Sachin Tendulkar is as careful with his words as he is with his shot selection. So, whenever he chooses to speak his mind, it merits urgent attention.
The latest from the master is that he is not a supporter of the referral system, and in terms of preferred technology options, his vote is for the hot spot ahead of the hawkeye.
Tendulkar is a traditionalist, not surprising for a champion who has spent 20 years on the road. Being a part of the system, he views that the supremacy of on-field umpires must not be diluted by creating a big role for a colleague sitting hundred yards away. Referring decisions to a third party, quite literally, means the normal flow of the game is halted and while a decision is made players have to wait anxiously hoping the suspense ends quickly.
Sachin’s opposition to the referral system could be a normal batsman’s take because umpires have mostly ruled in favour of bowlers, especially in leg-before decisions.
But Sachin is not against technology, he understands the game has to move on and technology, if reliable, is an ally for cricket to advance. The hawkeye is only of limited value because it works for line decisions but is of little help for leg-before shouts. The hot spot is more definite because technology can rule with certainty if the bat made contact with the ball.
Sachin’s views indicate that, keeping the bigger picture in view, sport has to evolve, innovate and embrace change. This is exactly what the IPL has achieved as an attractive product. It meets the aspirations of fans and is consistent with emerging social trends. The T20 format is an excellent alliance between tradition and modernity, a unique partnership that builds on the past to create something that is cool and contemporary.
Some will scoff at the artificial excitement of a three-hour contest. But the ground reality is, in a youth-driven world, there is strong demand for a product that provides top quality action and is home-delivered by live television.
The commercial side dominates news about the IPL. But the fundamental value of the tournament is that it brings together the best players in the business to produce exciting cricket.