In this new format, the cost of a wicket goes down, the cost of a dot ball goes up – and thus, the value of aggression shoots up. Because there is demand for more aggression, there is a resultant supply from batsmen, who sharpen their attacking skills. These skills are reflected in other forms of the game as well.
It is true that bats today are heavier, grounds are made smaller by boundary ropes and rules like using two balls in ODIs have helped batsmen score more runs. But the two key reasons behind the rise of par scores in the last ten years are respectable cricketing reasons that should delight all fans. One, the game has gained from new strategic insights. Two, in keeping with these insights, and the incentives of the more lucrative T20 form of the game, skills have improved across the board, for batsmen, fielders and bowlers.
It’s not all that mad, I would argue. Dhoni has himself been circumspect about his chasing philosophy, but the there is a coherent logic behind what he does. At the heart of it is this basic truth about all sport: winning is not about doing something special, but about making less mistakes than your opponent.
The IPL has spawned similar leagues in other countries, and that’s a damn good thing. T20 cricket is not a tamasha, but a strategically and tactically rich form of the game that has changed the lives of both players and viewers for the better. Long live T20 cricket! Long live the IPL!
You have no doubt arrived at this site to read about cricket, and the last thing you expect is bloody verse. But as this is a game of glorious uncertainties, why should this site be different? Let me begin this column with a limerick.
It is one of the ironies of modern sport that those who become role models are often least ready for it. In other fields, it takes years of hard work and <em>living</em>, and by the time you achieve fame, you might also achieve maturity. In sport, you can be a superstar in your teens. The young are works in progress, and it can be unfair to expect them to become role models when they aren’t even fully themselves. When I was 25 years younger, I was as arrogant as Virat Kohli, as misogynistic as Hardik Pandya, and I thank my lucky stars that I could do my growing up outside the glare of cameras.