13 May 2009

The Gayle Blows

Has Gayle said too much? Should people care if test crciket dies? Is T-20 the way forward for all of cricket?

Personally, I think Gayle, the 'cool maaaan' that he is, has been honest enough to state, what I am certain a lot of cricketers are thinking. Why should any one play 5 days of 90 over cricket? How does it make sense for a cricketer when the rewards are not too dissimilar from playing T-20 cricket? Is it more satisfying to get a test match hundred then it is to get a T-20 fifty? Or to get 3 wickets in five overs as opposed to 3 in 100? Will the longer breaks that result from less days of cricket, the more delirious support of fans for T-20, the larger amounts of money being poured into it run against the interests of any cricketer?

It is a profession - the idea is to do really well and make as much money as one can without letting it take over one's life. What is the argument for test cricket? The technique - mind numbing boredom of watching a batsment block delivery after delivery? Waiting desperately for highlights at end of play so no one need watch a Dravid bat?

Someone give me a good reason for test cricket - a reason to disagree with Gayle.


John said...

What of the popular wisdom that Test cricket is far more difficult than T20 - when it comes to batting time, batting against the red ball, a higher price on a batsman's wicket, bowlers trying to get batsmen out who are happy enough to defend, etc. So its appeal as a spectator sport is to a different sort of person.

The way this market might work in future might be similar to how a McDonalds works as opposed to a nice steak burger at Leopold. Or rock music as opposed to classical.

TM said...

In your Leopold example, do you mean the difference between appealing to millions of people through thousands of restaurants as opposed to appealing to a handful of people through one retarurant in a corner of Bombay? Guess we know who is winning that contest - would people really miss Leopold if it wasnt there?

John said...

The ones who care about Leo's or (insert expensive and niche service) are the sort that will pay good money for what they believe is excellent fare that cannot be replicated on a mass scale.

The difference between an Amarchand Mangaldas and an LPO. Clients pay a HUGE premium for work that can just as well be done by an LPO, they pay for the comfort of knowing that (big name lawyer) is on call. Not everyone can afford AMSS. Not everyone needs the comfort of a (big name lawyer) as long as the work gets done. Similarly, not everyone can afford the time and energy investment required to be a Test cricket fan. But the ones that care about Tests are ready to make the premium investment that is needed to sustain it.

TM said...

While I dont agree with the lawyer example, I dont want to argue it.

Do you think replicating fine cuisine also works from the perspective of the cricketer?

John said...

Hmmm.. Yes, I do. Don't ignore 'job satisfaction'. Why do so many from the cream of our universities enter the social or activistic or academic space when it pays much less and probably makes you work even harder in worse conditions? Cricketers who pride themselves on their skills will love playing Tests for the challenge (different pitches and conditions, aggressive bowling, defensive batting) that it offers. Hopefully Jacob Oram and Chris Gayle are only exceptions to this.
Once read a John Cusack interview where I remember him saying that he does movies like Con Air so that he has enough money to be able to invest time in movies like High Fidelity. Maybe a similar balance will work out for cricketers.

Deep Roots said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deep Roots said...

Why should test cricket die, cricketers who think that way should think again.
It is your skill as a test cricketer that will determine your standing as a 20/20 player.
The last team in the world that should be taking this attitude is the West Indies.
The need more time, more hours than most teams to develop their game, if there were two divisions in world test Cricket??????
The West Indies will be in league two, so how many West Indian players would have gone to S Africa.
The West Indian cricket does not even have an opening batsman that can take the shine of the ball.
Just look at what happened at Lords, how many West Indians went too the game.
How much will they want for a game, when they can't draw a crowd. Gayle's argument it's the old story about the wasp and the Bee.

Q said...

A reply to your question, "Someone give me a good reason for test cricket - a reason to disagree with Gayle.", had to be in the form of a post :-)


John said...

Welcome to Island Express, Deep Roots. Agree with you one-hundred percent. Even IPL stars Bravo and Smith are considered unfit for the Test match game. Not sure if I know the ol' story of the wasp and the bee though.

TM said...

Deep Roots,

If I understand you correctly, you argue that a 'cricketer' first needs to establish himself in test cricket before being considered fit for T-2O. Please tell me you are joking or that you wrote what you did in a drunken stupor?

Anyway, to address that argument, lets take a few examples of established test match players. In the Indian context, Dravid would rank right up there, as would Jaffer, so would Laxman to name a few. 'Established' test cricketers for the most part? But what is their worth in T20???? Wasn't the Bangalore team labelled the test team last year before finishing 7th? It makes no sense.

On the other hand, we have Kamran Khan, Trivedi, Bhatia, Jakati - not even been thought of in the context of test cricket yet and even so are worth their weight in gold to their respective sides.

Then you have Hayden, Glichrist, Tendulkar, Jayasuriya - all established test players and more than good T-20 players. Not becuase they 'established themselves in tests' but because they are the kind of explosive batsmen that are suited to this format.

I could cite you more examples in each category but am hoping that this will satisfy you for the time being.

John - you would rather watch the Chrab get a hundred of two billion balls (and that too in almost as ungainly and unwatchable a fashion as a Dwayne Smith). I, and most others around the world, would rather watch Smith and Bravo win games for their sides and hit balls out of the stadium then bear the pain of watching a Chanderpaul and Nash partnership. Not considered fit for tests it seems!!

