“We will do everything within our limits to protect Test cricket” – random cricket official
“Nothing can replace the pride of a Test cap” – modern-day international cricketer
“Country over club, ALWAYS” – most probably, a Twenty20 mercenary
We have all surely heard such statements countless number of times, as everyone worth their salt is trying hard to persuade true lovers of the game that Test cricket is the real deal. Without doubt it is the real deal, as the above statements suggest.
The only glitch is, that nothing can be farther from the truth, at least for these gentlemen who have uttered such comical words time and again to show that they are not going to prefer IPL over international cricket, not yet.
Hypocrisy has been rife throughout the cricket world for a long time now, but two recent happenings have completely exposed the damn lies that Test cricket lovers are being subjected to.
Any South African who loves his cricket will tell you how the Boxing Day Test is of sentimental value to him. It is the last Test to played in the year and a red-letter event in the cricket calendar. One fine morning, the powers-that-be mindlessly decided to cull the traditional fixture off the itinerary, and instead allot a meaningless Twenty20 game.
What is worse that Durban have not been given a single Test out of the five that South Africa are hosting this season. The reason comes across as most bizarre – the officials maintain that since the home side has a poor record in Boxing day Tests of late, the fixture has been replaced!
(source – espncricinfo.com)
The second happening is much more serious, and it has completely debunked the validity of the nonsensical tripe that a few Test cricketers churn out.. ‘Test is the real test…’. Really? No! The real test is how much you are taken for at the latest IPL auction. Now, THAT is pressure.
For those who do not know, it is almost certain that New Zealand will be without their top players for the first Test (yes, out of two Tests, again) in England in 2013, as it clashes with the IPL. Country or club, anyone?
For sure, these cricketers, mostly from teams like the West Indies and New Zealand, earn only a fraction of what they earn in the IPL while playing internationally. That is precisely where the hypocrisy of the officials comes in, as the players are just helpless in the face of the enormous amounts of cash dolled out by Twenty20 leagues across the world.
But then why cannot they just say, “no, we don’t care about Test cricket, thank you very much” ? It will at least assure the true lovers of the game of the existing scenario instead of the sheer hypocrisy that has become the norm in the post-IPL cricket world.
The players may not care as they are getting much more money. The officials, even if they care, are bound by contracts and clauses. The ones who will feel cheated are the paying public, who perhaps should get accustomed to watching second-rate international teams battle it out in Test matches.
It is a sad indictment and and more so, it is highly frustrating. Having said that, one should have a look at England, and how religiously they attend to their home Test season, instead of ‘making themselves available’ for the IPL (at least for now). No wonder, they are top dogs in Test cricket, their drubbing in the Gulf notwithstanding.
It is a worrisome fact that countries with cash-strapped cricket boards are succumbing to the Twenty20 menace. Personally I regret today that I actually used to follow IPL until two years back. In actuality, it is indeed beneficial to the players, but only financially. Otherwise, it is a monster threatening to devour Test cricket.
Until then, a request to all those who claim to put Test cricket on the highest pedestal – please, if you don’t mean it, just don’t say it. Hypocrisy is annoying, and more so when fans of the game are being taken for a ride.