*David Gower evading a Malcom Marshall ‘regular’
The essence of cricket….hmm…in the contemporary scenario any match with prolific scoring in the dominant currency of boundaries with a few (just a few..mind you) wickets down and topped with some on-field showmanship (which happens to be a very witty placement of contortions of facial expressions and/ or the limbs plus the verbal jargons by the players which any untrained lip reader can comprehend with utmost ease …carefully articulated and placed at times when commercial breaks are least likely to be) , though the old school of gamesmanship to unsettle the player(s) is not outdated and not likely to be , say for the next couple of centuries at least. But nonetheless its remarkable to see how careful the modern players are with the “placements” of their dramatic exploits. Steve Waugh didn’t quote Shoaib Akhtar as “ B grade actor” for nothing in his autobiography- Out of my comfort zone.
To the puritans the essence remains resilient defence when offence is at its peak , persistence of line and length without (sacrificing any pace) on a dead and placid track , working on the reverse swing (though the countries lousy at exploiting the dying art have tried their best to allay it) , facing pace bowlers on uncovered and green pitches with grace and unrelenting defence and fighting fire with fire with the panache and class.
*Fighting fire with fire- Viv Richards.
*Curtly Ambrose represents the class of bowlers who rarely sacrificed pace for accuracy even on the most unhelpful tracks.
*Reverse Swing is getting to be more and more exclusive , thanks to the ridiculous laws to curb it.
Much has to do with the way the game has been shown to us or the bubble created by the television and the modern-day commentators and of course the overuse of statistics which has made the classy bracket easily accessible for example we tend to put all batsmen averaging more than 50 in the category of greats and someone averaging even 49.98 would be deprived of the due accolades and bowlers’ potential being measured with the number of wickets and not the quality of bowling…remember fast bowlers hunt in pairs and the one building pressure from the other end is as important(if not more) than the perceptive hunter. This fact , compounded with the pitches being created owing to the run-time of the game that the administrators of the game and powerful media tycoons want to cover.
World Series cricket promoted by the then media baron Kerry Packer stands out as a perfect epitome for the true essence of cricket , that brand of cricket had everything that the game stands for , though it was a rebel league but is looked up at by the entire cricketing fraternity.
*Galaxy of stars at the world series cricket promotional campaign.
*Scorecard of the famous chase by South Africa against Australia at Johannesburg. Massive scores have become the cornerstone of the current cricket scenario.
Who is to blame….
-For the dying art of leg spin
-For the breakdown of pacers
-For the demise of defensive play
-For the endangered species called “proper all-rounders”
-For the once-so-common banana swing
-Da Pafuum Boll(What west Indians would call the perfume ball)
-For bending the rules like the elbow and allowing bending of the bowling arm upto 15 degrees
-For players preferring to build upper body in the gym and avoiding those extra laps…for showmanship of course.
-And for killing the very essence of the game
….Questions are endless and whom do we put them to? The flourishing authoritarians … Or the happy new genre of “fans” … Or the unrepresented players who actually understand the plight.
*Flat pitches across the globe are killing the game
With the current scheme of things in operation its highly unlikely that we would get another Wasim Akram or Sachin Tendulkar or Vivian Richards or a Richard Hadlee….no not Sir Don and the people of his era like Neil Harvey or Len Hutton or those who came a bit later like Richie Benaud and Frank Tyson cause thorough gentlemen are thoroughly dead, but that’s a different sociological issue altogether.
Having said the game is so great that you never know , amidst so much of haze when you see elegance in the defence of a Rohit Sharma or accurate yorkers out of the hands of Umar Gul or a square turning ball by the rookie aussie Steven Smith or resilience shown by the ‘one man army’-Daniel Vettori…the game never ceases to amaze one and all. So much emphasis is put on the batting and its quite evident from the broadening edge of the bat and flattening pitches and bowling getting recognized for stopping runs or the onslaught rather than the “kill” that it once possessed.
You can still find the battle between bat and ball very engrossing in a gully cricket match , or at the grass-root levels , so it’s the nurturing that has to be blamed.
*The essence is there at grass-root levels
We can’t comment on the future of the game , can neither predict it…..but educate the future about the ESSENCE OF THE GAME.