say if a batsman hits what is now a six with one hand, then it's a twelve :-) That would probably raise some hopes for bowlers that they can get wickets! While the question is always there that, why couldn't the bowlers have bowled like how they did in the last few overs, it's anybody's guess what would have happened to even those same deliveries if a Sangakkara was facing those! Looking at the Pro's and Con's of the ConTest, you see more Con(s) than Pro(s)... probably indicating us that it is time to Pro-Test these kind of pitches!!!

  • nav_blitzzzz on December 18, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    For once, I agree with you Harsha. Look at the past matches played in Rajkot. All of them slugfests and one of them was abandoned(India vs West Indies if i remember). Unruly crowd. Why is international cricket even played at such venues?

  • bala_krithu on December 18, 2009, 11:45 GMT

    When the shouting, should i say baying is for sixes and more sixes and the crowd dissipates from the amphitheatre pleased with their voyeuristic experince we will get only matches like this.

    When commercialism becomes the end all we get only slug and slogfest like this.

    These are the crimes of people like Modi which has brought the game to this level. When milking is the order of the day we have the Modi's who cut the golden hen and we have the world at large eulogising his commercial acumen.

    Let us see to what depths we will go. We can only pray that we do not sink this great game and write obituary columns.

  • Vijay_P_S on December 18, 2009, 10:53 GMT

    Flat pitches and small grounds are killing the game. Many people here have already expressed the same frustration I am going through. What surprises me is that when so many people share this opinion, howcome these kind of pictches are repeatedly being made in the subcontinent. Where do the pitch curators get the motivation (or pressure) to do? Is it that the majority of the people who commented here are just a minority among all the cricket fans?

  • bala_krithu on December 18, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    I think we should go back to the days of uncovered wickets and expose the cricketers to harness the vagaries of the nature into their skill and compete. The kind of protectionism give to batsmen have really taken the competitive spirit out of the game and it is increasingly becoming a slug fest and not a skill fest.

    True, T20 and one days have broken the mental shackles of the batsmen but what it has done to the bowlers is something miserable to watch. Who wants to continously watch somebody plonking their frontfoot and thwacking the cover of the ball, ball after bal.It has become too predictable and increasingly miserable to watch.

    We should definitely go slow on the T20 format and ncourage Test Cricket. If commecialism has to be more important than the sport then keep losing genuine lovers of this beautiful game.

  • Deb_Rockstars on December 18, 2009, 10:28 GMT

    To Me It wasn't great entertainment..seeing bowlers turn up only to get clattered...where are we headed to ? ODI where not even 8+ RPO as required rate is not safe ? why bother seeing 100 overs of the same if Twenty20 already provides the same slam-bang start-to-finish variety of cricket ? If these type of 'Pitches' isnt killing ODIs then what is ?...ODI Cricket's identity is in the fact that it provides bowlers better scope in terms of pitch conditions over the course of 100 overs, situations, ie power plays, middle overs etc, and also that batsman's mettle gets tested in those periods...if those situations are taken away...bowlers are rendered as mere extras in a movie about batting superstars [!!!] whats the point ? Absolutely pathetic..this is where the administrators & advertisers are taking.. this is utterly mindless voyeuristic form of 'entertainment' with no space for variety in skills...its only a matter of time before the audiences get bored with this mayhem and move on..

  • AMRUTH on December 18, 2009, 9:13 GMT

    It is no longer cricket. Or maybe it would be to the same extent that boxing would remain a sport if each boxer is allowed three minutes at a punching bag and the winner determined by who hits the bag better.

    I don't find a better expression of the thoughts of many about the Rajkot One Day Cricket Match. At the end (I mean from the begining) what kept any Indian interested was the worry and hope that they don't lose the match with 2-3 overs spare.

    We all like ball hit all over and over the boundary but we also get excited when a swinging delivery bemuses the batsman and takes out his stump or a nick which is well taken in the slips. In short we want to watch a Cricket Contest between a Bat & a Ball. Hmmm...or else we better watch & enjoy a Golfer hitting the stationary ball over a long distance...Slogging!!!

  • cricket-o-maniac on December 18, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    Well Said Harsha..."Chocolates must have their cocoa, cricket must have its contest; neither exists otherwise"...Contest should always be between the Bat and the Ball, Batsmen and the bowlers...Matches like the one played in Rajkot, they ultimately reduce to the point of having some simulated bowling and having the batsmen show their prowess......In the game of cricket, why always bowlers are penalised...whether its applying powerplays, field restrictions, boundary lines, pitches why are bowlers neglected...............Its high time we encourage bat ball contest else we will never get a chance to see people like Walsh, Ambrose, Kapil, Shane, Murali, kumble, srinath in Future....Believe me, Its not good for the game of cricket.

