August 27, 2010

Cricket can't afford meaningless games

The game cannot risk alienating audiences with irrelevant matches
117

A topsy-turvy, irrelevant and largely unnecessary tournament lurches towards a final. It has been characterised not by outstanding cricket but by wildly fluctuating performances. If a team vanquishes its opponent by 200 runs one day and loses by 105 a week later, which is the better team? One-sided games are not good contests and there hasn't been a good contest so far in Sri Lanka.

It makes you wonder if teams might have played differently if this were a World Cup, where every match counted towards something, where a defeat strengthened resolve for it meant a greater peak had been installed in the way. I have long argued that increasingly audiences are only concerned with whether or not the home team is playing. It now seems that we are progressing towards a stage where audiences ask whether or not a game is relevant. Sri Lanka could not produce crowds for a home game against India. It is an alarming, and peculiarly welcome, sign.

Cricket cannot afford to throw up meaningless games before its benefactors, which is what spectators and television audiences are. If you want their money you must offer them a spectacle, and while sometimes the promise may not be fulfilled (even the football World Cup threw up many duds, including the final), the intent has to come shining through.

Players cannot afford to treat a contest as just another game. They are living a dream that few see realised. And the opposition is quick to spot laziness and arrogance anyway. Like an author, a cricketer signs his name on every innings he bats or bowls in; indeed for every cricket ball that challenges him on the field. It is a mandate he must feel privileged to uphold. Over the last couple of weeks I am not sure I got that impression every time.

India must also be concerned by the inconsistency of the younger players. Across professions, consistency is a direct product of work ethic. The greats were defined by their consistency because they were wedded to work ethic. No oddball gambler ever achieved greatness. Some, like Shane Warne, suggest occasionally that they might be mavericks, but when Warne's legbreak didn't obey his command, he worked harder than anybody else on it. Sometimes I feel the lessons from the legends are misplaced in satiated youthfulness.

And so, in the four games played at Dambulla, India's batting seemed to revert to the old movie formula: one hero, one supporting actor, and no one else of any consequence really. This was the opportunity for challengers to Tendulkar, Gambhir, Harbhajan and Zaheer to make a statement. They haven't yet. If anything has been gained it is that Sehwag is doing his one-day career some justice. With every innings he seems to rise above his generation and earn for himself a more exalted place.

Meanwhile the IPL and the BCCI lurch from one controversy to another. Clearly no organisation is run by monks, and who knows there might be political undercurrents in monasteries as well, but the quality of governance must remain non-negotiable. With disciplinary issues smothering cricketing ones, the IPL must wake up to the blow its image is taking. Whether or not media allegations are true, the damage in the eyes of the public has to be addressed. An outstanding brand cannot lapse into somnolence; cannot be defined by committees and a bureaucracy.

Outside of India's private sector, which has many islands of excellence amidst other less agreeable ones, Brand India has rarely been characterised by outstanding governance. For every success story in software, telecom and manufacturing, we have the Commonwealth Games to portray us as pathetic, bumbling organisers. The IPL promised to be different, to be a genuine global sports brand born and nurtured in India. It can still be but its mind seems to be elsewhere, caught up in committees and personal conflict. Like India's young middle order, it needs some refurbishing.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 29, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    I don't understand why people are complaining about this tournament. After the SSC test ppl kept complaining how the pitch favoured batsmen, now they're complaning about the Dambulla pitch, probably the only pitch in the entire subcontinent that is known to favour bowlers!! Complaints about this pitch being too one-sided is just stupid. Look at Shewag's 99 when he was batting under lights!

    You would think Harsha would be happy given the fact that seam bowlers have done well on this tournament but he's still complaining cus India did not win.

    People are being overly critical just because India did not win this tournament. Harsha called this tournament 'topsy-turvy' which is an unjustifable thing to say. I personally think that the unpredictable nature of the tournament made it interesting because there was no obvious winner from the start. Had this tournament taken place in England or Australia, Harsha would not be calling it irrevlant.

  • addiemanav on August 29, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    what is meaningful cricket??CL-20??did anyone watch the first edition??over long run 20-20 will definitely effect the game in a bad way..signs r already there!!

  • dinosaurus on August 29, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    chokkshokka, Apart from that one India victory NZ has a better record than India in recent World Cups. Pretty much a regular semi-finalist. And no, I'm not a Kiwi either!!!

  • ngregory on August 29, 2010, 3:04 GMT

    Guys, Harsha has written this article before the final. This doesn't include it. The final should have been closer given the state of the pitch. I personally don't think we need to be hyper critical of the way the team played. However, all the other matches were one sided enough to make it boring. I hope that Dambulla is not one of the grounds for the world cup. We don't want a repeat of the Eden gardens semifinals where Jayasurya was turning it 90 degrees around the legs. The pitch has to be more consistent to maintain the interest of the spectators or the game will lose its charm.

  • Agnar on August 29, 2010, 0:45 GMT

    Meaningless? According to Lankadeepa online newspaper http://www.lankadeepa.lk/ police was called to Dambulla stadium to disperse a crowd of about 1,000 spectators who couldn't get in because it was full.

  • rajar88 on August 28, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    Harsha dont u have common sense ???? sri lanka is not a high population country like any other cricket nation .in the same way dambulla is a not a city like colombo. so it is unfair to accpet large crowd from here.we saw how indian batsman struggle in the seaming conditions in dambulla . so how can they paly in AUS SA or ENG.

  • Geeva on August 28, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    I think all teams should play ODI series on an Home and Away basis with a max 5 odi's per series within a four year period at the end we can have the world cup!No more triangulars!It was fun in the nineties but that was before statelite tv in SA!!And Harsha the entire IPL is meaningless!!!!!!!!!!

  • cricaddict9118 on August 28, 2010, 9:08 GMT

    i totally agree with harsha ..... this tournament apparently has no meaning!!! NZ are suppose to tour india in return to india touring NZ and NZ had already played their odi series last yr wen they played d test series in SL.. BCCI should understn n plan d schedule of series n nt arrange ny vague series!! i think youngsters should get confidence dat if they perform they surely b a part of team... rite nw its nt d case as more or less india's battin order 4 WC ia already in place wid sachin,sehwag,gambhir,yuvi,dhoni n raina!! neither rohit nor virat can b india's no. 7... so its imp v bring in irfan n give him a real go!!! he is d match-winning material!!

  • on August 28, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    I cannot help but fully agree to Harsha. Irrespective of what happens in today's finals, these types of triseries are pretty meaningless. Just think how well the Indians bowled that they had NZ 52/7 and all but sealed the game. But was it all really Indian attack doing the trick. For people who are arguing that we are defending India wrongly, this is a mighty slap to their logic. The SL wickets are bat first and win the game. Both India and SL lost a game to each other after playing first, when they batted poorly. But when NZ carved out 288 against India they won comfortably. This does not do anything to the game in general. Going by the way SL performs in such tournaments, SL should have won many more tests and ODI series, WCs outside SL. But have they done it. No. Jaywardane scored 374 in a Test innings against SA. How many times has he scored 374 in a complete series outside SL. India has won 4 tests in SL against their none in India. Answer these questions, you will agree with him.

  • on August 28, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    I am sure its unfair to go so harsh on the long time new comers except for RJ.. The pitch is seeming endlessly.. Even the likes of Taylor and Jayavardhane who have seen it all are failing.. But I agree these guys should have shown a little of application and character.. Pressure can make you come stronger or it can make you fail.. Sad that our players only chose to fail.. Tiwary deserved a spot.. But I am afraid this chance would have given a scar on his confidence.. RJ?? I feel pity for him.. All the best Dhoni..

  • on August 29, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    I don't understand why people are complaining about this tournament. After the SSC test ppl kept complaining how the pitch favoured batsmen, now they're complaning about the Dambulla pitch, probably the only pitch in the entire subcontinent that is known to favour bowlers!! Complaints about this pitch being too one-sided is just stupid. Look at Shewag's 99 when he was batting under lights!

    You would think Harsha would be happy given the fact that seam bowlers have done well on this tournament but he's still complaining cus India did not win.

    People are being overly critical just because India did not win this tournament. Harsha called this tournament 'topsy-turvy' which is an unjustifable thing to say. I personally think that the unpredictable nature of the tournament made it interesting because there was no obvious winner from the start. Had this tournament taken place in England or Australia, Harsha would not be calling it irrevlant.

  • addiemanav on August 29, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    what is meaningful cricket??CL-20??did anyone watch the first edition??over long run 20-20 will definitely effect the game in a bad way..signs r already there!!

