Archive for January, 2012

Will Cricket have seprate codes like Rugby and Football

When I first landed in Australia for my masters program in sports management, I was slightly taken aback when I hardly saw  any cricket news or anybody playing cricket on the pristine public grounds or nets. The month was August  and it was spring time in the university town. My main reason of choosing Australia over the US , which would have been easier place to relocate, owing to presence of my siblings there; was the common sports that both India and Australia shared, especially cricket and hockey.

Soon I was reassured by my affable head of school that cricket was a summer sport in Australia and that is the reason I see the football codes all over the media.  As i started watching the rugby matches, my previous experience only being watching the young Jonah Lomu mesmerize the world with his strength and speed in that wonderful rugby world cup of 1995 in South Africa.  I soon realized that the rugby played by L omu was stark different from the ones being played by the Brisbane Broncos club, further quizzing  from my side led to a few Aussies mates with Victoria bitters and XXXX in their hands, telling me this is the real thing Rugby league different from Rugby union which i was exposed to in 1995 in a hotel room waiting for my MBA admission in poona univeristy.

A lot of prodding later, despite not conquering the finer technical nitty-gritty I realized that Rugby league was a derivative of  rugby Union, much like the emergence of One day international cricket from the mother format test cricket.  For me a novice at rugby the parallels between ODI & test and their comparisons were similar to the two rugby codes. I  found youngsters  and the working class always telling me about their preference of Rugby league which for the un-initiated is played with 13 players, is a faster format than Union which involves 15 players. On the other hand the elite and old timers always told me how Union was more free-flowing and a treat to watch from a purist angle.  I am sure by now most readers in India would understand why whenever i heard of the Union Vs league debate cricket and it’s two formats then came immediately to mind!

Now unlike cricket most players specalize in a particualr code. However you do have players shifting codes the last player that did so who comes to my mind is the burly Wendell Sailor who sifted from League to Union to play in the World Cup for Australia.  This is however not a common phenomenon as players pick up a particualr code suting their intrinsic skills .  In cricket we find the t20 Vs Test debate regularly and if t20 palyers are an inferior lot as compared to tests. Yes test cricket when at its best is the greatest platform for testing the skills of a player; however many a test player is not a certainty for the T20 format, which despite its slam bang  image, requires certain intrinsic skills which should be respected. I belive that  in cricket we have been fortunate to see players of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Jacque Kallis, Shane Warne, Watson who have mastered all three formats of the game. However these are supreme exceptions and as the game moves forward ( especially the progession of the t20 format which is just about 10 years old) , more and more players will have to choose either the limited over format (ODIs & T20) or test cricket. It is not about inferior skills! It is simply a matter of identifying which format suits your skills the best. A world of caution, this is not about money or remuneration or riches of T20 that we are talking about, which is a different topic altogether. I sincearly belive that a top test player should be able to garner a remuneration package equal to that offered to the superstars of the T20 format, especially those donning IPL colors. That is something for criket adminstrators to work upon. In the final analysis on that front I beleive that connsiuers of Test cricket need to be confident of the market of test cricket and its audience and should market the format as aggresively as the t20 format!

I belive that in another two to three years players will be comfortable to choose their format and specalize in it. Yes you may see transfers where a compact batsman, a tear away fast bowler or a attacking spinner may shift from the t20 format to tests. On the other hand you may find a lot of players in their twilight unable to manage the rigours of long overseas tours and the marathon format ; relinqushing the longer format to play the slam bang T20 format.

However this is a fact that will be difficult to swallow for adminstrators as well as the players who have enoyed the benifits of participating in all the three formats. However this change is radical and how the adminstrators and players would react to it when reality strikes is a thought to ponder! 

As always would urge you the readers to provide me with feedbacks on the same.

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