April 19, 2012

England and India: two sides of the cricket coin

The IPL and county cricket are not as irreconcilable as many think. And cricket needs both
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Rarely can cricket have provided a better metaphor for the state of two nations than in the past fortnight or so. While the English county season opened to four-day matches on emerald green fields in bitterly cold conditions, another cricketing land halfway across the world launched the full swing of the Indian Premier League. Not so long ago the game's international summer playground was in the shires - Malcolm Marshall's first game for Hampshire in 1979 was delayed by snow - but now the good and great gravitate to the expensive franchises and parched pitches of India for the helter-skelter of 76 three-hour matches that satisfy the hunger of an increasingly virile nation. India may have been the slowest ICC member to embrace Twenty20 but it has surely been the fastest to make something tangible from it.

England continues to wrestle with the first-class format. The Morgan Report recommends slap and tickle to the existing system when the existing system is bursting at the seams. Given the clichéd blank sheet of paper, you wouldn't start with 18 first-class teams, but any hint of dissolution of the counties and you're up for heresy. India, meanwhile, throws the past into the past, treating Test cricket and the four-day game with scant respect and paying homage to the short-form game. India works on demand and supply, simple as that.

The unashamedly commercial IPL has branding closer to its core than bat or ball. As India goes West, towards capitalism, so the game is dropped into the hands of marketers and money men. Each game is event-driven and better for it. You leave IPL matches in high spirits, but not always because the quality of play has captured your attention, often because the peripherals have caught your eye and given you a good hit. Mediocre cricketers suffer at the hands of big, very big names that sell cars and clothes and condominiums, and with each sponsored strike for six comes a moan of pleasure and the click of the till. There is no true draft system in the IPL; there can't be. Equality is not the point. This is not a bad thing; it is just a different thing. It is the speed of the moment. Briefly I spent some time within the IPL and had a ball.

Previously I had spent 17 years as a county cricketer, starting out with Marshall that same year. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose: everything changes and everything stays the same. We played early-season matches cloaked in five sweaters and with hand warmers in our pockets. Woolly hats were favoured but not approved. Slip fielding was dangerous; being hit on the inside thigh by the new ball was stratospherically painful. We drank pints of beer in an evening - or glasses of brandy in Marshall's case - and ate mainly pie and fish with chips or curry. No skin-fold tests back then, just hours of nets before the season's play and then be damned.

The best in the world came to England for the craic. Viv and Joel; Imran and Le Roux; Hadlee and Rice; Richards and Greenidge; "Zed" and "Proccie" at "Glors" (Gloucestershire); Javed, Kepler, Kapil, AB (Border), BC (Lara), Waz, Mikey, Sunny, Sachin, even Sir Garfield Sobers. County cricket was a finishing school. Hard graft, you made a bob, it was what you did. They wouldn't come now. Well, they don't. They go to India. The Delhi Daredevils have a front four that reads: Sehwag, Pietersen, Jayawardene, Taylor. The death overs are bowled by Morne Morkel and Irfan Pathan. That's the real deal. How the great world spins.

With each sponsored strike for six comes a moan of pleasure and the click of the till. There is no true draft system in the IPL; there can't be. Equality is not the point. This is not a bad thing; it is just a different thing. It is the speed of the moment

Back then Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket had hijacked the game with significant ease and devastating impact. The best players came together and played under his marker for two Australian summers, earning money hitherto unheard of. The very English ICC of that age blew a gasket and then lost a restraint-of-trade case in the High Court. The county game took umbrage, misunderstanding the corollary of the heist. At a feisty meeting at Edgbaston in the spring of 1978, the Packer rebels defended themselves from the jealousy of their peers. Within a year Packer had the TV rights he craved, World Series closed shop, and the incomes of cricketers worldwide, including in the counties of England, began to improve. That was commerce then, the IPL is commerce now.

In the wash-up, the IPL will have improved the lot of cricketers worldwide by increasing their market cap. But, as ever with these things, blood will spill along the way. With ownership comes responsibility and from responsibility comes accountability. There is no reason on earth why India cannot drive the governance of the world game, but with the financial muscle must come pastoral care. Test cricket is the game's foundation, the trunk of the tree. From it come the various branches. No trunk, no tree.

Pompous England hates that it doesn't run the show, and the Champions League cock-up still burns. Bossy Australia wishes it hadn't let Lalit Modi steal in so damn easily. One minute their players were just that; whoosh, the next they weren't. IPL jealousy is written across many faces, the haves and have-nots. Keep your friends close and you enemies closer is the moral. India is super-smart and super-committed to its own cause.

Only the other day Kevin Pietersen made strong and relevant points about England's inability to see the IPL light. It is typical of a mistrust that has long bothered the game. Obviously enough, its root is in imperialism, but you would think the fellows in glass houses might have found a way through that old chestnut by now.

At this moment England might well have the best first-class competition in the world, alongside the top-ranked Test team. Both are born of a system that has been in place since WG was hitching his britches. India are the one-day world champions and own the most dynamic short-form tournament there has ever been. This is no coincidence. Our misgivings about one another are stoked by a voracious media, but the IPL is no more a piece of contemporary evil than the county championship is a relic. There is a need for both. Let the great world spin.

Former Hampshire batsman Mark Nicholas is the host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on April 22, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    @jay57870 on (April 22 2012, 15:26 PM GMT) I know that all is rosy with IPL in your world but it is not with everyone. I admit it's a great success , big crowds , raucous atmosphere but maybe other countries are happy with their own tournaments. Re "Cricket-lovers need to look beyond their own backyards & borders" -Cricket lovers need to watch whatever cricket they want to watch. The thing is the IPL isn't that big over in England. It is shown on ITV4 , who would only have paid a very small amount of money to show it. Don't get me wrong , I quite enjoy some of the IPL games but the fact is that most non Indian fans would rather watch their own T20 tourns than IPL - no matter how comparatively small they are

  • jay57870 on April 22, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    Globalisation is the name of the game. Cricket is the "second most popular sport" (per TIME Magazine) and "globally it stokes the fire in people's souls." Not surprising, given a 1.5 billion population in South Asia alone. And millions more in the rest of the cricketing world. Market forces are at work: Demand & supply, with T20 driving the game's popularity, IPL in particular. Cricket-lovers need to look beyond their own backyards & borders. It's only a matter of time before bad spring weather, peer pressure & money drive KP's English mates to join him in IPL. And at some point elite Pakistani players too will join in. Even Test competition is wide open, given recent struggles of Brits, Aussies & Indians on the road. To sustain & promote Tests, ECB & CA need to reinforce ICC's efforts to hold a World Test Championship. BCCI cannot do it alone. It should be given highest FTP priority. Just like the rising IPL tide has lifted all boats, a WTC "window" of opportunity is long overdue!

