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Cricket now a boardroom game

To preserve what gives the cricket its meaning and substance is no longer the priority of the administrators who are busy squabbling in the name of a new game called T20, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Aug 03, 2008 01:39 IST
Pradeep Magazine

Has cricket become a game to be fought in the boardrooms? For those who thirst for the sight of a batsman stretching to such an extent that the back knee touches the ground when the bat strikes the ball, these backroom manoeuvres of its administrators have sickened them to the core.

The wizardry of a Muralitharan, who spins the ball with the help of a locked elbow that makes him rotate his wrists like a spindle, is a sight to behold! Even a stone would register a rush of emotion when a batsman counters these unfathomable skills with supple wrists to defend or attack a ball pitched on a length to make a cover drive. These are ingredients of a classic encounter which only Test cricket can produce.

But alas, to preserve what gives the sport its meaning and substance is no longer the priority of the administrators. They are busy squabbling with one another, creating more friction among each other, all in the name of a new game called T20.

Even a hardened cricket fan is not against creating more avenues to sell the game. By all means make innovations if it helps to draw new audiences, but please don't kill the basics of the sport, is a fan's fervent plea.

What we are watching now is a ridiculous fight, at the core of which is who would control the bulging profits the popularity of T20 is going to generate.

As is to be expected, India is at the forefront of these fights, with battle cries now emanating from England as well.

A meeting of the Indian Board these days are comparable to top corporate czars getting together to up their profits no matter what the human cost of their decision-making would be. In cricket's case, the health of the game is the last priority, how much revenue can be made from it, the first.

Michael Clarke may have been right when he said that cricket is heading for an Asian, non-Asian split, but unlike his prediction it won't be on racial lines, but more on commercial lines.

He who controls the purse rules the world. India is now stretching this dictum to absurd lengths. What world cricket needs today is a statesman-like approach to plot the future of the game and not behave like a greedy merchant whose only aim in life is to increase his bank balance.

It is easy to use shrill patriotic emotions to get away with even murder but in the long run the mess created for short-term gains are hard to sort out.

One does not need to be a soothsayer to predict that cricket is heading for dangerous times. It, no doubt, will survive, but in what form, no one knows.