This blog is now turning into a cricket blog, but what can I do. I love sports and I love cricket and football in particular. As our team (as we fans say so), Manchester United, is not playing as per our own standards, its better we keep believing and supporting them. On the other hand, Indian cricket team is making headlines for all the right reasons, even if the board controlling it is not.
On 16th October 2013, the game of cricket, especially ODIs, as I knew and grew up with died. It was a game of 94 super overs rolled in as an ODI. Many would then argue that if I think so then ODI died the day 434 was made and chased down on the same night. I beg to differ on that count. That was one of the finest examples of one day cricket.
That day in Johannesburg, the boundaries were small and all batsmen fired in unison. But still, bowlers had something to bowl on – a lively pitch. A pitch where shots were easy but so were mistakes. Batsmen EARNED those runs. The chase was not a one sided affair. The match pulsated more than the heartbeat monitor in an ICU. South Africa won with 1 wicket in hand and less than half and over to spare. In Jaipur, the pitch was dead. Boundaries were shorter. Lesser number of fielders were allowed to patrol the boundary. And India chased 360 down with 39 deliveries left. More so than that, WE LOVED THE MATCH. WE LOVED HOW WE WON THE GAME. WE FELT GOOD AS THE ART OF BOWLING DIED.
I felt sorry for the bowlers who were forced to commit hara-kiri, bowing on that highway strip was nothing short of that. As a person who grew up watching the likes of McGrath, Warne, Kumble, Muralitharan and Donald breaking the backs of much celebrated batting line ups. As a person who watched in awe as Bond, Lee and Akhtar competed to be the fastest bowler in history. As a person who enjoyed Kumble’s 10 wickets haul as much as watching McGrath and team running through entire batting orders in no time. I felt sorry for all those young guns who aspire to a bowler.
For me ODIs meant a proper contest between bowling and batting which T20s can never provide. All we watch now is a elongated form of T20s and not the ODIs we wish to see. I loved how India’s young guns went about the task and pulled off one of the best chases in cricket history, but what I realised is that we don’t care much about our bowlers. And then, the next match proved me right. Let me say, I am in no way defending Ishant Sharma. All I ask is – why is he one of the best fast bowlers in India? Why don’t we have bowlers who are good enough to stop carnages even on their off days? Why is there so much disparity between the quality of batsmen and bowlers our system throws up? And most importantly – why don’t we care for that matter?
Wish to see an equal contest soon. Till then, I loved you ODI cricket…