Sachin Tendulkar (L) Shane Warne (C) Adam Gilhrist (R) © Getty Images & AFP
Sachin Tendulkar (L) Shane Warne (C) Adam Gilhrist (R) © Getty Images & AFP

 

By Devarchit Varma

 

Indian Premier League, Sri Lanka Premier League, Bangladesh Premier League, Twenty20 League in England, a league in West Indies and a few more state-level tournaments sprouting in India… T20 format is mushrooming.

 

Even the apex for the game, the International Cricket Council, plans to use the T20 format spread to other parts of the world where cricket is still in its infancy. But is Twenty20 the right ambassador of cricket?

 

Fans around the globe have lapped up the short, fast-paced format because it has unlimited thrills and needle finishes. More importantly, it offers so much in so little time; just the right answer in an age where paucity of time is an all-pervasive lament. For the players, it offers good money for minimal work. And the nature of the format is such that even players who don’t have the talent to measure up to Test match standards can be successful in this abridged version which is all too forgiving for corruptions in technique.

 

Nobody wants to be left out of this hugely-popular brand of cricket. Sri Lanka have started their own league and the Pakistanis, snubbed by the IPL, were quick to find refuge in the 18-day Lankan league in July.

 

There is undeniable shift in players’ priorities as well, with an increasing number showing an unambiguous preference for T20 cricket over national duties. The latest in the line is Lasith Malinga.

 

The conventional form of the game forms the base for all other forms of cricket and raising the importance of T20 at the cost of the traditional game is fraught with huge risk of causing long-term damage to all forms of cricket. And the sooner this is understood, the better it would be for all concerned as the cricketing world is blinded by the dazzle of T20.

 

Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons left on a bad note after a poor run in the World Cup. Before leaving, he raised an important point that brings to light how local focus is coming in the way of developing world class cricketers. Instead of heeding Siddons’s advice and strengthening grass-root level cricket, the Bangladesh Cricket Board has chalked out plans to launch a T20 league.

 

Following the loss to India in the World Cup final, Sri Lanka’s captain, vice-captain, coach and selecting committee resigned. It didn’t make sense. Instead, they should have put their collective experience together to raise Sri Lanka’s stocks. But what we find is that Sri Lanka, too, have jumped on to the T20 league bandwagon!

 

The Big Bash league in Australia is causing its share of worries. There was a time when the cricketing powerhouse used to produce top level players across all formats of the game. But by the look of things, Australia are now producing players who will keep flocking around the world, participating in T20 leagues; players such as Michael Klinger, Daniel Christian, David Warner, James Hopes, Travis Birt, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Aiden Blizzard, and many others have earned a reputation as T20 specialists.

 

The big guns in the IPL like Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Brett Lee, Kumar Sangakkara attained their formidable status in the conventional format of the game proving that a quality Test player can succeed in T20 but a quality T20 player need not necessarily succeed in Test cricket.

 

By ignoring the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Rahul Sharma and Paul Valthaty – three very successful players in IPL4 – for the ODI leg of India’s forthcoming tour of the West Indies, the selectors have sent out a subtle message what they think of successes in T20.

 

(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or play cricket. An ardent Test cricket fan, he often goes alone to see his favourite players in action.)