T20 is here to stay
It was a perfect ending. Fifty thousand spectators in the stadium and millions watching on TV witnessed a result in the last ball, at the end of forty overs of cricket. There could have been no better finish to the six weeks of entertainment in the IPL Twenty 20 series.
|A pretty hug from Preity Zinta to Shaun Marsh. However the Kings Xl could not live up to their promise at the end - Courtesy The Sportstar
In fact the ICL which concluded just when the IPL was starting also provided close finishes in the final. There the final was contested on a best-of-three basis. A team consisting entirely of Pakistani’s led by Inzamam-ul-haq confronted the Hyderabad Heroes in that contest. In the first game the Hyderabad team won by six runs. After a tie, in a low scoring game, they won the bowl out 3 – 0, to become champions. Both close encounters which did not get the publicity of the IPL, but yet produced a packed house and entertaining cricket.
The three hours of action has caught on. The night games are well timed for all to catch a glimpse of the action once the day is done. India is the perfect setting with over a billion people to attract for these games. The stage is now set to move on and move forward.
Cricket has been a game that has been hard to spread. In fact Peter Roebuck has compared it similar to spreading “hardened ghee” in a recent article in the Sport Star magazine. The game’s techniques and the enormous amount of rules and regulations makes it a difficult sport to even be a mere spectator. The shortened version is easier to follow and a result is produced in around three hours.
Although the five day game seemed threatened, it will also stay. That is the test of the game. The players know it, spectators know it and the administrators know it. This is simply an instant attraction and is bound to stay that way.
Traditionalists will sentimentalize in the past, and talk of the good old days. It is time to move on and money does play a major role in sport now and will be more so in the future. The days of the amateur are of the past. Nowadays the top players have agents and images and bulging bank accounts. They richly deserve it too. Sport is changing business. For every success, a thousand hopes are crushed upon the field. Some months ago many were dismayed in the manner players were bought and sold. In fact a player who was in the midst of it, Adam Gilchrist, said he felt like a cow! However, he would not have returned his pay cheque! The auction was merely to find a fair price for each player; nothing to get flustered about!
There was also a question mark on whether players would miss out on their commitments with their national teams. The Australians did not even miss out on their training camp prior to the West Indies tour. Chris Gayle and a couple of West Indians did threaten to pull out of the West Indies team but in the end had second thoughts. Only those who are at the end of their careers will opt to quit playing for their country.
Test cricket is serious business most of the time. T20 has amazing moments, plenty of thrills and many laughs too. In fact big hits and many giggles! Cricket can afford all of that too.
It is said that the “bookies” also made plenty of money on the side. That is democracy. They can look after their business as long as they do not encroach towards the playing area. We live in an imperfect world and they too must exist.
The IPL and T20 cricket has found its place in the game’s calendar. Music has Mozart and Elvis Presley and Boy George. Cricket now has Test matches, 50 over matches and now T20 matches. T20 has definitely come to stay.
- Ranil Abeynaike is a former Sri Lanka cricketer and curator of SSC