Usually it is football that throws up the phrase ‘it’s a funny old game,’ but the same could be said of cricket in the past week.
England may be the spiritual home of cricket but India is undoubtedly where its heart beats. India has just thrashed England in the one day series without many of their big names. In fact the average age of the side was 25 and a half, without the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Yuvrav Singh.
The trouble is without the big name players the grounds have been far from sold out. In fact the India Times newspaper was quoted as saying “With the hosts missing a number of their top stars the public response has been totally thanda.” This is a Hindi word meaning bleak or chilly.
Many are wondering why the crowds have stayed away as the one day game has been the India fans favourite form of the game. Is it because the World Cup winning stars were not playing? Is it because they were playing England? Or is it that there is now too much one day cricket?
The encouraging thing from an English purist’s perspective was hearing Stuart Meaker and Jos Butler, both in their early 20’s state that they prefer test cricket to the shortened forms of the game. Meaker stating he is a purist and that this is the form of the game he hopes to represent England at in the future.
This is very encouraging as these pros have come into the game when twenty-twenty cricket was at its peak, and to hear them say that they believe Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game is refreshing. Maybe the public in India are saying the same, but with the big names returning for the test match it will be hard to tell at this point in time.
While in Australia there was more good news as new Chairman of selectors the respected John Inverarity, stated that he saw the selectors role in a very different light to his predeccessors. No more long term retirement funds for seasoned pros.
“Generating youth is the lifeblood of sport. You need to keep an ideal balance in terms of age profile and how much longer people have got in their careers.” Inverarity said.
It would appear that this has also a lot to do with how many people come through the gates, as reflected in India.