Wanted thrilling, not one-sided contests
I am no pulp patriot or sadist to be rejoicing the one-sided battering of one team, even if that treatment is being meted out by your own team. Competition in sports is all about a contest between two sets of skillful players and the more evenly matched they are, the better it is for the spectators, writes Pradeep Magazine.india Updated: Nov 27, 2009 23:21 IST
I am no pulp patriot or sadist to be rejoicing the one-sided battering of one team, even if that treatment is being meted out by your own team. Competition in sports is all about a contest between two sets of skillful players and the more evenly matched they are, the better it is for the spectators.
We in India have a long history of Test match contests where India has thrived on its low, slow, spinning tracks to pulverise its rivals into submission. In times gone by, when Tests were the soul and substance of cricket, India had reason to feel elated at subjecting the best teams of the world to this searing examination of their skill and patience on wearing wickets. If pace was India’s bane, inability to play quality spin was the most vulnerable part of a team visiting India.
The atmosphere at the ground used to be electric when a Bedi, Chandra or Prasanna would make a batsman feel miserable at the sight of the turning ball, while being surrounded by a clutch of fielders waiting for a bat and pad. Thousands would scream each time the ball would lob into the fielder’s hands and the umpires would find it impossible to segregate the sound of the ball hitting the bat from the roar of the crowd.
Men like Kumble took this strangulation of the batsmen to a different level and India became unbeatable at home.
In our most immediate times, where the frenetic pace combined with close contests in the shortened version of the game have caught the imagination of the public, Test cricket cannot survive when the contest between bat and the ball is completely unequal.
Is there any fun in watching either only the batsmen score runs or only the bowlers take wickets, or whichever team bats first winning the match with ease because the placid nature of the wicket allows them to make more than 600 runs in a breeze?
Doesn’t a lack of contest make the whole action boring to watch, even if the team winning happens to be your own?
I raise these points after first watching the Ahmedabad Test turn into a yawning affair and now the Kanpur Test become a no contest almost from Day One. These are not the kind of matches which can help Tests survive the onslaught of T20 or one-day cricket.
The question here is not of which team is winning and which one losing. Indians would rejoice at the drubbing Sri Lankans have got at Kanpur but the larger issue remains.
Did the duel between the bat and ball really excite us as cricket fans? The Kanpur track was not treacherous, far from it and the Lankans got crushed under the weight of India’s huge score, otherwise even this Test would have ended in a drab draw.
I am happy that India have won and Sreesanth is back doing what he had promised when he burst into Tests a few years back: wobbling the ball even in the most adverse conditions.
But what is most worrisome in this series is the nature of the tracks. If Mumbai also prepares wickets like the ones in the first two matches, then no one should bemoan the demise of Test cricket in India.