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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Gayle’

Test Cricket Is The Ultimate Test

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

He stood at the top of his mark, barely able to hold himself upright. A deep breath was taken and he came charging down, an in-swinging yorker upended middle stump and suddenly the crowd was brought to its feet. There was a sense that he had got something out of nothing.

On the other end a man stood on his own fighting off cramps and back pains, he had been a wall blocking everything that was thrown at him. He too felt a sense that the improbable was now within his grasp.

As with all sports there had to be a loser, and on this occasion for Peter Siddle, Australia being unable to draw the match would have felt like one.

Australia-South Africa encounters have always produced nail-biting matches (a clash of the titans if you would). It was around this time last year that these two teams were locked in another struggle, on that occasion Australia walked away victorious (with only two wickets in hand and time not on their side). In Adelaide, once again it was not until the last ball of the match that a result was confirmed.

Australia dominated the first day of the test match, South Africa fought back on the second day before the hosts wrestled the initiative back on the third. The forth was a see-saw affair before the fifth was a display of test cricket at its best.

The cricket audience around the world have been “treated” to an overdose of twenty-twenty cricket, so much so that even the players have found it hard to readjust. Over in Bangladesh, last week, Chris Gayle decided to start a test match by hitting a six, on Thursday in Adelaide David Warner and Michael Clarke chose to rack up nearly 500 runs in the first day.

By the fifth day of this match all of that was forgotten, the big shots had been shelved and a solid defense was being employed by those in the middle. The bowlers knew wickets would not be easy to come by, they stuck to their plans and ran in every ball until they had none left. To add a little more spice to the game, both sides were a player down (South Africa without their star batsman Jaques Kallis and Australia without their key bowler James Pattinson). It was a game of attrition, both sides looked to etch away at the other’s mental make up.

Australia knew a win would go a long way in regaining the number one position, South Africa was out to show they deserved to hold on to that label.

As the day went on the weariness of both sides showed on their players’ faces, but ever so once in awhile a a deep breath was taken and they plunged back into battle. Faf du Plessis showed immense concentration, something that has abandoned most modern day players, while Peter Siddle brought out that trademark Aussie grit as he never gave up.

Fittingly it was these two who would see off the end of the day (and match). Siddle looked a spent force, yet he found the energy to produce two more probing and fiery overs. Du Plessis was close to collapsing from exhaustion, but, as he had done all day he continued to fight through the pain to ensure the Proteas walked away with a hard fought draw.

In four days’ time these two teams will be back out on the park in Perth ready to battle once more for the mantle of the number one team. Their clothes will be be clean, their energy back and possibly a few new faces in the lineups. Yet they will know that five days are before them, five days for them to suck in deep breaths, five days to run in hard and ignore the pain and at the end of those five days the number one side will be crowned.

Twenty-twenty cricket has the glitz and glamour, but for all of its dazzle it lacks the heart and fight which is shown in test cricket.

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The Failing Revolution of Cricket

October 19, 2012 4 comments

When one day cricket was first seen in the late 1970s, in the form of the controversial “World Series Cricket”, supporters of the game described it as a “game played in pyjamas”. Now, 20/20 is here and it can only be likened to a fancy dress party whose hosts have never been to a party before.

The World T20, which concluded in Sri Lanka two weeks ago, is a shining example of how this format has failed to live up to its billing in all aspects.
Of the 27 games which had been packed in to three weeks, the audiences were treated to only four nail-biters. When this format was first introduced to the world, it was promoted as an arena of explosive cricket that would keep the spectators on the edge of their seats.

Two ties, a win off the last ball and a win in the last over was all that it could muster; on the other hand the remaining 23 games were so heavily one sided that audiences were found to be turning off their televisions even before the game was over.

Entertainment had been promised both on and off the field; the ICC did not fall short in that avenue. The cheerleaders, who had been rounded up five days before the tournament, were an amusing sideshow. Out-of-sync, dressed in absurd outfits and clearly cursed with two left feet these cheerleaders were nothing short of a joke. I do feel sorry for them, with such bad choreography and so little preparation time nothing better could be expected.

Twenty-twenty cricket on the international stage has proven to be a joke, what about domestically? The “Champions League T20” is being held in South Africa and while the crowds have been impressive the games have been once again one-sided affairs. It only serves to highlight the gaping difference that exists between the domestic structures.

So why is this format, which has all the ingredients of being an exciting venture, falling short of its hype?

To the purists, ODIs were not accepted until the mid-80s. But this transition from test cricket was made easier due to the fact that it had the colourful characters of Caribbean cricket to help it through.

The 70s and 80s saw world cricket dominated by the West Indians, who had come along and challenged the old powers of England and Australia. The rest of the world jumped behind these men who defied all odds and swaggered on to the field with an air of arrogance that could never be emulated by their opponents.

Their “calypso” brand of cricket was unique in that it could not be taught but rather it was in their blood. Their tall lanky fast bowlers intimidated all that stood before them, while their batsmen dispatched bowlers as though they were swatting flies.

This arrogance, which resonated from their pure talent, can no longer by reproduced in the shortest format. Glimpses of it have been seen in Chris Gayle, but like the format it is fleeting.

Players that would have otherwise been found out in international cricket are now able to fly below the radar and still be considered class acts.
Prior to this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) Ravindra Jadeja was purchased for a whopping $2 million in the auction. A player who has never performed, and still couldn’t perform after being branded with such a price tag is just one such example of how 20/20 cricket overshadows the talented.

Test cricket, in its purest form, will separate the true greats who go down history from those who will soon be forgotten.
The battles between bat and ball no longer exist. The sight of a batsman dancing down the wicket to a spinner and clipping him through the leg-side have now been replaced by the ungainly image of a batsman closing his eyes and trying to flick the bowler over the keeper’s head.

Technique has been replaced by brute strength, patience by dumb luck and a day of cricket by 3 hours of mayhem that will often leave the spectator disappointed. 20/20 cricket has certainly cornered the commercial aspect of the game, but whether it grabs the attention of the lovers of the sport remains to be seen.

Technique has been replaced by brute strength