  • cricket-o-maniac on December 18, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    Well Said Harsha..."Chocolates must have their cocoa, cricket must have its contest; neither exists otherwise"...Contest should always be between the Bat and the Ball, Batsmen and the bowlers...Matches like the one played in Rajkot, they ultimately reduce to the point of having some simulated bowling and having the batsmen show their prowess......In the game of cricket, why always bowlers are penalised...whether its applying powerplays, field restrictions, boundary lines, pitches why are bowlers neglected...............Its high time we encourage bat ball contest else we will never get a chance to see people like Walsh, Ambrose, Kapil, Shane, Murali, kumble, srinath in Future....Believe me, Its not good for the game of cricket.

  • Geff on December 18, 2009, 8:32 GMT

    Batsman friendly Pitches are spoiling Batsmen in a negative way. C Grade cricketer whose got his techniques right can score ample runs on a Bowlers graveyard like the one in rajkot. Harsha who i admire a lot is always right, its too cynical of cric admins in our country to just have ENTERTAINMENT in the name of cricket. May be this has rose more because of the advent of BCCI CASH COW "IPL", the BCCI/curators thinks its better to make flat pitches and pull the crowd in to fill up the stands.

  • PraveenMenon on December 18, 2009, 8:07 GMT

    I think pitch is only one variable.. Probably we are not having bowlers who can bowl at any surface? We do expect batsmen to be able to do their job regardless of the pitch's condition; why not the bowlers? May be the difference between Batsmen and Bowlers are widening these days and may be we need to find new bowling 'sensations' to bring the 'contest' back to cricket?

    Anyway how long has it been since we have seen one bowler destroying a batting side?

    I think what we need is a set of excellent bowlers who are talented enough to produce a contest in a pitch favoring batting.

  • adirashi on December 18, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    Of course the orgy of runs was not the best advert for Cricket but the really relevant question that we should be asking ourselves...why has the quality of bowlers come down so dramatically...I mean why was it that for this first forty overs of the match it looked like the India B team bowling (and fielding mind you!!) and in the last ten overs the real bowlers stood up...Ashish Nehra's last 30 odd balls consisted of 25+ yorkers...where were they in the first 5 overs??!! We keep hearing that bats have improved, like you pointed out batsmen willing to take risks have increased...so where is the evolution at the Bowler level?? Is it that we are unfortunately going through a phase of mediocre bowlers after the Macgrath's, warne's etc. or is it that the administrators, coaches and bowelers themselves just dont want to put in the hard yards that their predecessors did?? Would love everyone's thoughts!!

  • ygkd on December 18, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    I disagree that a 800 run ODI is as bad as a 200 run game. I think it is far worse. At least a bowler friendly wicket brings the batting techniques to the fore. A super flat pitch might as well have a bowling machine at one end to deliver the ball to the batsman's requirements and signs on the boundary emblazoned with the extra points you could amass by hitting them. It not only renders the bowlers to the level of butlers but the fielders too become ball fetchers and wicketkeepers are not required. No, give me a game where the ball gets past the bat. Please.

  • INVINCIBL3 on December 18, 2009, 7:55 GMT

    Thats the plight of every true cricket fan. There was a time when one use to love watch batting of Courtney Walsh, Ambroses, the Mcgraths, Prasads. Only batsman i found in that league now was Nehra. to my utter dismay his batting in the first T20 against srilanka disappointed me. he was no longer in that league now. he was hitting ball like an ordinary batsman of todays, 2 continous sixes followed by a four. it speaks volumes of where batting is heading today.

  • searle_richnz on December 18, 2009, 7:50 GMT

    Harsha is absolutely right. If anything the games rules and pitches should be making it easier for the bowlers to take wickets, like in New Zealand or often in England. The greatest cricket is always when their is genuine concern from the batsman about losing his wicket at any moment (hence the comparative greatness of test cricket over ODI's and T20); how about allowing ball's pitching outside leg stump for LBW? see what impact that has on the game.

