Cricket as a sport is all about testing the skill of your opponents till they break down under pressure. Most of the games in the previous century were half won by intimidating the opponents in home conditions and making them un-comfortable. But a lot of that has faded away in the recent past as the amount of cricket played between nations has increased dramatically.
The sub-continent nations usually play a lot cricket throughout the year. India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are amongst the stronger nations in the sub continent and with India not playing Pakistan due to security issues, Sri Lanka plays a lot of its games against India or Pakistan. The fans of both the nations are no longer excited when their board announces a series with Sri Lanka.
Though the Geographical distance is not vast, playing the neighbors again and again in familiar conditions will not give either of the nations a lot to rejoice. From 2008 February, India and Sri Lanka have played 55 ODI matches against each other over 8 years. This is the highest number of games between two cricket playing nations for that period. Australia and England come second with 39 ODI’s between them.
The current skipper Virat Kohli made his debut against the Lankan’s in 2008 and has since scored a fourth of his runs and a fourth of his tons against them. The Indian team have been so familiar with their Sri Lankan counter parts that there is not much rivalry between the players. This is also highlighted in the fact that the list of players to score most runs against a single opposition since 2008 is led by six players who score prolifically against each other.
Even in the longer format, the teams though have not met for four years in whites, have played each other 12 times from 2008 including the latest series. The teams that played each other in 2008 have completely changed but the frequency of matches played has not. This has not even come under scrutiny as both the boards are satisfied by filling their empty slots with sponsorship agreements. This has gone to such an extent that the boards mutually agreed to play each other in the short time that was left when the West Indies pulled out of India’s tour last year.
The mystery that is required to produce a thrilling display of the sport on the field is slowly degrading between the two teams and this has in turn given way to anger between the groups. The best example being, the last two test matches of the latest series. Ishant Sharma along with three Sri Lankan players are now banned from playing the next test match.
Though it is good to be playing a lot of cricket thus giving chances to more and more players, there is a question of the need for such short series that serve no purpose other than to raise the incomes of the boards. It is time that the ICC and the BCCI realize that longer tours to different nations not only gives more exposure to the squads but also provides enough entertainment for both sets of fans. However, the Indian fans will not be complaining after the new skipper Virat Kohli successfully completed his first series victory.