Cricket 20/20 : Going for the kill, not skill. Lets get back bodyline bowling !

Abi said :We watch EPL, we watch Spanish League, we watch FI races, where is it written that people should always uphold their national identities on the sports field? Why do we expect the fans always carry their national flags? Why do we expect them to be just Indian players, when they can be great cricketers without color or creed?
Abhi, I have no problem with Pakistani players playing in India and I love the idea that the whole Eden garden erupts when Shoaib Akhtar scares some of the great Indian batsmen into submission. Even if he is on drugs, it is great to watch him exult like a panther hunting down his victims. I think it is great that a retired Auusie player is proving a better captain to lead new young Indian players than Tendulkar, Dhoni and Ganguly put together. I think it is great that we get to see Jayasurya hitting sixes all over the ground one after the other. I think that Sharukh Khan and Ganguly would have still been winning and be friends if they did not let their best batsmen from ‘down under’ go play for their own country. I think they should double their salary to keep them here, for who wants to go and play for a national team with the old rules any more ? Boring, boring.

t is great to see cricket and cricketers in their raw unadulterated form. It’s gladiator sport now. It is great to see even the normally perfectly behaved Tendulkar be completely emotional in the players enclosure, and then go to the press to blame the umpiring for the loss of his team against Yuvraj’s team. And why is Yuvraj complaining about the crowds ? I do not see why the Mumbai crowds should not boo Sharrukh khan or Yuvraj Singh ? They have paid money to come and enjoy themselves, and expressing yourself completely is part of the ‘paisa vasool’ experience. Booing the opposition is part of that experience. I am sure the crowds will boo Tendulkar at Eden Gardens if it came to that.
I am dissapointed though that poor old Harbhajan was ousted for a bit slapping around of a fellow Indian player. Like a footballer, he should have been given three yellow cards first. After all this is a completely gladiator sport now and we expect everyone to go for the kill and not the skill. More of that will only increase viewership. At least in football we get to see them kick each other to the ground occasionally and to see the injured taken out on s stretcher. The possibility of a dramatic car crash is one of the great attractions of Formula One. So I think that the rule against bouncers should be removed. Bodyline bowling is more like the gladiator sport the viewers now expect, and the threat of injury would make 20/20 even more exciting ! The crowds would love to see a batsman run over the other side to threaten a bowler with his bat if struck by a bouncer, and the rest of the team holding him back. They would roar their approval and pack the stadiums don’t you think ?
And what about sexy ‘cricketers wives and girlfriends’ becoming page 3 items ? Now that would be wonderful. Think of all the young aspiring page 3 girls that will hang around the matches in skimpy clothes cheering their guys. We will not need cheerleaders anymore as the TV camera’s will constantly be carresing these new waanabe’s. Would the Shiv Sena try to the impose a dress code on the spectators ?
Don’t get me wrong, Abhi – I am among the half a billion Indians that are hopelessly addicted. I do not believe we will ever be able to put a great Indian team together again, but who cares ? This is wonderful spectator sport and we have not seen half of how the game is going to change yet ! But no one can convince me that this is the cricket of last year. That is gone forever.

15 thoughts on “Cricket 20/20 : Going for the kill, not skill. Lets get back bodyline bowling !

  1. dear shekhar, i just read in yogavashista ‘to accept or reject certain things is bondage of the mind, nothing else’. At the same time – Competitive or even Team sport cannot be used as zazen(a SELF penetrated lifestyle). So if its not – it is the usual pattern of life, so why are you worried.. the same competitive instinct prevails in almost every sphere of popular areas of life.
    Not that i am not concerned, i am as much as you are. Even I was surprised to see Sachin so emotionally charged up – inspite that it was all so exciting : putting a question mark on excitement!
    1. Isn’t the most of human existence so much connected to this emotion call excitement and that’s what they need and hence can’t be avoided to be given?
    2. How many like you Shekhar are there who understand it otherwise?
    the whole thing reflects – “To what extend can one go to fulfill this so called human requirement of excitement?”
    what are the answers??
    maybe in a movie probably one can give excitement to the audience that needs it which is a fiction so no harming the ones involved in creating the process? but for situations like 20-20, formulae one, or even todays corporate world?? everyone is trying to make things more exciting whatever cost it entails in the human process that creates it while trying to fulfill targets that can stretch one to disconnect himself from the humane Self under so called prevailing circumstances. What matters is the end ‘material’ product – could be excitement, a software, a tele-service, coca cola, burger, i-pill, whatever but not human being.
    so, what to do? what’s your answer??
    (chuck it out if i sound vague, but somewhere if you see there is a parallel content of concern which ideally should not be, but its there – so its shared)

  2. hi shekhar !
    i had to read what abhi posted after i read your blog above………
    as we have gone over the cricket bit in an earlier post…….i do believe that while appreciating the performance of all players, i would still certainly cheer when my country’s team is winning and boo the team that is in anyway unfair to them or playing dirty in the name of the game.
    what made me laugh was abhi trying pin your point of view to the angst of an identity crisis……………..ha ha abhi…… sure looks like YOU are very eager to drown your own !

