Passage to India

While the baseball post-season continues, the world of cricket is quiescent. Only the utterly meaningless Twenty20 competition between the best Twenty20 domestic teams in the world provides any form of interest to those into big-league cricket. By “domestic” I mean teams that aren’t national, but regional. Except that, in this contest, the teams aren’t regional or even national—thus the meaninglessness.

Taking a leaf out of the Indian Premier League, the teams in the Twenty20 competition are packed full of international superstars that not only don’t play consistently for the clubs they’re being paid handsomely to turn out for in this competition. They are, in some cases, even playing against teams from their own nation! The result, frankly, is just another money-making endeavor—full of Big Shots and “big shots”—with little bearing on anything.

What everyone in India is waiting for is the arrival of England—and a chance to avenge the drubbing the world champion one-day team received at the hands of the English this summer. India failed to win a single game in any format (Test, one-day, or Twenty20), and the Indian fans have not only expressed their disapproval, but have rubbed their hands together at the prospect of giving England a taste of their own medicine in the one-day series that the teams will contest. The England team has made plenty of changes to their squad, bringing in lots of young talent, and the bench-strength is formidable. But playing cricket in hot, humid conditions before thousands of screaming Indian fans in Mumbai is a lot different from cricket in cool, damp weather before thousands of screaming Indian fans in Durham (yes, the Indian fans make more noise than the English!).

One superstar will be missing: Sachin Tendulkar has been injured since the summer, and everyone who loves cricket will just have to wait that little bit longer to see The Little Master score his hundredth international hundred.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
This entry was posted in Cricket, England, India, One-Day Cricket, T20 Cricket and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Passage to India

  1. Russ says:

    Martin, I’m fascinated by the sentiments in this post. Cricket seems to be unique in deriding itself as “meaningless”, yet you hear it time and again. My question to you, is what would make a game “meaningful”, and what does this mean for the way cricket is structured and fixtured?

    • Thank you, Russ. Actually, it’s not the game that is meaningless, it’s this particular competition, which—to all intents and purposes—is no different than the Indian Premier League. Same format, same players, different colored shirts. If I felt the series built to anything—like the World Cup—then that might be something. But it’s just a money-spinner. The fact that you can hire anybody to play for you, even if they normally play for an opposing side or country, renders the club notion also meaningless. It would be like Derek Jeter being paid to play for the St. Louis Cardinals now that the Yankees were knocked out of the world series because he had time on his hands and St. Louis had the money. Absurd.

  2. Russ says:

    Martin, I’ll start by correcting you. There is no rule that any player can play for anyone, they have to have played for that team in their domestic competition; but because T20 leagues operate at different times of year, some players are multi-qualified. A more accurate analogy is if the NL and Al had non-overlapping seasons where Jeter could qualify for the World Series via either the Yankees or St Louis having played for both over the course of the year. Sub-optimal certainly, but T20 leagues are a new concept, and baseball was no different when league offices were in competition.

    This is by no means the only time “meaningless” is applied to a cricket match: google “meaningless cricket” and you’ll find it referring to two-test series, early-season series, late-season series, 7-game ODIs, early rounds of the World Cup, any series against a weak team, and so on. Personally, a tournament featuring the best teams from the various domestic T20 competitions has far greater meaning than many of the above, but the fact that cricket commentators are so willing to write off matches as “meaningless” raises, I think, the question of what “meaning” is, and how to create it.

    Again, personally, meaning means following a narrative to some goal. The MLB works because every player is pushing towards one single end-of-year pennant. By contrast, Michael Hussey competed (or rather, teams he plays for competed) for no less than 17 trophies in the last 12 months. That really is absurd.

    • Fair enough: “meaningless” is a fairly meaningless term. And I agree with you about all the short series. I suppose my gripe is that there’s so much cricket being played, and players are now so interchangeable between teams (witness Mr. Hussey and Mr. Pollard) that one’ s purchase on one’s team is slipping and you can’t have an emotional breather to build up to a series or decompress after a thriller. I’m missing the great cricketing narratives of the 1970s and 1980s series, or the Australia v. India epic of 2001, or the Ashes of 2005 and 2009 and 2010–11.

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