Within 'traditional' cricket circles (and those are probably more firmly established in England than in most other parts of the cricketing globe) it's still fashionable to express one's dislike of Twenty20 cricket. If you take your place among a group of members at a County Championship match and say that you 'hate Twenty20' nobody will think you strange and most of the people within earshot will wholeheartedly agree. For many, who may by now have grudgingly accepted coloured clothing, white balls and floodlights, it's simply that the excess embellishments - the music, the dancers, the sponsored six-hits and time-outs - are too much to take, and I have some sympathy with that view. But for anyone who takes the narrow-minded view that these things simply render the game worthless, I have no time.

It now seems almost trite to suggest that T20 has encouraged innovation, but it's undeniably true, even if it's only been the acceleration of a process which had begun elsewhere. To see Eoin Morgan reversing his hands and scooping the ball over the infield in a way that demands ingenuity, reflexes, strength, timing and confidence is to see a game which, unlike virtually any other ball game you can name, is evolving in a fundamental, technical way, as opposed to just a tactical one.

When did someone last invent a completely new stroke in tennis, or a different way of passing the ball in rugby, or a new way of kicking a football? In those sports you have what you have, and, however good you are, you largely have to work within an established framework. Modern cricket is different.

England didn't deserve to lose yesterday, but those of us in a position to watch someone as gifted and groundbreaking as England's young Irishman are all winners.


Third Man said...

Agree entirely with you Brian. We are fortunate indeed. Even more fortunate because we still have the long forms of the game.
The unknowable is how these developments will affect four and five day cricket and whether we are seeing an unstoppable momentum towards limited overs restrictions of some kind entering championship and test cricket.
There is something elemental about the pure tussle between bat and ball where batsmen have time to compile scores with care and bowlers have to develop complex strategies to take wickets. This has a fascination. Its pace (or lack of pace) is also hypnotic and soothing. Together these aspects produce an experience that is deeply satisfying for the watchers but we know it is expensive to set up and affordable only so long as people will pay for Test cricket or agree to cross subsidization of the longer forms by limited overs cricket. Once that consent goes, probably because of the introduction of a restricted form of Test cricket, the game is up.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks for the comment, TM. Whatever I may say about T20, my main love will always be Test and first-class cricket, and, like the rest of us, I've got no idea of what'll happen. Unfortunately, I'm starting to tend towards the view that the days of pure Test cricket as we've known it may be numbered.

The key people in this are the players. For the vast majority of the current generation, Test cricket remains the summit of their ambitions, but for players growing up now it will increasingly be the quick rewards of such competitions as the IPL. At the moment it's possible to view David Warner as an unusual exception, but not, I suspect for much longer.

Outside England, and, to a lesser extent, Australia, few people want to watch Test cricket; once the number of people who really want to play it declines the game really will, to use your phrase, be up.

This is just what I'm feeling at the moment. I really hope I turn out to be wrong.

Subscribe in a reader