“I always felt cricket was special, because of its gladiatorial nature. Much as I love the team framework of the game, I also love the one to one, the face-off, the head to head of Dennis Lillee trying to knock my block off, and I used to try and knock Alan Border’s block off and do the same to him. I love it that Viv Richards took on the world as if he were fighting for his life in the Coliseum and I love it that any emperor in the history of the Roman Empire would have held his thumb horizontal, waiting till the crowd went quiet, and then slowly raise it skywards to the roar of all the people who came to see Viv play. If any one man personified all that I believe is good about cricket, it is Viv – strength of body, mind and character, a bright personality, a unique talent, brilliantly applied to a successful career and, best of all, an honorable way of playing the game, respecting it dearly, treating his opponents as he would want to be treated himself.”
Sir Ian Botham ,MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture 2014
As Sir Ian Botham mentioned that he loves Cricket for its gladiatorial nature .That is the best thing about Cricket .It gives you so many different reasons to love the same game .It is such a multifaceted sport. Different people across the globe love the game for its varied offerings.
The “traditional-followers” of the game love Cricket for its Gentle Man approach. The thrill of watching the drama unfold on the fifth day of an engrossing test is the best adrenaline rush for some fans. The prospect of a win on the dying embers of a fifth day pitch is one that every fan looks forward to. The vast legacy of the most pure format of the game is something that every Cricket fan can be proud of. For kids of my generation growing up in the 90’s was all about following the One Day International (ODI) version of the game. Running back to home from school to the sight of Sachin Tendulkar on-driving the best bowlers of the world is a quintessential memory for all kids of my age.
And now with the advent of T20 Cricket and its box-office success, we get to experience Cricket at an express pace. In a manner of speaking T20 is like the “Theatre of Cricket”.T20 has all the glitz and glam of Cricket. The pyrotechnics, the loud music, and the cheer leaders have all been incorporated to rope in audiences to live the three hour thrilling experience of T20 Cricket.
T20 Cricket seems to the preferred format by the crowds. It is the format to be introduced in the newer countries to help popularize the game .It is best medium to make Cricket truly a global game.
With all the above points being made, the reason I find the game of Cricket so unique is because of the geographical aspect of the game. For example a Cricket game being played at WACA Perth will be so different from the one being played at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Even with the same set of players, technicians and coaching staff involved the venue is such a contributing factor to the outcome of the game.
Every time a Cricket team travels overseas the players have to make many adjustments to their game according to the surface they will be playing on. The vast grounds of Australia , the dustbowls of India, the swinging atmosphere in England ,the fast and bouncy pitches of South Africa are some of the examples which spring to mind right away.
The adjustment be it from low bounce to high bounce or vice versa is truly the litmus test of any Cricketer. However I still feel that there has to be some set standards for the game. The one I advocate most strongly is to standardize the dimensions of the Cricket grounds. Whether you want to keep the boundary size at 60 meters or 75 meters is of course up for debate. There can also be a healthy debate if you want to keep different boundary sizes for the different versions of the game. It has become a common sight to see boundaries being pulled in for a T20 game.
I feel it to be a great disparity when even a miss hit sails over the crowds for a six on Indian grounds and at the same time a well timed aerial short would still result in a fielder gulping the ball with certain ease at the boundary on Australian grounds. Most games have pre defined field standards; this is where Cricket could learn from other games.
The sight of batsmen running a four on Sub Continental pitches is a rarity. Even threes are hard to come by on Indian grounds. Sunil Gavaskar has said that the boundary he enjoys the most is the one where the balls travels at an agonizing pace and the fielder doesn’t have the option to give up the chase. This situation can only occur in Australia where even if the fielder manages to keep the ball within the boundary, the batsmen can still run a comfortable four. On sub continental pitches the batsmen are even lethargic to run a brisk three because with the shorter grounds they prefer to conserve their energy for the big hits.
The new breed spinners are afraid to flight the ball and instead prefer to just dart the ball in as the fear that even a mishit can cost them a six.It has alsbecome a common sight to see batsmen just looking toplay out bowlers from one end and go absolutely berserk on the bowlers from the opposite end because of shorter/irregular boundary sizes.Mosttimes it results in batsmen getting down on one knee and slogging good deliveries for boundaries.
This in turn greatly dents a bowler’s self confidence which in turn hurts the team’s self confidence. The reason I strongly advocate standardizing the boundary size is because it’s a factor that is very much under human control .It will bring a uniformity to the game .It will enable us to equally appreciate a six be it on any international venue. No bowler will be able to get away easily by citing the smaller boundaries as the reason for his bowling figures. It will also give us a common tool to measure the hitting ability of all batsmen.
The nature of the pitch, the speed of the outfields and the weather conditions at the venue are conditions which are not perfectly under human control. Though with drop-in engineered pitches coming into play one can argue about the nature of surfaces too but I feel that to be of lesser priority as of now.
Let us hope that this thought reaches to the various governing bodies of Cricket worldwide and we could come to a common consensus about standardized cricket ground dimensions all over the world.
Amen to that.