  • dinosaurus on August 29, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    chokkshokka, Apart from that one India victory NZ has a better record than India in recent World Cups. Pretty much a regular semi-finalist. And no, I'm not a Kiwi either!!!

  • ngregory on August 29, 2010, 3:04 GMT

    Guys, Harsha has written this article before the final. This doesn't include it. The final should have been closer given the state of the pitch. I personally don't think we need to be hyper critical of the way the team played. However, all the other matches were one sided enough to make it boring. I hope that Dambulla is not one of the grounds for the world cup. We don't want a repeat of the Eden gardens semifinals where Jayasurya was turning it 90 degrees around the legs. The pitch has to be more consistent to maintain the interest of the spectators or the game will lose its charm.

  • Agnar on August 29, 2010, 0:45 GMT

    Meaningless? According to Lankadeepa online newspaper http://www.lankadeepa.lk/ police was called to Dambulla stadium to disperse a crowd of about 1,000 spectators who couldn't get in because it was full.

  • rajar88 on August 28, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    Harsha dont u have common sense ???? sri lanka is not a high population country like any other cricket nation .in the same way dambulla is a not a city like colombo. so it is unfair to accpet large crowd from here.we saw how indian batsman struggle in the seaming conditions in dambulla . so how can they paly in AUS SA or ENG.

  • Geeva on August 28, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    I think all teams should play ODI series on an Home and Away basis with a max 5 odi's per series within a four year period at the end we can have the world cup!No more triangulars!It was fun in the nineties but that was before statelite tv in SA!!And Harsha the entire IPL is meaningless!!!!!!!!!!

  • cricaddict9118 on August 28, 2010, 9:08 GMT

    i totally agree with harsha ..... this tournament apparently has no meaning!!! NZ are suppose to tour india in return to india touring NZ and NZ had already played their odi series last yr wen they played d test series in SL.. BCCI should understn n plan d schedule of series n nt arrange ny vague series!! i think youngsters should get confidence dat if they perform they surely b a part of team... rite nw its nt d case as more or less india's battin order 4 WC ia already in place wid sachin,sehwag,gambhir,yuvi,dhoni n raina!! neither rohit nor virat can b india's no. 7... so its imp v bring in irfan n give him a real go!!! he is d match-winning material!!

  • on August 28, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    I cannot help but fully agree to Harsha. Irrespective of what happens in today's finals, these types of triseries are pretty meaningless. Just think how well the Indians bowled that they had NZ 52/7 and all but sealed the game. But was it all really Indian attack doing the trick. For people who are arguing that we are defending India wrongly, this is a mighty slap to their logic. The SL wickets are bat first and win the game. Both India and SL lost a game to each other after playing first, when they batted poorly. But when NZ carved out 288 against India they won comfortably. This does not do anything to the game in general. Going by the way SL performs in such tournaments, SL should have won many more tests and ODI series, WCs outside SL. But have they done it. No. Jaywardane scored 374 in a Test innings against SA. How many times has he scored 374 in a complete series outside SL. India has won 4 tests in SL against their none in India. Answer these questions, you will agree with him.

  • on August 28, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    I am sure its unfair to go so harsh on the long time new comers except for RJ.. The pitch is seeming endlessly.. Even the likes of Taylor and Jayavardhane who have seen it all are failing.. But I agree these guys should have shown a little of application and character.. Pressure can make you come stronger or it can make you fail.. Sad that our players only chose to fail.. Tiwary deserved a spot.. But I am afraid this chance would have given a scar on his confidence.. RJ?? I feel pity for him.. All the best Dhoni..

  • on August 28, 2010, 8:25 GMT

    I think ICC should arrange & fix tours of all nations considering demand of people of that respective country.for last two to three years India is constantly playing cricket against Sri Lanka which becomes boring battle,in the meanwhile h many matches India played against other teamsdefinately less in numbers,my point is every team should play equal no. of games in each calender year & duration between two tours to any country should be equal.Even better option is to arrange more no. of matches in nuetral venues where popularity of cricket is not that much.

  • chokkashokka on August 28, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    BCCI is doing no justice to preparing its team for the World Cup by engaging in meaningless contests with second tier teams. The only teams that India should be playing in the lead up to the WC are Australia, South Africa and maybe this new look English side. Why India plays SL so much is beyond any reason - it is so hard for anyone to get excited about this final. Just get it over with and lets play some real teams and play some real venues. Can anyone even remember the snooze-fest the preceding test matches were? Perhaps the whole purpose of the series was to get Murali to 800 on his home soil - understood. But why this half-ass tri-series? NZ are basically a club side and SL are not that much better. Enough of this - no more pointless games.

  • on August 28, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    Nice article..But i think if Dhoni would have batted at no.3 it would have proved to be a guidance for the likes of Kohli, Rohit Sharma. Raina failed in this series but he can make ammends in the final.I think Tiwary should have got a chance. But where is Pujara, Pandey , Rahane ? Why are they ignored?

  • on August 28, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    well written article world cup every fours years is the only ODI tournament I look forward too

  • shenoyragh on August 28, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    The main reason why we do not see the crowd for test matches is because of the schedule! The first 2 test matches of the series fell in the middle of the week.. Who will go to the stadium on weekdays??? Even an India Vs Australia match in Bangalore on weekdays draws very less crowd..! ICC should come up with a favouring schedule, and good pitches.. That's all test cricket needs..

  • Rajdeep.imt on August 28, 2010, 5:51 GMT

    i dont think no of matches or significance is so much of a concern - we don't mind an overdose of international cricket as long at its of good quality and competitive (even footall has numerous club matches).

    As a fan and TV viewer what we need is to spare us from watching India play in obscure sad venues in around the world with empty stands. During this year India has played all its ODIs in Harare, Dhaka and Dambulla !!!

    Please have our best eleven play only in the best venues around the world - including those in India. Playing standards and interest levels will go up automatically with matches in front full houses in Lords, MCG, Eden and Wonderers and the likes.(take the example of football n how school kids across metros in India have found fanatical interest in totally irrelevant club games in europe just because they make a better spectacle and seem more glamorous)

  • Nilmax on August 28, 2010, 5:41 GMT

    i agree that there is a case of overkill regardin SLvInd.. But however i dont think this series is meaningless.. I c it as a series where da great batsmen of all 3 countries look apart from da rest.. Their confidence n presence at da crease makes them look great Ross Taylor, Styris, Sehwag, Mahela, Sanga.. So we can clearly see the difference between good batsmen n the great ones..

  • Wannabekenobi on August 28, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    To the people that agree with Harsha on this: You are really brave to make such sweeping comments. No one comments on the fact that teams lost either because of playing badly or making bad choices. Its either the pitch, the toss or the lights and in this tournament the umpires; especially when India is playing. It doesnt matter if one team did their home work its just one sided. But play in India and you get a good close game where 900 runs can be scored in one day game. You might as well have a bowling machine at one end bowling 300 deliveries in the same place because the pitches there are made for their top batsmen. That is well and good. By all means dont spice up a game by giving bowlers a chance. Teams have batted first and second and won matches in this tournament, so much for the toss and lights. Teams that play badly lose badly, teams that have a plan and a backup plan and play well win matches simple as that.

  • Echi on August 28, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    When India loses under lIghts...EXCUSE...The lights are not good When India Loses Batting first .....EXCUSE....the pitch is not good. When India not perdormaing in a tournament .......EXCUSE.....unwanted Tournament

    Do not complain please try to win ........

  • samysh on August 28, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    Dear respected Harsha, It's true that a ODI pitch should play consistent role for 100 overs but through your experience you should be knowing that conditions can vary from venue to venue in the same country. Dambulla is a great venue for cricket as it's testing the real skill of a batsman. Indian is playing with a young team and they need to show some character to play an innings like Sewag did for New Zealand or Against Sri Lanka. If there is patience and right technique one can score 220 + runs in Dambulla which is the case if you analyze the serious up to now. it's not right to blame the car if you do not know how to drive.