John said...

Remember how Chrab hit Vaas for a last ball six to win a one-dayer. Chrab isnt a unidimensional player. He is forced to play the longer knocks in Tests because there is no one else in that team capable of doing so consistently, though Sarwan has been putting in the efforts of late. Dravid too, was the strongest defensive batsman in a team full of aggressive players, and was very often forced into that role by reckless batiing from the others.

And I am trying hard not calling you barbaric or somehow limited in finesse, but it does require a certain sensitivity to appreciate a defensive hundred where the focus is on eating time. Like fine dining or classical music. People still pay premium sums to buy Kurosawa DVDs.

I agree of course that defensive batting has become easier and hence less-exciting these days thanks to lifeless pitches, but that should not really affect our discussion. What does matter on the other hand is that Test cricket gives greater rewards to bowlers trying to get batsman out!!! Instead of bowling yorkers a couple of feet outside off. THAT is fuckin boring.

TM said...


I think you make a good point about me being a bit barbaric. I do remember the last ball six - miracles will happen.

On the other hand, do you remember Dravid making 16 of 96 balls - raising his bat when he got a single? Or Hashan Tilakaratne batting? Or Ashley Giles bowling?

Your analogy, if extended, implies that you and Q and a few thousand others can keep test cricket alive? That you will pay the premium that will keep it alive, having no idea what that premium might be?

Please read post on Q's blog where I suggest economic arguments against test cricket.

John said...

Just to add, I would love it if there were less Test cricket and not more. As long as the pruning happened to eliminate meaningless WI-Ban matches.

TM said...

I agree - all we need is the Ashes, India Australia and maybe India-Pakistan. Everything else is meaningless and for the most part, no fun.

John said...

Oh come on, large parts of the Ind-NZ series was super. India-England is always cool, especially if held in Englad. India-South Africa is also a superb contest.

TM said...

HMMM.. maybe.. as long as its India, I guess you can sell it to atleast 500 million people :-)

Q said...

"I, and most others around the world, would rather watch Smith and Bravo win games for their sides and hit balls out of the stadium then bear the pain of watching a Chanderpaul and Nash partnership."

I disagree TM.. I can surely say that if u take a vote of just the bloggers, u will be surprised that many will chose the Chanders-Nash partnership over a Bravo-Smith Cameo. And that is just the bloggers. In England and Australia the Chanders-Nash will also be the winner. Maybe not in Pak and Ind.. SA im not too sure.

The point is that the fan base for test cricket is still alive. As I mentioned on Well Pitched, its not only abt selling the stadiums.. TV rights are still being sold and sponsors still making money out of test cricket.

Without any offence to u TM, but u need to understand the art of batting to realise the beauty behind a Chaderpaul grinding out a 100 over 2 days of a test match.

There's a reason its called a 'test' :-)

I think the economics still work.

Plus, I don't think T20 is the bread and butter of cricket just yet. Sure the IPL is giving the cricketers a lot of money, but there's a reason the international teams play more tests and ODIs in a year than T20 Internationals.. and its only to do with the administrators who want to "save" test cricket..

A test match and an ODI provide more time for ads than T20I, and hence more revenue to the TV companies, and hence higher valued rights for the cricket boards.

The IPL is a different case.

Even today a test series involving Pakistan vs India, Australia vs England, Australia vs India, and Australia vs South Africa would sell for way more than any other cricket series - T20 or otherwise.

TM said...

Good morning Q! To take off from where I left off last evening, did you per chance to catch any of yesterday's test match?

For the first time, I saw what the bottom of most of those folding chairs looks like - turns out that no one really wanted to watch Cook and/or Bopara grind out hundreds. I hope someone saw it on TV, else SKY too is wasting a lot of money!!

Where is the fan base for this 'test' cricket. As an aside - I am a batsman too, so I appreciate the beauty of grinding out a hundred as well as anyone else, provided it is in the right circumstances.

maverick said...

I am sure that what Gayle said was exactly how quiet a few people, mostly international cricketers, really feel.

However i don't agree that test matches have lost their charm or should be done away with. Instead if you see the trend in the last few years the matches are now more result oriented, you may attribute this to the changing mindset of the players due to the T20 mode or watever, but test matches still have their charm may be not for an average viewer looking simply for ENTERTAINMENT but surely for a person who watches cricket because of his love for the game!!

TM said...

While I agree with you on principle, lets discuss that comment in the light of the ongoing england-west indies test match. There was a result in the last game - that too within 3 days - but was it exciting to watch in any way?

Weather permitting, there is likely to be a result in this game too, but is this going to be fun to watch either? Are you watching this game or following it ball by ball on cricinfo (like you are the IPL?)

maverick said...

I agree that I am not following the test match 'ball to ball' unlike the IPL matches -- however that to me only proves one point i.e. IPL is more popular than the 'current' test matches!!

Even the above conclusion has a catch-- its not T20 but the IPL which is more popular -- owing to the INDIAN factor.

Let me pose a question - say a T20 event is happening with almost all popular international players playing in that tournament, at the same time a Test match between India (with its complete international squad) and Australia or India and say even England is on .. which one would you follow?? may be not ball to ball (owing to the nature of a Test match) but atleast wouldn't you be equally, if not more, interested in the test matches??

Minor In Possession said...

Gayle is a Fantastic All Rounder.

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