Friday, October 02, 2009

Not the ‘Test’ case scenario

(also on
Must senior Indian cricketers lie every time they are asked about their preferred format of the game? Ask Harbhajan Singh or Sachin Tendulkar or Robin Uthappa or Yuvraj Singh and chances are that you’ll get a glib “Test cricket is the real thing” answer. Did I say ‘chances are’? Do a quick Google; it is the answer.
But that’s a lie, isn’t it? And what makes the lie worse is that it’s needless.
What stops a Man in Blue from admitting that Twenty20 cricket is the flavour of the season and possibly the flavour of the future too? It is, isn’t it? It is, and as long as the BCCI remains in charge of world cricket, it’s not about to change. Is that a bad thing? That’s hard to tell, and in this context, it doesn’t matter.
I’ll make my biases clear. I’d take a good, hard Test match played in England or Australia than anything else. But even I’d say that no one actually watch entire Test matches anymore. Heck, we don’t even watch international cricket unless India is playing and doing well. (Happily, I have to – to stay on top of my job.) We watch Twenty20 cricket with more enthusiasm; and the IPL has been a complete blockbuster.
Now tell me; if Test cricket and the whole ‘purity’ thing is what keeps these cricketers going, then what’s stopping them from approaching the BCCI and telling them “look boss, we’re happy to play T20s and earn you money, but we want to play more Test cricket – let us”. You think that if a Tendulkar or a Harbhajan or a Yuvraj seriously wanted to plead the ‘Test case’, they wouldn’t have? Truth is, they are happy to play three hours of cricket and earn many times more money. They don’t want to put their worn-out bodies through 30 hours of cricket.
And here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with it. Cricketers are out there to earn a living for themselves. They don’t have to pretend to be good chips off the old block. They can come out and say openly “scrap Tests, we’re not interested”. The BCCI will be happy to oblige. Spectators – the majority of them at least – will be thrilled. Cricketers have short careers as compared to the ‘retire at 60’ gigs we have; no one grudges them the money they earn.
So why can’t they come clean? Like a Kiwi or Aussie or Caribbean cricketer can?
Public image? Possibly. The image marketing chappie can’t do it all by himself.