  • Jim1207 on August 28, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    @Boblaw: Please don't speak as if only Eng and Aus are giving life to Cricket. You can't say subcontinent stadiums are empty, thus test cricket is dying. You need to understand the facts before strongly stating something. First of all, Indian society is a hard working people (not aimed anything at others) and leisure and travel comes up in the last place, also considering the fact that many people have to earn their food everyday. You cant just expect 75% crowd in test cricket. But the beauty is everybody still watches test cricket in TV every session either in workplace or shops or home, that's the reason revenue is coming up for ICC. Test cricket is not dying anywhere - in fact, Indians help a lot to grow test cricket. Moreover, you cant expect people to come to stadium in tropical climate and sit for whole day, it would be easy to sit under umbrella in breeze in England sipping beer all day.IPL is night cricket so people come up for 3 hours, may be test cricket can be day-nights

  • on August 28, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    I totally agree with you Harsha. This tournament has no meaning. We have been playing only Srilanka for the last 1 year and I have got sick of watching these endless SL vs IND matches. The pitch is poor, the lights are poor are the teams playing now are the worst. Apart from the dynamic stroke maker Sehwag no one has risen to the occasion. Rohit Sharma, Virat kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik have no right to play in the XI, but yet they are given endless opportunities by the selection panel which lacks the vision and direction. They just are keen to make more money from cricket. We all love cricket and want our team to do well and lift the WC. We must bring back players like Uthappa, Irfan and blood new ploayers like Rayudu, Tiwari. But yet we persist with incompetent players like Ishant, Rohit, Kohli. We also need better pitches in sub-continent to encourage our players. The BBCI better wake up now before it's too late.

  • on August 28, 2010, 3:37 GMT

    Don't agree with Harsha - why is this meaningless? You are a professional playing for your country in an international tournament. What else do you need? In every sport players play a lot. In the NBA each team plays about 82 games in a 8 month time span - that's a game every 3 days. Other leagues are not different. In MLB each team plays 162 games in 25 weeks - that's a game almost every day. So this Cricket may not be India V Australia but it is important cricket nonetheless.

    Also low scoring games are also very interesting - and refreshing. So disagree with you Harsha.

  • Gizza on August 28, 2010, 3:35 GMT

    @Boblaw you are not exactly right about the salaries. You IPL is equal to most of the sports' leagues you mentioned when you take into the small season. The salary per game is on par with the American sports and league and soccer leagues. Those leagues go for half a year whereas the IPL last for one and a half months.

    And you are naive for thinking that cricket is dying. All three forms of the game are doing fine if not growing within the main countries and new countries. People just get sucked in by the doom and gloom propaganda of the media.

    Best way to prove this is to research old Test match and ODI crowds and old Test match and ODI TV ratings. Check for all of the main countries. You will find that generally even World Series Crowds were never that high during the 80's. When Gavaskar was batting, Lillee was bowling and Sobers was doing everything crowds overall were not that high. There were exceptions like the famous WI-Aus Test Series just like now some series are sold out.

  • on August 28, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    Harsha Bhogle, there are few reasons for the lack of crowds. - Sri Lankans are of course crazy fro cricket but not mad like in india. - This is far away from colombo - India and NZ are so bad people are have no match to view, except the pitch playing tricks occasionally.

    Please don't make comments on things that you don't know.

  • Chris_P on August 28, 2010, 1:17 GMT

    Well written article Harsha. This obviously refers to all countries but you only used the current series as an example so not sure how people have unfairly accused you of relating only to India. The winner of this series means squat all. Nothing, nada, zilch, zero. Why 3 nations anyway? At least if you had India/SL it coincided with the test series. Same as Aust/Eng series over there. Australia were there to play Pakistan, so why add a meaningless series on top of that? History is cluttered with these meaningless series and on most people's minds, non memorable. Even the length of some of these series is ridiculous, I recall Aust/Eng 2009. 7 matches! Big deal we won 6, who cares anyway??!! And this gets repeated by all countries for the result that we have probably killed off ODI's as a spectacle due to the gluttony of these matches being fed to us. Overkill of everything, no matter how tasty it starts out being, usually ends up leaving us with a sour taste.

  • knowledge_eater on August 28, 2010, 1:06 GMT

    I fail to understand why India is still playing Trilateral series even after emergence of IPL and Champions league. Really stop this. Thanks for that no-ball and Sehwag's two knocks people are actually watching on cricket websites otherwise no-one would have known or remember anything. How many runs were scored by who and how much. Let other teams play whatever they want to play. India must stop playing trilateral and also cancel even Mini-World cup drama as well. BCCI needs to higher more people and good people actually, as it was suggested earlier by Harsha Bhogle before. Does anyone even remember there was trilateral thing in Zim as well a few months ago ? Play only 3 series bilateral country visit rotation tour 4 if there is no World Cup in that year, IPL, Champions leagueT20. Thats enough. I don't know what Inception level India and Lanka are playing, I think its 5th, Who will wake up who and how ! What if they don't ! Fans will be stuck in Limbo.

  • ASK3 on August 27, 2010, 23:26 GMT

    @Boblaw Cricket in the Subcontinent is not dead. We have seen some thrilling games whereas Australia and England are playing against teams that are not at their peak; so they are beating them by huge margins. In England and Australia, there isn't too much crowd to watch their matches either. Harsha Bhogle is totally right. This is too much cricket between India and Sri Lanka. India or Sri Lanka should start fixing more series with other teams. If India keep playing against Sri Lanka, then there's little chance we can find potential batsmen or all-rounders.

  • popahwheely on August 27, 2010, 22:43 GMT

    i agree you only need 2 teams to play each other in 1 series a year its get boring if you see the same teams playing against each other on most occasions.

  • Boblaw on August 27, 2010, 21:36 GMT

    Cricket is a dying sport, and its amazing fans still find a way to argue about the fact how cricket is "fine" test matches and Odis are thriving,

    ICC just wont accept the fact that outside England and Australia test cricket is 'dead', empty stadiums, boring high scoring draws on those dead sub-continent pitches. T20 is the only thing that people can bear to watch, even odi's are dead, i predict that in the upcoming world cup, attendence will be slightly better than westindies but not by much. people who complain about players salaries in IPL really need to quiet down, IPL is nothing compared to MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, EPL , baseball has average salary of 3 million, NBA 5million, NHL is around 2million(Those are averages) so a low end player might still be making 1 million.

  • Internet_Guy on August 27, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    likes of rohit sharma,suresh raina,ishant sharma are spoiled by ipl,even yuvaraj who used to be the main strength of middle order is spoiled by this ipl parties

    so their commitment to the national team is questionable

    players like uthappa,pandey,pujara,tiwari,abhishek nayyar,rayadu should be also give the same chances ,world cup is just 6 months away so its time to test out few before the time runs out

  • ravi424 on August 27, 2010, 21:25 GMT

    What about the fact that # of ads are going through the roof? They are now showing ads even while the ball is being delivered and after every replay with the screen getting shorter....? that is the worse than playing meaningless matches and really sad! needs to stop but who will listen.?

  • on August 27, 2010, 20:47 GMT

    Completely disagree. These uncertainties infact are good for cricket than one sided affairs. And If series was audience less BCCI would not have played matches. Its sad not to see full strength indian team but still people who love cricket will follow it. A bunch of T-20 lovers will whine all the time.

  • Rockyyyims on August 27, 2010, 20:21 GMT

    harsha you are the best , i am a great fan of yours, couldn't agree with you more,its not only too much cricket but playing against one opposition again again as well that ruins the interest, god help us from these greedy and power craving organisers of such series, they remind me of those old kings who used to have their own treasury full and fame growing but did nothing about the plight of the public.

  • Nampally on August 27, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    Harsha, BCCI is responsible party we should be questionsing. BCCI & Selection committee lack vision & leadership. It is the same group of people who keep selecting a wrong team or a team full of injuries to SL. Send a full Indian team with fit players. If anyone is injured do not put makeshift guys from the squad , as Karthik is doing - an opening bat. Send Mukund or Dhawan to replace the injured opener. Do not just select players like Tiwary and put him on the bench especially when we have a third rate middle order.Watch and correct the technique of these 4: Kohli, Rohi, Yuvraj & Raina, for not getting behind the ball & being caught by WK- where is the footwork? Why does Jadeja get a place in 11 despite his consistent failures? BCCI & the Indian Selectors have a lot of questions to answer. They need bowling & batting coaching camps instead of sending technically unsound teams to SL.Also mental toughness is needed. India will win World ODI if these issues are addressed. BCCI WAKE UP!

  • bulla on August 27, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    While arguably no tournament is meaningless because it does affect rankings and points, one can't help but lament the quality of cricket in the Micromax Cup. There is something terribly wrong with the pitch because it has consistently produced mismatches. Nearly each and every game has generated a bonus point for a team, that's a clear pointer towards a topsy turvy tournament where luck counts for more than skilll. And given that each team without exception has been on a roller coaster ride, one can't help but feel that this tournament is one giant Las Vegas casino. Having said that, one hopes that the Indians continue their incredible run of luck with refards to ODI tournaments and series in Sri Lanka and can turn the tables as comprehensively on the Lankans as they did in the Asia Cup. These two are without a doubt the 2 best teams in Asia so it's not unnatural for them to play against each other a number of times.

