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Young Breed: Is the
future of cricket in safe hands
Everybody talks about Tendulkar, the Waughs, Lara, Inzamam, Akram, Walsh, McGrath and how talented they are and how they have taken cricket to a greater level. They made cricket fast, pacy and exciting. Gone are the days when 220 used to be a match winning total, these days even 300 is gettable.
The aggression of McGrath and the beauty of Akram’s bowling is what we have gotten so used to and not to have them around would be a big vacuum. Imagine an Indian Team without Tendulkar or Australia without Steve Waugh. But all these are eventualities. They will have to go one day, as none of them are getting any younger. One question, which arises, is that what would cricket be without all of them. Would it stay as exciting as it is or will it become a drag? Well it is difficult to replace someone like Tendulkar or Akram but then what about the earlier greats like Richards, Gavaskar, Holding, Lillee, Chappell brothers, Prasanna. Who could have imagined cricket without them. But such is life, people come and people go but the greats put their name in the history books. When these people retired the others took over and the game went on. The others came and created history. One day they too will have to go and many more will come. If we look at the present scenario then we would find players like Ponting, Gilchrist, Imran Nazir, Shoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee, Kallis, Vettori, Saqlain, Symonds, and Jayawardhene who in a short time have made a mark. They are young, energetic, fearless, aggressive and extremely talented. On one hand there is Gilchrist who on his day can kill any attack and on the other hand there is Shoaib Akhtar who has created terror in the minds of even the best. They are fast and have something classy about them. Just the other day Yuvraj Singh of India performed brilliantly and showed that there is a mature head on those young shoulders. Somehow when we look at these players we feel a sense of relief that the future of Cricket is not going down. Infact it is looking bright and in safe hands.
back in the Olympics!!!
You all must be wondering when I ask such a question. Well, many of you may not be knowing this, but exactly a hundred years ago in 1900, in Paris, cricket too was a part of the great Olympic spectacle. But that was it and cricket exited never to return. But exactly after a century, one can see that there is once again, a clamour among the associate members of the ICC to get cricket back in the Olympics.
Many in the Test playing nations would also agree with this. Recently, Dr. Ali Bacher said in Sydney that it is something that should be seriously considered. He added that ICC’s development program has only been running around for 31/2 years and he would love to see a bit of more infrastructure and coaching program put in place before finally getting cricket back into the Olympic bandwagon.
But it’s a case of what comes first – The Chicken or the Egg. Unless there are enough funds generated for these associate members, cricket won’t develop any infrastructure in these countries and funds are only available to those who take part in the Olympics. The ICC's European and North American Associate members have been stressing on this very vital issue.
For these countries, government funding would be available only when cricket becomes part of the Olympics. The Olympics tag would be able to provide them not only govt funds but it would also give a status to cricket, which would guarantee it, support from the corporate world, which is more important for the game, to sustain it in the long run. But the largest boost would be the global platform that cricket would receive to reach hitherto unknown places by just being a part of the Olympics. Think of cricket being shown live into an average American (and here I am not talking of expatriate Asians ) or a Brazilian home and one can easily realize the reach offered by the Olympics to a game that is essentially a commonwealth sports. Cricket would be watched by many sports lovers in these countries because they would just love to sample whatever is on the Games menu.
Think of yourself as an Indian watching Olympics and you would happily watch something like synchronized swimming or baseball which you would not have done under normal circumstances but to be just a part of the Olympic spirit you not only sit through the whole game, but chances are, you would start cheering someone too.
That is exactly what may happen to cricket too, if it is a part of the Olympics. Think o f a Brazilian, going back to his country and telling his family about a “quaint” game he watched in the Olympics that goes by the name of cricket.
However, there are certain problems with cricket entering Olympics. Remember Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth games? Firstly, how can you have the best sides being sent by their respective boards? Secondly, the format to be used. It certainly can’t be Tests, and ODI’s too are quite lengthy by Olympic standards. Thirdly, what happen to the sheen of other events organized by the ICC? Won’t the ICC lose out to Olympics?
The answer to the first question lies in the interviews given by the players returning from Kuala Lumpur. Ask Shaun Pollock or for that matter, anyone who played there. They will tell you that the facilities weren’t very great there but they enjoyed every moment of their stay with other athletes and given a chance, would once again love to be a part of such an arena on a larger scale i.e. Olympics.
Ask Ravi Shastri or any other great and they would sure enough confess that they would love to be a part of the Olympics, more than any thing else, just to soak the spirit of the games. When Professional Tennis was readmitted in 1988, Graf, arguably the greatest woman Tennis player ever, participated in it just for the same reason. There is no reason to believe that top players would not like to go to the Olympics. It is another matter that respective boards should sit together well in advance to make sure that no itinerary clashes with the Olympics and one finds everyone willing to go to the Olympics.
The second problem is of format and that shall have to be dealt by the ICC, which can suggest 25 overs-a-side matches, or something on those lines. Although, this would mean destandardising the game of cricket, some sacrifice can always be made in order to get something in the longer run and simply for the sake of common sense.
Thirdly, the ICC can, if it wants, became a facilitator for the games than a competitor. In fact, cricket being in Olympics would give the ICC, the chance to be recognized as the world body for cricket by the international sporting bodies.
development program would get an automatic boost and would give its associate
and affiliate members a chance to showcase their talent on yet another stage.
The ICC’s World Cup after every four years remains as popular despite
Olympics and rather it can walk forward to more associate members graduating
to Test status sooner with more exposure and more funds.
So, to end it all yes, Olympic participation should be one of the major goals of the ICC in the beginning of the next millennium. It should not deprive the cricketers any longer from being a part of the Olympic movement and spirit. More than that it cannot deprive the cricket fans from seeing their stars rubbing shoulders with Michael Johnson and Sergei Bubka.
And, by the way, in 1900 Paris Olympics, cricket was played between only two teams - Great Britain and France. The game was played on 20th of August 1900, the British team represented by the ‘Devon County Wanderers’. The final score read: GB – 262 defeat France – 104.
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