  • bobmartin on April 22, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    How weak a country's county system is purely incidental and of no interest outside that particular country. However, it does provide the breeding ground for cricketers with the necessary skills to graduate to test standard. And given that our test team is currently number one in the rankings, I suggest that, depsite all the huge names and reputations in other countries county teams, England must have a pretty sound system. Furthermore, Justin Langer described it as the strongest first class county system in the world.. and I'd suggest he knows more about that sort of thing than most, if not all, of the commenters on here.

  • JG2704 on April 22, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    @bestbuddy - Not necessarily. On paper and in reality can be 2 totally different things. Take last year's county championship league 1. Lancashire won the title with what on paper looked like a side which would struggle to stay up and Yorks who would have been one of the favourites to go down would have been one of the pre season favourites.Also England have a policy where their contracted players play very little cricket for their counties.On paper SA should be destroying every side they play in tests but in reality when they are not drawing series (which they have with most of their series from the last few years) they are just ekeing out a series wins by a single test. India on paper should be at the top of the T20 rankings - in reality they are 7th and nearer to Ireland than England in the rankings.Also re Hall , he is playing div 2 cricket in Eng and possibly has improved his batting anyway.If Eng's domestic game is so weak they have overachieved big time to be worlds number 1

  • bestbuddy on April 22, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    With all due respect to Mark Nicholas, England have the most watered down first class system in the world after India. There isnt a single first class team in England capable of winning the first class competitions in either of South Africa or Australia - nor any other of these countries domestic trophies. 18 county teams vs 6 franchisees/6 state sides, which competition do you think will have more international quality players per team? It is no surprise to see players like Andrew Hall have averaged almost 10 runs per innings more in England than in South Africa, despite far more challenging conditions for the first 1-2 months of the season. Hell, New South Wales in Aus have in the past contained 11 Australian players almost every season for the past decade or so, while even a weak Warriors franchise in SA had Botha, Ntini, Parnell, Boucher, Boje, Kallis, tsotsobe and ingram in 2010/2011, all international players past/present

  • JG2704 on April 21, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    @jay57870 on Have to pick you up on a few points here. 1 - I'd say India possibly have overcooked the IPL to the detriment of the national side. In test cricket they have not even looked competitive in England and Australia and the T20 side were languishing in 7th in the rankings last time I looked. Also England does promote it's own test cricket quite well. Many of the tests these days are sold out and the domestic T20s are often packed out too. Also I'm not sure how many English players actually went up for auction this year which would suggest that they preferred to prepare for the home series with WI and SA at home rather than play the IPL. Fair play to KP for backing up his words but they weren't directed at his "mates" and if they were I'm sure his "mates" would disown him. It was just a bit of publicity which to a degree worked.

  • Rivka on April 21, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    The writer is being too kind. Nobody needs the IPL. The IPL has been disastrous for Indian cricket. India needs a competitive domestic circuit which produces quality players. At this point the Indian cricket board shows no sign of wanting to improve the status of first class cricket in India.

  • on April 21, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    @zenboomerng- thats y its Indian premier league, so its focused on Indians.

  • jay57870 on April 21, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    In his Bradman Oration, Rahul Dravid stressed the need for cricket to balance all 3 formats. Overscheduling must be avoided. The fan must be respected. Great Test players like Rahul, Sachin & Co have committed to help India rise to the top in all 3 formats. It held the Test crown before England. To say that India pays "scant respect" to the longer form & pays "homage to the short-form" is not valid, precisely on account of its long Test history & success in all formats. Each nation must build its own "commercial ecosystem" to make cricket viable. IPL is now the golden goose. But India cannot do it alone. Nor should it be held solely responsible or accountable. It's a shared role, where England & Australia must assume more active ownership, precisely because of their superior first-class cricket systems & great traditions. Just like Brits spare no effort to preserve & promote tennis (Wimbledon) & golf (British Open). Ditto the Aussies & the Australian Opens. So, why not Test cricket?

  • jay57870 on April 21, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    India is doing it in its own way to sustain & enhance cricket. It has history on its side. IPL is a 100% sanctioned sport. Unlike the rebel WSC in the 70s. If IPL is "unashamedly commercial" or in the "hands of marketers and money men" then what was the breakaway WSC? Recall Packer's dubious tactics to gain exclusive TV rights & mass marketing, and slyly lure Aussie/Brit players with lucrative WSC deals. Worse still, the rebel tours of South Africa in the 80s. In those turbulent times, India showed guts to scorn Packer. As the late Tiger Pataudi revealed in a 2010 speech: "Not a single Indian cricketer" joined WSC despite "the English captain (Tony Greig?) ... surreptitiously recruiting for Kerry." In fact, BCCI took a principled stand by hosting "second-rate teams, but to full houses. A lot of money was made and shared between the countries and cricket survived"! Because of its conscionable efforts, "India and Indian cricket earned a huge amount of goodwill and gratitude"!

  • JG2704 on April 22, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    @jay57870 on (April 22 2012, 15:26 PM GMT) I know that all is rosy with IPL in your world but it is not with everyone. I admit it's a great success , big crowds , raucous atmosphere but maybe other countries are happy with their own tournaments. Re "Cricket-lovers need to look beyond their own backyards & borders" -Cricket lovers need to watch whatever cricket they want to watch. The thing is the IPL isn't that big over in England. It is shown on ITV4 , who would only have paid a very small amount of money to show it. Don't get me wrong , I quite enjoy some of the IPL games but the fact is that most non Indian fans would rather watch their own T20 tourns than IPL - no matter how comparatively small they are

  • jay57870 on April 22, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    Globalisation is the name of the game. Cricket is the "second most popular sport" (per TIME Magazine) and "globally it stokes the fire in people's souls." Not surprising, given a 1.5 billion population in South Asia alone. And millions more in the rest of the cricketing world. Market forces are at work: Demand & supply, with T20 driving the game's popularity, IPL in particular. Cricket-lovers need to look beyond their own backyards & borders. It's only a matter of time before bad spring weather, peer pressure & money drive KP's English mates to join him in IPL. And at some point elite Pakistani players too will join in. Even Test competition is wide open, given recent struggles of Brits, Aussies & Indians on the road. To sustain & promote Tests, ECB & CA need to reinforce ICC's efforts to hold a World Test Championship. BCCI cannot do it alone. It should be given highest FTP priority. Just like the rising IPL tide has lifted all boats, a WTC "window" of opportunity is long overdue!

  • bobmartin on April 22, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    How weak a country's county system is purely incidental and of no interest outside that particular country. However, it does provide the breeding ground for cricketers with the necessary skills to graduate to test standard. And given that our test team is currently number one in the rankings, I suggest that, depsite all the huge names and reputations in other countries county teams, England must have a pretty sound system. Furthermore, Justin Langer described it as the strongest first class county system in the world.. and I'd suggest he knows more about that sort of thing than most, if not all, of the commenters on here.

