Not six-pack, it's about craftsmanship

legendary Indian off-spinner

The talk that there has been an overkill of cricket in recent times – especially in the last five years or so with a spurt in one-day tournaments and the emergence of private Twenty20 leagues – is getting shriller by the day and it’s not without a reason. I can recall how it used to be during our playing days. There were no one-day matches to start with and the reciprocal bilateral Test series were few and far between. Unlike today, when money is the driving force, it was all pride and passion when we were playing.
 Having said that, I must admit that, like everything else in life, it’s the changing face of the game. The nature of competition has changed and there is a great sense of professionalism. There was a touch of leisure when we played, but today there is no room for relaxation simply because there is so much at stake for everyone involved with the game, directly or indirectly.

 Any game needs money to sustain the interest of all those involved with the game, and if there is no money, there will not be many who will be interested in taking up that particular sport. Why should they be, given the kind of lives we are leading today? However, somehow I believe that in their effort to generate more green buck, the administrators may have just forgotten to do the balancing act.
 The 50-over game, designed to generate more money and create newer audience for the game, did succeed in its twin endeavours. The fact that you could play three one-dayers instead of a Test match and end up making more moolah, resulted in the reduction of number of Test matches. So, there are fewer Test matches for the benefit of staunch believers of that format and more one-dayers for the mass attraction.

Killer training
In the bargain, it had a negative impact on the game in terms of players’ skills; the technical side of the game took a beating. Today we have another format – T20 – and it’s irresistible. The crowd loves it and the sponsors want to cash in on it. Nothing wrong, but we shouldn’t lose the foresight. Besides the crammed international schedule, what is killing is the intensive training schedules in-between. This not only has resulted in stress and injuries, but also the loss of suppleness that is the key feature of this game.
We may have six-pack or eight-pack cricketers today, but craftsmen like the Warnes or Viswanaths have become rarer. Another major problem is that, because of the busy international calendar, the top players are unable to take part in the domestic tournaments. How do you judge an upcoming player when he has no quality player to bowl at or bat against depending upon what his trade is?
I don’t see the number of matches being reduced, but what we can do is create a large pool of players and follow the rotation policy. For that to happen, however, you need a captain with a bold approach and a broader perspective.

    (As told by the legendary Indian off-spinner to Madhu Jawali.)  

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