Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why I call Cricket education?

Why I call Cricket education?
We are roughly 25 days into this edition of the World cup and the best part is India is still a part of the event.To be fair to them,the Indian team has always been a decent performer in the World Cup,barring the forgettable 2007 edition.But the way the event has captured the imagination of the cricketing world,specially the subcontinent has been phenomenal.I say this
because most of us thought that the good old 50-over version was a goner-what with the advent of the 20-20 that promised a package of entertainment in which cricket was soon ceasing to be a part! Of course the event has had its advertisements-a Kamral Akmal,a Kevin O Brien,a Ross Taylor,and of course the English and Indian teams who have done everything to make their matches interesting.
And thanks to these factors and a lot more I want to mention,cricket is education-again!!!!

Infact the signs have been showing up for quite sometime now.The Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia was as intellectually stimulating as its entertainment value-if not more.The result oriented approach of the teams led the crowds back to the ground to watch test
cricket which was a bonus of sorts for cricket.The last session of the second test witnessed a near full- house in Bangalore-proving that if the right centres are chosen,people still want to pay and watch test cricket.

Then India toured South Africa.The way the Indian team bounced back after losing the first test was a lesson in courage and character and self-belief.That it takes a lot more to win a series in South Africa was proved by Jacques Kallis-who played wonderfully to deny India a win in the the third and final test.

On a parallel track,the English were playing way above themselves(considering the way they are playing now) to thwart the Aussies and retain the Ashes.I am sure hundreds of us got up early in the morning and enjoyed long distance education on "How to tame a kangaroo in 5 days?"!!!
Not to forget the one-day series in South-Africa that was the ideal appetiser before the World Cup.

Thankfully,20-20 has taken a backseat again.The common man in India is back to discussing field positions and strategies and not just glamour and cheer girls.I guess this is where cricket stands apart from all other team games and thus has captured the imagination of the masses in our country.People connect with it,because they can talk about it.They can analyse a match to bits and tear a player to shreds if he does not meet their expectations.Each match is subject to intense scrutiny,right from the local bus stop to the air conditioned corporate houses. One could argue that the 20-20 does generate a frenzy-but it hardly connects with the true cricket fan,who wants to be educated and not just entertained.
I mean,I clearly understood what trajectory was all about after watching Harbhajan and Kumble bowl in tandem.The aerodymamics of reverse swing seems more interesting than our syllabus right now. The fact that a pitch breaks down in five days if rolled or not watered properly seems such a phenomenon! And the differences between a short-leg,silly point or between a leg-slip and a leg-gully.......all this is a result of following test cricket with keenness,something that 20-20 fails to inspire.
The way cricket is presented to the audience also has a great impact on its eductional value.A Mandira Bedi sitting as a presenter may add a few thousands of eyeballs,but adds very little credibility to a pre/post match show-which is always expected to be intellectual fodder for the audience.(To be fair to her,neither does a Vengsarkar or an Amarnath).The whole experience of enjoying watching a game of cricket depends so much on the build-up,the commentary during a game and ofcourse rational post-mortem.I would certainly recommend listening to a Geoffrey Boycott,Tony Greig,Harsha Bhogle,Ravi Shastri or even Saurav Ganguly these days for cricketing knowledge and to improve our English skills.And thankfully,this World Cup has most of these people in the commentary team!
All in all,the last few months are proving to be a renaissance of sorts for the game of cricket-in its true forms.What I have personally discovered is that I would rather pay to watch an intense day of test cricket than a 20-20,which has more air-time for the sponsors and the franchise owners than cricket itself. And I really hope you have discovered that a Tendulkar straight-drive looks more beautiful than a Bipasha Basu any day!