  • JG2704 on April 22, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    @bestbuddy - Not necessarily. On paper and in reality can be 2 totally different things. Take last year's county championship league 1. Lancashire won the title with what on paper looked like a side which would struggle to stay up and Yorks who would have been one of the favourites to go down would have been one of the pre season favourites.Also England have a policy where their contracted players play very little cricket for their counties.On paper SA should be destroying every side they play in tests but in reality when they are not drawing series (which they have with most of their series from the last few years) they are just ekeing out a series wins by a single test. India on paper should be at the top of the T20 rankings - in reality they are 7th and nearer to Ireland than England in the rankings.Also re Hall , he is playing div 2 cricket in Eng and possibly has improved his batting anyway.If Eng's domestic game is so weak they have overachieved big time to be worlds number 1

  • bestbuddy on April 22, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    With all due respect to Mark Nicholas, England have the most watered down first class system in the world after India. There isnt a single first class team in England capable of winning the first class competitions in either of South Africa or Australia - nor any other of these countries domestic trophies. 18 county teams vs 6 franchisees/6 state sides, which competition do you think will have more international quality players per team? It is no surprise to see players like Andrew Hall have averaged almost 10 runs per innings more in England than in South Africa, despite far more challenging conditions for the first 1-2 months of the season. Hell, New South Wales in Aus have in the past contained 11 Australian players almost every season for the past decade or so, while even a weak Warriors franchise in SA had Botha, Ntini, Parnell, Boucher, Boje, Kallis, tsotsobe and ingram in 2010/2011, all international players past/present

  • JG2704 on April 21, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    @jay57870 on Have to pick you up on a few points here. 1 - I'd say India possibly have overcooked the IPL to the detriment of the national side. In test cricket they have not even looked competitive in England and Australia and the T20 side were languishing in 7th in the rankings last time I looked. Also England does promote it's own test cricket quite well. Many of the tests these days are sold out and the domestic T20s are often packed out too. Also I'm not sure how many English players actually went up for auction this year which would suggest that they preferred to prepare for the home series with WI and SA at home rather than play the IPL. Fair play to KP for backing up his words but they weren't directed at his "mates" and if they were I'm sure his "mates" would disown him. It was just a bit of publicity which to a degree worked.

  • Rivka on April 21, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    The writer is being too kind. Nobody needs the IPL. The IPL has been disastrous for Indian cricket. India needs a competitive domestic circuit which produces quality players. At this point the Indian cricket board shows no sign of wanting to improve the status of first class cricket in India.

  • on April 21, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    @zenboomerng- thats y its Indian premier league, so its focused on Indians.

  • jay57870 on April 21, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    In his Bradman Oration, Rahul Dravid stressed the need for cricket to balance all 3 formats. Overscheduling must be avoided. The fan must be respected. Great Test players like Rahul, Sachin & Co have committed to help India rise to the top in all 3 formats. It held the Test crown before England. To say that India pays "scant respect" to the longer form & pays "homage to the short-form" is not valid, precisely on account of its long Test history & success in all formats. Each nation must build its own "commercial ecosystem" to make cricket viable. IPL is now the golden goose. But India cannot do it alone. Nor should it be held solely responsible or accountable. It's a shared role, where England & Australia must assume more active ownership, precisely because of their superior first-class cricket systems & great traditions. Just like Brits spare no effort to preserve & promote tennis (Wimbledon) & golf (British Open). Ditto the Aussies & the Australian Opens. So, why not Test cricket?

  • jay57870 on April 21, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    India is doing it in its own way to sustain & enhance cricket. It has history on its side. IPL is a 100% sanctioned sport. Unlike the rebel WSC in the 70s. If IPL is "unashamedly commercial" or in the "hands of marketers and money men" then what was the breakaway WSC? Recall Packer's dubious tactics to gain exclusive TV rights & mass marketing, and slyly lure Aussie/Brit players with lucrative WSC deals. Worse still, the rebel tours of South Africa in the 80s. In those turbulent times, India showed guts to scorn Packer. As the late Tiger Pataudi revealed in a 2010 speech: "Not a single Indian cricketer" joined WSC despite "the English captain (Tony Greig?) ... surreptitiously recruiting for Kerry." In fact, BCCI took a principled stand by hosting "second-rate teams, but to full houses. A lot of money was made and shared between the countries and cricket survived"! Because of its conscionable efforts, "India and Indian cricket earned a huge amount of goodwill and gratitude"!

  • jay57870 on April 21, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    Steve Jobs did not invent the PC or Internet, but he created APPLE! India did not invent T20 cricket, but created IPL! England invented T20 but lost its way (embarrassingly) amid Sir Stanford's big scam. Reality: Cricket is big business, like soccer or any major sport. It's big-time sports entertainment too. Like the Olympics. Brits should know it with London 2012 less than 100 days away, Danny Boyle's razzmatazz & all the buzz. Look at IPL as a one-sport, mini-Olympic event. Much like the ever-popular "March Madness" tournament to crown the national champ in US college basketball. It's inevitable: Market forces are dictating changes in cricket. Remember how Kerry Packer & later Rupert Murdoch forced lasting changes (not always kosher) with their World Series Cricket & satellite TV businesses? The duopoly of England & Australia was forever shaken up. The pendulum of power has since swung toward South Asia. Market forces inevitably at work indeed!

  • jay57870 on April 21, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    Mark - Yes, they go to India for IPL. KP backed it up & mouthed off again to his "jealous" English mates with a Shock & Awe show (103 n.o. w/ 9 DLF Maxs)! The huge DD crowd & TV audience loved it! It was like a throwback to the glory days of (yes) WG, the original brand ambassador. As an 'amateur' WG amassed oodles of 'dough' from match/tour fees & testimonials. Fans flocked to see him play. And so too it was in Delhi on Thursday. The "best in the world" play in IPL - Kallis, Steyn, de Villiers, Morkels & Husseys, Watson, Clarke, Vettori, Taylor, Gayle, Pollard, Jaya, Sanga, Shakib - to name a few foreign stars. Not to mention Sachin, Rahul, Sourav, Viru, Dhoni & many locals. IPL is the ultimate destination for cricketers of all stripes & colours. The Good Doc would have loved to entertain IPL fans & rake in the big bucks! Imagine if Strauss & Co were to join KP in his lonely passage to India. IPL could have its War of the Jeans! Denim, like Roses! Levi-Strauss (MI) versus Lee (KKR)!!

  • hstrawson on April 20, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    england ARE wold t20 champions, however, as well as the first ranked test and t20 team

  • JG2704 on April 20, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    @zenboomerang - I actually like some of the IPL games but those are a fair amount of reasons why other countries would not watch it and I can't get excited about it like I do when watching Somerset in the domestic t20. I tried to follow this year's big bash and even the Bangladesh T20 comp but if it was televised I certainly wouldn't watch it religiously and I doubt you would watch English T20 religiously if it was shown in Oz. It's like football in the world cup or champions league. Once the international team goes out or the domestic teams go out we by and large lose interest. Our national team were involved in some of the worst spectacles in the last WC but we'd still watch them more intensely than say Spain or Brazil who play a much more attractive brand.

