It began with an ingenious idea in the nation that came up with the sport in the first place. But none saw it mushrooming to the pride of place that it holds today, even threatening to dismantle the age-old platforms of the sport whilst indeed taking cricket to places that the older formats only succeeded in part.
The concept of T20 cricket may have been a fluke, but the successes that the format has enjoyed in its slightly more than a decade-long existence is however no fluke. On the contrary, its rapidly spreading fervour to the farthest corner of the world is testimony that even a sport like cricket can evolve to the needs of the people.
Cricketing purists may present contravention – justified too, they would be – but considering that cricket has always been regarded to be one of the slowest, at times even driest and lengthy sports in the world; the roll of the dice favouring T20 isn’t unwelcome at all. At the end of the day, as much as the traditionalists may find the format unpalatable, even they would have to agree that the game’s basics aren’t changed but are only tweaked slightly to suit the more contemporary needs.
The prevalence of ambivalence about T20 perhaps then stem from this popularity that the format commands. The players for most parts may be the same, only the manner of their intended game-making different from the more conventional formats. But the apparent fast-paced nature that T20 cricket necessitates goes against the very grain of patience and fortitude that the game’s puritans have been indoctrinated to. But a major flaw in this ambivalent perception lies in the game’s so-called essentiality of wanting to allow the more conventional formats to grow and flourish and the difference between the marketing of both – the newer and the older playing paradigms.
The IPL would be then the perfect example to further elaborate on the aforementioned statement. In the six years that the IPL has been in existence, its fan following has multiplied by leaps and bounds rather than diminishing on account of the numerous controversies that have dogged the uber-rich cricketing platform. While on the other hand, as clear and straight-forward test and ODI cricket are – in comparison to the IPL – not only is there is a decreasing valuation for the number of people who follow test and ODI cricket but there is a tangible deduction in the number of players who opt to choose and prioritise test cricket over the IPL.
Those who talk about the corruption involved in the IPL thus need to understand this behavioural pattern before trying to pinpoint the qualitative differences between T20 – or in this case, the IPL – and test and ODI cricket. And though it cannot be denied that the recent scandal that rocked the IPL cradle was too hard to bear and chew up on, come the next season of the IPL, the opinions and the mind-sets of the viewers would have indeed undergone a substantial shift leaving the tournament fixture as popular as ever; if not more.
In simple terms such a huge and gaping differential attitude not just from the potential audiences but also from the players is mainly because of the way cricketing formats are marketed and presented before the audiences. As great and inspiring a test and ODI cricketer Rahul Dravid was, with speeches as thought-provoking as each of his brilliantly crafted innings; there’s only so much that his verbal presentations can do to spur the youngsters – the potential future generation of cricket.
The onus of ensuring that the old and vintage cricketing platforms don’t lose out in the rat-race of the more evolved and stylised cricket then falls onto the sport’s managerial authorities and governing bodies. As boldly and uniquely as each T20 tournament is propagated, even test and ODI cricket needs to be thrust into the limelight with equal force. That’s when the sport can truly evolve and be brought into the future. With each of its three different facets moving in tandem with the other; each maintaining its identity along the way.