  • Adnan_80 on December 18, 2009, 7:42 GMT

    Yes. I totally agreed with Harsha. Cricket lovers also watch cricket to see the class bowling. In major, cricket is a blend of Good Batting, Bowling&Fielding. If any element is missing, no good cricket match exists.

  • maddy_cric on December 18, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    Absolutely no doubts whatsoever that such matches are more detrimental to the game than it appears. They help to fill the coffers though!.. any day I would love a match like Edgbaston 1999 where the Aussies and the Proteas fought the conditions and the occasion and produced riveting cricket..Most of the classic contests that are remembered over the years are ones that have seen runs scored amidst fall of wickets..providing batsmen with more and more docile pitches and asking the bowlers to slog it out on such lifeless surfaces does not augur well for the game..sooner the people who matter understand this..the better it is for cricket and for the true lover of the game..

  • praveenahathwarkn on December 18, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    "One important thing about this article is u cant just disagree with what harsha has said, there is equal importance for both batsmen and the bowler in any form of cricket. The pitches prepared for a match must also be of the same kind and supporting one among them. This particular pitch was a death for the bowlers. If a batsmen commits a mistake he doesn't get out but bowlers get thrashed even if they don't do a mistake."

  • manasvi_lingam on December 18, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    Agree with Harsha. It was trult like a computer game, with sixes and fours being smashed at will. I'd like to see India prepare some bowler-friendly pitches - even if they are spinner-friendly. The contest between bat and ball is one sided now. However, not all the blame is to be placed on the pitch. 1) Horrible fielding - had the chances, run-outs, etc been held a much lower score would have come about. 2) Bowling - had a Wasim/McGrath/Pollock/Ambrose been around they'd have done pretty well. The bowlers of today are no more than machines who just go through the motions of bowling the ball. There is no creativity and thinking involved.

  • Percy_Fender on December 18, 2009, 7:22 GMT

    I find ODIs of the type we had in Rajkot and what is expected to be in Rajkot quite boring and repetitive. With batsmen calling the shots and such large scores it does look those computer games and certainly not cricket. I wish Daljit Singh and his combo of curators realise that in India the crowds will come on even more if the matches featured good batting against good bowling. In any event I am not aware of the reason such pitches are being made or under whose directions. Frankly all this hammering of bowlers that we see Sehwag carry out is no longer too appealing because of the sense of deja vu. I wish the curators will recall how Viru played at Melbourne in 2004. He does not need such featherbeds to display his stuff. Let us have wickets like the one we had at the Brabourne Stadium for the final Test recently against Sri Lanka. The watching public likes to see even contests not games that are not even remotely related to the concept of the game.

  • kishorecv on December 18, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    I have been a watcher of cricket since the time the great Gavaskar scored 36 n.o in a 60 overs ODI vs England, because he gave up right from the start. Gavaskar is a great fighter (221 at oval, 96 at Bangalore on a minefield, carrying the bat vs pak, etc). Yet, I was extremely surprised that Gavaskar gave up. That marks the LOW of the other side of the spectrum.

    825 runs on a dead pitch now marks the other LOW of the higher end up of the spectrum.

    The way the game is progressing, there will soon coma a time when anything less than 50 overs * 6 balls * 6 runs = 1800 runs will be considered as a pathetic game. I guess we all can simply turn on our mobile and play crcket on it by watching SIX after SIX.

    The way cricket is heading towards, bowlers will soon be considered SLAVES.

    Personally my best days of cricket was when Mohinder Amarnath fought courageously in 1983 (against the likes of Roberts, Holding, Marshall etc. Same goes for Gavaskar against the Windies.

  • Alkais on December 18, 2009, 7:13 GMT

    Curator should be given a free hand in preparing pitch. NoBody should interfere. They should be given orders to keep grass on the pitch. So it will help bowlers. Batsmen will also love it as pitch will have bounce. It will be a good contest. The pitch should be like the one which was prepared during the last australian series in Nagpur.

  • verds on December 18, 2009, 6:59 GMT

    I agree with Harsha. It was almost boring to watch the game the other day even when sehwag was flaying the bowling around. But the truth is also that the bowlers were rather poor in their bowling except at the end when Zaheer and Nehra were bowling or even during the Indian batting PowerPlay 3, when fernando and the lefthander were bowling some clever slow balls. If the bowlers were given some more leeway, for example, remove the limit on the bouncers allowed per over, or even the leeway regarding the leg side wides especially, atleast you are giving the bowler something to play with. Maybe they could also remove the limit on each bowler bowling just 10 overs. So you can have your best bowler(s) bowling the maximum number of overs. It is pointless to argue that the pitches be improved because nothing much has been done despite years of complaining and groaning about the flat pitches. So atleast give the bowlers some respite.