  • JG2704 on April 20, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding on (April 20 2012, 13:06 PM GMT) Mark Hughes - Do you mean Simon Hughes or is there a Mark Hughes in cricket I don't know about?

  • YorkshirePudding on April 20, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    @JG2704, another example of that is Mark Hughes, a great writer and analyst yet was considered a stable county-pro.

  • zenboomerang on April 20, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    @JG2704... This media hype-up by some that IPL is something that the world should watch lacks a few basic assumptions... 1) why should everyone else watch someone elses domestic 20/20?... 2) its off season for many countries... 3) its played in the middle of the night - in Oz... 4) most of the players are Indian - so little interest from many other countries in players... 5) zero commercial interest away from India - who is going to pay to broadcast it - not me... 6) What appeal is there for non Indians? - it lacks any attractive points to bring viewers in... Maybe I'm overly cynical, but there has to be a reason to change channels...

  • zenboomerang on April 20, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    @SouthPaw... Probably the worst anology I have read - Moose in Yellowstone... So you put in a animal that eats all plants without a predator, what have you got?... Plaque proportions - not unlike the current human population... No?.... Maybe time to cull them mooses...

  • JG2704 on April 20, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @maddy20 on (April 20 2012, 06:54 AM GMT) And how many posters on here have even played domestic cricket (myself included) and we feel our opinion is more relevant than the next man's? Even if we say Mark was a mediocre player , it does not mean that a mediocre player can't be a decent writer/analyst and by the same token a legend might be a very poor writer/analyst - which is subjective most of the time anyway

  • JG2704 on April 20, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    @SouthPaw on (April 20 2012, 03:34 AM GMT) Thing is test cricket is still well loved in England - Maybe partly due to (take the recent UAE tour out) Eng's recent success. I guess some cultures prefer the flamboyance and speed of the T20 game and while some prefer the attritional 5 day game. I feel there is room for both and T20 is a good model for hopefully getting kids interested in the OD game and eventually as they mature the 5 day game. I agree to not try to force too many tests on those who don't want it but one country's rust is another's gold

  • JG2704 on April 20, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    @abhispace on (April 20 2012, 00:16 AM GMT) I'm afraid English and Australian fans will always have more interest in their own domestic T20 tournaments than the IPL regardless of how fewer superstars we have in comparison. Like your enthusiasm though

  • JG2704 on April 20, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    @bigdhonifan - Maybe not all folk are so fickle and support their local teams rather than glory hunt and go from one bandwagon to the next. Let me make another analogy - are you going to be as/more interested in the test series coming up between SA and England or the next India series? Re the players you mentioned well done for getting KP,Morgan and Shah as non English born players. But Bopara is English born and bred and we A Mahmood has never been an English player. Might be an idea to do a little research next time. BTW if your comms are reflected by other Indians then how many English players would want to play in such a welcoming environment?

  • maddy20 on April 20, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    The funniest part of this article is that , it is coming from a guy who averages a very mediocre 32 in the very first class cricket he is talking about. One can imagine how he could have performed in international cricket. I bet Bhajji or Ashwin could have beaten him hands down in batting!

  • S.Jagernath on April 20, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Its a shame that the best do not embrace county cricket anymore.I can't understand why a young player like Virat Kohli or Angelo Mathews would not want to hone their techniques in county cricket.The IPL ends in May,so there is plenty of time to get into the county season.I suspect that if an Indian player does not fulfil his IPL duties,he will suddenly be dropped from the national squad.The quality of T20 cricket is poor,its just the same in the IPL.

  • godatno4 on April 20, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    Mark, I cringe when even people like you say that India values IPL more than the holy grail of cricket. It was purely promoted by the rick for the rich business men. The purist fans of the game still remain loyal to the holy grail of cricket. Please do not stereotype the entire Indian nation as IPL frenzy crowd. But whether we believe it or not, IPL has achieved the result it started out with, which I can never ever fathom.

  • SouthPaw on April 20, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    @Snick_To_Backward_Point: Nice analogy, so let me draw your attention to something that happens when you try to interfere with nature (and it includes society, popular culture, etc). In the mid 1900's the US was worried about the dwindling population of Moose at the Yellowstone National Park and so they took measures to ensure that they didn't reduce in number. You know the result? The entire ecosystem went for a toss because of their action. So, if we try to force test cricket instead of making the popular T20 more part of the program, everything will die and we would have no choice but to watch baseball!

  • wake_up_india on April 20, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    It is not that India does not respect Test Cricket, the present team is just very bad at it, as was the Engalnd team a few years ago and as is also the present West Indies team. T20 is half luck and half skill -- there is an element of gambling in it that may add to its allure. Also, independent of the format of the game, cricket in the Indian subcontienent (I call it "Desi Cricket") is a very different game than is played in England and Australia (let's call the latter, "Queen's cricket"). This is why players of the different game-types struggle in each other's terrain. Unfortunately, the IPL is allowing the foreign players to hone Desi Cricket skills (witness KP) but the Indian players, who no longer play county cricket, fumble at Queen's cricket like a maid at a new job. T20 is a glorified form of Indian "gullie cricket" -- played in Indian city allies with makeshift wickets, decrepit bats and a worn out tennis ball. Not English public school stuff but a lot of fun.

  • maddy20 on April 20, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    "Medicore cricketers suffering at the hands of the big names" 1)Huh! I guess Ashok Dinda, Murali Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Tiwary, S Badrinath, Umesh Yadav are the mediocre cricketers you are talking about. If you are that is just plain stupid. 2)By the way Mr.Nicholas if you are not aware there is a also a Ranji season in which over 20 states compete against one another in 4-day crkt and it is the Indian version of county cricket. 3)The successful cricketers in T20 are those with solid first class record. Rahane averages 68 in Ranji, Badrinath nearly 61, Kohli 55, Manish Pandey 55. There are also bowlers like Abu Nechim, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav who have very good firstclass record. I do believe some of them wud get their trn at humiliating England in India particularly Rahane, Yadav, Pujara. The ODI series was just a taste of things to come. You will then see how well your county season on grazing fields pays of in the barren pitches of India where spinners rule the roost

  • Ryan_H on April 20, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    "Mediocre cricketers suffer at the hands of big" - I hope you are not comparing the quality of the English County Cricketers to the the 4 "not so well known" playing 11 players in each IPL team. - Because in that case the quality of the County players will be equally bad if not worse. Alteast, in the IPL, the 4 scouted foreign players will be of competitive quality and the other 3 will be Indian team ex/players compared to the majority of players in the playing 11 18 county teams. Lets compare apples to apples and then talk.

  • abhispace on April 20, 2012, 0:16 GMT

    A damn well written article! I definitely feel that while those outside India need to bury the jealousy or whatever it is, come down and play the IPL. While T20 has given new life to cricket, IPL has been the best tool to this method. I would love to watch more players from England and other countries play in the IPL. Maybe then someone in London would root for a Delhi team and join the voices of the local fans. I think IPL has the potential to truly become a global tournament with the Champions League being the finishing gleam of silver.

