Most cricketers would say Test cricket is the cricket. But most spectators would now say it is Twenty20. That is the striking difference the administrators will be grappling with - how to keep the longer version of the game alive.
Cover drive, ball traveling along the ground, is past. It is reverse sweep, slog-sweep, inside-out shots that have come to dominate the game and make an impression on the audience. Hitting across the line would mean incurring the wrath of the coach. Not anymore. Technique is taking the back seat and the coaching methods will change dramatically in the near future.
I remember being slammed by Sunil Gavaskar whenever I played across the line. Today, the same Gavaskar, when commentating, exclaims ``what a shot!''. Well, nothing wrong. It is the fact of life and the times we are living in that Twenty20 has taken off in such a way that even Gavaskar is enjoying it. If Gavaskar has changed, why blame the spectator for opting to watch the slam-bang Twenty20 more than the traditional Test. Of course, I am sure that Test cricket will change. It will become more innovative with more and more batsmen playing more and more shots.
At my Complan Academy in Mumbai,I have introduced a special session for the kids to hone their skills in Twenty20. I don't mind telling them ``go and slog'' as long as they have their basics right. There is nothing wrong with Twenty20. There is a place for Twenty20 as there is a place for Test cricket too.
There was nothing with the Indian Cricket League when we promoted Twenty20 with the sole aim of entertaining the spectators and creating a set of players who would excel in his format. Today, I am so happy to see that opportunities are coming the way of the cricketers through the Indian Premier League.
We don't get our invitations from the BCCI but we can watch the matches on TV and I must say that it has been a success for the organizers and the players, not to forget the spectators. I send my good wishes to the organizers. There were apprehensions regarding the event and its success but the audience response has given some encouraging signals. It is good for the players, the administrators and the franchisees who have invested large amounts in promoting this league.
The money and glamour associated with the IPL is huge and it quite resembles what this generation likes. It wants its food fast, coffee in an instant and the result in a jiffy. Twenty20 offers the spectators a variety that is likely to grow in the times to come. I am one of the millions of cricket lovers who are happy to see more and more opportunities for the young cricketers through the ICL and the IPL.
I remember Test matches having a rest day. The rest day went. And then we had one-day cricket calling the shots. It became five Tests and three one-dayers; and then three Tests and seven one-dayers. Some day we might have one Test and 10 one-dayers or maybe one Test, seven one-dayers and three Twenty20 matches. Nothing wrong, but it will be a sad day for the game when Test cricket has no takers.
For the administrators, the biggest challenge will be protecting Test cricket from Twenty20.
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