Saturday, January 19, 2008

Testing Times

One dayers or test matches, which is the more enjoyable version? This question has been doing the rounds for along time in a lot of discussions. More recently, with the introduction of 20-20 version, the smallest version yet, has been preferred by many. They have their logic clear. They say it is less time consuming, more power packed performances, more exciting and thrilling to watch and ofcourse, more money generating. Granted. But, where is the game in a 20-20 match? A basic cricketing sense is needed, but a “wham-bam-thank you-ma’am” attitude is what’s required. A test match is where the game is in its full grandeur. Captains strategize, bowlers introduce tactics, batsmen are in their elegant best and teams play with flamboyance of gentlemen. There is panache, power and purity. It’s akin to making love. In the other version, there is no foreplay, just the three letter word… SIX or OUT. Who does not love having some quick fun? But the choices you make define you. Speedy dates makes one a much talked about personality in her/his own circle of influence for a while. But a long standing relationship creates respect, makes you an example.

I love test cricket. In all sincerity, not many, including the undersigned was hopeful of a test win when India traveled to play against the Aussies in Australia. Still one of the best batting line ups on paper, a decent bowling line up and a couple of renowned fielders, India had a good mix. But probably not good enough to beat a team which had 14 straight test wins and were eyeing to break the 16 in a row test wins set by their own countrymen! Moreover, with Australia playing 13 players against our mere 11, it was never a fair game. I thank them who decided umpires should stop wearing their white coats. Doesn’t go well with the colors of the game.

But what a win! Finally, after 5 years a team was able to beat the world beaters and that too in their own courtyard. India has done the unthinkable. And what a test match it was. Every minute was a thriller, every ball not to be missed and every appeal exciting. It was pure magic. Cricket, at its best. When a cricket match yields a result a day before its supposed to finish, you are assured it was gold class cricket played. Both sides have to be congratulated. There is only one winner though.

Contemplating now, I believe times have changed. Time is at a premium. We don’t have the patience to invest time and energy on even things we love. So, if we have a one-day match why watch a 5-day test? If we have 20-20 version, which starts and ends in half a day, why go for a full day match? Why just cricket, even for relationships, we have speed dating as a way of life now. Try out twenty people for 2 minutes and decide who is a catch and who is out of the boundary. Only here, it’s the reverse. The one caught stays and the one lifted out is, well, out. Strange are the rules, stranger are the players! Game on.

So, what does one like, a test match, a one dayer or a 20-20? Can we have a shorter version from 20-20? Who knows? May be. It sure is testing times for the thinkers of the game. How to make the game even more interesting, even more gripping and even more profitable? Guess, the question should be, what does one want?

Why do we call it a one-night stand, where all we may get is a lay?