Just when cricket, like global warming, appears to be dangerously close to a tipping point following the latest spot-fixing scandal, two young players unveil themselves and partly restore faith in the game.
The Indian T20 league scand-al still has a long way to run. Cons-equently, it’s to be hoped this latest fixing issue is the one to jolt cricket out of its complacency and cause the officials to take maj-or steps towards rectifying what is potentially a terminal problem.
When the clouds hanging over the game were at their darkest, Headingley, not noted for hosting warm weather, provided a much-needed ray of sunshine. The first innings partnership between Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the second Test against New Zealand was a timely reminder of many enticing aspects of cricket. Their batting was enthralling as they hit and ran like a couple of kids playing in the schoolyard at lunchtime. Their ultimate priority was a simple premise that should drive most innings - to score off virtually every ball. It was a further reminder that there's only one valid reason to play the game at the highest level - to win.
The next generation
Their partnership, when paired with the glorious stroke play of Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay in the series against Australia, was also confirmation that the game keeps on evolving. While fans lament the passing from the game of such glorious batting talents as Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar's gradual fade, along come these young, vibrant players who justify the saying; "Nobody is irreplaceable."
It's not that Pujara and Vijay or Root and Bairstow or even Virat Kohli can directly replace any of that trio of star batsmen but they are a reminder that all good players have a charm that, when coupled with intent, is well worth watching.
The rise of these young batsmen is timely. Not only does cricket desperately need positive news to help dilute the unsavoury stuff but the art of batting is also in serious need of a fillip. However, prodigious talent needs to be supported by good governance and strong off-field leadership.
The writer is a former Australia captain