Chris Gayle is the new world order

Alec Swann Columnist

By Alec Swann, Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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    Chris Gayle became the first player to reach 10,000 Twenty20 runs the other day as he spanked his way to 77 for Royal Challengers Bangalore in their 21-run defeat of Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League.

    Given the Jamaican has spent the last few years galavanting around the world appearing for all and sundry in any short-form tournament going, and taking into account his perfect suitability for such a format, this won’t have really registered as much of a surprise.

    He certainly won’t be the last to reach such a milestone and longevity, especially in an arena that resembles one great big treadmill, should be applauded.

    But does anybody actually care?

    Has domestic Twenty20 become the cricket of choice, relegating the once all-powerful international game to the margins?

    Is franchise versus franchise the new West Indies versus India?

    Does the almighty dollar now provide the biggest pull?

    All of the above would fail to gain 100 per cent answers either way but, considering all the evidence, the tide is certainly moving towards instant gratification over considered concentration.

    Melbourne Renegades batsman Chris Gayle

    Hardly an earth-shattering discovery you will agree and Gayle isn’t the only one putting all his eggs in this particular basket – come to think of it, the majority of T20 ‘specialists’ seem to be from the Caribbean – yet there is a danger of the senses being numbed by way too much of a good thing.

    Take a look at all of the domestic leagues around the world and it is the same international faces on your TV screen. Jamaica, Somerset, Melbourne, Durban, Delhi; spin your glove and take your pick.

    Not much variety, not much contrast and not much to get the juices flowing.

    The complete lack of identity created by such a trend among those doing the six hitting only adds to the feeling of exhibitionism.

    But is this what those doing the viewing want, or crave?

    To listen to the marketers speaking of brand and reach, you might be forgiven for thinking the actual sport is just a sideshow.

    It could be Gayle, or Kevin Pietersen or Kumar Sangakkara, If it’s a man, in coloured clothes, clouting the ball over an under-13s sized boundary then all is well with the world.

    Cynical? I’m afraid so but also fearful for the game I enjoy being beaten around without much thought.

    When an English Test player – Jonny Bairstow – is tested from county duty when he would’ve been allowed to play in the IPL had he been drafted, the worm really is turning. And this from the most conservative of countries where tradition has always usurped novelty.

    However, it could well be that this 40-year-old is the one in the wrong.

    People do care about attention-grabbing numbers.

    Spectators would rather watch a Twenty20 thrash rather than a Test match.

    West Indies' opener Chris Gayle

    Franchise versus franchise is indeed the new country versus country. And the dollar trumps the lure of an international cap and sweater.

    Sport isn’t played in 2017 the way it was in 1990 or, come to think of it, even in 2010. That, in all probability, is the crux of the matter and those who yearn for what once was are swimming against a strengthening current.

    It would be extremely foolish to write off years of history and development and jump in with both feet at the alter of the new kid on the block – five3-day, four-day and 50-over cricket still offer plenty although the latter’s voice is most definitely weakening year on year – but time really does wait for no-one.

    To dissent is all well and good yet the actual evidence points in only one direction and no brakes look like being applied.

    So while you might not like it, you better, if you haven’t already, get used to it.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 4:31pm
      TheCunningLinguistic said | April 22nd 2017 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

      No matter how many games I watch (and mostly enjoy), T20 simply doesn’t have the allure of One-Day, which itself is some way short of Tests. I don’t think I will get on board, I think T20’s will remain purely a fun pastime for me.

      But then, much like yourself, I’m a purist the wrong side of 40, so what would I know? 🙂

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 6:18pm
      Swanny said | April 22nd 2017 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

      Just don’t watch the rubbish they call t 20

      I don’t. Simple problem solved

    • Roar Rookie

      April 23rd 2017 @ 12:11am
      Bunney said | April 23rd 2017 @ 12:11am | ! Report

      The problem, as you point out, is not the product, but rather the saturation.
      It becomes dulled through repetition. I enjoy the Big Bash, but its the only T20 I watch. I can’t even be bothered to read match reports about the IPL, or any other T20 league, and I love reading about sport.

      The IPL needs a re-branding; from the Indian Premier League, to the International Premier League. Have a franchise system with 3 blocks of 3 weeks every year, played in three different parts of the world, when no international cricket is being played. Relaxed limits on overseas players, the top few franchises from the big countries, and top two from smaller countries, salary cap, etc etc.

      Reduce the saturation. Increase big-name player participation and reduce player drain due to int’l duties, and increase excitement and meaning. World champs at the end of each year, not just Indian champs, or Aussie champs etc.

    • April 23rd 2017 @ 9:39am
      BrainsTrust said | April 23rd 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      T20 leagues a lot of them are now defunct and the wages haven’t risen.
      IPL is the one source of very high wages but only for a few of the players..
      On the other side of the ledger international cricket wages have risen for Australia and England in particular.
      In India while they don;t get paid a lot for playing international cricket they earn a fortune in endorsements form being in the Indian team.
      West Indies when Alan Stanford was pouring money into cricket in the region, they had a richer t20 league. Stanford for whatever reasons was equally enamoured with the English, remember the deal with the T20 winner takes all for 20 million prize money. England’s board they took Stanfords money, once Alan Stanford was jailed however West Indies cricket lost its money, and England turned their backs on having yearly series with West Indies and became India’s new best friend. Chris Gayle who was also front and center when Stanford was flashing the cash also did a dissapearing act on the West Indies national team along with other players.
      Things might be changing if you take the case of Kyle Abbot who turned his back on the SOuth African for a county contract, he was unwanted in the IPL auction.

      • April 24th 2017 @ 11:17am
        Christov said | April 24th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        correct me if I am wrong but didn’t Abbott go to ENG due to the fact that he was on the outer in SA due to the quota system. he goes to county for more money than staying in SA. so not really a T20 vs the world issue there.

    • April 24th 2017 @ 9:16am
      Johnno said | April 24th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      society generally speaking is less patient these days. Even the good test series last year in sri lanka against the aussies, the crowds were pathetic. I see very little hope for test cricket outside of Australia/India/England. India no one turns up but they have so much money they are able to afford to subsidise a Test cricket side under the banner of “pretending to care”. People born from 1990-onwards the majority I have encountered don’t give 2 hoots about Tests, it’s all about T-20 and with regard to ODI’s the ODI world cup once every 4 years.
      Test cricket is very expensive to maintain, how the west indies long term will be able to sustain a first class cricket comp where no one turns up and all the travel costs I don’t know e.g. India already subsidise the WICB they probably pay for there first class comp to. Sri Lanka no idea or NZ how they will be able to keep on affording to pay to run a 1st class comp.

    • Roar Rookie

      April 26th 2017 @ 11:21am
      Cricket Guru said | April 26th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      Recently Amla and Williamson played spectacular innings in the IPL, all of which reflected pure finesse and shots from the cricket book. T20 may change a lot, but there will be many who will play old school and still perform. Take for instance, King Kohli. Kohli is a risk free T20 smasher, and he averages over 50 in the format. All he uses is tehcnique, and technique and technique.

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