  • CricketmadNick on December 18, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    The problem is that there is little difference between the pitches. All summer we have been waiting for a traditional WACA pitch, yet it seems that the batsman are able to score at will. Perhaps going back to the good old days where batsman had to earn their runs and the bowlers were encouraged by the nature of the pitches. Take the game back to the batters by having the tradtional bowler friendly wickets

  • Shreyas_Sinkar on December 18, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Well said Harsha.With such pitches and T20s I wonder whether any aspiring cricketer would want to represent his country as a bowler.

  • Kannamma on December 18, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    Harsha, I agree your comments are valid. But we have to accept that the bowling was not all that good. When Harbhajan could bowl economically and curtail a rampaging Dilshan, why couldn't the others. Also the catching was horrendous and run-outs missed. You've got to agree it was a close and exciting match, with all three results possible with two balls remaining in the match. Once in a way let us have a match like this also.

  • abhijithsimha on December 18, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    i would again like to see the day on which a batsman scoring a 50 lifts his bat with immense pride... i so dearly miss those days when a 250 run target was considered competitive, i dont care if the middle over are boring or whatever, by manufacturing pitches like this you are making the entire exercise boring...

    Thanks Harsha for voicing my views...

  • zak123kaif on December 18, 2009, 6:27 GMT

    True and spot on article by Harsh Bhogle.If the batsmen treat the bowlers like this a time will come when bowlers will replaced by bowling machine and then it will be a contest between batsmen of both teams.I felt really pity for bowlers now because they are really helpless and can be thrashed for six any time.

  • Hiteshdevilliers on December 18, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Finally, Thank You for emphasizing on the importance of this issue. To me at least, the match at Rajkot was not good for the game of cricket. Over the majority of this decade, pitches have become flatter, boundaries bought in, and bats getting much more superior in size and quality. This in addition to 20 overs of Powerplay field restrictions and changing of ball after 34 overs in ODI cricket. The WACA pitch is a perfect example of how the times have so dearly changed. On the basis of it, the current scenario should be a nightmare for bowlers, yet somehow it doesn't feel that way. Maybe it's because there are still some countries which believe in hosting good equal games between bat and ball, such as NZ vs Pak. The ICC cannot let itself become saturated with greed from the BCCI and must take the initiative to save cricket from corporate greed. The base price on some IPL teams has gone up and raining sixes=flatter pitches will be the only formula used to get that money back.

  • Subhash_M on December 18, 2009, 6:21 GMT

    Well Said Sir. With the kind of pitches being made there is no diference between a bowler like Bret Lee and a part timer bowler like Chris Gayle.

    The most pathetic thing is reducing the size of grounds to make six hitting easy. The way things are going very soon 30 yard circle might become the boundary line

  • Mbhagwat on December 18, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    NOOOO... We need more ODIs like this even though they are really boring!!!. I agree they are boring but absolutely essential!!!. Why? Well consider this. All real cricket officiandos have been worried about the relevance of Test Cricket or the demise of Test cricket. But pitches like these and ODIs like these are advertisements for Test cricket like nothing else can be!!!. In comparison to these run fests, Test cricket looks actually very entertaining. There are at least some sessions in the game of Test cricket that are really interesting. Case in point- the 2nd Test between New Zealnad and Pakistan and the 2nd Test between Australia and West Indies. They were worth watching. And in comparison to these Rajkot like games Test cricket seem positiively nail biting. So Hurray to more ODIs like this.

  • madjag on December 18, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Every rule in the book seems to favor the batsmen. So much so when the bowler makes a mistake bowling a no ball.. he has to bowl one more for a free hit. Come on.. no wonder all the batting records are being broken. A good article, atleast some one has the courtesy to speak up against such atrocities that are being daily committed against the bowlers.