  • on August 27, 2010, 18:54 GMT

    I fail to understand why BCCI is supporting SLC in order to generate money without having viewers interest. It's totally boring to watch such a pathetic pitch with pathetic opposition team. At least we can arrange matches between pak vs ind in order to generate and utilize the money for flood victims.

  • on August 27, 2010, 18:48 GMT

    Disagree with Mr.Bhogle. This is exactly the tournament (low stakes) to identify men from boys, identifying the best reserves for the big tournament. No wonder, Mr.Bhogle doesnt qualify for BCCI think-tank, rather a commercial writer to spice it up for his readership rating. Disappointing!

  • vajira12 on August 27, 2010, 18:46 GMT

    When India is not doing well, it is meaningless no doubt. The reason for few crowd is that the matches are being played at Dambulla, away from Colombo. The spectators prefer to watch the match at home, but they do watch these games and they enjoy watching the Indian batsmen's antics against short ball and they love to watch Shevag's unbelivable batting skills.

  • dragqueen1 on August 27, 2010, 18:44 GMT

    yes cricket is an unorganised shambles masquerading as a global sport. thats not exactly news is it. it always has been and probably always will be.

  • Agnar on August 27, 2010, 18:36 GMT

    If Sri Lanka and India become world cup finalists in 2011, all these writers will then talk about the practice these two teams had, experiments they performed, how they selected their best team for WC etc. Would they say these matches were meaningless then? These two teams, I think, are the favorites to win in 2011.

  • on August 27, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    Woah! Astonishing forthright statements. One of the better pieces published by Cricinfo off late. Applause for Harsha Bhogle!!

  • rishianand7 on August 27, 2010, 18:11 GMT

    great article harsha.i think the indian cricket players dont value their position in the side or its just that they dont fear not performing at the highest level.the young guns should be going all out to make a mark.maybe there isnt enough pressure being put on them by the board.we still have to rely on sehwag to a large extent to come good else we might get bowled out for under a hundred. another thing i dont understand is reason why india keeps playing against sri lanka every other day...! may be if we have to face teams like eng,aus,rsa more often we mite be able to provide the exposure necessary to fix our middle order crisis

  • on August 27, 2010, 17:58 GMT

    I dont quite agree with Harsha.It has been a good tournament.This tournament is like separating the wheat from the chaff i.e from a quality batsman to a poor one.Seriously Harsha how many times you have seen such low scoring yet entertaining battles between ball and bat in India since time immemorial in ODIs.The only dampeners are more too frequent matches between India and Srilanka as well as the last over finishes involved with ODIs.Perhaps you believe same as the Indian seniors that performances here have no bearing in future selections.And yet you go gaga over this mediocre lot when they loft helpless Indian bowlers in IPL.IPL has no use to Indian Cricket except for making obnoxious amount of money.And the ICC's FTP is the biggest sham in cricket.

  • AlSi on August 27, 2010, 17:37 GMT

    The series is for players to iron out chinks in real match play before WC.

    Players who complain about meaningless cricket and fatigue can and should opt out. A lot of (test) cricket is now a days played with no audience anyway: TV deals make or break a series. MSD had skipped last SL tour and do not understand why he has to play with injured finger. People (including certian media folks fed with fat IPL commentary contracts) who complain should look into their IPL association and how IPL has affected performance and enthusiasm to represent country.. There are current star players (including SRT) who skip representing (country) but would show up for IPL/CL - what if they pick up injury like Zaheer and Shewag and become out of commission for WC.

    The tour is important for WC preparation and that's why NJ and Aus are in the sub-continentent.

  • on August 27, 2010, 17:35 GMT

    The Srilankan fans are thinking that India are not doing well .If India are not doing well and they reach the final may even lift the cup then the tournament is really meaning less .Now one more question are Srilanka doing well?they were in the verge of elimination when they played India last,So nobody had an advantage in the series may be due to many reasons ,An open challenge for Srilankan Fans except Paddy Mohan can you confidently claim that Srilanka are surely going to win this one against this poor performing Indian side????????????.

  • roxap on August 27, 2010, 17:10 GMT

    i feel the current matches between pak/aus/eng are the best to watch, it had everything a spectator can ask for, some great bowling performances from the three sides, gutsy display of batting, on the whole it was a delight to watch the current series and the last one between pak and aus, whereas i was disappointed with ind/sl test series, it was the worst series of matches i had ever seen dull and boring and the current tri series is also sub standard.

  • on August 27, 2010, 17:00 GMT

    The problem is that there are so few teams playing cricket that there is not option but to repeat playing against the same teams like in case of ind-sl. I dont think its the quality of cricket that turns me off but the feeling of deja vu every time I see the same old faces day in and day out. Unfortunately its the complex nature of the game that no new country can come out and claim to be world beaters in a short span ,if ever. You cant blame the administrators always, how can they bring context if there are same teams playing all the time.

  • Hanza on August 27, 2010, 17:00 GMT

    Great article as usual Harsha, but I'm gonna be picky and say you're wrong about the football world cup final. I'm sorry but I and many others thought it was a wonderful spectacle. Spot on with everything else however, especially about the worrying fraility of our middle order so close to a World Cup on home turf.

  • MadhavD on August 27, 2010, 16:41 GMT

    no game is meaning less in my mind. More over we need to have some games where a lot is not at stake. Players should be able to play their natural game.. take some chances.. try some new things.. It is ok to play some easy games once in a while. And then there is this pitch variations.. first batting advantage.. etc.. factors into those one-sided games as well.

    Batsmen gets only one chance.. one mistake.. yo are out and can cause a disaster to team. Its the nature of the beast.. I know.. It is after all.. just a game.. we can relax once in a while.. appreciate good ones.. brush off bad ones..

  • on August 27, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    It is embarrasing that the BCCI does not even care about this fact/statistic that Sri Lanka are delivering empty crowds to apparantly "big games." That is because BCCI sure is filling their stands of over a billion people watching it on TV. I cant believe that I am following the England-Pakistan series as intently as I am. The sporting wickets are amazing to generate an close-contest. The century hit by Trott today is worth watching again than a 170-odd smashed by a Sehwag vs Dilshan contest. The fact that no-one is talking out loud but know it deep down is, once Sachin Tendulkar retires, the interest for the sport, or atleast a format will diminish at a rapid rate. I know that I myself will quit watching ODI's once Sachin chooses to stick to only Tests (which I think he should until 40-42). An annual league format with a solid schedule is required - for all 3 formats. Call it the T20 Season, the ODI Season, and the Test Season with an importance and value to each match and series.

  • rajanshammi on August 27, 2010, 16:13 GMT

    Cricket cannot afford meaningless games and articles. Please Harsha, give us a break.

  • on August 27, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    AS USUAL HARSHA IS RIGHT.FOR ME ONLY TEST MATCHES BETWWEN THE TOP CONUTRIES VIZ.INDIA AUSTRALIA ENGLAND SOUTH AFRICA SRI LANKA AND SOMETIMES PAKISTAN ALONGWITH THE MAJOR TOURNAMENTS LIKE IPL, 20/20 WORLD CUP AND THE 50 OVER WORLD CUP MEAN ANYTHING TO ME.THE REST EVEN THE CHAMPION'S TROPHY(50 OVERS)ARE TOTALLY MEANINGLESS.FOR EXAMPLE IT IS CLOSE TO IMPOSSIBLE TO MOTIVATE MYSELF TO WATCH THE FOLLOWING COMBINATIONS ON A REGULAR BASIS.WI VS BD,NZ VS BD,WI VS NZ.PAK VS BD AND PAK VS NZ.BANGLADESH SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PLAYING TEST CRICKET IN THE VERY FIRST PLACE.THEY SHOULD BE BANNED FROM SAME IMMEDIATELY. IN ORDER TO RE-KINDLE INTEREST WE MUST DECREASE THE AMT OF MEANINGLESS MATCHES,HAVE A 2 TIER SYSTEM IN TEST MATCHES AND REDUCE THE 50 OVERS TO 40 OVERS WITH EACH SIDE BATTING 20 OVERS TWICE.MOST OF THE TEST SERIES EXCEPT AUS VS ENG AND AUS VS IND SHOULD HAVE 3 TEST MATCHES AND NOT 2.THE EXCEPTIONS SHOULD PLAY A SERIES OF 5 TEST MATCHES.THE CHAMPION'S TROPHY SHOULD BE SCRAPPED PERMANENTLY.

