I fucking hate twenty-over cricket. I hate being asked who’s leading the logs, who’s scored the most runs or even, when I’m having a nice late pint in the Scud, what the score is. (The score? You can’t read the score? If you can’t tell, you really shouldn’t bother).
I love cricket, I really do. I’ve been a fan since I was a tiny thing poring over books about Colin Bland in my primary school library. I still remember the thrill I felt in high school reading about Lara’s first-class record in Wisden. To this day, some of my fondest sporting memories are of watching the greats of the game do their shit.
I’m a great fan of Test cricket, which is a bit like a soccer fan saying he loves soccer. Obviously, I have issues with anything that dilutes the purity of the game, and takes any shine off the spectacle that is a five-day cricket match; it is much deeper and offers greater scope for a great innings, a great game and a great series.
I find ODI cricket to be overly formulaic and repetitive, and the usual stroke-nudge-slog nature of a typical innings really grates on my tits. The idea of a “game” that boils down my beloved sport to a 3-hour frenzy is an insult of the worst order.
Look, 20-over cricket has been highly successful since it’s inception in England 5 years ago. It has earned a few quick dollars and made some journeymen cricketers far more money than they could have dreamt of making in their lifetimes. The idea of packaging cricket into a quick slap-bang-dash thing was genius, and appealed to that very special type of spectator, the ad-man’s best friend and administrator’s wet dream.
The lowest common denominator.
Someone without the time to watch a real cricket match, and maybe doesn’t even know the teams or the rules. The guy who’d rather be watching football, but will go along just for the beer. The chick who has no fucking clue but grabs the chance to wear a bikini and short shorts and drink beer and ogle the guys who ogle back with increasingly lewd beer-fuelled advances.
The bored, the over-worked, the stressed, the young, the old, the poor, the rich. All who feel like trading in a couple of hours of their mundane lives for noise and music and dancing, never mind the players trying to make a living out in the middle.
Someone who doesn’t like cricket that much but likes it when they hit the ball out the park. To me it’s like someone who doesn’t appreciate football but likes it when they score? What the fuck, do you see me proposing a penalty-shootout league?
The true cricket fan, the purist, must be truly appalled at the horrendous sight of batsmen trying to hit every ball as hard as they can and as far as possible. The originally stated aim of 20-over cricket was to attract youngsters being lost to football and rugby with the lure of excitement and spectacle and noise and dancing girls.
Who in their right mind wants their cricket-playing kids to watch this shit? Bowlers are relegated to the occasional sideshow, and every batsman is promoted to pinch-hitter extraordinaire. It’s hard and fast, but there’s no nuance, no finesse, hardly any tactics and zero intellect involved. Are we telling youngsters that it’s only the biggest, brawniest with the biggest bats who win matches? Really?
We’d lose all the future Sunil Gavaskars, the tiny Brian Laras and little Andy Flowers of this world and turn them all into Gilchrists and Cullinans and Kluseners and KPs. Natural stroke-play and even pure tactical bowling and field tactics would be relegated to minor nuisances, and our game would die for it.
Like West Indian legend Michael Holding said when refusing to do commentary on Twenty20 cricket for his television employers, “What is the point of telling youngsters to watch the game but not to copy the players’ techniques?”
“There is nothing good about Twenty20 cricket. People who disagree don’t know what they are talking about.”
So don’t ask me about the Chargers or Royals or Indians or whatever team this hodge-podge of stars and legends and journeymen are playing for, mate.
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a fuck.