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Test to Twenty20, a bridge too far

The week gone by has left the imprint of myriad images in my mind’s eye. First was the onslaught on my senses by the frenetic pace of T20 cricket — even if you were thousands of miles away from Christchurch and Wellington, you could still feel the whacks, bangs and thuds rattling your ear drums, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2009 23:29 IST
Hindustantimes

The week gone by has left the imprint of myriad images in my mind’s eye. First was the onslaught on my senses by the frenetic pace of T20 cricket — even if you were thousands of miles away from Christchurch and Wellington, you could still feel the whacks, bangs and thuds rattling your ear drums each time the bat pounded the ball and sent it soaring over the ropes.

The thousands at the ground screamed in unison — like an explosion of primeval energy — making cricket a metaphor for humans attempting to bond with each other even while their loyalties are divided by Nationality.

The second image was of a batsman trying to tame the darting ball in a slow, unhurried, elegant manner, a riveting spectacle for those who value skill over brute force. There were barely a few hundreds watching the Test match in sombre silence, as if praying for the dead.

Each time a McCullum or a Yuvraj would get underneath the ball to send it skyrocketing, you’d wonder at the domineering skill of the batsman and feel sorry for the hapless bowler. Each time the ball was smashed with the force of a million Newtons, you would marvel at the strength of the batsman and pity the fragility of the bowler. This was a sight straight from history books when victims were fed to lions in a colosseum for entertainment.

In the world of manifold choices at the command of a button, I could either lend more muscle to the full-throated roar of the crowd or, if the sight was too inhuman for me, I could move on to some other more likeable image. For instance, watch Ricky Ponting read the line and the length of the swinging ball and then make a judgment of what’s right for him. The pace and movement of Steyn or Ntini posed many difficult queries and Ponting’s instinctive reactions, honed by hours of training, were equal to the challenge.

A pull shot from Ponting, controlled with masterly ease, or a gracefully driven boundary, would produce a sound that would be muted enough to not be in dissonance with the harmonious blend the clash of skills was producing.

But each time the camera caught the near-empty stands in the background, you felt uneasy in the comfort of your living room and wondered if the world is really a lonely place to live in. The chasm between the two images appeared so stark — it’s no wonder that those who control the purse strings in the name of governing the game don’t want to build a bridge across these two worlds.