A brief note on a travesty

I know the title above is sadly reminiscent of a word overused by the mainstream media, but I felt it was one of the only apt words to use in lieu of “disgrace.” I’ve never been a fan of either really, but I feel strongly about the topic I am about to write about.

I am similarly passionate about the fact that many of the things people in the media describe as a “disgrace” or a “travesty” are absolutely not these things, so I suppose this thing fits in the same boat.

But both words do make for a catchy headline.

There was a “cricket game” (used in the loosest possible sense. The loosest) played between the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat recently where the chasing side were given 5 overs to chase down a Duckworth-Lewis-revised total of 51. Leaving aside the fact that the Scorchers and Heat are newly contrived and pseudo-real franchises playing a massively dumbed down version of our sport for a moment, I think this is a move in an utterly wrong direction for the game.

Many people have complained and continue to complain that Twenty20 isn’t real cricket. I think it is cricket, but it has stripped it down to the last bastion: twenty overs is my limit. Any less and it ceases to mean anything and becomes just a form of slightly more nuanced baseball.

In this match, Nathan Coulter-Nile was awarded man of the match for his “match winning innings.” I’ve seen many match winning innings in my time. Michael Clarke’s treble in Sydney last year was a cracker. AB De Villiers in Perth this year wasn’t half bad. Tendulkar played a few in his time if I recall correctly. But Nathan Coulter-Nile’s was not a match winning innings.

He amassed a total of 23 runs from six balls. I will admit that it was this innings that won the match, but it was not a match winning innings.

To label it so is simply disingenuous and denigrates the notion of the match winning innings as something that is constructed, crafted, worked for and earned, like a sculpture. Not something that is blasted with a stick of dynamite and called a sculpture. No, Coulter-Nile’s innings was a cameo by anyone’s standards.

But maybe Twenty20 and cricket are moving the way of modern art. Stick a mirror on the wall and call it art, and have a meaningless explanation to justify it. The Big Bash League is Cricket Australia’s meaningless explanation, and their mirror is chasing 50 runs in five overs. Pointless and moot long ago? Entirely.

Which seems like a right shame to me, because cricket has so much more to offer the keen-eyed observer. The cheap thrills of 23 off 6 don’t compare to a restrained hundred from a naturally aggressive (born of the Twenty20 era) player like David Warner on a green top in Hobart last year. They don’t compare to a double from an under pressure Ricky Ponting against India. They don’t compare to three painstakingly compiled hundreds earned at a strike rate of 33 by Alastair Cook in the infancy of his captaincy career.

No, Coulter-Nile’s innings, and this game, shall not take pride of place, nor any place in the pantheon of cricket memory. It, along with the game it rode on the back of will be tossed out with the nonchalance with which he struck four boundaries off Dan Christian. It doesn’t, and never will matter.

That’s not to say Twenty20 is meaningless. But when Messrs Duckworth and Lewis’ method has been so bastardised as to try to achieve a result within five overs, there is too much contingency, too much plain dumbness, that the resulting game should no longer be called cricket.

It you can’t complete twenty overs, don’t finish the game. Call it off due to rain as cricket has done for 150 years. It’s not worth sacrificing a game with more soul than any of the others for the sake of a result in a meaningless competition. And if the administrators do feel the need to attain a result, then don’t call it cricket.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Bossom on January 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Do spectators get refunded if the game is completely rained out, or if the chasing team never comes out? Because if they do, then that would be the reason they send them out.

    Reply

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