  • Monishjoshy on December 18, 2009, 5:25 GMT

    I appreciate Mr. Harsha Bhogle for this wonderful article criticizing the dismantling of pure cricket. We need to protect the sanity of cricket. Now a days cricket is batsman's game, there is no apparent contest between the bowler and batsmen. The real cricket is not just about hitting sixes and fours. The real beauty of cricket is the 'Classic batting' depicted by Sachin, Dravid, Lara, Azzharruddin . Also the fast bowlers and spinners should get some help from the pitch. No wonder why Australians , South Africans, English consider Indian pitches as sub-standard. Nevertheless i don't envisage that 'only Indian pitches are made sub-standard'. I request B.C.C.I not to kill the game. Importance of cricket is very high in India because there will be no Indian who doesn't have craze about cricket and ignorant about it. Love to see good cricket matches....good contest between Batsmen and bowlers....At the end of the day, both batsmen and bowlers should have something to cheer about...

  • nikita_karthick on December 18, 2009, 5:21 GMT

    There sholud be a double hundred by a Sehwag in next one day internation in Rajkot! No spin ! no swing! small ground ! rocket out field ! Zaheer one of the world class bowler just missed given away 100 runs! But Hats off to Nehra and Zaheer! I can say this is the best death bowling I ever seen from India... Five overs 32 runs in a dead track is a cake walk for any one! but they have shown great character which was missing earlier! Any way Tyagi should thank god for not making debut; if he had made then he would never been picked for India again.

  • Victorian-Roo on December 18, 2009, 5:17 GMT

    Very true...Cricket in India has indeed turned into a Computer game. That day won't be far when a batsman will manage to send most of the balls across the rope if not a bounce before it. What's the use? How are matches like this serving Cricket? BCCI is a body that generally tends to follow the wave rather than making the wave follow it. People want 4s and 6s. So...make pitches that serve the batsmen. Tomorrow...people may want only wickets (that day will never come) They'll order to prepare wickets only serving the bowlers. Doesn't make sense, does it? BCCI should behave as a responsible body but half the times either the media or the former players are knocking some sense into them. Thanx to the BCCI (Board for Corrupting Cricket in India), India will never-ever be able to produce a crop of genuinely good fast bowlers. Tear-away fast bowlers almost seem to be a dream rather than a distant reality. Maybe like England we should consider foreign imports, atleast for the bowling dept ;-)

  • Notout_Naveen on December 18, 2009, 5:05 GMT

    Yup..Rajkot game was just like a computer game.. every batsmen looked as if they possesed every shot for every ball.I m sure these are the batsmen who ll b showing there back earliest when ball is doing something! Sporting pitches where there is an even contest between bat & ball is what every one would love to see..im surprised by comments like its difficult to prepare such pitches..im not sure why?..Dont v have a curator who could do this consistently? or is there any problem in such expertise? I think ICC is least bothered on these improvements.

  • KUMARVIJAY on December 18, 2009, 5:03 GMT

    Very well said sir. I fully agree with you. Your similes are bang on target. I hope the men who head BCCI and ICC see this post(as other boards in the world exists at the mercy of these 2 !!). It is also very strange that there are not many comments for this article. May be if Lanka had won the match, i am sure this would have been the most read article of the month. Its nice to see that there are commentators like you, who are gutsy enough to take the neutral stand and talk from a neutral perspective. Soon there will be a day when the bowlers are no longer allowed to ball variations as "that might distract the batsman from scoring runs"!!!!!

  • sasken on December 18, 2009, 4:53 GMT

    I say keep the pitches this way, but give more ammo to the bowlers. Maybe a bowler can be given 6 balls in the beginning of the game, and he can pick and choose a ball without having to tell the batsman.

  • prathik1 on December 18, 2009, 4:49 GMT

    We are all Hypocrites, When the Bat dominates the ball everyone seems to suggest this is not cricket but when the ball seems to swing or spin and the batsman is made to look like a person trying to swat that irritating mosquito off his face is that any good, I agree there needs to be balance and I appreciate Harsha does explore the possibility of the game evolving and when you look at it, it has evolved, we do not play on uncovered pitches anymore, we have powerplays, we don't have Ambrose, Walsh, Akram, Waqar or Lille for that matter a Warne or a Kumble bowling, times change things change, Cricket changes, we need to move on and accept the fact that this is how ODI and T20 will be from now, this format was always for the batsman and as long as its a close contest I couldn't care less if there was 1000 runs in a hundred overs or 400 runs in a hundred overs. This is my personal opinion, everyone here is entitled to their own.

  • sramesh_74 on December 18, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    Modern day ODIs are like the run of the mill Bollywood movie. They are meant to keep the front benchers happy. Playing conditions are killing the contest between bat and ball. You could give the poor bowlers a rest and use bowling machines instead. Media also has a role to play. Stop glorifying such games. The tube is full of analysis shows that gloat over how the batsmen flayed the ball all over the park. Give me a low scoring game anyday..