    In distant future, I would like to see different T20 leagues being played at different times of the year in different countries like England, India and Australia and players from all nations actually participating. The first part of the aforesaid is already established, the second though needs more work and time.

  • HyderabadiFlick on April 19, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    To make Cricinfo more interesting they must include great cricketing brains like Naseer Hussain, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh to write. Mark! always makes his writing interesting, with his article all you have to do is look at the photograph and not the title of the article. I'm sure most of the people will read his articles in his voice. Nicely told how the game changed in the last 3 decades and the change of cricketing power. Keep writing. - Jai Hind.

  • bigdhonifan on April 19, 2012, 20:57 GMT

    I dont care any English players... Kevin , Morgan, Bopara, Shah, Azhar Mahmood all are either Indian, Pak or African born players. I will rather prefer Afridi or Umar gul in IPL than Bell or Swann.

  • CricFan78 on April 19, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    I love the moaning against IPL, it must be doing lot of things right.

  • bigdhonifan on April 19, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    Well Said English people Watches Portsmouth against Southampton and never cares about Barcelona Vs Real Madrid. They will always jealous!

  • JG2704 on April 19, 2012, 20:46 GMT

    @Ed Wargent on (April 19 2012, 15:02 PM GMT)/OldAdam on (April 19 2012, 12:58 PM GMT) Both valid points which I tried to make when the KP thread was published but basically was just branded as jealous etc myself. I personally enjoy some of the games (unlike OLDADAM) but like Ed Wargent I can't get as excited about it as I do if I'm watching Somerset play a domestic T20 game regardless of the standard etc and even though it nearly always ends in stress/tears. I made a similar analogy with Spanish football and OLDADAM makes a similar analogy in that just because it's not his thing doesn't mean it's a snobbery thing

  • JG2704 on April 19, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    Mark - Have to disagree with alot of your article - Sorry. 1 - You make it sound like England is a cold place to play cricket.Well compared to the heat of some places I suppose it's cooler but April-Sept are all pretty warm months. April is usually much warmer than it is this year. Also re "IPL" - Not sure who you refer to with the "Pompous England hates that it doesn't run the show". It seems a bit generalistic to me. Obviously there are events organisers who prob fall into that category but while I enjoy IPL and some of the matches there are things I don't like about it. Also I feel there may be an overflow of big overseas names. I feel in our T20 league we possibly appreciate our overseas stars more because there are less of them and I feel that might be why we are doing better at international T20 and the IPL could become like the English football premier league in that it attracts the best overseas players which maybe makes the league stronger but the national side weaker.

  • CaptainKool on April 19, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    Exactly cricket needs both. I hope some of the English media can understand that. It's not a competition in any means. IPL has made game entertaining which is good for cricket. Don't we like to see all cricketing nations sharing dressing room with each other and playing together is different feeling.

  • denzil.correa on April 19, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    Absolutely fantastic article Mark!

  • on April 19, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    I like most of your points, except the one where you say India "treats Test cricket and the four-day game with scant respect". I don't believe so. Those of us who are smart, educated Indians with a long history of following the game don't believe so. India definitely gravitates towards the glitz and glamour of the IPL, but there is still much respect for the longest version of the game.

  • Lord_Dravid on April 19, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    @py0alb..u say ipl is boring? i think you've been watching too much of the real boring english county championship and mistaking it for the ipl..i request you to take a seat one evening and watch a few ipl matches and witness the power hitting, tremendous fielding, the cathes and the atmosphere.

  • ashok16 on April 19, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    "Hit and Giggle" vs "Fluff and Yawn". Cricket doesnt need both formats. Cricket needs something better to stay relevant. When soccer can do with a single format of 90min and capture everybody's attention, why cant cricket match or at least come close to that. What cricket needs is a format that finishes within a maximum time of half a day AND (a) captures the classicity of test cricket (b) produces a result within that time.

  • on April 19, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    Most of the people not from India think that Indian Player do not like the First Class level. I would say They Love it. The fact is Indian economy has given people of India a chance to get the premium they needed for their skills which was not possible as the game was not able to get the value without its marketing in the inner crowd. IPL is kind of a winner for so many cricketers that it is helping a lot.Now a few of them fly high and few stay rooted after success that is global truth.We have our first class circuit but now there are players to get entry into the test team without worrying about the financial rewards. So Ranji trophy Since last two years has become more than exciting because of IPL. This change is good for Cricketers in India ,NZ ,WI, Bangladesh they have grabbed it with both hands( AUS and ENG ) a few shy but they know that getting value for skills not a bad thing after all. :) So happy Cricket and Happy IPL. Thanks Nicholas

  • Vilander on April 19, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    Mark, you are undoubtedly the best cricket commentator. Thanks for filling the void of Peter Roebuck, his style is inimitable but you have a geneuinly unique style which interestingly delivers much the same he used to deliver, succinant impartial accounts armed with hyperbol in needed quantities. Please write more.

  • py0alb on April 19, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    I don't think anyone is jealous of the IPL. The cricket is dull, the bowling is mediocre and the fielding is truly dreadful. It's like the elephants' graveyard of international cricketers.

    Now I quite like T20 cricket so this is not snobbery, it many not a patch on the first class game but its certainly better than ODIs, but I'd far rather watch the T20 cup, the standard of play is just so much higher.

  • Praxis on April 19, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Does anyone else think that cricket is becoming too complex as a sport?

  • Dubious on April 19, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    I'd say the Sheffield Shield is/has been the best first class system in the world. Would surely go somehow to explaining the 10% winning gap Australia have over England in the history of Test cricket Mark.

  • A.Ak on April 19, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    One doing it in action, another one just talking...

  • on April 19, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    The English are neither opposed to nor jealous of the IPL - it's a good tournament, but it's not an English tournament! Sure I'd like to watch it, but I would rather watch Lancashire or Derbyshire. Same as in any sport - Real Madrid v. Barcelona may have more quality than Arsenal v. Spurs but who cares? It's not a local match, and neither is Chennai v. Bangalore. It's as simple as that, and the players who choose to the big bucks over their local teams should not be derided for the choice, but nor should they pretend that they are playing in the IPL for anything other than a selfish reason, not some high moral nonsense that the IPL is superior, because to anyone outside of India it isn't! Ask the West Indies fans if they wanted a full strength team against Australia in the first test, which they then well might have won. How many of them would have said no, we should stop being jealous of the IPL and admit it's more important to the cricket world than the resurgence of the West Indies

  • Lord_Dravid on April 19, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    test cricket, ODI cricket and T20 cricket its all cricket!! if anyone dosent like any one of the formats for any reasons then dont watch or play it! this goes for players or fans alike..personally i love all three! :)

  • anuradha_d on April 19, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    True 2 sides of the cricket coin.....the rich and the poor...the shining new and the faded old sides

  • OldAdam on April 19, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    I can only speak for myself. T20 is not to my taste. Neither is motor racing, boxing, horse racing or penalty shoot-outs. My indifference has nothing to do with jealousy (Kevin Pieterson) or snobbery (Andrew Hughes): it is just a personal preference. Even if I liked T20 as a format, I would not follow the IPL. Why? Because I would have no stake in any of the results. When I watch any sport, I usually want one team to win more than another even if I am nominally a neutral. It adds spice. I feel no more interest in any of the IPL teams than I would in an Italian second division football team. Given my indifference, you can imagine that I am hardly going to be delighted if the IPL draws good cricketers away from the forms of the game that I do enjoy. What a shame that the West Indies are having to do without 2 or 3 fine players in their current series against Autralia! But, as I said first, it is a personal preference. Don't criticise me for it, just accept it.

