Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Twenty20 is the game of the devil.
Well, so I thought, for numerous reasons. But more of that later.
Having watched Australian, David Warner, take apart the West Indian bowling attack in Australia’s eight wicket victory last night, I may yet become a convert. It is very hard not to become enthused when struck with the sight of Warner’s sublime batting display. That he scored 67 was incidental. It was more the way he smashed seven sixes in his mighty effort. And he went at it right from the first ball. Who needs a sighter at the beginning of an innings when you can partake in blasting the ball over the boundary rope for six instead? Not David Warner, that’s to be sure.
This is a man that seems to find opposition bowlers to be a breed of disgusting, deplorable, disgraceful, despicable philistine hillbilly nutjobs that he deems to be the lowest forms of human waste that civilisation has to offer. And then he proceeds to treat them as such, with such stupendous displays of batting prowess that have rarely been seen in cricket. This is good for him, but not so good for the bowler. Unless, that is, the bowler likes this kind of disrespect shown to all his hard toil.
If you are looking for the ideal batter for a twenty20 game, David Warner is that person. For, he seems to bat without fear, not feeling the need to consider the implications of his shock and awe approach, if it doesn’t hit the desired note. At the tender age of twenty, though, I guess he feels like he is bullet proof.
What is even more remarkable about Warner is that he has only played one first class match. In most other cricketing nations he would stroll into virtually any first class side, but not in New South Wales where he is stranded behind test match openers. He need not worry too much about this though, as in this day and age it is possible to make large quantities of coin competing in professional twenty20 competitions such as the IPL.
And for those that say Warner is only an attacking player and not suited to other versions of the game: come on, surely with the right application, he could temper his attacking instincts a little, therefore making him suitable for the one day game and possibly even the longer form of the game. A batsman of the ilk of Warner could potentially change the way first class (and maybe even tests) cricket is played if he does adjust. Some, for whatever reason, can’t though.
Which leads us on to the devilish side of twenty20 and its impact on the longer versions of the game. There are those that believe that twenty20 is having a damaging effect on the techniques of batsmen, as well as their ability to concentrate for long periods of time, hence, leaving batsmen struggling to handle the longer forms of the game. This is especially so in the smaller cricketing nations such as New Zealand, that does not have the depth of talent that the likes of Australia, South Africa and India have.
Whereas in Australia, they can have players specialising in one form of the game, here, our top players are needed, for the most part, in all three versions of the game. Being forced to slog at the cost of technique cannot be good for their preparation for one dayers, and in particular, test matches. Not only this, but, they also claim that the bowlers getting smashed around the park at will is not doing the bowlers confidence any good.
So then, perhaps the age of specialisation is just about upon the cricketing world. This would be fine, except for the fact that the players love the game of twenty20. Not so much because they rate the game highly, but more for the fact that they can earn up to one million dollars for not much more than six weeks work at a time. Some will say that the national body should put its foot down and insist that the top players put their national team first. This, of course, is a mighty fine sentiment on their part.
The problem that organisations like New Zealand Cricket have with enforcing this type of policy is that the players, once their contracts end, can simply choose not to re-sign with the national body. Therefore, leaving them open to offering their services out to the highest bidder. Not only is the age of specialisation nearly here, but so too, it seems, of the freelancer in cricket. And who really could blame them?
As much as we would all prefer to see them jumping out of their skins to play test cricket, they can hardly be blamed for being tempted by copious amounts of dollar signs flashing before their eyes. After all, they do have families to feed, not to mention the appeal of setting themselves up financially for life once they retire from the game.
Already we have seen the likes of Shane Bond and Jacob Oram retire from test match cricket to concentrate on the twenty20 arena. Partly this is because of injuries they have suffered playing test match cricket. Though there is a nagging suspicion that it has become all too easy to give away the toil of test cricket when there is the obvious attraction of making mega bucks without having to put too much effort in. This is especially so for the bowlers.
In the end it comes back to what will get the public through the turn- styles. Not surprisingly, twenty20 seems to be that game, particularly for the younger audience. This is not hard to comprehend when the average attention span these days would struggle to last forty overs, let alone the one hundred overs of a one day match. With so much else available for them to spend their time and money on, officials have little choice but to cater to their wishes.
So Twenty20 is here to stay, it seems. And if David Warner is going to create absolute mayhem and havoc as he did last night at the SCG, those traditionalists amongst us, may even be tempted to continue tuning in.

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