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This, that and the other. Mostly the other
On the 31st of March I was shocked to read a bizarre Page 2 article titled "Shut it, Test cricket fans". As a Page 2 contributor myself, I am not personally averse to the occasional digs at the formats, tournaments, advertisers, administrators, Manjrekars and the players that make and keep this game great.
After all, loving a sport does not mean we can't enjoy the occasional harmless joke. Otherwise what is the difference between a cricket fan and an extreme terrorist who responds to any levity with pipe bombs containing ball bearings? For instance, this is a pleasant cricket joke that I think all fans can enjoy without feeling offended or outraged:
Q: Why did the poor fielder shave his track bottoms and deposit the fluff in a Swiss bank?
A: Because he has always wanted safe hair of pants!
Ha ha. Delightful joke.
As you can see, I have used subtle wordplay to make fun of the popular cricketing usage "a safe pair of hands". However, this joke is not at all offensive or irritating, and any normal cricket fan will enjoy it.
Let me illustrate with one more example:
Q: Why did David Shepherd always have a tan and abnormally high vitamin D levels?
A: Because everybody knows that the sun never sets on the British umpire.
In addition to some delightful wordplay, this joke is also informative for younger fans, who may be inspired to study world history. Such jokes are not only very thematic but also enjoyable without being offensive.
However, the above-mentioned article - "Shut it, Test cricket fans" - was nothing of this kind. The jokes in that article were in poor taste, reflected a poor understanding of cricket, and most of all, were indicative of a new line of thinking that threatens to destroy cricket.
Irrespective of how much money Twenty20 cricket makes, how many fans assemble to see Twenty20 games, and how much fun these games are to watch live or on TV, let us not fool ourselves. Twenty20 is merely a distraction, much like 50-over ODIs used to be, from the truly glorious format that is Test cricket.
As one astute commenter pointed out to the author of that hideous piece:
|As someone who loves the game and writes about it for 15% of his living, I do not have the luxury of avoiding my computer and not typing anything. I will type. I have to type|
Before you write this rubbish, remember that without test match cricket, you wouldn't have a job writing these articles in the first place, so even if you don't like test match cricket, at least show some respect towards it. While I do prefer test matches, and I don't watch the IPL, I have better things to do than sit at a computer and ridicule people who prefer one format of cricket over another.
However, as someone who loves the game and writes about it for 15% of his living, I do not have the luxury of avoiding my computer and not typing anything, like that honest reader. I will type. I have to type.
I believe that there is currently an international conspiracy, funded by powerful corporate and political interests, to undermine the sanctity of Test cricket. The overwhelming strategy used to achieve this is to portray the game as boring and bereft of close finishes, or even results. For instance, this is a Test cricket joke I heard recently and found particularly meaningless:
Q: How did the Test cricketer hit a six? A: By mistake, when he was trying to defend.
What does that even mean? Fed up of these jokers!
In writing the reprehensible joke mentioned above, I am assuming that the Test-detractor is trying to say that aggression is rarely seen in the course of a Test match. Pardon my Latin, but this is complete bollocks. Let us look at some basic statistics from the ESPNcricinfo archives and dismantle these allegations.
In the course of the 1995 recorded Test matches that have so far taken place, approximately 8000 sixes have been hit. Not to mention about 190,000 fours. At its most dynamic and aggressive, over 300 sixes were hit in a single season, in 2003-04. If you are a Test-detractor, I hope you are now enjoying your "Citibank Moment Of Abject Failure When Faced With Actual Data".
Yet another popular source of scorn is the so-called lack of results in Test cricket. If you are one of those scorners, please come stand next to me so I can slap you across the face with the truth.
So far a grand total of 1298 Tests, of the 1995 total, have had decisive results for one team or the other. That is a whopping 65.06% or, to put it more simply for Twenty20 fans, a full two-thirds of all matches. I will give you two minutes to let the ringing in your ear stop.
As you can see, there is much more to Test cricket then these new-age detractors and sell-outs will have us believe. Test cricket is the custodian of the heart and soul of the sport. It is cricket in its purest, most meritorious form. As commentators often say: format is temporary, Test cricket is permanent.
I would like to leave you with a hard-hitting anti-Twenty20 joke you may use as defence when Twenty20 fans are nearby:
Q: Who do you think will win the Knight Riders-Mumbai Indians match tomorrow, Lalit? A: My schedule says Mumbai Indians.
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