Even as Lalit Modi and his cohorts continue to brag about the apparent revolution that they have brought about in cricket with the IPL and the Champions league T20,it remains to be seen whether this so called watershed actually benefits the game or kills it. If one were to go by Modi’s vision, he sees cricket entering the domain of soccer- where the club/franchise based games will emerge and push international cricket to the background. While the effects of T20 have been more than obvious now on the 50 over version with people calling for curtains on the latter ,international cricket still remains the bread and butter of the game. We still haven’t reached a stage similar to soccer ,where the various premier leagues and the UEFA champions league take centerstage.Lalit Modi’s intentions ,apparently are to popularize the game. But amid all the din and dazzle of T20,lurks the danger of a premature extinction of the game atleast outside the sub continent.
So we potentially have two situations that could arise out of the Lalit Modi ‘revolution’. Both ways, club cricket will come to the fore and relegate international cricket to the back burner. ODIs will be part of cricketing folklore, or at best played once in 4 years in the form of world cups. The first situation would be that of the gentleman’s game treading the football-path. What that would mean is cricket being embraced in new places like Russia,China, south-east asia,africa and possibly the Americas.The Indian Premier League would then be bracketed with the great soccer leagues of the world like the EPL, the Primera Liga et al and the CL T20 would emerge as the cricketing equivalent of its counterpart from the beautiful game.Lalit Modi’s name would go down in history as someone who opened up this game to the whole world. Sounds quixotic isn’t it? And Lalit Modi is the Don Quixote here if he thinks this can be possible, not me for writing such nonsense on this blog. 😉
The other more possible, probable or rather inevitable scenario would be the baseballification of cricket.We all know how popular baseball is outside the US, isn’t it? Cricket will most probably meet this fate,with India becoming its only home. Cricketers will turn freelance, left,right and center. Andrew Flintoff and Symmo would be the icons of their ilk. The IPL will then expand to occupy the whole calender year. And we will have teams like the Hubli hurricanes taking on the Guntur guzzlers. Or picture a Jallandar juggernauts locking horns with the Banarasi babus(no offense intended) :D. Outside the sub continent,the game would be long gone. This, unfortunately seems to be more realistic. The recently concluded Champions trophy in South Africa alludes at this, more than anything else.
I might sound like a doomsayer, but it hurts to see the game getting increasingly adulterated, for the kind of cricket that I ve come to enjoy over the years is of the type where there is a level playing field for batsmen and bowlers. Of a game where batsmen were made to earn every single run. Of a game which has seen some of its greatest thrills in the longer versions. T20 cannot provide us those moments. Even if it does, they will not linger on for too many days, unlike that of a beaming Kapil Dev holding aloft the cup on the Lord’s balcony or that of Sourav Ganguly taking off his shirt signaling a scintillating win, from the same balcony. Or for that matter Dhoni’s men winning the tri series down under.