Cricket, the game that I and everyone here knows and love isn’t what it used to be. With its sole endeavor being an essence of sportsman ship and fair play… A gentle man’s game as it was known could be easily mistaken for its ugly cousin.
The curse of money, loyalty and poor administration mostly used to promote their own ideology and gain have thrown the game into disrepute and it is us, the viewers and the lovers of the game that are bearing the consequences.
Before I go into detail about the debacle the game faces today let’s take a trip down memory lane to yester years where money was not something in question but pride. Pride for playing for a country, pride for playing for merit and equality in skills… Amateurs’ vs. Professionals or most commonly known as “Gentleman” vs. “Players”
Its was for numerous year dubbed as the weaker side being in the receiving end of a number of defeats that later the amateurs unearthed cricket’s first major super star, W.G Grace. He was an unmistakable figure sporting that famous beard; he gained such stardom that was unseen in the cricketing circles at the time. Scoring buckets of runs and even taking wickets he gained stardom and one might ask… Did it all go to his head??
For instance on one occasion he was out leg before wicket but refused to leave, claiming: "They came to watch me bat, not you bowl”
So we would have to ask ourselves… Was cricket ever a gentleman’s game??
Decades later came the golden era of cricket with batting mavericks of Don Bradman, Wally Hammond, Len Hutton, Bill Ponsford, George Headley and so on playing under wet uncovered wickets with bowlers having the capabilities of devilish speeds… The likes of Harold Larwood & Wes Hall, tweakers such as Wilfred Rhodes and Jim Laker… Cricket because of these superstars was bound to reach new heights… Records after records were set that got the public interest in the game and new associate countries were put into the fray in order to widen the sport’s potential and it has done that.
But for me it will always be the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s that was the cream rose to the top with the likes of Gary Sobers, Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, The 3 W’s, the famous west Indian pace attack, the Australian pace duo of Lillee and Thompson, The Chappell brothers, Ian Botham, David Gower, Imran Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Minadad, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundapa Viswanath, the Indian spin trio, and the South African greats all though it was brief:- Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Mike Procter
Those three greats although no one would question their potential and talent had to soon to a bitter and early end due to politics and that is something the game hasn’t fully eradicated… South Africa was banned for the game and thankfully for them their reinstatement back to mainstream cricket didn’t set them back on the standards of their cricket and cricket as a whole.
Money flowed in during the Packer series and it is because of Kerry Packer that the game is faster paced, vibrant and commercially viable but with money comes corruption. The concept of Kerry packer was taken across nations and became a cash cow with crowds swarming in to see the great play. There only similarity of the Packer series to the IPL is that there were innovative concepts in cricket that have been commercially viable. Although money in the IPL is far greater than any tournament in the cricketing world it does also bring a whole bunch of irregularities and corruptions. With players choosing clubs (franchises) instead of country cricket is taking a new direction with boards and players deciding to take part in this cricket cash cow.
During the banned term of South African cricket, the South African government and board decided to come up with the rebel tours which spanned f 1982 to 1990 where few countries including Sri Lanka toured during. The players were paid a lot of money from the parties involved in the tour but were banned from the international scene. West Indies were a hot team during such team and they lost a few star such as Colin Croft but it took a man like Vivian Richards who was give an open cheque as tempting as it was he turned down in a fight for a just cause…
Cricket in going into a new era and the transparency or the lack there of when it comes to boards are the reason for it… Weird selections, management and political influence deems the Sri Lankan cricket board that is cash struck after opening a successful Cricket world cup campaign where several other countries involved in hosting hadn’t suffered to the extent Sri Lanka has.
With the so many cricket stadiums located in one country with many of them international standard we saw the board open a new stadium in Hambantota which saw the SLC write out cheques it couldn’t draw so to speak. Sri Lanka was on the verge to lose out that venue due to the lack of preparation of the pitch and construction of the ground.
The sub continent where the likes Azhar, Salim Malik, Jadega, A few Sri Lankan stars have always been rumored and recently the Pakistani trio… the culture of greed and weaseling their way out of it is something South Asia have in common.. Barring the BCCI… the SLC and the PCB are probably the worst hit in the cricketing world with corruption at the fore will lead to its financial demise. One would have to ask if the Pakistanis were not banned from the IPL would the three banned cricketers spot fixer do the deed in the first place as their services towards any of the franchises would fetch a fair penny.
It was Sangakkara that stood up and spoke about the new essence of cricket… the corruption that comes with it. The game needs either more money in the game that would negate the players to fall into the lulls of fixing or they need men of integrity like Sangakkara and Richards but then… when did the game ever have men of integrity?