  • BravoBravo on August 27, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    I totally agree with HB regarding the dullness of the series like one currently going on in SL. I am sure that the Final between India vs SL will be another one-sided match. Since SL defeated India by hugest margin possible for No.1 team in the previous ODI, the final will be won by India by a convincing margin. This is going to be another dull match and may need some controversy like Sewhag-Randive to attract some viewer. Considering the inconsistency in performance, I am rather skeptical about the prospect of these 3 teams (Ind, SL, NZ) reaching even to the semifinal stages in WC-2011.

  • JoydeepGupta on August 27, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    Just because of these incapable young middle order batsmen - Dravid is out of the team, and Ganguly (best ODI player after Sachin) had to be dropped...World Cup is just few months away and our team is totally dependent on Sachin,Sehwag,Dhoni and some bowling here and there...

  • IntCricket on August 27, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    Once Testicular, Dravid retire there is no one to take their place ----------------------- Wow, such an error strewn rant by the envious Hatern74

  • kumarcoolbuddy on August 27, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    What I understood is India-SL or India-Pak matches are useless. Only thing I see is rivalry. Fun part is I see more Pak, bangladesh public than SL public who stay first to criticize Indian team. Nothing wrong in being as critic but senseless comments will definitely lead to rivalry. If you look at @Ferzil Mohamed senseless comments, definitely he doesn't know anything about cricket and players. Looks like he is born only for senseless criticizing. I see just rivalry in his comments. Not only this guy I see many ppl who donot use their brain while putting comments. I will be happy if India doesn't play in (not with) SL and in (& with) Pak atleast to avoid rivalry.

  • on August 27, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    Typical Indian response, so I guess all cricket tournaments should be played in either Australia or India I suppose? This is a global sport. Shut up and watch all teams playing each other. I'm sure millions of people enjoy even a dead rubber of a game played in the middle of the Sahara dessert. True Cricket lovers enjoy cricket, nothing else.

  • Balumekka on August 27, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    Harsha, Please do not bother writing these important topics. Our Ignorant fans do not want to discuss these issues. They want to argue only on following topics. 1. Which one is the best subcontinental team? 2. Which subcontinental team has the best fast bowling attack? 3. Does India really deserve to be No:1 in test rankings? 4. Which sub-continental team will best perform in Australia? Mind you, Those who want to know answers to Quiz No:1,2 and 4 is.. IT'S INDIA!!!!! The reason is, highest percentage of cricket fans think India is the best team! (Because more than 50% of cricket fans are Indians. My grandmother told me that this is a democratic world and therefore It should be the opinion of the majority!) Answer for number 3 is: YES!!!!!!!! By the way, I'm a Sri Lankan, who admire good cricket no matter which team play it!

  • on August 27, 2010, 14:12 GMT

    hi harsha, can u explain why mr FAROKH ENGINEER wasn't even nominated in the all time indian wicket keeper's list. the selection panel of the indian all time team is useless so as this article....

  • Nampally on August 27, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    India has played against SL too many times. This year alone India played a test series, ODI series and now Tri-series, all in a row. Why can't India play Australia, NZ or England, away games for a change? BCCI needs some common sense, vision & leadership. We are palying one more game against SL. Secondly, the Indian ODI batting in SL is headed by individual brilliance of Sehwag & collective failure of its young middle order- Kohli, Raina, Rohit & Yuvraj. Sehwag has saved India from humiliating elimination twice. If Sehwag clicks, India wins.No amount of excuses will justify the collective failure of the above 4. Either they play to score runs or they are out. Their batting technique is wrong - do not get behind with head over the ball - hence caught behind.Other Rules: Play 4 fast bowlers on such pitches & ask them to bowl at right spots.#7 to a batsmen or a bowler- not Jadeja. Team: Sehwag, Kohli, Mithun, Raina,Dhoni,Yuvraj, Tiwary,Ashwin/Ojha, Ishant, Nehra, Kumar. Good Luck.

  • Agnar on August 27, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    If it is this meaningless, why is everybody is writing about it? Doesn't that make this article doubly meaningless?

  • svasudevan on August 27, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Harsha is so right.. I am an ardent cricket fan and even I don't tend to care for these games; I support India fervently, but didn't feel anything bad when India collapsed to some sub-par totals or lost (some years back, if India lost a match, I would lose sleep over it for about 2 days) I have an inkling that the players feel the same; would someone care if we lost .. nah

    Only making matches more meaningful will solve this problem; even too much of goodness turns into evil.l

  • anush222 on August 27, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    Nice article, nicely written. I liked the comparison between Indian team woes to IPL. I also liked the fact that you implicitly admitted that some corruption cannot be eliminated, but what is really more important than no corruption is world-class governance. That and work ethic.

  • Vivek7 on August 27, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    i think cricinfo can't afford meaningless articles. for once bowlers have some advantage. it is not see saw series. it is just batsmen's failure to adjust to some good bowling. overall series is meaningful since it gave some pitches that helped seamers and indian youth got good match practice.

    too much writing fatigue has blunted your thinking HB

  • Sachin_Cricket_God on August 27, 2010, 13:43 GMT

    I am an Indian and a cricket fan. I have been following cricket from my childhood watching each and every match of not only India but every other test playing country. But in the recent past I have lost my interest in cricket. Indian cricket team tours Sri Lanka every now and then so that BCCI can make some money. But look at the empty stands in Sri Lanka!!! This series looks so dull. We do not see any competition, the players do perform only so that they are been picked by the IPl teams for higher pays, the players lack the proud feeling which a person should have playing for his country. Give us the audience quality cricket to look at or I fear that cricket will loose its audience to other sports in the recent future.

  • Hindh on August 27, 2010, 13:42 GMT

    @ pak fans What ODI tournament or Test series has pak won in last 3 years? Nothing. India even with this weak bowling is reducing sides to scores like 53-8. In coming series with sachin , gambhir, zaheer and bhajji back India will be more potent. FYI India have won their last 4 ODI tournaments in SL consecutively, and looking for a fifth one. What has pak done? they got beaten by India last time they faced us here in Dambulla even after posting 268.

  • Shriman on August 27, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    Mr. Bhogle, I'm a longtime fan of your cricket Op-Ed pieces regardless of whether I agreed with them or not. On this issue of meaningless ODIs, I believe the fans can't have it both ways. These are the same fans that are fervently hoping India will lift the World Cup. How in the world are we to accomplish that without enough match practice? So, I'd like to suggest that, while on the surface these matches are meaningless, it's atleast addressing the critical need of giving our youngsters a taste of the big league. Surely, wouldn't you rather find out that the Kohli's, Kumar's & Jadeja's in our team are duds right now than on the big stage?

  • Vinyak on August 27, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    hi Harsha, you mentioned, the teams wud hv played differently if this hd been World Cup, where every match is important!!! 1st half of stmt is true, but do u think each match of the coming WC is important ??? if u see the WC groups are such tht 4 strong teams & 3 weak teams ... just to ensure these 4 teams make it to QF and then on its knock out; just like 96 WC where stage matches did not mean anything ... though Eng did not hav good WC, 1 england player even said, we r just 3 matches away from winning the WC !!! though they were bull dozed by Jayasuriya ... and SA after winning all stage games or so ...lost to Brian Lara's knock !!!!

  • Sanks555 on August 27, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    A disappointing article from Harsha.

    How are we to determine whether a match is irrelevant and meaningless.

    Every completed match is relevant and meaningful in itself as one team wins and the other loses. More importantly, each match in the Micromax cup was meaningful in the context of the series.

    To deride a match/series as irrelevant is in my view morally wrong. A person may deride World Cup as irrelevant or even cricket as irrelevant.

    If the sponsors and fans feel that the series is irrelevant they will not watch or sponsor. In this case, the naming of the cup indicates that at least one sponsor is interested.

    The pitch was difficult. In the first Ind-NZ match, NZ posted 288 because Scott Styris and Ross Taylor managed to service. Otherwise NZ was precariously placed at 12/3.

    In the second Ind-NZ match, India won because of a great batting display from Sehwag.

  • KAIRAVA on August 27, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    T20s 1. Have a 2-match T20s alongside the 3 ODI game series & 3 Test match series during each tour. 2. ICC T20 World cup, involving the top 12 teams in the format. Using this format, a player gets to play a minimum of 130-140 days of international cricket a year, which is very reasonable. Regarding T20 leagues, it is left to the the individual cricket boards.

  • KAIRAVA on August 27, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    LIMITED OVERS FORMAT ODIs 1. ICC Champions trophy, once every two years, involving top 12 teams, based on ranking points. 2. ICC World Cup, once every 4 years, involving top 16 teams, based on ranking points. 3. Do away with other meaningless ODI tournaments with 3 or more teams (like ASIA cup, the current triseries,etc), entirely. 4. Have a bilateral ODI series of only 3 games clubbed with the test series. Apart from these, teams (from the elite division of tests) of the top 6 can also play an ODI only exclusive bilateral series of 3 matches with the next 6 ranked teams (of tests plate division) on home & away basis. So, a player can get to play a minimum of 33 (3 matches x 11 teams) ODIs a year (from bilateral series).

