ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 01, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 53

Globalisation and brotherhood

The IPL has been dissected by millions around the cricketing nations. All its pluses and minuses have been analysed. The tournament itself has reached an end. It has been six weeks of lights, colour and action. There is no hanging around here.

No doubt the bowlers have suffered in one game or another. It is almost impossible to be a consistent performer in this type of cricket. They took the beating manfully, because they had come to accept its part of this short version. To try their best was all that could be done.

The bowlers’ dilemma will remain for all time in T20 cricket. No bowler could expect to develop swing, cut or spin, bowling to batsmen who are waiting to belt the ball to all parts of the park in a short space of deliveries. To get through four overs or to be more precise, twenty four deliveries, is the only ambition.

All the ardent critics are of the view that genuine batting technique is being lost. There is no case of waiting to mature, in being introduced to this format. Eighteen and nineteen year olds are mercilessly thrown into the deep end. Sink or swim is the motto. The youngsters are enjoying the challenge.

From the evidence thus far, shot selection is vital as is in the longer versions of the game. Certainly more risks have to be taken, but then again, the great batsmen of all eras have been able to attack a wider range of deliveries. If anything, the run of the mill bowler has been exposed. Brilliant innings have been played by dashing batsmen like Shaun Marsh, Gautham Gambir, Brendon McCullum, Michael Hussey, Adam Gilchrist, and Sanath Jayasuriya - men who can produce attacking batsmanship over long periods of time.

Time and again the fielding has been breathtaking. The older players are being stretched. There must be times when they wish they were a few years younger. Spectators delight in diving stops and catches. At times fielding brilliance is more appreciated than majestic stroke play. Breathtaking is how it could be described. The numerous replays on TV makes such efforts to be even more appreciated.

Mike Hussey one of the overseas players who made an impression in the IPL tournament.

Youngsters from India have had a great opportunity. Each team had a few striving to reach the top. A number of sons of the soil have been given a priceless opportunity to rub shoulders with the star of the era, and not in friendly stuff but in contests they are determined to win. This gives them the opportunity to study the great men’s minds, observe their approach, by being alongside them.

Above all the IPL will reduce the nationalism and narrowness that has threatened to reduce the sport to a political football. Many a series of recent times almost reached breaking point. Games and tours have been threatened. There seems to be no level playing field. The rich and the famous nations have had the final say.

Partisanship has been reduced. Shane Warne has been often dismissed as a scoundrel, not only in India but around the sub continent. But his performances and handling of the Rajasthan Royals has convinced the entire state that he is a loveable character. Before it all ends all of India may feel he has mighty powers to go alongside his documented failings. Not many months ago many an effigy of Andrew Symonds was mutilated across that nation. Today locals can enjoy and appreciate his stunning fielding and mighty ball striking.

Before the tournament began many a critic was observing that there would be a lack of passion, owing to a lack of genuine identity. The teams were a group of hotchpotch players picked out of a lottery. The contests were likely to be meaningless. Not so – the entire event has been conducted, played and witnessed with tremendous passion. Many a game has gone down to the wire.

There must have been a great many lessons learnt from this initial experience. Every new escapade contains its share of teething problems. Above all a vast gathering of players mainly from India, Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka, to begin what will certainly become another era another chapter has unfurled in this great game. The IPL’s greatest contribution is that it has strengthened the bonds amongst the cricketing brotherhood.

Ranil Abeynaike is a former Sri Lanka cricketer and curator of SSC

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