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Sight Screen

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Just chuck the bathwater...

...not the baby.
Geoffrey Boycott and Mark Nicholas joins the growing band of Bangla-bashers. And in the Guardian -- and before I get to the point, I promise this is the last time I bring up the subject -- David Hopps takes the contrary view on the Bangladesh question.
Hopps argues that other countries -- including England -- have been down and out, without setting off a Cassandra-chorus predicting doom for the game unless said team was immediately demoted. He has a point -- of sorts.
The real trouble here is that the entire debate has become about Bangladesh -- IMHO, Bangla is the symptom, not the disease.
Forget names for a bit, and think for a moment about the game in its entirety. What is the one most noticeable problem with it? Simple -- Test cricket is losing its mass appeal. At the fag end of 2004, when India toured Pakistan, you figured the series would draw packed houses -- after all, India was touring after over a decade. And yet, the three Tests -- which featured moments of gripping cricket -- played out in front of near-empty stands (whereas the one day series was sold out).
Aberration, one thought -- until Inzy led his team to India earlier this year. And what do you know, in the first Test the TV cameras and commentator, having in the run-up to the Tests talked up the enormous interest levels in India, were hard put to account for the fact that the crowds mostly stayed away.
Sure, it wasn't as bad as in Pakistan -- but we didn't see the sort of packed houses that were the norm even three, four years ago (whereas, again, the ODI series was sold out).
What does Bangladesh have to do with it? Nothing directly -- which is why I suggest that it is Test cricket, and not Bangla's presence, that is the problem. As of now, we've got a bunch of teams playing each other seemingly at random. An England, for instance, plays India every other blue moon (1996, then 2002... and we are still waiting for the next match up).
India, meanwhile, now that the GoI has given the Board free rein, seems intent on playing Pakistan every other weekend. So much so, even the Pak board has begun to suggest that maybe such frequent tours are not a good idea.
Where in all this is there anything for the fans to follow? We believe England is the number two Test nation, because that is what the ICC, with its complex table, tells us.
Check this out -- Pakistan, apparently, is now the number four Test team in the world. Okay, we can accept that. India is number three. Okay to that, too -- though that ranking makes little sense, since India has not played the number two side in three years.
But according to an ICC press note on its 'hotly contested' Test rankings, Pakistan will apparently slip all the way down to number seven if it loses the ongoing two-Test series to the Windies. Someone with a degree in higher math explain that one to me, please?
My point is, for Test cricket to mean anything, there should be a competition we can follow, and make sense of, without having to reach for our calculators. As of now, we cannot -- because the Test schedule as run under the ICC aegis makes little sense.
Some teams play each other over three Tests, others over four, still others over five -- and then there is the odd one- or two-Test series thrown in. There is no logical calendar -- all there is, is a table on the ICC site and a bunch of press releases that no one takes seriously -- hell, even the media doesn't bother reproducing them (Australia has been awarded a ton of bucks for topping the ICC table, did you know?)
This is the real problem, of which Bangladesh is merely one symptom -- too many teams, and no structure; whereas for people to get interested, it has to be the other way around.

1 Comments:

  • Distress line : Save Test Cricket

    Distress STD code : 033

    Does Jaggu Bhai see the futility of all his actions? I hate to say this, Prem, but if this is not the Marwarisation of cricket, then, pray, what is? Once you sacrifice quantity for quality, it results in nothing but dilution. I did not know that the crowds were relatively sparse in the Indo Pak series. Jeez, that's like having no janta for a Red Sox- Yankees game. Imagine that!

    Thank you, Jaggu Bhai. Your slickness, just like your well oiled hair, has led to the b*stardization of cricket. Three cheers to you..hmmm..make that three votes to you.

    Sriraj

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12  

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