  • GaneshMali on December 18, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    Yes. The contest is no more between the bat and the ball. But don't say there is no more contest. The contest is there. It is between the batsmen of the two teams as to who makes the most of the 300 balls thrown at them. I have high respect for Harsha but many a times I feel he is like the movie critics who pan a movie for no creativity and the movie ends up being a super-hit. The crowds is what matters at the end. And there are many who have their own ideas of entertainment from a game and what makes them happy which at times are different than the experts. No use blaming the administrators. In every game of the world in every country they simply play to the fans tunes. Just came across a news in a Indian newspaper who interviewed the people queued outside the Nagpur stadium as to why they are there when theres already been a match in Nagpur just 10 days ago. And the answer was that the pitch is flat and Viru is in great form, who comes to watch the bowlers take wickets.

  • vishy1979 on December 18, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Hi Harsha, Well said. I do not understand why batsmen even celebrate for a 50 or a 100 anymore;why bowlers have to run 40 yards to bowl; Wish someone can put the fear of God in batsmen again, make batsmen smell leather again. Ban helmets in International cricket, legalize ball tampering, reduce the pitch to 18 yards, allow 1 bouncer and 1 b...eamer/over if someone wants head gear, back to the old lighter bats with only one sweet spot.. We really have to re-examine our idea of entertainment..Cricket is becoming more of a dumb bollywood movie, It won't be long before Indian batsmen will be escorted to the center by bollywood actresses,may be be they will even sing a song and run around wickets to provide "entertainment" during breaks. Thanks to people like Shahrukh khan or the shetty, cricket is becoming bollywoodized and metrosexual.. Would love to hear Ian Chappelll on this.

  • ilamdream on December 18, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Honestly, if the same match had happended in 1995 with Sachin shouldering the entire team what would the score been? As much as I agree the pitch quality is bad, we have also admit what were 300+ wickets are now 350+ or 370+ wickets. The batsmen have changed in these years. Jayasurya played on the pitch the rest of the batsmen played, Sehwag, Dilshan, Yuvi & Sanga plays on the same pitch that Jaywardena, Dravid, Sachin play. And why are we not talking about quality of bowlers. In this match,where did the yorkers that were bowled in last 10 overs go in the first 10. Would we have seen the same score if Warne / Mcgrath/ Ambrose/Walsh bowled? Please give credit to the batsmen, encourage the bowlers to bowl more yorkers, good bouncers, slow balls ans stop blaming the pitch for all fault.

  • JGuru on December 18, 2009, 4:24 GMT

    I fully agree with Harsha on this. What we got to see at Rajkot was not a contest but boundary clearing practise for 100 overs. It was absurd as bowlers were blown away and pitch had no sympathy for them. In more ways than one, pitches of this nature are poor advertisement to cricket. Already most of the shorter format rules are in favour of batsmen and bowlers enjoy no freedom. A good contest starts to build when bowler dominates and batsmen stands up to the challenge. There is never a scintillating moment in the game than seeing the ball whistling past the bowlers head and batsmen face chin music. Also true ability of a batsmen gets tested only when pitches have life in them.Cricket will get reduced to being a neighbouring sport of baseball if ICC does not intervene in quality of pitch making, after all turf preparation is the heart of the game and a lifeless wicket mean cricket loses its humanness.

  • MaheshSPanicker on December 18, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    very well said Harsha. after the disaster the other day, I felt so deflated. the South Africa vs Australia WC semi final, even he semi between WY and Aus in 96, Indian win in the Titan finals, all seem to belong to a past that is long gone, or may be even not existed at all. the bowler is a nobody, the personality doesn't matter, never mind if it is a Murali or an Ntini or some clubby, doesn't matter, his job is to oblige the free flowing weapons of mass cricket distruction. the best line from the article, which all cricket lover should take a long hard look at is "In Rajkot, 825 runs were made in a hundred overs. Many cheered, as they might have in ancient Rome when Christians were thrown to the lions."

