Cricket: None But Ten. A Rant
Imagine you study in a classroom of fifty pupils. In the year end exams, you come out first. Wouldn’t that be a great feeling? Now imagine yourself in a class of 25 pupils, once again in the exams you’ve topped the class. A great feeling as well, but perhaps one which you would construe as a lesser achievement, as compared to ‘winning’ in a class of fifty.
Now, let’s come down to just ten pupils. You certainly wouldn’t want to be considered the weakest by finishing last, but coming out first in the exams would just be an add on, and perhaps not as big a sense of accomplishment you would have garnered from that class of fifty or even twenty-five.
In the ICC World Twenty20 2016, competing against a grand total of just nine other teams is what you need to be crowned the Twenty20 champion of the world. Articles and books will be written to analyze and relive how you overcame the massive odds. Documentaries and films will be recorded to show your path to success. Television shows will invite and you will be the highlight of many a social function as the masses wish to get to know you better. Apart from all this please don’t forget that there will scarce be a bigwig company not wanting you to endorse their product.
Play around with the thought that giving an exam might actually be more difficult than playing the World Twenty20.
If you look at a general cricket calendar year, you’d perhaps find yourself thinking the following. India playing against Sri Lanka, again. Pakistan playing against Zimbabwe, again. England playing against South Africa, again. Another thought that would briefly cross your mind would be; Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Namibia, Ireland, Oman, Hong Kong, Nepal, the U.A.E, Kenya and others, quietly sobbing in a corner, perpetually.
The World Twenty20 has arrived and with it the ICC tournament guilt trap a cricket fan has, what has been done to make cricket a global game?
If we outline some basic facts, ten teams are sincerely all that cricket has to offer. In over two hundred years of the sports existence, we could not build more than ten teams who play cricket seriously. Being the best amongst ten teams honestly makes us feel happy at being the number one of anything in this sport.
A tough question to be asked is, has cricket failed? Certainly not commercially. Then why is it that we have halted the progress of cricket as a worldwide sport? Full stadiums in India are cherished, why not look forward to the same in Mexico?
What cricket needs is its Australia playing against Brazil, its India playing against Germany and its England playing against Nigeria. Unless you don’t make big teams playing against those which have just begun stretching their legs, cricket will not move forward. Until David Warner isn’t made to look silly when he gets bowled by someone who plays cricket part-time and unless Ravichandran Ashwin doesn’t stand with hands on his head after he gets hit for six by someone who picked up a bat a few weeks ago, cricket will not move forward. Of course, it would be hard to imagine that happening every game, and very idealistic to even dream of something even close to an upset. But when it happens once, it might happen again. Not in the next game, not even in the game after that, but it will. That one will turn into two, and after individual brilliance, clustered performances will creep up and become a force. Why does cricket not want that force?
On the other side, we will have bad matches. India might score 600 in a one-day game, and end up winning the match by 500 runs. Australia might bowl out the opposition in under four over’s, and win the match chasing in one. Again, as those other teams grow, those run differences will get smaller, and those matches will be longer. Overall, cricket will improve.
Stats you say? Halting the progress of cricket worldwide due to something as trivial as stats would be asinine. Who cares if New Zealand makes the highest one-day score of let’s say, 800 runs against France. Will that 434 in Johannesburg between Australia and South Africa be forgotten? Sachin Tendulkar has 15921 Test runs. Does everyone regard him as the greatest batsman to play the sport? No, you’d have people arguing for hours on end to proclaim Lara, Ponting, Kallis and who can forget, Sir Donald Bradman, who some might say to be the greatest batsman to grace a wicket. So let Glenn Maxwell hit 600 sixes and Ryan McLaren take 1200 wickets. I assure you, Afridi and Muralitharan would appreciate the strides you took to advance the game.
I feel I’ve been droning on incoherence too long so I’ll just summarize. I want the ICC to develop cricket. I want a global sport, not one which is played just between ten teams. Don’t make it a business, because during the ‘Big 3’ fiasco, it honestly looked like one. Don’t be shy to ask a certain portion from your ten teams to give more time to other members. We’re not even asking their main team to go. Send your U-19’s, send your A-teams, send your domestic teams. What I want to say is, just please send someone. At this point, honestly anyone would suffice.
Members remind me. Stop. Please stop with this ‘Associate Member’ nonsense. A pseudo-diplomatic term isn’t doing any good to your image. Do you honestly expect a team you’ve barely given any support to do well at an event you invite them to once every four years? Give full membership status as soon as a nation declares a cricket board. Make the ICC welcoming. Don’t make it a sibling who won’t share his toys with you. Nobody likes a sibling that doesn’t share toys with you.
Test cricket was all there was for over two centuries. We couldn’t grow the sport then. We had one-day cricket, we marginally increased the number of countries. We now have Twenty20’s. Do we really want to sustain the snail’s pace at which we’ve grown the sport? We have leagues being run by nearly all major cricketing nations; Twenty20 cricket has become a brand, why not use the intellect used there to spread the game farther?
Just do something, because at the end of the day, we don’t want a feel-good documentary, we want quality cricket, and not one which ten teams play, but the world does.