  • KAIRAVA on August 27, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    I have a suggestion for ICC's FTP team which could be worked out from 2012. TEST CHAMPIONSHIP FORMAT Grant test status to Ireland & Holland. Divide the teams in two groups of 6 based on rankings at the end of 2011. Get the teams in elite division to play a 3-test series on home and away basis with each other for the next two years. The top two get to the finals whereas the bottom team get relegated to division 2. In Plate division, the teams should play 2 match test series on a home & away basis with each other with the top two getting to the plate final and the winner to get promoted to elite divison. In this manner we can have a new world test champion for every 2 years. There can a provision of a 3rd division too with the next best 6 teams fighting for the lone promotion to plate division in a one-off test match held on a home and away basis. So, following this format each elite team get to play 15 tests (or 75 playing days of test cricket) a year, with is reasonable.

  • Nathan74 on August 27, 2010, 13:22 GMT

    We all know the story about Golden Goose. For the Indian Cricket Board it is what it is. Players play without enough rest they are very erratic in their performance.Most of the time at least at least 25% of the leading players are injured. And they don't have enough replacement. Once Testicular, Dravid retire there is no one to take their place. Even over all internationally there are far too much cricket that I am tired of watching. They are killing the golden goose, Further please talk about Dambulla as international cricket grounds. Especially as a ground to play day night matches and where they will have to bus in the spectators.

  • on August 27, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    This is typical, when India don't do well, they have something to say. They blame the pitches, the ground, the lights, the umpires, the spectators & even the weather. But if they won.... OMG you have to see their reactions… just watch the TV & the news papers. Pooh….

  • LALITHKURUWITA on August 27, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    If you need to swing the bat efectively use "Musli Power".

  • LALITHKURUWITA on August 27, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    I think we need atrocious pitches like Dambulla. Because a lot of unexpected things can happen. It makes everybody exited because any weak team can win. Otherwise only the strong teams can win.

  • bddhika_harindat on August 27, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Hi, Please don't say these are meaningless games, just bacuse India cannot live upto it. Then why did you'll agree to come play here. Also, it has seen over the years that Dambulla favours seamers and it's known fact. Indians dont remember about tracks that they used when Srilanka toured India in 2009, where on the 1st day of the 01st test match, India went on score 400+ on day one.So, isn't it a FLAT track they used to combat Srilanka's bowling weapons. Everyone doesn't like when they get hit badly and this is human nature. From a cricketing view point, Harsha is good, but don't try to criticize these games just because India is not doing good. Final thing to say, India cannot win even the upcoming World to be played India, put your head down and concentrate on game please.

  • venkatesh018 on August 27, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    ODI cricket, as we see it at present has no future. The sooner the cricket boards and the broadcasters accept this, the better. The ICC should see that the 2011 world cup should be the last in the present format, and in the future only T20s and Test matches(played hopefully in bowler friendly conditions, like the current Eng vs Pak series) should form the majority of the cricket calendar.

  • Agnar on August 27, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    If it is this meaningless, why is everybody is writing about it? Doesn't that make this article doubly meaningless?

  • MartinAmber on August 27, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    Bizarre. Your first paragraph could be a description of the IPL, and I note that towards the end the IPL is described more than once as a "brand" rather than a tournament packed with meaningful games. The headline, meanwhile, is an argument for a long-awaited World Test Championship in which every Test counts for something, and yet Test cricket isn't mentioned. Most irrelevant and meaningless games are ODIs or T20s, especially ODI series that are longer than 5 matches, and the absurdly repetitive and inflated IPL.

  • chakdeWC on August 27, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    ooooohhhh yeah thanks Harsha you wrote an article on the topic of my heart, we all cricket lovers hate to watch matches where the teams are playing for the sake of their contracts and organisers, rather than playing for its nation and clubs reputation and pride. Games are to be won and be played with an attitude and spirit of sport.. in this series unfortunately nothing is there. thankgod someone is having fun there and thats mr Sehwag. cant believe Yuvi is missing the fun, poor guy has lost its orignality, yes he is putting up a fight but he is not back yet to its confidence. hope fully you get there in the next game and play fearlessly mate. thats how we love to see him play. as of IPL everyone is over it. loved it in the begining, great concept gone terrible wrong. its business transactions and money making place. instead of horses or dogs running, its our valuable are respected players playing. thats not what cricket was intvented for.. TEST CRICKET THE BEST. IPL is DRUG OVERDOSE

  • Allan716 on August 27, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    Maybe the see-saw performance is a form of silent dissent by teams against their boards. We cannot have the same teams contest a triangular series each year! We had the same series last year as well. Does nayone remember who won? Given the current economic times we are all working in places where employers are extracting more from their employees. In cricket too, the greedy boards are trying to fill their coffers with more and more games. They have to realise that the paying public do not have the cash to come and see poor contests. How can the BCCI expect its grounds to be full with so much cricket in the next few months in a World Cup season? Agreed that the major portion of the recession did not hit India, however, there has to be a balance. Going by the way the tournament has gone, I am sure India will lose again. However, who cares! Finally on work ethic, the way that Rohit Sharma, Saurabh Tiwary and Ojha sit on the bench, I would sack them and not let them play for a long time..

  • on August 27, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    I think the game is really dying in Srilanka and Westindies.Pakistan V England test matches are excellent and iot seems like every game involving Srilanka is boring.I dont like them from their dresses to their crowds to their behaviour.

  • dariusdyna on August 27, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    i dont like harsha and his opinion.thumb down to this article.

  • allblue on August 27, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    Surely we can all see the problem - too many ad hoc games devoid of any wider context. Cricket needs clear and decisive leadership at both national and international level, there should be no games played that do not relate to a coherent structure. The Test programme should be part of a Test Championship, ODIs should be part of an ODI Championship. Perhaps international T20s could just be curtain-raiser type matches, but in the longer forms arbitrary games here and there just drain the vitality from both the players and the audience. So all we need is clear and decisive leadership, perhaps it will arrive on a flock of flying pigs!

  • pradeeplasantha on August 27, 2010, 11:57 GMT

    Mr.Harsha Bhogle, I DON'T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND WHY ODIs BECOMING BORING IN SRI LANKA. REASON IS: INDIA & SRI LANKA HAVE BEEN PALYING EACH OTHER MORE THAN ENOUG SOME DAYS INDIA WIN & OTHER DAYS SRI LANKA WIN.SO BOTH TEAM SAME LEVEL....BUT WHERE AS IF THEY PALY WITH SOME OTHER COUNTIES LIKE ENGLAND,AUSTRALIA & SA SCENARI DIFFERENT. ONE THING IS CLAER NOW IN THE WHOLE WORLD, EVERY TEAMS ARE STRUGGLING WHEN THEY PLAY HOME AWAY & GOOD AT THEIR HOME BACKYARDS.... ESPECAILLY 6 TOP TEAMS ARE SAME LEVEL, EVEN AUSSIES GET STRUGGLE HOME AWAY IT MEANS NOT IN ASIA BUT EVEN IN ENGLISH PITCHES...

  • srikanthyanamanagandla on August 27, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    No Sachin, No Cricket. I dont know how many share the same sentiment as I do, but I think if Sachin retires from the game, the game will loose a big chunk of religious audience. Sehwag is entertainment but no class among the so called new generation players. For me, its simple "NO SACHIN means NO CRICKET"..

  • IPL_is_Thrash on August 27, 2010, 11:44 GMT

    The Most Meaningless Cricket Tournament ever took is IPL. Team India and BCCI is madly obsessed with Stupid, Rubbish, Non-Sense, Obsolete, Betting & Commercial event IPL, which is selling 6s and 4s on Lifeless Pitches. IPL-Mad Team India is losing Skill, Inspiration, Motivation, Hunger, Determination, Committment and Fitness to play International or Test Cricket on lively Pitches. Curators, Commentators and BCCI Officials are working for IPL growth rather than Cricket growth. Until IPL is not thrashed, Team India is not going to perform well in International Tournaments. Test, ODI & T20 Cricket is great to watch at International level on lively pitches, unlike IPL Teams which looks like club cricket and played on lifeless pitches.

  • HK_Sachin on August 27, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Dear Harsha.

