What the success of the T20 teaches us about the old school


However, defeat can still hurt a bit, and since Thursday, when India lost to England in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup, the Indians have found various consolations. Comedian Tanmay Bhat tweeted: “Test cricket is real cricket”.

The fact is that today the predominant version of cricket is the 20+ version. Cricket is T20. It eclipsed even the one-day game. How, you may ask, if you’re the serious type. And I would say, “in the only thing that matters in sport, popularity”. And prestige, you might be wondering. Prestige itself is no longer so prestigious.

Test cricket is, of course, the most sacred form of cricket, but it is like most sacred things – there is wide consensus about its sacred nature, but no one can say why, and there is no has no deep emotion underlying its sacredness. Most people who love cricket don’t watch Test Cricket anymore, even though they can follow match updates. It’s more event than sport. They don’t even watch an entire one-day game like they used to. In fact, without the 20+ version, cricket would have stagnated or even shrunk into a distracted world filled with addictive frivolities where even Hindi films struggle to attract fans to theatres.

T20 has made cricket prosperous and deepened the love of its fans. It is in the natural order of things when his birth was difficult. It was considered abhorrent by the kind of people who are very sure of what is abhorrent.

T20 was born out of local necessity in England, where young people found domestic cricket boring, mostly because it was. An England and Wales Cricket Board marketing manager, Stuart Robertson, has suggested a 20+ version of the sport will appeal to people. She was not well received. Seven of the 18 country presidents voted against, so the decision narrowly passed. Many major cricketers and writers scoffed at the idea. But, eventually, T20 took the cricketing world by storm, helped by the Indian Premier League (IPL).

I was one of the people who were certain that the IPL would be a failure but in my defense I have to say my reasoning was not that it was an inferior sport but that for decades Indians had neglected the national sports because they weren’t really sporty. lovers; rather they sought national pride and only watched international cricket. So I wondered why would they watch a 20+ version of national cricket?

The triumph of the T20 is a triumph against intellectuals and purists. One-day internationals themselves had faced similar resistance at different stages in the format’s evolution – when floodlights were introduced, when the red ball was replaced with white and when cricket whites were been replaced by colorful clothes. Purists called it “pajama cricket”, a term that seeped into the strata of society and inevitably infected suitors.

In any field, the purists are usually a section of old wealthy people who also usually had good childhoods and therefore have reason to love and emulate the world of their parents. Their considerable influence in the media then influences the bourgeois suitors. The third type of purists are players who are the direct beneficiaries of a particular tradition. As Sunil Gavaskar has reason to consider the right bat superior to the helicopter shot. There was a time when top Test batsmen considered reverse sweeping a quaint sacrilege.

In all spheres of human life, there are these three types of purists who seem to defend a sacred antiquity. They existed in the publishing industry and scoffed at Amazon’s claim that it could sell books online. They were in the film industry, mocking Netflix’s vision of cinema that didn’t require movie theaters. Not so long ago, when a Netflix movie was screened at an international festival, purists would boo.

In any given sphere, purists drive an old way of life to ruin until delinquent capitalists unimpressed with tradition create something new to salvage the old. They are insulted by purists as rude entertaining clowns. Then the honest masses who haven’t read enough to pretend to be the others make this innovation a huge hit. So the purists lose, grumble and end up accepting the change.

I must confess that by far my happiest memories of cricket were at dawn in December and January when I was in Mumbai watching the live broadcasts of a Test series in Australia. I didn’t care if India played. It was a beautiful sight that didn’t require the threat of sense or thrill.

So I’m not saying that what the purists are trying to save is useless. But what they resist and what they insult is often valuable.

Tradition survives by glorifying abstract things. For example, the central flaw of test cricket’s consecration – that it is a true test of a batter’s caliber. It is absurd that this assumption has survived so long because Test cricket is filled with great stonewallers whose mediocrity is on display in other formats. A batsman needs to be more skilled to perform well in T20 than in Test matches. It is easy for mediocrity to survive the test of cricket because the fewer hits you have, the less risk you will take and the longer you will last.

Endurance, in all walks of life, is nature’s reward for the ordinary.

Manu Joseph is a journalist, novelist and creator of the Netflix series “Decoupled”

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