Bring on the changes
Mahmudur Rahman writes for DOT :
It was a gentleman’s game designed for barmy English summers and to keep them out of trouble. Then came ‘Tests’, to test England versus Australia. The rest is history. That new chapters are being added to it is hardly surprising as lifestyle changed and no one in the developed world had time for bat and ball and concentration be tested over five days. That results also could be manufactured out of dint of skill and sheer luck to end in draws didn’t help.
Then Australian businessmen Kerry Packer huffed and puffed over not getting exclusivity in TV coverage and changed the game further beyond just chipping at the rules and making it a 50-over endeavour. He attracted the cream of the world’s exciting talent and enraged the gruff old men of the International Cricket Conference who shook their heads. ‘it can’t last. It isn’t cricket!’. But Packer proved them wrong by offering staggering salaries and incorporated new rules that had the crowds swirling through the turnstiles.
But as tastes changed further new innovations like using two balls, pink balls, New no-ball rules all contributed to retain interest in the 50-over game. Again lifestyles changed and in came T-20 a shorter version of the game that resembled at times catching practice studded as well by towering and breathtaking sixes. The T-20 brought in further changes such as defying umpires through a review process to be taken by either side, free hits from foot no balls and anything fractionally outside leg stump a wide that would never have so be called out in tests. Club T-20 followed franchise cricket where limits were set on numbers that any given team could play international stars. Groom the young they said! And there were no dress codes or restraints on entertainment.
The next innovation might well be combined teams of men and women. They have their own version of the game and might well crack the barriers of lesser equality.
There are those who will be opposed to the idea but that’s what was said about Kerry Packer. Like circuits parties cricketers make their living now by shortening careers, playing hi-wattage pyjama cricket and at least the paying public go home happy. The craze was accompanied by the inevitable gambling on results and the only restrictions were on player access to technology so as not to be coerced and the same on gallery touts. It still doesn’t work and never will but….let’s bring on the changes. T-10 anyone?
The writer is an author, columnist, communications specialist.