  • salim on April 19, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    Great work Mark. Good point, well made. I hope, the media can take a cue and do a bit of work to present a balanced view like this rather than the jingoistic, polarized and misleading headline belittling a board, a format, some players and the great sport overall!

  • Leggie on April 19, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    IPL is certainly a contemporary evil. Evil not from a money making perspecitve or because it is T20. It is because of the fact that it is played in brutal summer conditions - and has become one of the primary reasons for players break down so often after the end of the season. Also looking at the quality of pitches and that bowlers have nothing in it, "bowling" as an art will die down soon - thanks to the summer and flat bowling conditions. This is just not cricket. Also because of the commercial interests linked to IPL, players stay back late for parties - whether they like it or not. To me this is nothing but complete destruction of cricketers - both physically and mentally. Let us please stop this non-sensical IPL.

  • Detectiveagent on April 19, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    There is no question IPL is entertaiment however, to say it has improved Test cricket due to scoring rate and extravagant shots is unfounded. England's struggles with the bat in the UAE against a strong bowling outfit can largely be put down to batting at too high a rate, with questionable shot selection; digging in and knuckling down are just as effective a technique, it is all situation dependent. Test's ending in four days meant batsmen could have batted slower for longer building an innings, requiring the application of skills both mental and physical. The IPL is what 20/20 cricket is all over mthe world, be it The Big Bash or England's domestic version, simply great entertainment for after work.

  • on April 19, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    I think English fans care little for T20 despite being world champs at it. The only reason it's mentioned is the irony of having virtually no players in the IPL - when real donkeys from Australia make it. It's a "QI" type fact - I can see Stephen Fry in 20 years going "No - strangely enough, despite being the best in the world at it (number one in international T20 ladder and world champions at the same time) hardly any English players played in the IPL - sorry Alan - minus 5 points for you I'm afraid" It's the tenth year of T20 here (2003 -2012 inclusive) and maby of us were bored to tears by about 2009. We have just played it longer and Man there are so MANY T20 games inan English summer, it just goes on and on and on. I'm thinking given another 2-3 years the rest of the world will be as bored of it as we are over here. It's a dull predicatble game that de-values 6's (yawn - ANOTHER "DRS" maximum) and 4 overs per bowler is just pathetic. It'll be dead soon - and good riddance to it.

  • nzcricket174 on April 19, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    The IPL is great without England and Pakistan but it would be much better if they were there.

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on April 19, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    Southpaw - your argument is similar to that of the great extinction debate. Why should we care if species die out? For me all forms of the game are part of the cricketing eco-system. Test cricket is the pinnacle of the sport, the custodian of the game. It ensures that the bowlers bowl with guile, cunning, speed to test the technique of the best bats who must play correctly and assess each ball on its merits. The contest places the most demanding of pressure on players over a prolonged period of time. If you subjugate tests to little more than irrelevance or, God forbid, are one of those 'fans' who would prefer it simply fizzle out, you watch how quickly cricket morphs into a pseudo sport of thrash and wack against bowlers who are no longer testing a batsman's technique but bowling from the default of "dont hit me for many". That is NOT cricket. You might like the high it gives you, but that is NOT cricket. You may prefer this format but there again, why not go watch baseball?

  • bonaku on April 19, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    @onehorsetown FYI probably name T20 might have originated from england, we use to call it as 20-over match in my place 'chittoor' since I know cricket -30 years ago (infact even before). There are countless number of t20 tournaments in the country. So dont take credit for T20 as such...

  • Nutcutlet on April 19, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    It all depends on your taste & practising the democratic principle of allowing others theirs, even though you personally find their preference an anathema. When I was young the shortest form of the game - the beer match, 10 ov per side, each player to bowl one - was regarded as a swipe & giggle; now a form of the game that has distinct similarities to that format commands the mega-bucks and international stars! As you say, Mark, plus ca change.. Yes, we should allow each to enjoy his/her own, but let us never forget that there is one form that contains the superior skills, has bowlers attempting to take wickets; has batsmen building innings like good architects, with firm foundations; allows captains free-rein as to which of his bowling battery is best equipped to bowl at a particular time - & so on & on. My hope is that once spectators have glutted on T20 adolescent fare, that they move on to appreciate the finer aspects of the game. Any true cricket lover would want this progression.

  • cricketcritics on April 19, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    The simple fact is firstclass match are classical like beatles and modern IPL is like justin bieber spicy..

  • SDHM on April 19, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    To play devil's advocate, do they need to be reconciled? The IPL is getting along just fine without many of England's best players and so are England - they are T20 world champions, which seems to be so easily forgotten (ironically by everyone except England fans, who are so often assumed only to care about Tests!)

  • on April 19, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    Lovely piece Mark; there is enough space out there in the world of cricket for the English county and the IPL to co exist. But all nations have to agree to participate in the tournaments like IPL; players from England and Pakistan are hardly seen; they would make it more exciting. Also, people who would like to make it BIG in test cricket should have the choice to take to the English County. If all the options exist for the player with equally good remuneration and social security, the player has to make the choice; people will pay to come and watch good players any day; all formats need to pay the players well; it will help them sustain their format as well as promote it!!!

  • on April 19, 2012, 9:34 GMT

    Briliant article by Mr.mark.thats the way 4 cricket.hope ecb regards ipl and bcci county.

  • sweetspot on April 19, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    The IPL is here to make money. Make no mistake about it. But it also PAYS money, and that is where its success is very very welcome indeed. Try selling county cricket vs IPL cricket to any new recruit to the game and see which sells more. It all comes down to TV and advertising revenues. The IPL has got everything else beaten. Those that profess how the IPL will go down need to have their heads examined. Go down to what? That which has not been invented yet is not yet a threat to the IPL. Enough already about Test cricket being the trunk! It didn't feed any of the branches and leaves, but the IPL is already bearing fruit! The IPL is the trunk, as the riches of Kevin Pietersen will show you. The IPL is its own animal and does not need any patronization from any other format, league or game. In five short years it has absolutely stolen the thunder. If you don't want to watch it, no problem. There are billions who will. Same argument for Hollywood vs European movies!

  • ncurd on April 19, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    @Romanticstud, actually the first-class system is why England are full of so many SA as you put it (I only count 2). They come over here to apply their trade and learn the game and eventually become qualified to play for country where they've been playing and learning their first-class cricket.