  3. I disagree. IPL is the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket. The next time the Indian team walks into a cricket field it will b a completely different team altogether. Today Ganguly, tendulkar and especially dravid will understand y it was r8 to leave them out of the 20-20 world cup and also y they shd retire from other forms of the game as well. We have got to see the talents of atleast 5-6 new comers who have shown us that they have it in them to make it to the national team. Cricket can never be galdiator sport. If u look at the successful batsmen or bowlers u will find that apart from strength it was artistry and skill that has made them successful. Strength can bring success in a one off match but constant success will need traditional skills and ofcos power or youth. Yes results are now more like gambling where 1-2 overs could change the match. But that is how gud sport shd b. that is wat drives the interest. It is leading to lot of betting and gambling but that is a different matter. About the glamor ,especially beautiful girls, always welcome anywhere y only sports:)
    Its out in the open now, but if u think that 20-20 will bring down cricket, just have to wait and see but i seriously think it will vastly improve the quality of both, other forms of cricket and also cricketers. wanna bet??

  4. Oh, Shekharji, now we are talking cricket. I kept the merits and demerits of T20 for another post, another day, and that day has come too soon. (Personally, it does make me happy that I provoked an interesting post- one dripping sarcasm, though-from you!-)
    I should clarify that my comment about Pakistani players playing in India was in fact a response to one of the comments to your original post. My only point is that we should keep sports above petty politics and jigoism. We should learn to appreciate excellence on field. Period.
    Now to the main point of your post, the one that comes out as one peels off the layers of sarcasm: Yes, I agree that T20 lacks the class and refinement that have made Test cricket, and even 50-50 matches to some extent, a joy to watch. But the class act was over much before IPL started. Wouldn’t you agree that it was the T20 World Cup triumph that set the stage for IPL? T20 triumph gave us a new band of heroes; a group that wore the just do it attitude on their sleeves; a group that thought elegance was a thing of the past; and who, for millions of fans, personified agression and attitude. Long before IPL, we overheard our self-styled cricketing gurus at coffee shops and pubs discussing the need of packing off the legendary quartet of Sachin, Sourav, Rahul, and Laxman. But then, this change in loyalties didn’t happen over night.
    We have seen 50-50 evolving into a batsmen’s game over the years. I’m sure you would rememeber how the Srilankan openers showed us that the first 15 can be as productive as the last 10 during the ’96 World Cup. Then, slowly, rules changed more and more in favour of the batsmen. More and more high-scoring matches, allrounders who can slog, and batsmen who can hit hard…slowly, we were changing; priorities were changing. People started swearing at Dravid for leaving out balls that should be left out; complaining that Sachin is too old to play international cricket; and chanting hit out or miss out during ODIs.
    Our lives are becoming so fast; people want instant success; and that’s not by choice. Once a pensioner’s paradise, Bangalore has, perhaps, the most number of yuppies in the country now. Once unhurried, Chennai is changing so fast that people find it difficult to play catch up. It’s a reflection of our times. The times are indeed changing. And, yes, this thing of the golden past has always been there; my parents used to sigh and exclaim, those were the days; now, I, knocking at the 30’s door, too have started. That’s human, I guess. Or so says the Mahabharatha, a friend used to tell me.

    And you said, we would never be able to put together a great Indian team again. Great Indian team, in fact, we may even have one soon. But then, the definition of greatness would be something different from ours. Happens.

  5. Dear Mr. SK,
    I am new to your blog, actually a friend referred me to this. Well, talking about your blog…its good…but ask yourself if it can keep someone here for long? Does it ?? Does it add any value to the society? You are a successful person in life, i suggest you use it to show a way to people who need your guidance. Talking about cricket…well i know it sells…but INDIA at this point needs to concentrate on grave issues than cricket.

  6. What a sixer of a post, Shekhar!
    Or perhaps 4,6,6,6,6,4 (all six paragraphs, the first hit by Abhi, the last hit by you but deflected on Abhi’s bat before making a 4).
    (I thought let us make a bit of a space for 20/20 in our language too.)

