I grew up in a house that loved cricket. I have some great memories attached to the game. Both playing and watching it. I remember countless games of backyard cricket. Onto the roof was six and out. Tip and run. One hand one bounce. Broken windows. I recall waking up in the we hours to watch Vinnige Fanie de Villiers bowl out the Aussies in Sydney. Graeme Smith’s heroic walk down the stairs from the change rooms at the same ground with a broken hand to join Makaya Ntini to try and save a test match. I have so many great test match memories.
There are almost as many ODI memories too. 438. The Jonty Rhodes flying run out. The 22 off 13 balls and then off 1. Alan Donald’s run, don’t run, run. Some are definitely better than others.
I have great memories of this time of the year watching boxing day test matches. There have been some classics over the years. Boxing day for me has always been about left overs and test cricket. And that is probably why I am so sad that there is no test match starting today for the Proteas. For whatever reason Cricket South Africa chose to schedule a T20 international today instead of a five dayer against the visiting Black Caps. I am sad that they have robbed me of a chance to create more memories around a game a I love so much. They have robbed my son of the chance to create some of his own.
It is not that I dislike Twenty Twenty cricket. It definitely has a place in the game. I think it is a wonderful way to introduce people to a game that is very difficult to understand the nuances of. It is exciting but in my opinion to win a test match takes a lot more skill, patience and consistency than to win a T20. I fear though that T20′s and the way international schedules are being organised are going to be the downfall of the longest format of the game.
The last two test series’ that the Proteas were involved in against Australia and England were phenomenal. But too short. What has happened to the 5 match test series? At the end of both of those tours I felt as though I had been short changed. Like there was so much more to come but I wasn’t allowed to see the end.
I get the same sense about sevens rugby and the 15 man game. That sevens has its place but will never be an equal to its big brother. I feel though that rugby has got it spot on. They are almost run as two separate games. And because of it both forms of the game are flourishing. The world sevens series continues to grow and feed some great players into the 15 man game. Gio Aplon is just one example of a player that has successfully crossed the gap. Speaking of gaps it is also helping the so called minnows close it by playing world class opponents more often. Look at the likes of the Kenyan sevens team and their recent successes. And Portugal. Do they even play rugby?
I understand that economics plays a major role in growth of any sport. One of the reasons T20 exploded was because of the IPL. But let’s be honest, unless you’re in India, no one gives a continental now. I thought the aim of T20′s was to speed the game up? When you play forty gazillion games in a tournament it kind of defeats the point doesn’t it? Then there is the Big Bash and the Champions League. That is before you look at the internationals and the World Cup. Aren’t World Cups played every four years?
I don’t know about you but I can’t remember a single incident in a T20 or an entire match that I will look back on ten years from now and say that was an absolute classic.
I think cricket administrators need to realise they are force feeding the goose that lays the golden egg. So instead of watching ANOTHER T20 this afternoon, I’ll be playing a game of backyard cricket with my boy dreaming of the test greats.