Is modern day cricket lacking the spirit of the game?
According to the Netflix documentary Explained, cricket is one of the most complicated games on Earth.
From the aristocratic societies in England, cricket is now one of the most popular sports on Earth. Like golf, aristocrats used to participate in it as an exhibition of opulence after its emergence. At first, it was initiated with the purest format which is called Test format. Here, aristocratic mannerisms such as a lunch break and tea break were brought in, and are still followed.
As a 90s kid, I followed cricket from a very early age. The game has shifted to a new level before our eyes in many aspects. In terms of batting, the game has reversed. While we are getting accustomed to seeing scores of over 300 chased quite effortlessly now. In the 2000s, 230-250 was considered as a competitive total.
The hard hitting batsman walked in at 6 or 7; in modern day cricket, we are seeing the batsman hitting 6 in the first over. Nevertheless, there were cricketers like Gilchrist, Hayden, Gibbs, and more who were ahead of their time.
When India chased the total of 326 at Lord’s against England, it seemed like a fairy-tale. Still Ganguly’s celebration from the dressing room on that day makes us nostalgic. It’s been almost 15 years since Bangladesh reached the 300-run benchmark for the first time against Kenya in Nairobi. Bangladeshi batsmen getting a century or bowling at 140 kph was extremely rare. In most of the matches, the Tigers lost 5 to 6 wickets before scoring 100.
According to old etymology, captains used to open the bowling with two pacers. Spinners operated in the middle overs. But in recent days, a spinner opening the attack with the new bowl is quite popular.
In 2007, the T20 World Cup was first arranged in South Africa. This was the turning point. Later, it paved the way to the succession of franchise-based leagues. However, the rules are also changed from time to time. Free hit, batting power play, DRS -- all these were inaugurated in the last decade. Creation of this format might be the applicable reason for initiating the batting aggression.
Whenever we think of umpiring in the 2000’s, it brings disappointment. So many wrong or biased decisions spoiled the charm of the match. Still, we can’t forget that day when only for umpiring errors, Bangladesh lost the Test against Pakistan. It was a common scenario that umpires favoured stronger opponents. There was no DRS back then. Only run outs and stumping decisions were referred to the third umpire. In terms of umpiring, modern days brought a significant transformation.
In terms of broadcasting, circumstances changed drastically. Whenever I think about the old days, when we used to watch games on BTV, or Indian cricket in DD national, it brings back memories.
Often, we also used to listen to the celebrated commentator Chowdhury Jafarullah Sharafat on the radio. There was no availability of bandwidth, nor were there apps such as Cricbuzz. So, dialing 2002 for the updates of cricket was the only way when we were not sitting before the television or radio. If someone missed the match, the newspaper update of the next day was the only hope of getting the analysis. Paper cutting, where pictures of players from newspapers were cut and collected, was very familiar among teenagers.
As a true fan, I always cherish that era and feel we should return to the time when we were not only entertained by the batting but also by the bowling -- where every dot ball or stopping a single would also be applauded by the spectators.
Shafin Saif is currently studying International Relations at Jahangirnagar University. Email: [email protected]