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Twenty20 the ultimate test for Test cricket

The debate on the impact of T20s on international cricket and the survival of Test cricket continues, each day bringing in different views and perspectives from those who play the game and those who write on it, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2009 00:20 IST
Pradeep Magazine

The debate on the impact of T20s on international cricket and the survival of Test cricket continues, each day bringing in different views and perspectives from those who play the game and those who write on it.

The view from the top may be divided and even confusing for some, but seen from the grassroots, the signals are clear, especially from India.

A fortnight back, GMR, who own the Delhi Indian Premier League team, organised a six-a-side and six-over each tennis ball contest among Mohalla teams in Old Delhi. There were no established stars in any side, or even first class or junior players who may have played for their state. It was played under floodlights and each match lasted no more than 40 minutes.

If you would have been around the Ramlila ground around 9 pm, the roar of a couple of thousand people, or even more, would have enticed you to take a closer look at what was on exhibition that had made so many people make a beeline for the ground.

The boundary line was no more than 40 yards from the wicket and the matches were played on matting wickets.

The bouncing tennis ball was being whacked over the ropes, most of the strokes being played with a horizontal bat.

There were no half measures here, the ball was either sailing over or into the crowd or to the hands of fielders.

This frenzied action under artificial lights had galvanized the crowd and the organizers were thrilled.

The cost of advertising the Daredevils brand was minimal and a whole new generation was being hooked on to a new form of cricket, where defensive play is non-existent and technique, as we know it, is being reinvented with each ball being bowled.

More such tournaments are being planned in Delhi and I am sure all across the country by those who want to fashion a new loyalty to their Indian Premier League teams.

Among those watching this ‘tamasha’ were a few former Test cricketers as well.

Gursharan Singh, who played for India and led Punjab to their first Ranji Trophy title and is now a coach, was pleased that this new revolution meant more money pouring into the game, which in turn meant that survival of those who linked with the game is ensured.

Belonging to a breed that has lived the dream of playing Tests one day, he has concerns as well.

“It is tough to coach these days. Youngsters ignore your instructions to play straight, come behind the line of the ball and learn the rudiments of defence first. Their minds and instincts have already been tuned to the shorter form and they keep playing across the line in an attempt to strike the ball.”

It is very obvious to him, which may not be to many of us, that for this present generation playing Twenty20s for India means the same as playing “Tests was for us.”

And once you realise that thousands can turn up to watch even a six—over—a side game minus any big names playing, can Test cricket have any hope of surviving in the long run?

India is at the forefront of creating a new world, brave or foolhardy, may not be easy to judge.