Thursday, September 24, 2009

Future of one-day cricket will be decided by the spectators

: After much debate, inevitable given that India and England represent a quarter of the teams participating, the Champions Trophy has thrown itself up for examination. It has been packaged well, is meant to have no uncompetitive matches (though the West Indies will test that premise) and to be fair to them the ICC have put everything behind it. One-day cricket is now in a buyer’s market and that means the product has to be tailored for the consumer. Realising that is progress in itself. Online Sports
Now the viewer and the spectator will sit in judgement and that is how it should always be. They are pretty uncomplicated fellows and they don’t really care much for either heritage or the future. They will look at the offering, if it’s good they will buy it, otherwise they will move on. And this tournament will give us a very good idea of which way they are going.
So will they head towards the Champion’s Trophy or towards the bilateral one-day game which many believe is most under siege. I am not as sure. Long, meandering, bilateral one-dayers are in danger but remember every bilateral game is a home game for somebody. The Champion’s Trophy will have a lot of neutral contests and if at the end we discover that only home games draw the crowds, then the future of single venue tournaments might well be thrown into jeopardy. We might, to be fair, also discover that one-day cricket needs an occasion like the Champion’s Trophy or a World Cup and that, if it happens, will please a lot of people in the ICC. It’s an interesting period and I think we must hold our verdict till the tournament is over. The first indicators are less than ten days away.
The marketing people in the ICC would also be looking at India’s progress very closely. If India travel to the final, the viewership will take care of itself (though, in that case, we will learn little that we do not already know!) and that is why Saturday’s game is even more important beyond the usual India-Pakistan offering. It is imperative therefore that both teams are at full strength and the absence of Yuvraj Singh, now India’s key factor in the middle order, could prove to be telling. Sports news
In an ideal line-up India would have Sehwag at the top and Yuvraj at No 4 to keep the momentum going. Their absence means someone needs to step up and I’m afraid the more you look at the line-up the more it seems like Tendulkar will have to be that person. With Gambhir coming out of injury and uncertain form, India might be a dasher short and it might well be an opportunity for Suresh Raina to step up to take Yuvraj’s place; not just with the bat but with the ball where he seems craftier than most people imagine. He should enjoy playing both roles on this Centurion pitch.
It is the bowling though that India should be more worried about. Ishant Sharma gives the impression of following the rest of the pack into the stagnation zone and that is a worry given that RP Singh seems to struggle to add consistency to his undoubted promise. And it is always a worrying thought when Ashish Nehra is your lead bowler because you never quite know which player answering to his name is likely to turn up. And so, at least in the first two games, India might well look to getting a lot of overs in from their slower bowlers. Raina has had a couple of good games and Dhoni got ten out of Yusuf Pathan in the warm up game.
I hope though that when the men in blue take the field, attention will be focussed on their performance rather on the content of a privately circulated note which is actually far more thought provoking in the segments that are unlikely to have made it past news editors. So now our young sports reporters have to grapple with conjuring stories on whether having sex on tour is good or bad. Their canvas seems to get broader every day! Time to redo the syllabus in media schools!


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