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The juggernaut called cricket keeps rolling

Hindustan Times | ByAmrit Mathur
Feb 21, 2010 11:05 PM IST

If asked to list three problems that affect cricket, the likely response will be excessive cricket, boring matches and commercial overkill, writes Amrit Mathur.

If asked to list three problems that affect cricket, the likely response will be excessive cricket, boring matches and commercial overkill.

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Spectator interest in Tests, in most countries, is declining sharply and the recent ODIs even in cricket-starved in Bangladesh got a massive thumbs down from the spectators. Players, unable to cope with excessive demands on their bodies, get injured (occasionally 15 minutes before the toss, a feat achieved by Rohit Sharma in Nagpur), and some fast bowlers are rarely in the park for two games running.

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Though the dangers to cricket are serious, a workable cure is yet to be discovered. What is a constant is that the show has to go on. As soon as the current series ends, India cricketers will rush into the Indian Premier League (IPL) and then the Twenty20 World Cup.

With cricket firmly in the fast forward mode, established ground rules are going for a toss. The concept of ‘home’, for instance, could soon disappear with matches played at neutral venues, except for India, who are assured of strong support whether they turn up in Bangalore or Berlin.

This move to extend the traditional boundaries is encouraged by a desire to seek new partners and monetize available commercial opportunities. Already, Pakistan and England have played in Dubai while New Zealand and Sri Lanka will travel to the United States of America this summer.

Soon cricket, like the Internet, will breach international boundaries and become a sport unfettered by geographical borders.

Inclusion in the Olympics could possibly be cricket’s giant leap. With more cricket being played, new talent gets fast-tracked and the system quickly promotes a Abhimanyu Mithun from club cricket to the India team, usually a long journey. Records are shattered in every game and each run scored and a wicket taken becomes a milestone. This then leads to intense debate and frenzied statistical comparison. Cricket is unstoppable and so is the debate about players because there is no agreement on what is the correct measure of greatness.

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