Ravi Shastri has signalled his intention to stand down as India head coach after the Twenty20 World Cup, and has rejected suggestions his book launch was the catalyst for the fifth Test against England being called off.
If reports on the revamping of rules, but not the length, of the upcoming season of the Big Bash League are accurate, then Cricket Australia is in serious trouble of killing the goose that laid the golden egg and creating a vacuum in its schedule in future seasons.
The expansion of the BBL from 35 games to a massive overkill of 61 games last season may have given their television partners a heap of nightly cricket entertainment over the summer holiday period, but it also wore thin on even the most tragic of cricket tragics.
When the T20 game was invented it was supposed to be fast and furious, with matches run and won within three hours. That is something that is perfect for TV. However this rarely runs true, with matches getting longer and slower as teams take more time to set fields and work over tactics.
Now there is talk of longer breaks for advertisers, and to allow more tactical breaks, thus not only lengthening the matches but also slowing down their momentum to allow these things to occur. This is the kind of thing that T20 cricket was supposed to avoid and will surely lose viewers rather than gain them if they go ahead.
The games do not need to be extended and they do not need more tricks and twists. They need to be brought back to the time issue, of getting the game completed in the time period allowed.
That is what made this format appealing in the first place – a much quicker game that (supposedly) took all of the boring pieces out of the 50-over game and left only the exciting bits.
With the slowing down of the game due to tactical time-outs (advertising spots) and captains taking more time to set fields to stop teams on the rampage (which, while understandable, should still be penalised if the innings goes over the allocated 80 minutes), and with matches starting far too late to allow young kids or people who have to work early the following day from seeing the matches to their conclusion, is it any wonder that fans get to the point where they turn their TVs off or choose not to attend the games in person?
Ideally for the TV networks and the ability to draw big crowds, every game will have Chris Lynn blasting a 30-ball century while also having Jofra Archer bowling 160-kilometre-per-hour thunderbolts and skittling stumps, as spectacular catches are taken all over the field, with every game coming down to the final ball.
However, that isn’t cricket in any form. Cricket can’t be manufactured. Cricket will have boring, one-sided clashes, Chris Lynn will get dismissed cheaply, Jofra Archer will bowl wide and short.
Bringing in more changes and tweaks, such as the suggestion of substitutes halfway through a game, just risks making the BBL more like a circus than a cricket match. And yes, the media said this back in 1977 when Kerry Packer began World Series Cricket, and that was proven to be incorrect.
But what he couldn’t change was the cricket. There were just as many lop-sided games in WSC as there are in BBL, Viv Richards didn’t always score runs, Dennis Lillee didn’t always take wickets.
T20 cricket in Australia risks losing the very fans it has procured in recent years if it does not reduce the length of the season in regards to matches played, and stops games from extending beyond their three-hour maximum length. Too much of a good thing does not extend itself to being a better thing – sometimes it can be to its detriment.