Stephen Brenkley: Second-season fatigue no laughing matter
Saturday 23 May 2009
Stop that smirking. It is not, repeat not, amusing that the Indian Premier League has fallen on its considerably large bottom rather than its feet at the second time of asking. And, no, they did not have it coming to them.
The IPL is the most wonderful addition to cricket since, well since, well, since Test cricket was born. To hear Paul Collingwood speak of his experiences in the competition, he learned more in three weeks in South Africa than he had in the previous 14 years of his professional career. And Collingwood, a deeply serious and committed cricketing man, had not played a single game.
Taking the tournament out of its homeland, to a place where winter was about to descend and which has a population of almost 1.1 billion fewer people most of whom are not entranced by the game, was always a gamble. The trouble is that once audiences have gone they may never return. If they do not, the rich men running the franchises will also depart. If the temptation is indeed to laugh it should be avoided. Twenty20 in general and the IPL in particular were important to the survival of cricket generally. But it was attractive because it was quick and it promised instant excitement.
The pace of some of the matches this winter has been funereal. Too few have been close, three-quarters failing to survive meaningfully to the final over. There have simply not been enough runs and the admirable policy to play seven Indian cricketers in each team has not worked outside India – or inside.
Nobody should assume this is good news for Test cricket. It is actually bad news for all cricket. It shows that excitement cannot be manufactured. Some serious thinking, followed by some serious talking needs to be done before next year. Bring on the Ashes.
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