As you, dear reader, would know if you’ve been reading your Eyewitness for any length of time, he’s a “cricket tragic” – that is, a fella to whom the game of cricket is literally a matter of life and death!! In the beginning, of course, there was Test cricket…and after a few centuries or so, that begat a new form of the game, One Day, 50-over, Cricket. The format said it all.
It began in England in the sixties as a 40-over game…but the One Day International (ODI) which made the format official, was serendipitous. In 1971, it rained on a Test match between England and Australia for three days, and rather than abandoning play totally, the decision was made, with the ICC’s blessings, to play a one-day game. ODI was born, leading to the ODI World Cup between cricketing nations. It was so popular after Imran Khan led Pakistan to its first World Cup win in 1992, it platformed him to become the soon-to-be-sworn-in Prime Minister of his country!!
It was clear there’d been a revolution rivalling the French Revolution of 1789….which destroyed forever the notion it was the “divine right” of kings to rule over us! For many of the (cricket) old guard, it was blasphemy that the leisurely game of “gentlemen,” which stretched over five days if need be, would now be truncated to one day! Just as upsetting was the fact that all the players would now be “professionals” – to whom money was the inducement!! “How crass!!” the purists sniffed!!
Your Eyewitness wasn’t one of the sniffers!! He knew change was gonna come, sooner or later, in every facet of life. From travelling faster using motor cars rather than horses and buggies, to flying around the world in one day in jet planes, life was accelerating!! And why not cricket? And before you could say “LBW!” there was another truncation at the turn of the new millennium –2003– with T20 or 20/20 Cricket.
Life and cricket were evolving. But what pleased your Eyewitness more than anything else was that the evolution of cricket was producing a form of the game that was already the stock-in-trade of ours in the Caribbean!! Having to grub for a living, not many of us could afford to spend five days on the cricket fields…instead, “pick-up” games for limited overs were always the ordinary man’s game. Then, of course, there was the boisterous behaviour of our uninhibited spectators. None of that dainty tapping of the fingertips to acknowledge a “six”, thank you!!
And it’s for all these reasons and more that your Eyewitness has a broad grin plastered on his face.
CPL and the Warriors arrive next week!!
…as real professionalism
And the CPL, of course, represents the epitome of the newly evolved game of cricket – that is, one that’s been completely professionalised. Since the new, shortened forms of the game evolved – as your Eyewitness explained above – out of the maws of the old order, it meant there’s still a mix of the old “amateurism” with the new “professionalism”. And it doesn’t take a genius to appreciate the challenges posed by those two opposing strands of the old versus the new.
Generally, the problem manifests itself in various cricketing boards still retaining the old amateur attitude of “lording it” over the players, who’re seen as peons who should be grateful for their being even deigned recognition!! It has led to the ridiculous spectacle of players having to “strike” for their rights!!
Enter the professional T20 leagues running the now dominant form of the game – led by the Indian Professional League (IPL). It begins by acknowledging right up front – in its name, even – that the players and the management will be ‘professionals”.
And will play for money!!
But the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has shown that, unlike what the old guards think, players can still be nationalistic when being paid for playing cricket.
Maybe it’s because we always had to work for a living?