By Karthik Parimal
It’s unbelievable how much cricket has changed in the 21st century. Twenty years ago, in 2012, many cricketers belonging to that era predicted the downfall of Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs). The first to admit such fears were stalwarts Kevin Pietersen and Rahul Dravid. Almost two decades ago, in the summer of 2012, Pietersen raised concerns over the dull middle overs of an ODI, whereas Dravid kept reiterating the fact that immediate steps were needed to be taken if Test cricket was to be resurrected. But their concerns fell on deaf ears.
In March 2032, Indian T20 specialist Samit Dravid and controversial English cricket Dylan Pietersen revealed to the press that their fathers were in fact right in worrying about this forthcoming predicament.
“My father tried a lot during my childhood to get me to watch Tests and ODIs. But I preferred watching T20s and the sacred Indian Premier League (IPL) instead. That is the only thing I’ve done against my father’s wishes, but I’m sure it was the right thing to do. I’m an established T20 player today, and nobody can deny that fact,” said Samit. “My father Rahul knew that Test cricket would soon become extinct. He had sleepless nights over it. But, I failed to understand why!” he added.
Kevin Pietersen’s son Dylan, too, spoke on similar terms. “I feel my dad made a few weird choices during his playing days. The kind of player he was, it would have been apt if he’d quit Tests first and played the limited-overs version instead. But he did the exact opposite,” said Dylan. “But my dad was right in predicting the downfall of ODI cricket. I sometimes wonder how it even coexisted beside T20s for a few years!”
A few decades ago, all forms of cricket were a craze in the subcontinent. Stadiums were filled to the brim, especially in India where you couldn’t find a single empty seat during a Test or an ODI. However, the signs of declination first became visible twenty years ago. Now, you don’t even get to watch ODIs and Tests on television anymore. The fact that the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) decided to give away a gallon of petrol, alongside a free ticket, for spectators willing to watch an ODI game between India and Australia at Chennai last year, in 2031, speaks volumes of how the times have changed. It’s amazing that Twenty20 has revolutionised cricket and cuts a close second to football as the world’s most popular sport, but it also saddens me that Tests and ODIs are as ‘popular’ as ball badminton now!
In 2012, people would have thought you were nuts if you suggested that Sachin Tendulkar’s dominance in Tests and ODIs would soon be forgotten. But that’s exactly what it is now in 2032! Tendulkar’s epics in Tests and ODIs are completely forgotten.
However, it’s heartwarming that his son Arjun Tendulkar has taken over the mantle. There is no doubt today that 33-year-old Arjun is the greatest T20 cricketer alive. He’s rightly nicknamed Zeus, since Zeus is the King of Gods according to Greek mythology. With over 10,000 runs to his name in this format, inclusive of sixty scores of over 30 and 97 half-centuries, Arjun has kept up his father Sachin’s legacy. The world, especially the state of Maharashtra, waits with bated breath as Arjun nears an unbelievable landmark of 100 T20 half-centuries.
The only current cricketer who hasn’t inherited any sort of qualities from his father is Samit Dravid. Samit, an excellent T20 cricketer, has had a miserable Test career so far. When asked why Samit held up a placard reading “Yeah dad, talk nah” after scoring a century in IPL 23, Samit said, “Dad keeps asking me to leave the good balls and put away the bad ones. He asks me to grind it out session after session. He keeps giving me ridiculous tips like watching the ball till the very end or till it hits the wicket-keeper’s gloves when left alone. I just can’t understand any of that crap. Like most of the current cricketers, I only know to throw my bat at the ball regardless of the format, and it has worked well for me. But he doesn’t buy that.”
Many Test and ODI cricket lovers were deeply saddened by the death of both the formats. It was a joyous occasion for all such fans when ESPN began a nostalgia series where Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar spoke about the glory days of Test cricket. But they were soon brought down to reality as the series was abruptly discontinued due to horrendous TRPs. In fact, the show bombed so badly that even Balika Vadhu, an Indian television series that’s been running continuously for the last 24 years, comparatively received better TRPs!
(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. His zeal for writing and love for the sport of cricket is what has brought him here. Karthik can also be followed on Twitter)