No more complaints about too much cricket

By K. Datta, IANS

If, strangely, players are no longer complaining about too much cricket, too many unimaginatively programmed tours and tournaments and itineraries, not a little credit should go to the fresh wave of enthusiasm the Twenty20 form has injected into the game.

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The lure of adventure and glory has fired the imagination of a whole generation of cricketers. Besides, most importantly, there’s money to be made. It is all too enticing to be ignored.

If the young see a lucrative future in Twenty20, the over-30s and the just-retired ones view it as a golden opportunity to supplement their retirement incomes.

Some over-30s, like Sri Lankan veteran Sanath Jayasuriya (38) or Misbah-ul-Haq of Pakistan, who has been in and out of the national team in recent years, have had their personal moments of glory in the Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa.

Misbah struck the longest six (111 metres) in a match-winning 66 not out off 44 balls against Australia as though to prove that they can be as fighting-fit and combative as the 20 somethings in this latest, and shortest, version of cricket.

With almost 200 sixes already struck and more to follow in the days leading to Monday’s final, it maters little if the older players are not as fast on their feet as the younger ones when it comes to fielding. The ball, anyway, will sail over you most of the time.

But coming back to the complaint of too much cricket, overburdened itineraries and other connected matters. Nonsense! What is a month’s extra cricket, involving about a dozen 20-over matches, if you can make a few hundred thousand dollars?

Shane Warne, the recently retired Australian leg-spinner, is reported to have signed a $600,000 contract for next year’s “official” Indian Premier League of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), not taking into account the extra income he will be raking in through endorsements for the franchisee corporations.

It now appears there is no such thing as fatigue when, at the end of the day, there’s some extra money to be pocketed.

Indians, Pakistanis, Australians, Sri Lankans, West Indians and New Zealanders, all have succumbed to the lure of the lucre. Some even have no objection to playing for the rival breakaway league.

Loyalties to “official” boards have gone for a six. Everyone has a right to better one’s life, as Kapil Dev, captain of India’s World Cup-winning team of 1983 now working for the breakaway Indian league, put it.

Money is what matters in the end.

All that talk of too much cricket having an adverse effect on the health and performance of cricketers was just idle talk. Why should professional cricketers complain against too much cricket is the new approach. It is their bread and butter, after all.