There are very few things in India which are not affected by the recent economic slowdown or recession or meltdown, occurrence of natural disasters or any man-made tragedies. They go on for ever. Other than Bollywood and Politics, one such thing is Cricket. People here in India are just crazy about it. They might even not be knowing the names of the players playing for the national teams of other sports such as hockey, football or basketball etc. but can easily give you the full description of every cricketer playing in national team with all the brief statistics related to him. Such is the madness for the sport down here.
This was not the case from the beginning. In fact Cricket was a ‘dying’ sport as people were loosing interest in it. The Test Cricket format i.e. the purest form of the ‘Gentlemen’s Game’, which stretched for five days, was killing the fan following because people could not find time to watch it continuously for six hours a day, for five days. Other sports such as hockey or football are finished well under 2-3 hours and because of their fast pace, the excitement lasts throughout the match. This was missing in Cricket and was the biggest drawback of this format of the sport. So in a desperate attempt to save Cricket, the big guns of the sport came up with new and unique format.
This format was the One Day International or the ODI (50-over game each side) and was introduced in early 70’s. To promote it, the ICC organized a World Cup in 1975, in which all test playing nations and few associate members participated. That trend is religiously followed till date every four years. In India, Cricket regained its glory after their World Cup win in 1983. Since the beginning of this format, much new advancements are made, many new rules were introduced. Many wonderful techniques for the TV coverage were introduced so that public can have a better understanding of the sport. Players started playing in colorful attires adding in to the excitement. They started playing in the evening under artificial lights so that more spectators can enjoy the sport after hours. These all efforts were made to spice up the sport from time to time. But after around thirty years of its successful run, people started getting bored and found it tedious again, as it also took around eight hours. So, the spectators again started to drift away from the sport. Cricket needed a boost again and this time it was difficult job. But the big guns struck again and came up with yet another revolutionary format.
This format was known as Twenty-Twenty or T20 (20-over game each side). This format revolutionized everything. The sport which was once known for its decency has now changed so much, that it is difficult to recognize the good old Cricket. More money than ever, glamour, pomp and show, cheerleaders, franchisee teams in which players from all nations play together and against each other. Amongst all this, I feel the real spirit of the sport is somewhat vanished. I sometimes wonder if Test Cricket was considered to be a Bollywood actress of the 50’s clad in a saaree and ODI was like an actress of the 90’s wearing skimpy outfit, then T20 would be like today’s model showing off in a bikini (No offence but it is true).
But I still believe that this change is of some worth. Not because it did something good for the sport in itself, but because this change gave the people at least one more reason to cheer, to have fun, to dance to the tune of any boundary or six hit and just forget about their tension and miseries of the life for at least some time. Although I still believe that Test Cricket is the best form of the sport but we all should respect the change and enjoy the upcoming Indian Premiere League Season 2 followed by the T20 World Cup 2009 with full enthusiasm as before.