  • rhtme on December 18, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    I don't know what the brouhaha is all about but all games (tests/ODI/T20) these days are batter friendly. But really pitch is the last thing one should be concerned about. Its quality of bowling & like wise batting which ultimately leads to a contest between bat & bowl. The same Indian famed batting lineup were blown away by OZ in Guwahati also the Windian team of 80's buried us here in INDIA just after the 83 World Cup victory. As far as I am concerned bowlers these days aren't good enough to do "that" consistently in all 3 forms of the game. Whether its the protective gear that has dispelled the fear of bowlers in a batsman's mind or the bigger willows that has instilled that same fear in bowlers only GOD knows. The quality of bowling & batting determines the contest at hand in the end as in India-Aus test series or for that matter any test involving Bangladesh. The better the bowler the earlier will the contest end & the better the batsman the more intriguing the contest will be.

  • Golandaaz on December 18, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Over the last few decades, batters have invented the reverse sweep, the paddle sweep, the scoop and have been prepared to take risks. Bowlers on the other hand haven't innovated much at all. Doosra, Carrum ball, etc are still skills mastered by few individuals. Perhaps batsmanship has evolved ahead of bowling

  • JogeshPanda on December 18, 2009, 3:30 GMT

    Harsha, a very good point of view. More and More we want the game to be a batsman friendly game and bowlers are mere runner. High scoring game is very rarely intriguing but we are modifying more and more rules to bend the back of bowler. Ball change after 34 over, additional power plays, one ball bouncer, free-hit all aim towards making more mockery of bowlers. Nothing like a partnership buildup, a file spell of 5-6 over, bowler trying to see-off the bowler, grinding for singles and twos. Calculative risk first ball of the over and take 1s n 2s. Bowler planning a wicket, odd short ball to surprise batsman. So much things are missed with only hitting down the line and ugly slogging where ball takes edges and still sails over the stand. Still I feel with a pitch that offers a bit for both bat and ball we can sustain this form of game otherwise bowler will be more of pitcher.

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  • JogeshPanda on December 18, 2009, 3:30 GMT

    Harsha, a very good point of view. More and More we want the game to be a batsman friendly game and bowlers are mere runner. High scoring game is very rarely intriguing but we are modifying more and more rules to bend the back of bowler. Ball change after 34 over, additional power plays, one ball bouncer, free-hit all aim towards making more mockery of bowlers. Nothing like a partnership buildup, a file spell of 5-6 over, bowler trying to see-off the bowler, grinding for singles and twos. Calculative risk first ball of the over and take 1s n 2s. Bowler planning a wicket, odd short ball to surprise batsman. So much things are missed with only hitting down the line and ugly slogging where ball takes edges and still sails over the stand. Still I feel with a pitch that offers a bit for both bat and ball we can sustain this form of game otherwise bowler will be more of pitcher.

  • Golandaaz on December 18, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Over the last few decades, batters have invented the reverse sweep, the paddle sweep, the scoop and have been prepared to take risks. Bowlers on the other hand haven't innovated much at all. Doosra, Carrum ball, etc are still skills mastered by few individuals. Perhaps batsmanship has evolved ahead of bowling

  • rhtme on December 18, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    I don't know what the brouhaha is all about but all games (tests/ODI/T20) these days are batter friendly. But really pitch is the last thing one should be concerned about. Its quality of bowling & like wise batting which ultimately leads to a contest between bat & bowl. The same Indian famed batting lineup were blown away by OZ in Guwahati also the Windian team of 80's buried us here in INDIA just after the 83 World Cup victory. As far as I am concerned bowlers these days aren't good enough to do "that" consistently in all 3 forms of the game. Whether its the protective gear that has dispelled the fear of bowlers in a batsman's mind or the bigger willows that has instilled that same fear in bowlers only GOD knows. The quality of bowling & batting determines the contest at hand in the end as in India-Aus test series or for that matter any test involving Bangladesh. The better the bowler the earlier will the contest end & the better the batsman the more intriguing the contest will be.

  • MaheshSPanicker on December 18, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    very well said Harsha. after the disaster the other day, I felt so deflated. the South Africa vs Australia WC semi final, even he semi between WY and Aus in 96, Indian win in the Titan finals, all seem to belong to a past that is long gone, or may be even not existed at all. the bowler is a nobody, the personality doesn't matter, never mind if it is a Murali or an Ntini or some clubby, doesn't matter, his job is to oblige the free flowing weapons of mass cricket distruction. the best line from the article, which all cricket lover should take a long hard look at is "In Rajkot, 825 runs were made in a hundred overs. Many cheered, as they might have in ancient Rome when Christians were thrown to the lions."