    Yet again: Bullseye! We dont might I suggest Crickinfo start a whole section (or tab) to let the FAN's administer the game. You read right. Open Source Sports Administration. With the power of the internet and the good will and brilliant passion from so many fans; I bet what we come up with ie with primary challenges facing the game can be "wiki-ed" better than what the numb nuts that are currently running do. And hey, we dont need any (so called private) numbers; we can guesstimate them too. Can crickinfo save the game?

    Can Harsha's timely and well thought out articles have any credibility wrt to specific call to action.

    I sure hope so! Cheers to you Harsha! Give us the power; to the public!

  • sanath007 on August 27, 2010, 11:30 GMT

    HARSHA U R TOTALLY WRONG...HOW CAN U BLAME THIS SERIES JST BECAUSE THE TEAMS HAVE BEEN SO INCONSISTENT....IT'S A PROBLEM WITH THE TEAM'S INABILITY TO COMPETE..AND U SHUD BLAME THE PLAYERS WHO LOST PATHETICALLY...SPECIALLY INDIA WHO LOST 2 GAMES BY D BIGGEST MARGINS...IT'S NUTHN 2 DO WITH THE ORGANISING OF THIS TOURNAMENT...

  • Shafaaqat on August 27, 2010, 11:15 GMT

    Harsha should rather have written about how dependable Indian batting is under such conditions. Any cricket is good,atleast the current series has provided BCCI with a chance to test some young players and to me, they failed, specially the most hyped up Raina.

  • KiwiRocker- on August 27, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    Look, the reality is that current Indian team is very boring to watch. While India seems to do OK in test matches largely due to having some veteran batsmen who are nearing their end but they are by no means a no.1 team in test matches. They are probably a no.5 on a good day. On other hand, India is a miserable team in ODI's. They can not bat, they can not bowl, and they can not field. Sehwag seems to be carrying Indian batting and he is a bit of hit and flop player himself. I am not sure why you mentioned Indian middle order only. Actually, India's main worry is all around. They have no back up batsmen and younger ones are failing. More importantly India does not even have a single quality fast bowler. Zaheer who is above average in comparative terms is their best bowler. Tri series is surely boring because players/teams are of lower quality. England and Pak series is real cricket. Its amazing watch how Asif sets up batsmen before he goes for kill.IPL has ruined Indian cricket..!

  • thenkabail on August 27, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    WORLD CUP TEAM: sachin, Shewag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dravid, Pujara, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Praveen Kumar, Nehra, Ishant, Unadkat, Uttappa, Rohit Sharma. Reserves: vinay kumar, Abhishek Nayar, and Ifran Pathan. This is a lousy article from Harsha (and he is the best India has). This article sounds like young Indian batsmen- can't perform. Simply mediocre.

  • thenkabail on August 27, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    HARSHA PLEASE WAKE UP: This is another mediocre article from one of the best Indian sports commentator and writer!!!. It sounds like young Indian batsmen-moaning always, performing zero. It takes a thinker like Ian Chappell to point out that Shewag is a great batsman and indeed over last 5-7 years best in the world. Whereas Indian press is just showing us Sachin's statistics!!. No disrespect to Sachin- a truly great batsman. Also it takes Wasim Akram to tell us what a lowsy youngesters we have. But, some Ravindran in ccricket infor tells us Karthik should bat in the middle order!!!!!. It takes Wasim Akram to tell us we badly need Dravid. Why is no one pointing that people like Pujara, Unadkat, Mukund, Vinay kumar, Uttappa should replace Raina, Karthik, Jadeja, and Kohli.

  • py0alb on August 27, 2010, 9:58 GMT

    Just ban international teams from playing irrelevant games.

    Install a qualification timetable for the 2 year period ahead of each world cup of roughly 20 games against a range of opposition, and stick to it.

  • Joji_ on August 27, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Ohh I am sorry.. was the title "Cricket can't afford meaningless games" or "Indian Cricket can't afford meaningless games" ???

  • Dr.Vindaloo on August 27, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    Coudn't agree more with Harsha. 6th ODI in Dambulla - yawn. 10th ODI in Mohali - zzzz. 15th ODI in Kochi - snore. Does anyone remember an ODI match beyond the next day? Does anyone remember or care who wins these ODI series? It's just junk and the game would be far better off without it. Can't wait for some real cricket with Aus v Ind tests and then the Ashes.

  • manasvi_lingam on August 27, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    Sehwag isn't from "this" generation, he's closer to the generation of Zaheer Khan and Bhajji. Remember that he made his debut in 2000, around the same time as Zaheer. Bhajji made his comeback in 2001. Thus, these three are of a different generation. Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman were another. And then there were the most senior: Kumble and Sachin. All these guys have good records. On the other hand, there is no one who has made his debut after 2002 and left his mark, apart from MSD.

  • on August 27, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    At the outset I would like to thank the writer for his excllent thought provoking article. Yes this tri series has been real unpredictable,meaningless. Infact what they want to achieve by arranging such kind of tournament??

  • on August 27, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    i am agree whole media is making huge cry abut india batting failure but are not looking all team batsman are struggling .but blamming indian batsman.dambulla history show that it is most pathetic wicket in world.india has gone and won oneday there in 2008tour,2009tour,2009compaqcup,asiacup now in present series.its sohw class of indian batsman they can play on any pitches in world.this series is waste of time indian team is not getting rest.srilanka need money that why meaning less series arrange.i am get borred of watching srilanka matches it is most pathetic team in the world.currently indian schedule is same just like 2007 world cup, they gone in 2007 world cup before playing lot non stop cricket they wew not refresh.same this time india is going to south africa again before this world cup.

  • Ellis on August 27, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    I am not sure whether Mr. Bhogle is complaining specifically about the performance by the Indian team, or more generally. It seems that the SL and NZ captains have found the tournament challenging and interesting. So, what are the Indian complaints? The Dambulla wicket has provided assistance to bowlers and batsmen. What is wrong with that? Currently, the wickets being played on by England and Pakistan are challenging to batsmen. Nobody is complaining about bad wickets. Why is Dambulla any different? Double standards, perhaps? How many people would attend a match between NZ and SL in India? Factor out the disparities in population between SL and India, and proportionally the crowd would be similar on a comparative basis. So, does that mean that only games involving India must be played in India? These tournaments are useful to the individual countries from a player development perspective. They must go on. Indian noses out of joint cannot be the sole determinant for continuation.

  • CKfrombrisbane on August 27, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    You are saying like this because India got humiliated from one day series. How about if India went for final. YOU WOULD SAY "GREAT SERIES"

  • rhk89 on August 27, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    yes the Tri series in Srilanka is pathetic it seems that srilanka has arranged this series for only match practice. This is destroying the image of ODI's.............lol even tests b/w Pak vs Eng are more interesting than this.Finally i think the administrators in PCB and IPL belong from the same school

  • on August 27, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    When the young, technically challenged batsmen can't handle swing and seam, us Indians start criticizing pitches.. I feel that if you keep the "batting under the lights" factor out, the pitch at Dambulla is excellent.. It makes for fascinating viewing, two fighters both having swords in their hands not like most other pitches where the bowlers' hands are tied and all they can do is turn their backs and prevent their noses from being chopped by the batsmen's swords.. Sehwag has scored, had Sachin, Dravid been here, they would have had too..

  • Raja22222 on August 27, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Just see the body language and expression of the IPL team members in the last season. They played a very serious cricket.They had two priorities ,1.To make money in every match.2.They wanted to satisfy their franchisee owner.They are more accountable to them because the expectation is very high and they will have to face the team owners in every day party.I think IPL is not a poor quality game,from players perspective it is much serious tournament than the national level series as they r playing for money. Batsmen friendly rules like 4 overs per bowler ,power play and shorter over format is not helping the bowlers much.Thats why they are being hi mercilessly.Otherwise the bowling and fielding quality is good.

  • mk49_van on August 27, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    There should be a moratorium on India SL games in all formats for the next two may be three years. All home and away B'desh tours should be scrapped. Ditto Zimbabwe. The number of 50 over games should be cut by half (at least). Kill the Asia Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy. This should reduce the numbers of meaningless matches considerably.

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on August 27, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    Rahul Dravid should be picked in ODIs as Wasim Akram has suggested- it is clear that the 'brilliant youngsters' have failed with the bat and even in the field where they have supposedly raised the standard. Bring back a man who has always given his all for his country, has always carried himself with integrity and most importantly is still by far and away one of the best ODI batsmen in India. Age is not relevant- he is the best, therefore he must be picked.

  • AX863 on August 27, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    NO,India Have NO Chance To Win The World Cup Also Nor Pakistan! The Trophy Should Go TO The Hands Of Sri Lankans, The Aussies Or English I`m Not Sure About South Africa.......

