Even Cardus would struggle

I’ve written lots about my dislike of the shorter game, and it still interests me how little I actually care about it. I’ve not yet worked out whether it’s because England are so poor, or whether it’s the format. Probably a mixture of both. With the Champions Trophy nearly in full swing, my indifference shows no sign of abating.

It is not Test cricket. Any variation on the five-day format is, in my eyes, dumbed down and easily avoided. That’s not to say a run-chase won’t have me thwacking my desk in frustration and excitement; I do view Tests as the superior, daddy of cricket but I’m not ignorant (or snobbish) enough not to appreciate a tense finish.

Anyway. See? I’m rambling again. The point of this waffle is a rather bloated introduction to Rohit Brijnath’s excellent piece at the BBC. Brijnath, an India-based sportswriter, laments the format and his declining interest in the shorter game.

The world’s finest batsman once is now Tendulkar one day, Endulkar the next. Sehwag is God with every six and devil when caught on the boundary. Captains are hailed at 20 overs and heckled at 40.

As a writer, I was despairing. Cardus might have made even Prabhakar’s action seem poetic, but for us, hacks, one-day cricket was a writer’s nightmare. There were few storylines, few characters, few innings worthy of grand description. This wasn’t writing, it was accountancy.

It doesn’t help that matches are now absent of subtlety. Pitches are seemingly lifted from cemeteries, boundary ropes pulled in so close that edges go for six, 500 runs by one team is a battering away, and the basic equation of cricket has got skewed: bowlers are now like extras on a film set where the only leading men can be batsmen.

The paragraph I put in bold is where I stand. A clutch of five one-dayers, I’m afraid, does very nearly render us speechless with boredom; they’re forumlaic, and even more so when England are so poor. Yep – if they were dominant, I’m sure I/we would find greater artistry. But it’s hard, if impossibly, not to be affected by some sort of bias in this field; I appreciate all good cricket but want England to win, much as Indian journalists gun for India.

What to do? Not a lot. Familiarity breeds contempt. Even for Brijnath, whose country is pretty damn good at one-day cricket, the format bores him. Its future, then, must surely be limited.


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