Cricket: Yeah, but is it cricket?

By Darren Dawson

The movable feast that is the “20twenty Big Bash” is all but over for another season, and I am now feeling a little bloated from the viewing. However, a number of questions remain unanswered, and to me, chief among those queries: “Is it really cricket?”

As a traditionalist, I have been a late convert to the newest form of the game, but this month my Luddite-like resistance has been abandoned and I have fully embraced the entertainment offered up on Fox Sports. But is there any substance beneath all the riches on offer?

Like a man who has been fasting for the past five Januarys and has suddenly decided to partake in the buffet, I have gorged myself on the visual spectacle. A summer holiday to Queensland was no impediment to my cravings. Potential motel stops throughout country New South Wales were meticulously scrutinised for their pay-TV availability. It has been a marvellous spectacle, brimming with athletic fielding and of course bludgeoning shots, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it all. But is it really cricket?

Too much has been made of the crassness of this tournament. So what if the preliminary final is more important to win than the grand final? The finalists are into the Lucrative Indian Champions’ League with guaranteed riches. Witness South Australia’s lamentable performance against NSW at the Olympic Stadium on Jan 17. The Redbacks were already certainties to host the final (and had qualified for the L.I.C.L.) so the result of this match – and hopefully the rest of the tournament! – was inconsequential. So what if international players such as Afridi, Bravo, Pollard, Gayle, Naved, Taylor and Vettori are filling their pockets while filling spots in teams that could otherwise be occupied by young Australian players. Surely you understand that they are adding more “glamour” and “excitement” to the tournament?

Amid all the cynicism, there have been some tasty titbits to more than whet the appetite:

# David Warner’s six-hitting left both Shaun Tait and me wondering why a bloke with such a good eye cannot get within a bull’s roar of the NSW Shield team;

# Shaun Marsh’s merciless century against NSW was an awe-inspiring display of clean-hitting;

# Steve Smith’s four wickets at Bellerive, entirely due to his Boxing Day tutorial from Warnie;

# Aaron Finch’s coming of age against Tasmania;

# The impressive Tim Paine, a future star of Australian cricket.

I actually attended the Victoria v Tasmania match at the MCG. Apart from Brad Hodge’s masterful dismantling of the opposition bowling attack (including the hitherto impressive James Faulkner), my lasting impression will be of the flame-throwers which erupted each time the pickets were cleared; I was two-hundred metres away, but still had my brow singed every time they burst into life.

The Big Bash has put me in mind of those rare moments I have had a feed of Chinese take-away: enjoying every mouthful at the time, but feeling strangely unfulfilled only hours later. And when the MSG-induced nausea follows, I find myself promising that my next meal will be a roast dinner. In much the same way that my next cricket viewing will be of the real, Test-match variety. Crowd figures suggest that I may be in the minority.

And as for the grand finale this Saturday night? I don’t really care if the Bushrangers win or not, because they have already qualified for the Lucrative Indian Champions League with guaranteed riches. Another feast awaits next October. I have made up my own mind, but will leave it up to others to form their own opinions as to whether it is really cricket.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

Comments

  1. John Dawson says:

    Well done Darren on another great article.

  2. John Butler says:

    Interesting observations Darren

    I think folks our age tend to be leery of all the hoopla, but I don’t think we’re the intended audience.

    I think the T20 crowd is a more extreme version of the one day audience. There’s not a lot of intersection with the test cricket audience. Therefore, despite dire prognostications about test cricket, it’s the 50 over game that is most threatened.

    Like you, I’m dubious about some of the imports. Some of these guys hardly seem like crowd pullers.

    The impact of the L.I.C.L on the relative resourcing of the states will be intersting to observe.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says:

    I went to the Vic V Tassie game at the G- I was dreading the loud earbashing music, hoopla etc but actually found it all not too disturbing. My teenage nephews were very amused by the choice of songs I might add. I was thrilled to see Brad Hodge bat brilliantly. It was great to be part of the crowd that gave him a well deserved standing ovation and to see him appreciate it as he walked off. I enjoyed watching the young up and coming talent- Finch and Paine in particular and the bowlers in action. As far as resembling cricket-it gets a YES from me. The batters hit the ball, the bowlers bowled and the fielders fielded. I enjoyed it.

  4. Yes, it IS cricket, Pamela, but of a different hue.
    Mainly at the urging of my sons, I have been to a number of 20/20 games at the ‘G and have enjoyed them. The two most thrilling 20/20 moments for me have centred around the Australia V S Africa match in January last year. I rmember being flabbergastered by David Warner’s hitting: he spanked SAf for 89, I think, and his some massive 6’s. (I recall the excited expectation from the 60,000 crowd each time he was on strike). Then there was Shaun Tait, whose express pace was frightening. He hurried AB De Villiers (who had plundered Australia all summer) into trodding onto his stumps for a duck. AB seemed quite relieved to be departing the crease.
    I also remember thinking, as I looked around the ground, that 20/20 was here to stay.
    Darren Dawson.

  5. Like Pamela I too was at the G on Friday night. Was at a bit of a loose end so I thought “why not?”. I arrived half way through the Tas innings and was immediately struck by the size of the crowd. I have seen Bullies play Melbourne in front of far fewer than that crowd. I took up a standing spot not far from Bay 13 and was impressed with the pace of the game. The intrusive shouting of the voice of the G at Footy irritates beyond the pale, but it seemed perfect for this atmosphere. I am a bit tired of the formulaic approach most teams bring to the 50 over game, so it was refreshing to see this one where it seems impossible to try and pace an innings. There just isnt time! Hodgey looked like a bloke who should be the first picked in any T20 [why isnt it 20T?] side ever chosen anywhere. If selection was done by the old schoolyard system the captains would be rolling in the dust trying to get first pick. Or better still he should have been able to bat for both teams [literally] as we would then have got full value for the $10 entry fee. I did miss Tim Paines knock due to the traffic jams around the ground caused by only one carpark being open> All in all a fun night that didnt require ANY thought, just roll up and let it happen.

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