We received an email this week from an American businessman. “I happened to be in Delhi for two days,” he wrote, “And I was fascinated by the passion for cricket, the talk of rebel leagues and more importantly, by what sound commercial sense it makes to invest in it.” He said he had an innovative proposal in mind.
Intrigued by the thought of an original plan on cricket from baseball country, we called him back. “I’ve been doing some reading,” he said.
“And it sure seems like a classy sport. I even went and watched a game while stopping over in England. I’m not too sure why it hasn’t caught on in the States, probably not been marketed too well,” he added.
“Well,” I ventured, “maybe the game was too long and too complicated for the average American sports fan.” “Yes,” he agreed, “So I was thinking, maybe instead of the traditional 20 overs a side, we could look at something snappier, like where the batters slug it out for five overs each in three innings, winner takes all.”
“Five overs?” I repeated. “Yeah,” he said excitedly, “it sounds swell, doesn’t it? I know traditionalists would prefer the Twenty20 version and you have a World Cup coming up and all, but this could be something totally different. We could have groups of batters and pitchers only — guys who wouldn’t bat.”
We promised to call him back. After the initial laugh though, we couldn’t help wondering if that was what lay ahead. The T20 version will gain final endorsement with the first World Cup next month, the ICL is big news and now, with an official BCCI world league in the offing, all to obviously corner a part of the vast commercial pie (the nuances of a beautiful game be damned), what innovations will we next see?
While the purists are rightly crying, the only good thing is, look at the advantages for India in a 5-over kind of format.
After all, we already several players who seem to visibly deflate after a few overs, this way, they can last the distance. We already have several pitchers (bowlers, for the uninitiated) who cannot bat. Sometimes they cannot bowl too but we’ll get around to that problem later.
Then, we have a few batsmen who, while they don’t seem to bat all that well, don’t do much on the field either, so perhaps this would free them up to concentrate on the slugging (or slogging).
With only five overs to play, it would necessarily mean they would have to whack each ball as hard as possible, which they would be very happy to do as they have an aversion to running, either between the wickets or on the field.
And best of all, we could end a national worry and have a bunch of specialist fielders. The idea isn’t so bad.