  • ncurd on April 19, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    Aren't England world Champions at the T20 format and ranked No. 1? I thought while in relative terms (money) not as successful as the IPL they had a moderately successful T20 tournament which players from around the world play in to fill the limited international spot available. Grounds are moderately full as well. The teams are competitive on a world stage in a hugely IPL biased tournament. Not to mention County Cricket was the first to pioneer the format. I have no issue with IPL I'm just not interested because I have T20 tournament here where I can still put faith in my local side. Why should I care apart from the Champion League (which badly needs taking over by the ICC) what teams from other countries are doing? I support my county and country in Cricket no one else in all formats of the game.

  • remnant on April 19, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Indeed the crowds at IPL are telling the world of cricket something. Test cricket is engrossing but it takes time to cook up and the lack of quality oppositions means there are only the few top ranked teams that can bring out a worthy contest. This needs redressal. The two can be likened to classical music, that Test cricket is and the popular one being the IPL. As always the classical will need the support of the mroe commercially viable to survive, but its preservation is also necessary so that its(classical's) products will enrich the popular format. The success of many Test cricketers in IPL stands testimony to this.

  • Romanticstud on April 19, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    There are three forms of the game ... T20, 50 Overs and tests. Firstly, at first class level players from the international arena are preferred over the local playing cricketers, true, people want to see the stars perform, but what about leaving the stars to perform in the international arena instead of the crowding the domestic arena. The international calender is loaded with games of all three formats, so why must they play in these other competitions. If they are not performing internationally that is when you can pool players from the domestic competitions. Surely that is why you get so many injuries amongst the top players because they are playing in all these unnecessary competitions and straining themselves. Another thing is that England may supposably have the best first class system, but then why does their team consist of so many South Africans? Surely England should be able to field an all English team then.

  • HBK656 on April 19, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    i agree with some of the points presented above... while its true that india should be paying a lot more interest towards improving the ranji circuit than the ipl, lets also not forget that ipl is also indirectly improving the pace of test cricket... we are getting a lot of result oriented tests these days.... and for a great player, whether its ipl or tests, his skill remains the same.... dale steyn delivering those fearsome 150 kmph yorkers are a spectacle in all formats... a scorching straight drive played in t20 is still a purist's delight... so lets stop criticizing and look at the postives of all the formats!!!

  • cork123 on April 19, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    Well written Mark, completely agree with you who is also my favourite cricket commentator, thanks for describing the game in the most attractive manner..

  • on April 19, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    @ onehorsetown not too long ago India were #1 ranked test team.

  • rovar on April 19, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Awesome Mark. I am a big fan of your commentry, articals & the most important anchoring. what statement "India works on demand and supply, simple as that" & "Our misgivings about one another are stoked by a voracious media, but the IPL is no more a piece of contemporary evil than the county championship is a relic. There is a need for both". Inspite of being British so unlike of them.

  • CRKS on April 19, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    very well written article!

  • Agnihothra on April 19, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Mark seems to be sitting on the fence well... careful Mr Nicholas the barbed wire on the fence will shred your trousers and cut the skin.. take a side dammit.......

  • on April 19, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    Mark, fantastic piece. If you were to wage a battle with the IPL, you can see holes - signs of weaknesses that are inherent to the country and the tournament. You would exploit these to win. But these are not the days of war but of capitalism when enemies act as friends to make money. So I urge the BCCI, IPL, England and other countries to "work" together. I guess the IPL held in SA was a blessing. Can IPL and Big Bash tie up? Is there a way to linlk performances in test cricket to IPL rewards? That is the way forward. IPL too should know it is Cricket that attracts people - not the "extras". So IPL must be careful. India should play more tests and IPL and BCCI must recognize ODI and Test performances with IPL rewards. ICC must work with IPL to include the minnows and spread the great game. Maybe IPL caravan should be played in another country once in every 3 years. Is there anything in India ruling the game? People in Africa, Asia, Subcontinent are also humans too! Cricket wins.

  • onehorsetown on April 19, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    "At this moment England might well have the best first-class competition in the world, alongside the top-ranked Test team. Both are born of a system that has been in place since WG was hitching his britches. India are the one-day world champions and own the most dynamic short-form tournament there has ever been."

    This is true, however let's not forget England are also T20 World champions, and that the format was born in that country. Is that significant? I don't know, but it's not accurate to simply say India are short form experts and England long-form.

  • Meety on April 19, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    ATM - I don't see IPL being around for another 140 yrs. Dwindling viewership will put the IPL under massive pressure to re-evaluate. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of good things to come from the IPL. One thing I would like to see, is in the case of the WIndies, IPL franchises pay a Transfer Fee, for recruiting players who WOULD be playing test cricket otherwise, (mainly thinking Gayle, possibly the other Bravo too). == == == Disagree with "...Hard graft, you made a bob, it was what you did. They wouldn't come now. Well, they don't." - there are some fundamental differences that exist today. 1) County cricket has tightened import rules, 2) County cricket favours Kolpak eligibility, 3) IPL has loose Import rules, & you can earn good coin by bowling in the nets. Don't get me wrong - the ECB can adjust their Import Rules however they want, however, should they revert to the old rules, there would be a flood of Ozzys heading to gloomy England over IPL -that's for SURE!

  • TheOnlyEmperor on April 19, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    IPL has done wonders in connecting cricket to the masses of India, the very young as well as women. IPL has kicked out prime time TV into orbit and got the people centred on sports action instead of meaningless soaps, news rants or the movie channels. Any event that helps connect with the larger audience is good for the game. Period. IPL is an event. Cricket mixed with entertainment. It's about presentation and presenters and has no place for pompous commentators who take themselves seriously. It's an event which is fast paced. It's about evenly matched teams. It's about players overcoming their own stereotyped habits and innovating. It's an event which constantly gives the young and talented hope of catching the eye to get into national teams. It's a money spinning event and lastly it makes the players rich! Why are we even comparing the lowly English county criket to IPL?

  • varunrallapalli on April 19, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Mark Nicholas has hit the nail on its head.India and England are as opposite as chalk and cheese in their presentation of cricket.But both are as essential to cricket as Pele and Maradona were to popularity of Football. Cricket thrives on publicity, popularity,traditionalism and English County cricket remains in forefront of the all first class Cricket, whereas IPL has people thronging to stadiums for entertainment. Mixing Sports and Entertainment might not appear good for traditionalists, but it enhances the popularity of the game and augurs well for the local players who are in dire need of a platform to showcase their talent on Bigger stages. It would be great to see,for example a Ravindra Jadeja who performs well in subcontinental conditions to do well in English conditions and counter swing as much as a Dmitri Mascarenhas to exhibit his skills on batting and spin friendly conditions in India.It would only globalize the game and improve the quality of cricket all round the world.

