By Tim Hancox
Why is cricket in such a hurry? The evolution of the gentlemen’s game is evident, as what was termed ‘pyjama cricket’ was grown into the flag bearer for the game. These days finding a traditional spectator politely applauding is about as likely as finding a chocolate chip in your muesli serial (Even though they promise you on the box!).
The latest edition in the form of the very popular 20/20 version of the game is leading towards a new kind of super star in the mould of Loots Bosman or Goolam Bodi. These players may not have the technique of Jaques Kallis, but their unorthodox shot selection can give the most economical of bowler’s nightmares.
The 20/20 format has made the bowler rather inconsequential, as the flat pitches help them about as much as a blind guide dog might. This is leading to bowlers losing their ability to bowl an attacking line. They are constantly having to keep the runs down instead of attacking the stumps. The problem has filtered through to test cricket where world class swing bowlers are an endangered breed. The public’s demand for boundaries has lead to batsman friendly wickets, and elevated batting averages. This is demoralising for bowlers, who can often be seen at the end of a long day in the field, with an expression like someone has kicked their cat.
This speedy cricket is also detrimental to the seemingly impossible task of unearthing a quality spinner in
South Africa. On the fast paced wickets, spinners are forced into defensive unimaginative bowling. This means they lack the ability to produce match winning performances in the sub-continent. Although there has been some promise shown from Thandi Tshabalala, who has been outstanding in 20/20, and is hoped to be the star in the future.
There have also been positives from the 20/20 revolution, with more spectators and the sport appealing to a wider range of people. The speed of events has also moved some positives into test cricket, with more results and fewer draws. In the end will we remember Bradman’s brilliance or Bosman’s flamboyance? You decide.