Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Indian Premier League- opens the door for non test cricket nations

I have to admit that I have not been following the IPL closely. I was impressed to see the highlights of Brendan Mc Cullum's opening innings and then also impressed to see that Gilly set a new world record for the fastest century (42 balls). I was then amused to see Harbhajan Singh suspended at last. But it's a little hard to follow the comp from Siberia. Obviously I don't have any coverage at all, although I can watch you tube highlights if I want.

Apparently the tv coverage in Australia is rather poor, with very few games shown live, and no highlights being shown. This would also make it hard to follow. The other part that makes it hard to follow is that I can not identify with any of the franchises. I don't even know who any of the stars are playing for. I did look this up, but then promptly forgot within a few minutes. The names of the teams meant nothing to me. All this to say, that it definitely appears to be a competition for the Indians.

This leads me to a couple of points. Firstly, Australia and England need their own Premier/ Super leagues. As fans we need something we can relate to. But, secondly, does this mean that India really will control cricket in the future? If the rest of the world decides they don't really want to watch the IPL, it won't make a lot of difference to India. The baulk of the tv money comes from India anyway. They don't need us. Do we need them? Probably. We need to stay on their good side, so we can still have access to our players for test matches and world cups.

Nevertheless, the mass of money in Indian cricket still has a positive spin. Ireland and Kenya have had a hard time breaking through the glass ceiling into test cricket. (The ICC will only allow them in when they deem fit.) Their players are not able to devote all of their time to cricket, as they have to work regular jobs. This prevents them from lifting their game to the next level. If players from Ireland, Kenya, Canada, Scotland etc, get contracts to play in the IPL for even $50 000 or $100 000 a tournament, then they will be able to quit their regular jobs and devote the entire year to cricket. This would enable these countries to become test nations. This in turn would enlargen the world of professional cricket.

Many are now arguing that Twenty 20 spells the death of test cricket. These same arguments were put forward 30 years ago at the start of World Series Cricket. Fifty overs cricket has actually helped test cricket, firstly by bringing in finances, but also by improving the standard of play. Run rates have improved a lot in test cricket. It is also argued that Twenty 20 will just become a slogging fest, and the bowlers unimportant. There is some reality that cricket has always been slanted in favour of batsmen, but Twenty 20 will force bowlers to become even tighter. Line and length is always important. The right length on off stump is always difficult and risky to play. A yorker is impossible to hit for 6. So, the onus is on the bowlers to not bowl loosely. The intenisty of play will improve the quality of test cricket. The only game under threat is 50 overs cricket. It is the game that has suffered a loss in crowds in recent years, not test cricket.

I'm looking forward to the test series against West Indies where I will recognise Aussie players and the team.

The revolution in cricket may scare some people, but there are many positives.

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