  7. Dear Shekhar,
    Juts back in India after a wonderful trip to Cannes and seeing some wonderful films and premieres.
    I would say that the impression I get from IPL is that there is too much cricket going on and it is taking away too much time out of people’s lives. People are getting distracted from there lives by just watching cricket everyday for 1.5 months, the same is the scenario of addiction to video games of young people (I am all for entertaining games but if they take 50% of your awake time then they are not helping you). Films on the other hand are shorter and only last while they are played and often teach much more than cricket or video games, so that’s why they have sustained for over 100 yrs – It’s also confusing, all teams playing 14 times when we don’t know whom we are cheering for – next year teams will have different players in a different auction so our players will go to another team. American football is also a passion in America in the college going as well as the male population, but most successful people there also don’t have much time to watch football. So the IPL is an entertaining way to keep the audience engaged but it is taking away a lot of time and hurting the productivity of the mass workforce, as people constantly keep talking about cricket at work and less about work – we may go to a scenario of cricket everyday in the year, and then too much of it will bore people and numbers will start dropping.
    IPL is a good profitable phenomenon, about massive hitting and entertainment, but it is also a distraction no end – I was happy the last 12 days when I had no connection to IPL.
    I am much happier watching India play Australia or Pak in a 50 over one-day game and we winning it with a lot of skill and effort.
    20-20 is like a short film, a short summer fling which although exciting while it lasts can never provide the same satisfaction as something slowly and well done, like an emotional play, a slowly cooked meal, a top quality film that stays with you forever, or just taking a lot of time to create something valuable.
    The current world with intelligent audiences is self correcting and when you bombard them with too much of anything they often go back to the basics to find true happiness, which only lies in simplicity.
    Best Regards,

  8. Dear Shekhar,
    I recently went to see the IPL 20-20 match between Delhi and Chennai at the Ferozshah Kotla along with my seven year old son. And let me report my “investigations” !
    Cricket, surely has changed totally.
    This was non stop action, unlike when I played at school and we had a huge amount of leisure time involved.
    The timing of the match and the length was convenient enough for me to see the match end to end…
    The crowds are back at the stadium, unlike the last few testmatches where the stands were only partly filled.
    The colors on the players clothes and in the stadium were in total contrast to the white we would always see.
    This was one non stop tamasha which involved the spectators all time.
    But this is also a highly skilled game. We can see from the records that only the best of batsmen and bowlers have done well; Maybe not so much the bits and pieces cricketers.
    But even if you hate it… this is going to stay.
    Because today morning when I took my son to the cricket field, all the kids had already formed their own 20-20 teams; the actions of Dhoni, Warne and Jaisuriya, were being emulated and the T shirt and team colors were being being worn.
    So welcome to the world of 21st century cricket…

  9. Shekhar – it was difficult to be 100% certain which of your paragraphs were sarcasm and which one you really meant – you did mix them didn’t you?

  10. yes, i am lamenting the loss of cricket as I knew it, but am also addicted to this new sport that is supported by a demon that will not stop till it becomes completely extreme. That demon is the audience lust for action, angst, gladiatorial battles – tragedy and comedy – like the most gruesome reality shows – that’s where 20/20 is heading, shekhar

  11. hi shekhar, i am sure You must be knowing that actually what you are worried about in cricket or reality show is happening on quite a larger scale in many spheres of life, specially the ruling spheres – like the cash rich corporate world squeezing the actual skill culture to a killing instinct culture and the power rich political world which doesnt need explanation. So the demon is already supporting – cricket or no cricket, and if it is going to go to the complete extremes before it stops then is it just the audience lust that is only responsible for it?? are’nt you leaving out people who are constructing up the details of this new concept??
    furthermore, see – how now IPL 20/20 is inspiring management institute to base the future business models based on it. here’s the clip from indiatimes –
    IPL bats its way into business school syllabi
    MUMBAI: From stadiums to classrooms, IPL fever is raging. After the success of the Indian Premier League- known as much for its marketing glitz as for its cricketing antics-popular B-schools in Mumbai and outside have sought to include the IPL phenomenon in their syllabi.
    Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Vile Parle, plans to rope in financial and marketing experts associated with IPL to train its faculty at a workshop on ‘teaching sports management’, slated to be held after the IPL tamasha ends.
    “We plan to offer an elective in sports management. We want the IPL team to help us design the course,” said Ramesh Bhat, dean, school of business management at NMIMS. According to him, there’s a lot to learn from the IPL’s contract arrangements, with remuneration being based on performance.
    “IPL has huge implications for the country,” said Bhat. The authorities at Mudra Institute of Communications-Ahmedabad (MICA), and SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) in Andheri also echo his views.
    Students enrolled in the executive post-graduate programme in communication management (PGPCMX) course at MICA were recently given an assignment on the economic implications of IPL in the context of the Indian market. “Besides the business aspect, there’s also a lot to be learnt in terms of organisational behaviour and leadership skills. While there are a number of team captains who are relatively new, some of the established players have not been able to find their place in the sun,” said Hemant Trivedi, chairperson of the PGPCMX course. He plans to introduce a component on IPL in an elective on media and entertainment as well.
    For B-schoolers, the IPL’s success has underlined just how big a career in sports management could turn out to be. Raghu Chaitanya, a student at MICA, sees immense opportunity in the league. “After all, it’s a mix of the two most popular things in the country-cricket and Bollywood,” he said.
    At the SP Jain Institute, students recently asked their marketing professor to discuss the IPL phenomenon with them. The issue was taken up at a faculty meeting where the dean, ML Shrikant, suggested that IPL could be an integral case study for a business model. Students have been asked to read ‘What is Management?’ by Joan Margretta and co-relate parts of the book with the IPL success story.
    “IPL will help students understand the concept of a business model where there are a number of stakeholders whose interests have to be met,” said Shrikant.

