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Tests are the equivalent of classical music

india Updated: Jul 29, 2009 23:32 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
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Clive Lloyd’s utburst slamming players for being money-hungry is another example of the huge disconnect between current and retired players. Current players feel past stars resent their celebrity status and are bitter that they got an inferior deal. With this mindset, and unable to reconcile to present day commercial realities, they lose balance and go ballistic from time to time.

But what is often forgotten is everyone has a right to secure his future, and earning money is hardly a dishonorable activity. Players are not social workers, so why grudge them an opportunity to monetise their skills.

Does it make sense then to adopt a moralistic stance and say people should play for the love of sport and national honour? These nice words and noble thoughts sound great but are impractical and unworkable in the real world.

The current debate about the future of cricket — and the expected demise of Tests — is academic and somewhat irrelevant. Tests are not going to disappear or change dramatically into 3 or 4-day events played with a pink or yellow ball. Tests will stay, perhaps with lower support, because they still appeal to a set of ardent supporters and, importantly, the players feel they count.

Going forward, Tests will become the equivalent of classical music with the shorter versions of cricket assuming the role of popular rock music. Both can coexist, both need different skill sets and are different platforms for players to perform. Viewed in the film context, T20 is a spicy item number --- racy and popular --- whereas a Test is serious stuff.

If Test cricket changes or is impacted by this innovation, so be it, why shed tears, hold a condolence meeting and declare a state of mourning. Cricket has to move on and discover what works in today's context.

There was a time when play-to-finish matches were ok. But that was yesterday, it is gone and forgotten. Would anyone, for instance, consider watching black and white films --- however good? Or sit through a movie that has 24 songs even if each one is a classic?

Cricket will remain a simple game, says Dravid, played with a bat and ball. Despite shrinking from five days to 20 overs, it still remains a one-ball game where umpires will continue to make shocking decisions and players will not stop claiming catches knowing the batsman hasn't nicked it.