What’s wrong with cricket?

I’m an avid cricket fan. But of late, the volume of matches has meant that it’s impossible to keep up with the game. Notably, the increase in T20 games and club games (thanks to IPL and CLT20). Tournaments with multiple teams are of course more exciting to watch because there is always a prize at the end of it. Whereas in bilateral series, the question that crops us is, “What’s the point?”

Football is a global game that thrives on the Club level. Because players move around and create interest in either their destination or origin countries. Cricket has managed this to some extent with County cricket previously, but the number of players from overseas countries (read India!) were always too few to elicit sustained interest. Yorkshire became a known name to young cricket lovers only when Tendulkar played for them for a year. Ask most fans (not the hardcore ones, of course) which county Murali Karthik plays for and chances are (despite his recent unsportsmanlike behaviour making the news), not many would know.

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Michael Clarke will be the next Tendulkar

Michael Clarke is all set to become Australia’s next ODI captain. At present, he is the only batsman apart from Ricky Ponting and occasionally Mike Hussey who looks like they belong to the international stage. Over the next 2-3 years, he will be the only one left. Ponting and Hussey will eventually — sooner than later — retire.

Around Clarke is currently a mediocre collection of domestic players. Fitness apart, they don’t offer much on the field. They are seen to be woefully lacking in some basic skills and unfortunately for them, won’t have a wealth of experience or the ‘winning mindset’ around them like Clarke did when he started out.

As a result, this team can only go from its current worrying state to a confirmed state of worry. A la the West Indies. In such a scenario, Michael Clarke is the man on whose shoulders will rest the burden of the entire Australian team. With a weak back, he may or may not be able to handle that! Who knows. But his situation will be similar to that of Sachin Tendulkar’s until about 3 years ago when his wicket would trigger an astonishing collapse on the field and an exodus in the stands!

The exodus notwithstanding, the collapses are already evident. Only now, they are happening after Ponting’s wicket. But Clarke is set to replace Ponting. So in two ways, now, we can be certain that he is up against it for the next decade of cricket of his international career. If he lasts that long.

Sachin only had weak elbows. His back was is strong!