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Opinion

Has cricket got ahead of itself?

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Roar Rookie
11th October, 2020
34

Thirty years ago, Geoff Marsh or David Boon would bat through an innings to score 92* and go on to win the man of the match award by the length of Caulfield straight.

The opposition, led by a marvellous century stand between their openers, failed to get the required 222 runs, despite having 8 wickets in hand?

Those were the days when batsman made any conditions seem difficult and it was convincing. Twenty runs off the first ten overs and you were thinking Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh really could bowl.

But it also made it seem like Rameez Raja and Ameer Sohail, really could bat just for surviving. An opener like Krish Srikkanth who went for the runs was streaky, not a true batsman.

Someone like Gordon Greendidge seemed a doyen, and truly was. But the way they scrounged those initial runs set up the scene for the entire match.

After scoring at 1.87rpo in the first 10, everything that came afterwards seemed a blessed offering from the cricketing Gods.

Enter Dean Jones or Viv Richards or David Gower, and boy were we all excited. These guy had a strike rate over 70 runs per 100 balls, and could put together centuries, a thing unheard of – well almost.

Viv would crash them through cover, Gower would caress them through the same gaps, and Deano would wait til he was set and then advance down the pitch, and as soon as he did that, even before he struck a ball, we were in ecstasy – the risk taking, the daring, how could he advance down the pitch to a medium-fast bowler?

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But then came 1996, and Sanath Jayasuria and Romesh Kaluwitherana, and Sarauv Ganguly and co, started ruining our preconceptions. The initial 10 overs didn’t have to be full of snicks and straight defence. You could do otherwise other than getting a few cut shots and pull shots away.

Well actually that’s what they did, Sanath and Romesh, but they got a lot away, and suddenly scoring at 4rpo during 20-40 wasn’t exciting anymore.

They ruined this white ball game truly. Because when you could trust your openers not to open the shoulders, the middle order were Gods, and the openers were too, just for not getting out easily. But now you have to score 350, and even then you can’t sit easy.

Last month Alex Carey scored a century off a hundred balls, and no one even mentioned him in Australia, it was all about Glenn Maxwell because he didn’t bat at such a pedestrian rate and only took 85 balls for his ton.

A double century in a ODI game? You mean for the team don’t you?

I wonder what percentage of games Rohit Sharmas 264 would have won in the first 20 years of ODI cricket? But the thing is runs in those games were more special, they got you more excited, and they got you watching how the runs were made, admiring each stroke, such that you knew each batsman entire repertoires.

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That’s why I’m hoping that this summer when India comes for a hit and giggle, Virat Kohli orders the batsman to bat like Boon and Marsh in honour of the Australians, and the Aussies for their turn, play four spinners to honour the Indians.

That would make for an interesting game: India punishing their way to 2/165 and Australia all out for 158 chasing it down, being silly to leave a mammoth 50 runs for the final ten, though they did have seven wickets in hand.

That’s a game I’d love to see! Pujara man of the match for his 73* (157). That’s ODI cricket. Bring it back! In my mind, cricket has got ahead of itself.