  • JGuru on December 18, 2009, 4:24 GMT

    I fully agree with Harsha on this. What we got to see at Rajkot was not a contest but boundary clearing practise for 100 overs. It was absurd as bowlers were blown away and pitch had no sympathy for them. In more ways than one, pitches of this nature are poor advertisement to cricket. Already most of the shorter format rules are in favour of batsmen and bowlers enjoy no freedom. A good contest starts to build when bowler dominates and batsmen stands up to the challenge. There is never a scintillating moment in the game than seeing the ball whistling past the bowlers head and batsmen face chin music. Also true ability of a batsmen gets tested only when pitches have life in them.Cricket will get reduced to being a neighbouring sport of baseball if ICC does not intervene in quality of pitch making, after all turf preparation is the heart of the game and a lifeless wicket mean cricket loses its humanness.

  • ilamdream on December 18, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Honestly, if the same match had happended in 1995 with Sachin shouldering the entire team what would the score been? As much as I agree the pitch quality is bad, we have also admit what were 300+ wickets are now 350+ or 370+ wickets. The batsmen have changed in these years. Jayasurya played on the pitch the rest of the batsmen played, Sehwag, Dilshan, Yuvi & Sanga plays on the same pitch that Jaywardena, Dravid, Sachin play. And why are we not talking about quality of bowlers. In this match,where did the yorkers that were bowled in last 10 overs go in the first 10. Would we have seen the same score if Warne / Mcgrath/ Ambrose/Walsh bowled? Please give credit to the batsmen, encourage the bowlers to bowl more yorkers, good bouncers, slow balls ans stop blaming the pitch for all fault.

  • vishy1979 on December 18, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Hi Harsha, Well said. I do not understand why batsmen even celebrate for a 50 or a 100 anymore;why bowlers have to run 40 yards to bowl; Wish someone can put the fear of God in batsmen again, make batsmen smell leather again. Ban helmets in International cricket, legalize ball tampering, reduce the pitch to 18 yards, allow 1 bouncer and 1 b...eamer/over if someone wants head gear, back to the old lighter bats with only one sweet spot.. We really have to re-examine our idea of entertainment..Cricket is becoming more of a dumb bollywood movie, It won't be long before Indian batsmen will be escorted to the center by bollywood actresses,may be be they will even sing a song and run around wickets to provide "entertainment" during breaks. Thanks to people like Shahrukh khan or the shetty, cricket is becoming bollywoodized and metrosexual.. Would love to hear Ian Chappelll on this.

  • GaneshMali on December 18, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    Yes. The contest is no more between the bat and the ball. But don't say there is no more contest. The contest is there. It is between the batsmen of the two teams as to who makes the most of the 300 balls thrown at them. I have high respect for Harsha but many a times I feel he is like the movie critics who pan a movie for no creativity and the movie ends up being a super-hit. The crowds is what matters at the end. And there are many who have their own ideas of entertainment from a game and what makes them happy which at times are different than the experts. No use blaming the administrators. In every game of the world in every country they simply play to the fans tunes. Just came across a news in a Indian newspaper who interviewed the people queued outside the Nagpur stadium as to why they are there when theres already been a match in Nagpur just 10 days ago. And the answer was that the pitch is flat and Viru is in great form, who comes to watch the bowlers take wickets.

  • sramesh_74 on December 18, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    Modern day ODIs are like the run of the mill Bollywood movie. They are meant to keep the front benchers happy. Playing conditions are killing the contest between bat and ball. You could give the poor bowlers a rest and use bowling machines instead. Media also has a role to play. Stop glorifying such games. The tube is full of analysis shows that gloat over how the batsmen flayed the ball all over the park. Give me a low scoring game anyday..

  • prathik1 on December 18, 2009, 4:49 GMT

    We are all Hypocrites, When the Bat dominates the ball everyone seems to suggest this is not cricket but when the ball seems to swing or spin and the batsman is made to look like a person trying to swat that irritating mosquito off his face is that any good, I agree there needs to be balance and I appreciate Harsha does explore the possibility of the game evolving and when you look at it, it has evolved, we do not play on uncovered pitches anymore, we have powerplays, we don't have Ambrose, Walsh, Akram, Waqar or Lille for that matter a Warne or a Kumble bowling, times change things change, Cricket changes, we need to move on and accept the fact that this is how ODI and T20 will be from now, this format was always for the batsman and as long as its a close contest I couldn't care less if there was 1000 runs in a hundred overs or 400 runs in a hundred overs. This is my personal opinion, everyone here is entitled to their own.