Isn’t it nice that there is a different form of cricket for different kinds of people?
There are those who take a strategic view of life. These folk have careers rather than jobs; they would far rather play bridge or chess than poker or snakes and ladders. For them test match cricket is the summer game of choice. Just as in real life, there is many a slip twixt wicket-keeper and gully. The entire fortune of the match could easily turn on a single decision – to declare or not to declare, to set an attacking field or to defend the boundaries, take the new ball or keep the spinners in the attack. They can watch every ball of a five day test match, all 2,700 of them, and not be bored for an instant. They appreciate the almost superhuman courage and stamina, both physical and mental, of the batsman (never batter, please, that’s what angry and cowardly men do to their wives, or the substance in which fish is coated preparatory to frying) who can withstand a barrage of fast, short-pitched bowling for six hours at a stretch, and come back the next day and do it all again.
Then there are those who boast a shorter attention span for whom 50 over cricket is perfect. They may not understand the nuances of the test match, but enjoy the day out, the atmosphere of the ground and seeing their team win. This form of the game has tactics rather than strategy; apart from the toss and when to take the power-plays, there are few decisions the captain has to make. Field placings are almost a given, and it would take a captain of noteworthy incompetence to really mess that up. The aim of the game for the batting side is simply to score lots of runs quickly, and for the bowling side it is to prevent the batting side from doing that. All very sweet and simple.
I must confess that I really don’t understand the point of 20-20 cricket. (OK, I do — it’s to make money.) It strips the game of all its finer points and is simply a slogfest, over almost before it has begun. I can only suppose that the people who enjoy watching it (and they are a multitude) care only for the result, not in how it is achieved. A batsman who scores a lot of runs, hits numerous boundaries, does so in a competition lacking texture and context. It is to test match cricket what an Archie comic is to a Tolstoy novel. I can only suppose that the thousands who throng the grounds for these matches are inveterate readers of comics.
To each his own.
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License