  • on August 27, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    I'm confused here. Title says "Cricket can't afford meaningless games" and it dwelves into too many aspects. Apart from talking about current tri-series in SL, it does not talk much about unwanted games. The 2nd half talks about IPL, BCCI's management and Indian batting order. I love Harsha's commentary and writing but this certainly will go into my book as one of Harsha's poor articles.

  • NebraskaCornHuskers on August 27, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    Hi Harsha:

    Must admit its a very good article, focussing on Cricket (both ongoing series and adminstration). You hit the nail on the head, in the third last paragraph. These youngsters had a golden oppurtunity to give the selectors a headache if they could have scored some big runs in this tri-series. I'm afraid that this has not been the case.

    Apoorva Pandya

  • Jim1207 on August 27, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Consider this example: Every soccer game (and as you say EVEN the football world cup) is played with so much arrogance and bad spirit and foul play every minute is becoming more meaningless to me than Cricket matches because there is no meaning in seeing players do ANY thing to win a game. Yet football matches are only watched by more people because people love the energy of the game. Same way, Cricket - test or limited overs - has its own energy and aspects which would keep ardent fans with the game. But speaking for globalization of the game and keeping the borderline fans, what you say is perfectly correct. For ardent fans, I don't think having games like that in SL is not bad for game, its the nature there and games in SL always have been one-sided favouable to team batting first. Only thing is that the young players of two countries play pathetically and it happened in ODI games in Zimbabwe too when India lost. Players need to up the game, no one else can do anything about it.

  • fusionsun on August 27, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    Hi Harsha,

    You continue to hit the nail on its head. And these days watching cricket is so irritating, and obviously boring due to batsmen friendly atmosphere and rules. Notably, how many times in an over advertisements should pop up on your screen?! Pathetic situation is that, commentators are becoming experts in explaining how mobile handsets from various manufacturers work. And they continue to talk about cars and bikes. During a match, Srilankan postacards do not show those great historical temples or beaches anymore! You can see only cars who from the sponsorors. And we no longer dare to watch pre/post-match discussions! Cricket is going to become movie show for sure.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 27, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    The IPL is fun entertainment, that has already been established and I like it for just that...entertaining. The standard and the pitches aren't good enough to judge the players for International t-20's let alone ODI's. Alot of Ind fans r crying for IPL stars like Tiwary and Uthappa....NAEIVE! I doubt highly they will do better than Kholi,Rohit,Raina and yes, even Khartik, unless of course they get some crap pitches and face some crap bowling. That is reality. Ind has the recourses to become an undisputed cricket giant BUT they are not using them well at all. Why were the Aussies so successful and are still able to compete despite always being hit by injuries and retirements? BECAUSE THEIR CLUB STRUCTURE IS GOOD. Some of the best ODI performances I've seen is Ponting recently leading his depleted and retire hit team to victory in an ODI series in Ind (4-2 I think) and winning the Champion's trophy in SA. 2 contrasting conditions but same result all because they use recourses properly.

  • BillyCC on August 27, 2010, 4:26 GMT

    Excellent article criticising the current psyche of an international cricketer versus a cricketer in the past. Back in the day, playing international cricket was really something and you needed to be switched on or you would be found out. These days, there are different levels of attitude within the same team and within the same game. To some, it's another boring ODI or T20. To others, it's a chance to play with your heroes. Or it may be a chance at further international selection.

  • on August 27, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    A meaningless tournament agreed, although I wouldn't lay the fault entirely with a lack of desire from the players. The Dambulla pitch was atrocious and nearly all of the batting sides were ripped apart, save for the occasional heroics of one or two.

  • Jan on August 27, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    I agree with you Harsha. Decrease in audience even for home games are pathetic and I had a feeling that Indian team, wherever they go are capable of pulling spectators but with the current middle order.... Mohamad Yousuf was called back from retirement but I think the Fab 3 of Sachin, Dravid and Laxman will not be even allowed to think of hanging their boots now. And IPL is another drama. Same bunch of people, even though under different banners is not going to be different. Once Lalit Modi's part is over it will be another one.

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  • Jan on August 27, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    I agree with you Harsha. Decrease in audience even for home games are pathetic and I had a feeling that Indian team, wherever they go are capable of pulling spectators but with the current middle order.... Mohamad Yousuf was called back from retirement but I think the Fab 3 of Sachin, Dravid and Laxman will not be even allowed to think of hanging their boots now. And IPL is another drama. Same bunch of people, even though under different banners is not going to be different. Once Lalit Modi's part is over it will be another one.

  • on August 27, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    A meaningless tournament agreed, although I wouldn't lay the fault entirely with a lack of desire from the players. The Dambulla pitch was atrocious and nearly all of the batting sides were ripped apart, save for the occasional heroics of one or two.

  • BillyCC on August 27, 2010, 4:26 GMT

    Excellent article criticising the current psyche of an international cricketer versus a cricketer in the past. Back in the day, playing international cricket was really something and you needed to be switched on or you would be found out. These days, there are different levels of attitude within the same team and within the same game. To some, it's another boring ODI or T20. To others, it's a chance to play with your heroes. Or it may be a chance at further international selection.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 27, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    The IPL is fun entertainment, that has already been established and I like it for just that...entertaining. The standard and the pitches aren't good enough to judge the players for International t-20's let alone ODI's. Alot of Ind fans r crying for IPL stars like Tiwary and Uthappa....NAEIVE! I doubt highly they will do better than Kholi,Rohit,Raina and yes, even Khartik, unless of course they get some crap pitches and face some crap bowling. That is reality. Ind has the recourses to become an undisputed cricket giant BUT they are not using them well at all. Why were the Aussies so successful and are still able to compete despite always being hit by injuries and retirements? BECAUSE THEIR CLUB STRUCTURE IS GOOD. Some of the best ODI performances I've seen is Ponting recently leading his depleted and retire hit team to victory in an ODI series in Ind (4-2 I think) and winning the Champion's trophy in SA. 2 contrasting conditions but same result all because they use recourses properly.

  • fusionsun on August 27, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    Hi Harsha,

    You continue to hit the nail on its head. And these days watching cricket is so irritating, and obviously boring due to batsmen friendly atmosphere and rules. Notably, how many times in an over advertisements should pop up on your screen?! Pathetic situation is that, commentators are becoming experts in explaining how mobile handsets from various manufacturers work. And they continue to talk about cars and bikes. During a match, Srilankan postacards do not show those great historical temples or beaches anymore! You can see only cars who from the sponsorors. And we no longer dare to watch pre/post-match discussions! Cricket is going to become movie show for sure.

  • Jim1207 on August 27, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Consider this example: Every soccer game (and as you say EVEN the football world cup) is played with so much arrogance and bad spirit and foul play every minute is becoming more meaningless to me than Cricket matches because there is no meaning in seeing players do ANY thing to win a game. Yet football matches are only watched by more people because people love the energy of the game. Same way, Cricket - test or limited overs - has its own energy and aspects which would keep ardent fans with the game. But speaking for globalization of the game and keeping the borderline fans, what you say is perfectly correct. For ardent fans, I don't think having games like that in SL is not bad for game, its the nature there and games in SL always have been one-sided favouable to team batting first. Only thing is that the young players of two countries play pathetically and it happened in ODI games in Zimbabwe too when India lost. Players need to up the game, no one else can do anything about it.

  • NebraskaCornHuskers on August 27, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    Hi Harsha:

    Must admit its a very good article, focussing on Cricket (both ongoing series and adminstration). You hit the nail on the head, in the third last paragraph. These youngsters had a golden oppurtunity to give the selectors a headache if they could have scored some big runs in this tri-series. I'm afraid that this has not been the case.

    Apoorva Pandya

  • on August 27, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    I'm confused here. Title says "Cricket can't afford meaningless games" and it dwelves into too many aspects. Apart from talking about current tri-series in SL, it does not talk much about unwanted games. The 2nd half talks about IPL, BCCI's management and Indian batting order. I love Harsha's commentary and writing but this certainly will go into my book as one of Harsha's poor articles.

  • AX863 on August 27, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    NO,India Have NO Chance To Win The World Cup Also Nor Pakistan! The Trophy Should Go TO The Hands Of Sri Lankans, The Aussies Or English I`m Not Sure About South Africa.......

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on August 27, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    Rahul Dravid should be picked in ODIs as Wasim Akram has suggested- it is clear that the 'brilliant youngsters' have failed with the bat and even in the field where they have supposedly raised the standard. Bring back a man who has always given his all for his country, has always carried himself with integrity and most importantly is still by far and away one of the best ODI batsmen in India. Age is not relevant- he is the best, therefore he must be picked.