  • on April 19, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    I totally agree with the sentiment presented above. County cricket over the years has focused mainy on cricket and cricketing bureaucracy. In essence it keesp the game alive and true but it rules out space for innovation. Until the IPL happened the BCCI was another such place where the bosses earned a lot and gave little back. With the advent of ICL, people like Lalit Modi discovered a way to make money officially by selling cricket as a merchandise, and in return what he invented has become a phenomenon. IPL has had a huge impact on the cricketing politics the world over. Not only it has shown a new line of growth for the up coming players but it has also enhanced the players say in the cricketing affairs. Suddenly there are mental conditioner, fielding coaches, host of medical advisers and a lots more. Playing cricket has become immensely comfortable and posh than the old tavern ways of county cricket. It only shows that change needs to be recognized and accepted before its too late.

  • SouthPaw on April 19, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Mark, It is not clear where you are going with this piece. Are you saying that England should add muscle to the "best first-class competition in the world" that it has? Or that India should have a better system to draft players? Also, when you say that Test Cricket is the trunk and without it, there is no tree, you are erroneously saying that it is the fundamental. It is like saying that we must preserve classic rock to ensure that "tree" of music doesn't die. That is not true; the world has moved on and people are more interested in new age rock that includes "screaming", "shredding", etc. Likewise, in cricket too, people are more interested in T20 than Test cricket. So, the mature generation (includes you and I) has to move on make way for the new ideas and concepts.

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  • SouthPaw on April 19, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Mark, It is not clear where you are going with this piece. Are you saying that England should add muscle to the "best first-class competition in the world" that it has? Or that India should have a better system to draft players? Also, when you say that Test Cricket is the trunk and without it, there is no tree, you are erroneously saying that it is the fundamental. It is like saying that we must preserve classic rock to ensure that "tree" of music doesn't die. That is not true; the world has moved on and people are more interested in new age rock that includes "screaming", "shredding", etc. Likewise, in cricket too, people are more interested in T20 than Test cricket. So, the mature generation (includes you and I) has to move on make way for the new ideas and concepts.

  • on April 19, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    I totally agree with the sentiment presented above. County cricket over the years has focused mainy on cricket and cricketing bureaucracy. In essence it keesp the game alive and true but it rules out space for innovation. Until the IPL happened the BCCI was another such place where the bosses earned a lot and gave little back. With the advent of ICL, people like Lalit Modi discovered a way to make money officially by selling cricket as a merchandise, and in return what he invented has become a phenomenon. IPL has had a huge impact on the cricketing politics the world over. Not only it has shown a new line of growth for the up coming players but it has also enhanced the players say in the cricketing affairs. Suddenly there are mental conditioner, fielding coaches, host of medical advisers and a lots more. Playing cricket has become immensely comfortable and posh than the old tavern ways of county cricket. It only shows that change needs to be recognized and accepted before its too late.

  • varunrallapalli on April 19, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Mark Nicholas has hit the nail on its head.India and England are as opposite as chalk and cheese in their presentation of cricket.But both are as essential to cricket as Pele and Maradona were to popularity of Football. Cricket thrives on publicity, popularity,traditionalism and English County cricket remains in forefront of the all first class Cricket, whereas IPL has people thronging to stadiums for entertainment. Mixing Sports and Entertainment might not appear good for traditionalists, but it enhances the popularity of the game and augurs well for the local players who are in dire need of a platform to showcase their talent on Bigger stages. It would be great to see,for example a Ravindra Jadeja who performs well in subcontinental conditions to do well in English conditions and counter swing as much as a Dmitri Mascarenhas to exhibit his skills on batting and spin friendly conditions in India.It would only globalize the game and improve the quality of cricket all round the world.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on April 19, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    IPL has done wonders in connecting cricket to the masses of India, the very young as well as women. IPL has kicked out prime time TV into orbit and got the people centred on sports action instead of meaningless soaps, news rants or the movie channels. Any event that helps connect with the larger audience is good for the game. Period. IPL is an event. Cricket mixed with entertainment. It's about presentation and presenters and has no place for pompous commentators who take themselves seriously. It's an event which is fast paced. It's about evenly matched teams. It's about players overcoming their own stereotyped habits and innovating. It's an event which constantly gives the young and talented hope of catching the eye to get into national teams. It's a money spinning event and lastly it makes the players rich! Why are we even comparing the lowly English county criket to IPL?

  • Meety on April 19, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    ATM - I don't see IPL being around for another 140 yrs. Dwindling viewership will put the IPL under massive pressure to re-evaluate. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of good things to come from the IPL. One thing I would like to see, is in the case of the WIndies, IPL franchises pay a Transfer Fee, for recruiting players who WOULD be playing test cricket otherwise, (mainly thinking Gayle, possibly the other Bravo too). == == == Disagree with "...Hard graft, you made a bob, it was what you did. They wouldn't come now. Well, they don't." - there are some fundamental differences that exist today. 1) County cricket has tightened import rules, 2) County cricket favours Kolpak eligibility, 3) IPL has loose Import rules, & you can earn good coin by bowling in the nets. Don't get me wrong - the ECB can adjust their Import Rules however they want, however, should they revert to the old rules, there would be a flood of Ozzys heading to gloomy England over IPL -that's for SURE!

  • onehorsetown on April 19, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    "At this moment England might well have the best first-class competition in the world, alongside the top-ranked Test team. Both are born of a system that has been in place since WG was hitching his britches. India are the one-day world champions and own the most dynamic short-form tournament there has ever been."

    This is true, however let's not forget England are also T20 World champions, and that the format was born in that country. Is that significant? I don't know, but it's not accurate to simply say India are short form experts and England long-form.

  • on April 19, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    Mark, fantastic piece. If you were to wage a battle with the IPL, you can see holes - signs of weaknesses that are inherent to the country and the tournament. You would exploit these to win. But these are not the days of war but of capitalism when enemies act as friends to make money. So I urge the BCCI, IPL, England and other countries to "work" together. I guess the IPL held in SA was a blessing. Can IPL and Big Bash tie up? Is there a way to linlk performances in test cricket to IPL rewards? That is the way forward. IPL too should know it is Cricket that attracts people - not the "extras". So IPL must be careful. India should play more tests and IPL and BCCI must recognize ODI and Test performances with IPL rewards. ICC must work with IPL to include the minnows and spread the great game. Maybe IPL caravan should be played in another country once in every 3 years. Is there anything in India ruling the game? People in Africa, Asia, Subcontinent are also humans too! Cricket wins.

  • Agnihothra on April 19, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Mark seems to be sitting on the fence well... careful Mr Nicholas the barbed wire on the fence will shred your trousers and cut the skin.. take a side dammit.......

  • CRKS on April 19, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    very well written article!

  • rovar on April 19, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Awesome Mark. I am a big fan of your commentry, articals & the most important anchoring. what statement "India works on demand and supply, simple as that" & "Our misgivings about one another are stoked by a voracious media, but the IPL is no more a piece of contemporary evil than the county championship is a relic. There is a need for both". Inspite of being British so unlike of them.