Tuesday, April 23, 2024

THE MOORE THINGS CHANGE: The parody called T-20 cricket

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I have a friend in London who knows that I am not enamoured of the short form of the game known as Twenty20 cricket. It has caricatured a once cerebral game into nothing more than a distant third cousin of baseball. It now challenges only the muscles and hardly the mind.
DRB and I grew up in the Hall’s Road area, a stone’s throw from Queen’s Park where we enjoyed the game – playing it and watching it. He teases me about my disapproval of the burlesque the game has become.
Our latest exchange went like this.
DRB: I would like to meet a cricket lover who does not enjoy this “cricket comedy”. This four-hour theatre in your own home is great and adds to the longer version of the game.
It is no longer just a hitter’s game; we are seeing great players coming along for their pension as well. If you are not into it yet, join us now.
CM: This farce adds nothing to the longer version of the game. If anything, it takes away!
Who remembers last night’s match, let alone last month’s? Permanently etched in my old cranium – all from the old Kensington – are:
• Garry Sobers pasting Keith Miller.
• Lawrence Rowe’s 302.
• Frank Worrell, 197, and Garry Sobers, 226.
• Clyde Walcott’s 220 vs England after going in with the score at 25 for three. 
• Collie Smith’s tennis-like smash off a Mahmood Hussain bouncer – not to square leg, through extra cover.
• Ted Dexter straight-driving a fearsome Wes Hall. When they recovered the ball it was half white. There were no ropes then; boundary boards were whitewashed.
You are a co-conspirator in the demise of a great game.
Sorry, I can’t join you. I find fast food indigestible. I prefer to sit down and enjoy a proper meal.
DRB: Yes, I remember it well: Everton Weekes taking advantage of a war-torn English side with a joker bowling away swingers at a speed that was nearer to Derek Underwood – that was like good home cooking.
I remember Clyde Walcott leaning on balls in the drive; men bowling fast without a plan; just fast. He loved it. Frank (Worrell) tried to teach him how to run the fielders ragged but his brute force won through; he was not interested in playing to the left of cover and then to the right, like the master; he felt his job was to move the cover – and he did, many times.
Yes, I remember it well. Fast bowlers on a second spell bowling with three and four slips and a gully when the batsman was “in”. What a joke, and men refusing to chase the ball because they did not want their flannels dirty.
I remember it well; sitting in the bleachers or in a tree, or standing on a makeshift scaffold and looking over the wall and hoping to see something.
As soon as Test cricket was tested, it started to lose ground. Today we have golf, football, tennis, women’s football, basketball, United States football, baseball, bowling and other sports.
Twenty20 has taken the best from the Test game and shaped it into a different kind of performer, and cricket lovers are warming to the idea that cricket can be great and funny.
Twenty20 has sex appeal and the women that would not have watched Test cricket are turning out for this game and they look good as well.
CM: Good to see you still have memories of the good old days. Pity you can’t recall last week’s Twenty20 games with such nondescript teams as Warriors, Chargers, Knight Riders and Daredevils. Don’t those names sound like motorcycle gangs from Detroit or Los Angeles?
You snarled: “. . . watching a game that is likely to go on and on for 28 hours without a winner just isn’t an option”. For whom? Folks with the attention span of an inebriated mosquito?
Twenty20 has sex appeal? If I want sex appeal in cricket I would prefer to watch Deandra Dottin or Stephanie Taylor or gorgeous Merissa Aguilleira!
• Carl Moore was the first Editor of THE NATION and is a social commentator.

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