Tough field for Af, Ireland

Afghan cricket captain Asghar Stanikzai (C) and teammate Mohammed Nabi (C-L) arrive for an event to celebrate the Afghan national team qualification to the 2019 cricket World Cup in Kabul on March 27, 2018. Afghanistan's cricket team received a hero's wel

In his delightful 2016 memoir, “AB, The Autobiography,” AB de Villiers draws an interesting analogy between Test cricket’s existential crisis in the face of growing popularity of Twenty20s and the challenge faced by beef roast when hamburgers were introduced. “Many people predicted the end of roast beef when hamburgers came on the market. Those fears were misplaced because, while the mass market loves the convenience of fast food, a significant core audience still cherishes the real thing… It will continue because it remains the preferred format of a strong group of spectators whose numbers are not declining and whose passion is not diminishing,” he writes. Having taken a long sabbatical from cricket’s traditional format himself, the Protean is now back playing the longer version again and Test cricket is richer for it. Test cricket isn’t for an average Joe. That’s precisely the reason why there were only 10 Test playing nations till Saturday when Ireland became the 11th country to make its debut in the five-day format against Pakistan. In a few weeks’ time, Afghanistan will play their first Test against India in Bengaluru, marking another important step in their growth as a cricket-playing nation.

Since getting the ODI status in 2005, Ireland has shown consistent growth. They even stunned fancied Pakistan (2007 World Cup), England (2011 WC) and Windies (2015 WC) to press their case. Afghanistan’s rise has been more meteoric. Granted ODI status in 2009, they have either beaten some low-ranking Full Member nations or pushed higher-ranked teams. While it’s a just reward for their progress, the challenges that they encounter in developing as a worthy Test-playing nation can be demoralising.

The Bangladesh experience has showed us the folly of doling out Test statuses for reasons other than cricketing. While it’s easy to sustain yourself as a competitive T20 or ODI side, Test cricket is a different ball game. It tests your character, endurance and skills. It requires great determination and dedication to succeed. And to sustain that success, you need a strong first-class domestic structure to have a quality supply line to the national side. To have a first-class stricture, you need infrastructure, the will of the administrators and in the case of Afghanistan, a peaceful environment. Unless you have international cricket at home, it’s difficult to ensure growth. You need not look beyond Pakistan’s digression as a Test nation in the absence of regular international cricket there. Moreover, do big teams like India, Australia and England have the time and the will to engage these minnows regularly in bilateral cricket that’s essential for their growth? When India haven’t visited New Zealand for over nine years, Ireland has fat chance.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

Tough field for Af, Ireland

0 comments

Write the first review for this !