India return home having lost their two-match T20I series to West Indies 0-1 © AFP
India return home having lost their two-match T20I series to West Indies 0-1 © AFP

Cricket is not always about winning, it is a part of life, which teaches some of the biggest of lessons. The men, who play it, can ever not get away. As much as they enjoy their time on the field, their lives off the field revolve around the sport, which remains somewhat the same till their last breath; they live the sport. After all, who wants to go away from sharing a room with some of the most talented men? Who wants to walk away from having a few beers after hard-fought wins? Who does not want to be a part of a unit that only strives for wins? Isn’t life away from cricket boring? Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs West Indies, 2nd T20I at Lauderhill 

Wins. Teams win matches, their players shine in individual capacities, or they get together to form a bond so strong that it takes years to breach it. Teams win, players win, everybody associated with the sport does. Cricket administrators get their money, sponsors too get what they want, audience are anyway those few privileged to see live cricket action. Everyone gets something. But what does the game gets in return?

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke was certainly as hard-nosed as some of his predecessors. Ricky Ponting never cried in a presser when Steve Waugh walked away. But Clarke did when Ponting said he was over. Throughout his career, Clarke remained the same: hard-nosed from the outside but an extremely emotional man within.

And this extremely emotional man kept saying something which the world perceived as his humility: I owe the game everything; the game owes me nothing.

Think about it: the game owes us nothing. Zilch.

Those associated with the sport always get something or the other. Name, fame, money, world-wideworldwide recognition, what not? Recognition is something every human on this planet strives for.

But what does the game of cricket strives for? Can the game speak for itself? Can the game stand up today and say, ‘okay, look here, we’re done!’?

Sadly, the game cannot. The game is just an object whichobject, which the man is mishandling like a resource which he thinks, is in abundance. A handful of countries play the sport, living in the impression that it is widely-recognised sport. These handful of countries behave as if there are no threats that the future may pose. They think no other sport can challenge cricket’s popularity; that it doesn’tdoes not need any expansion.

Expansion. Cricket needs to be expanded; we all know it. Cricket needs to be safe-guardedsafeguarded; we are aware. Cricket needs to be fool-proof, and it needs technical advancement; we know that too. But exactly what are we doing? ALSO READ: Cricket’s grand entry in US falls victim to organiser’s moolah-mindset

To expand cricket, we take it to such an obscure land where the legends of the sport had to contend with by playing it on a field which did not even ensure a good contest. The ‘Cricket All-Stars League’ — brainchild of Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne — consisted some of the greatest cricketers ever, contesting on a baseball field whose shape is in complete contrast to that of cricket’s. Fair enough, no one was actually contesting, the idea was to spread the idea that cricket existed for those who had never thought about it.

But the legends had no qualms. They all gathered in the US with the same zeal they would have before any contest, and they enjoyed it. They were ready to do it all for cricket – travel to the other part of the world, train, and play as many as three T20 matches to tell the most powerful country in the world that a sport that rules the hearts of more than a billion had arrived.

The ‘Cricket All-Stars League’ was a trend-setter. Agree, there had been as many as four T20 Internationals played at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground in Lauderhill earlier, but none of them carried the hype as well as star-attraction as did the All-Stars League and the recently-concludedrecently concluded India versus West Indies series.

India versus West Indies in USA. When India set out for their four-Test series in the Caribbean, a limited-overs series was not in the agenda. That is why, forgetting almost everything that is cricket, MS Dhoni got involved in the promotion of his upcoming biopic. Being engrossed in the promotional activities, Dhoni too would have expressed some amount of surprise with the way India versus West Indies T20I series was planned out.

But since there was no telecast possible of the second T20I at Florida, the India versus West Indies clash was delayed by 40 minutes. There is no standard rule set by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in context to the start of the matches; all that the governing body has set is the standard playing conditions. Those in the US, perennially deprived of cricket (owing to the time zones) shelled out anywhere between USD 100-250 for a seat. They had to wait all these years, and for those painful 40 minutes to see Indian cricketers back in action again.

Cricket, on a Sunday in Florida, was not meant exclusive to those who had flown in to Lauderhill. It was meant for everyone watching. It was the mind-boggling television masses in India who were supposed to bring in the money via advertising. And they did, for whatever time the game was on.

Game was on. When exactly was it ‘game on’ when a rampant India looked set to make it 4-0 in the Caribbean? Had the weather not put applied breaks on the Indian juggernaut, the West Indies cricket team would still have been under a lot of pressure in the fourth Test. Out of the entire four-Test series, it was only on the final day of the second Test at Jamaica that West Indies even looked like they could compete. It soon fizzled out though, in the next Test, where too rains threatened to have their say. But there were covers big enough for cricket’s rescue.

Rescue. What happened at Durban, Trinidad and then at Florida, had one thing in common: cricket may reach out to newer venues and wealthier audiences, but it will stand in poor light every single time. Players may win, administrators may rake in as much money as they want, they may hold up the game because there is no live telecast feed; but cricket, in return, will not get anything.

Cricket in USA may have had been a hit so far, but where are those who realise that the sport stood bare when a 15-minute shower ended so much in so little time? Alike most of the international cricket venues, just because organisers cannot muster money to buy big enough covers to spread throughout the field and reduce rain-threats, cricket in Florida too had the similar fate.

Unless the game’s caretakers do not step up and get rid of this age-old problem, unless the match playing conditions are not brought up to the level of acceptance, cricket will continue to be the loser.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)