  12. Dear Shekhar,
    I am sure IPL is addictive, especially in a country that is mad about cricket, but it is more entertainment then to see who wins coz people still don’t have enough loyalties to your team.
    It also shows the impatience and the love for spectacle that the whole society is after. No one wants to take it easy in today’s world – people are jostling all over the place like rugby and not getting anywhere so when they see sixes being hit they get some kind of a vicarious pleasure. The truth is that even in today’s world to get ahead you need skill, persistence and patience as well as the ability to take risks.
    The marketing maching will continue. After a few months we will have ICL, another tournament like this – then some Indian tours and then back to another IPL – time flies fast (one must realize that the time between the end of 1 IPL and the start of another is only 10.5 months with ICL in between) and one can waste years easily if we are swayed in any direction other than the one our heart has chosen.
    I was listening to Lakshmi Mittal’s (one of my role models) interview with Simi Garewal and he said that he started playing golf, then really liking it, and after a few months he started feeling that he is getting addicted to golf. One day while driving to the golf course this thing struck him and he turned around his car and came back home and never played again. He said that he would not allow himself to get addicted to anything – he addiction, his passion, his life is only one and that is “Steel.”
    A quotes that matters here:
    Be sure to take the most direct route to your dreams. Never take your eyes off your goal, or you will loose course. Never look back in sorrow, or you will trip. Joe Brown
    Best Regards,

  13. Hi Shekhar
    I think you may be jumping the gun a little bit by saying you have lost cricket as you know it.
    I personally feel, Test cricket will still thrive and even benefit from 20/20. I think it is one day cricket that probably loose it some of it appeal, getting caught out in between test cricket and 20/20.

  14. Hi Shekhar,
    I think 20/20 cricket was just waiting to happen. It reflects the times we are in. Test Cricket is like classical music. Who has the time or inclination? Yes, it gives you high like none other, but it is such a slow starter. Even classical musicians have given up elaborate alaaps exploring the raga and come down to brass-tacks as soon as possible. It’s easy to listen to ‘Crazy Kiya Re’ and get on with things. 3 minutes gives you your fix. Why spend 2 hours? That’s just the way things are.
    And I can quite understand it. The way most of us work these days, at the end of the day, the mind is numbed towards anything that is evolved and nuanced. You want your dose of mindless and thrilling entertainment and get over with it. That quite explains the success of sloppy soaps and other ‘instant’ gratification kind of things popular these days.
    In things that matter to me like music and cinema I lament that leisurely pace of elaborating and exploring. I lament the loss of the introspective element. However, in things that don’t matter like sports I quite enjoy the idea of 20/20 :).
    The only thing that I really mind is this whole mix of international players in a team. I belong to Delhi and would like to cheer for Delhi. But if a ‘Delhi Boy’ like Shahrukh Khan hosts a Kolkatta team, that makes no sense to me. I think we should define teams on far more binding grounds than mere money (the greatest binder and un-binder of all). I didn’t feel emotionally connected with the Delhi team because most of the players were not emotionally connected to Delhi.
    I also loathe the entry of the likes of Vijay Mallaya who try to corporatise sports. We should not give up our reverence for legends. Whether it is Tendulkar or Dravid or Ganguly. Does anyone feel that the entire IPL is almost Orwellian? 1984 i.e
    I never understood the skill behind cricket so 20/20 and test cricket is natha singh-prem singh to me. So I say, keep 20/20 but lets not lose the heart behind the game. We are becoming too much of the ‘head’ generation IMO
    My two bits!

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