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Good wickets make for keen contests

The more close contests one sees spread over five days, the more one gets convinced that cricket was not meant to be a game of limited overs, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Jan 16, 2010 01:08 IST
Pradeep Magazine

The more close contests one sees spread over five days, the more one gets convinced that cricket was not meant to be a game of limited overs. In the surfeit of cricket which we were witness to this week, what grabbed attention was not India’s meaningless and eventually unsuccessful forays in Bangladesh, but a riveting contest at home meant only for domestic audiences.

One-day cricket is a contrived format, put together after trifling with the laws to create a sequence of moments which are, no doubt, thrilling to watch. But the compromise it has to make with the skills of the game is too great a price to pay, especially if the longer version of the game, because of its neglect, is going to become defunct.

India’s ascent to number one spot and the euphoria that success generated has had its positive fall-out, with two Test matches being specially scheduled to cater to the demand of the players and the much-maligned “purists”. We are looking forward to South Africa’s visit to India next month and hoping that India prepare pitches that give both bowlers and batsmen an equal chance to showcase their abilities. Nothing kills a game of cricket more than wickets where you can bat even blindfolded and yet feel unlucky if you score anything less than a hundred.

India has been guilty on more counts than one in pushing Test cricket to the margins and it has not only to do with its greed. Its indifference to the longer version of the game gets reflected in the nature of the benign tracks it produces, which lead to either futile draws or completely one-sided contests, both in their very nature boring to watch. Sure, create conditions to suit the home team but not to the extent that it takes away from a good contest.

The Ranji final provided that ideal pitch and as a consequence a perfect match, which engaged the huge number of spectators, the TV audiences and the two teams with an intensity a person may reserve only for the final day of his life.

The medium pacers played a pivotal role in shaping this contest, the fielders were an admirable support cast, and one man despite ending a loser, stole the thunder from the winners.

At only 20 years of age Manish Pandey’s outstanding athletic ability in the field, typified by that Superman like dive after a steaming run to pluck the ball in the air is understandable.

How does one explain his batting in the match? Even when the ball was darting and bouncing around, he had the time and the balance to pierce the field with drives on the rise, pulls and hooks, which even batsmen much older and skillful than him would have found difficult to do.

It is obviously to do with a lot of hard work acting as a stimulus for an exceptional talent which helped him to overcome these challenging conditions. These challenges are now going to multiply and hopefully this young lad will not get distracted and lose his way in the glamour world awaiting him.