Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 'Exciting' Future of Domestic T20 Cricket

It was a lovely morning when the president of the ICC woke up from a morning slumber greeted with a warm cup of mocha, and a personal letter outlining yet another amazingly successful T20 competition. This letter was from his Technical Advisor of Cricketing Innovations, the mastermind behind the IPL concept, super-subs and overseas cheerleaders.

It raised very real concerns about the future of our beloved T20 sport...

As successful as this newest, dominant brand of cricket is, we as innovators must continue to be one step ahead of the game and the fans, and ensure that we secure the future of our exciting brand. The gradual takeover of ODI and Test cricket is all but sealed, but our job is not done, our game needs more pop, more zing and more buzz, and here how we are going to do it:

One League to Rule Them All!
We combine the IPL, SLPL, BPL, BBL, EAPL, C20, A20 and HRV... and create what I call the "League of Leagues"... or "LOL" if you will. This will be a bi-annual six month event (see what I did there!) featuring ten teams from each league in a league of its own, producing a league table topper or 'league champion' for the league as well as 'league runner up' from each league.

These two teams from each league will form the LOL Champions League. It will feature a round robin which will produce a 'super league champion' before running into the playoffs section featuring the top 8 teams called the 'gold team league play-offs'. All (yes all) the remaining loser teams will be divided into 'silver team league play-offs' and 'wooden team league play-offs' to ensure nobody feels left out, and we will have three LOL champions every year and these three will play each other in a winner take all to unveil the 'platinum super league champion'.

More Exciting Teams!
Each team will forcibly consist of 4 local superstars, one of which will be the 'icon' player (obviously the most famous guy) who will also be the captain by default and he can never ever leave his team, ever. One of these five local superstars must be over 40, and one must be under 15. The rest of the team will be made up of 3 overseas superstars, 1 american baseball player, 1 Bollywood celebrity, 1 lucky lucky winner of the weekly LOL draw and 1 cheerleader.  The point is that we reach all possible target audiences.

Also, every team has a designated 'traitor' who can switch sides with the other 'traitor' at any stage of any game. This will really spice up the contest and in particular freshen up existing rivalries and create new ones in the process. For the first time we have the very real possibility of a superstar smashing a century to beat his first century!

More Runs!
We want more big hits, and there is an alarming number of sub 200 scores and lack of centuries in the current game. The situation is simply unacceptable, so I propose:

  • Free hits are an underarm lob that must not bounce on the pitch at all. These can happen in the event of a front foot no ball, a back foot no ball, a left foot no ball, wides, byes, leg byes, bye byes, causing the batsman to miss the ball completely, and bowling over 140kph.
  • A batsman missing the ball or scoring zero runs penalizes the batting team 2 runs.
  • If the ball is hit in the air for longer than four seconds, it is automatically a six and he cannot be out caught. Each stadium will have a huge 'shot clock' to time these.
  • Two fielders during power play overs, period.

More Drama!
A tied match will now feature a dance-off between the two bollywood celebrities of each team. Their performances will be ranked by the live audience who will each be given a key pad to cast their votes. The results will be updated on the big screen in *real time*.


There will be 24x7 footage in the player dressing rooms as well as microphones to ensure we really get behind the scenes. Each week will also feature a 'spotlight player' who will be followed around all week to really get into the lifestyle and what it means to be a cricket superstar. We are also talking about weekly DVDs for fans to forever cherish their favourite off-the-field moments.

There will be an opening ceremony, a closing ceremony, a mid season street parade and fortnightly match parties. I have already talked to the local councils regarding the parades and they are already expressing their interest!


These are just some of the MANY ideas my committee of fifty have short listed, and believe me there will be more to come. Our strength as you know is our ability to innovate with edgy, crisp and new-age concepts. I look forward to hearing your feedback and can't wait to execute our new plans.

Having finished the letter and the mocha, the president of the ICC could only reflect upon the amazing talents at his disposal, he thought the game of cricket had seen it all and yet there is just so much untapped potential.

He can take comfort in knowing the future of cricket is in safe hands.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The 2013 Cricket Wish List

I'm not sure who this letter is addressed to, the ICC? The Cricketing Gods? Santa?

Whoever it may be, I have been a good cricket fanatic last year and I feel I am entitled to see the metaphorical stockings hanging over my fireplace filled with cricketing goodies. So here goes then, my wish list:

1. New Zealand Survive 5 Days
An administrators nightmare, the recent South Africa series had whole days featuring an empty stadium. Wouldn't it be nice to see my home country not embarrass ourselves and actually survive the new ball, build a real innings and not concede 500 all the time? South Africa didn't even bother sledging as Vernon Philander aptly put it, "I don't think you have to say much if they are 45 all out".

Ouch. © AFP

What will probably happen: 
I may get my wish but only because the Black Caps made friends with some rain clouds.

2. The DRS Finally Stays
I wish that the ICC grow up and start doing their actual job. This involves a kick up BCCI's backside and using our god given technological powers for the good of our beloved sport. If Dhoni was correctly given out yesterday's match would have had a whole new complexion. The days of dodgy umpiring dictating a match are over, or at least should be.

What will probably happen: 

3. The Champions Trophy is a Hit
I am in a minority but I actually like the 50 over tournament which works nicely as a quick-smart world cup event, bringing all the world teams together a bit more regularly than four years. Its only 15 games and it takes less than a month, if we can fit the IPL we can fit this.

What will probably happen: 
I will be writing an obituary for the Champions Trophy in June.

4. The IPL Flops
Which brings me to this. The IPL has run its course now as the guilty pleasure form of cricket and needs to take a firm back seat, especially after the way its mutilated Indian cricket. With the downfall of that dreaded team should come the downfall (or at least watering down) of this too-frequent annual event which dead halts all meaningful cricket for a month.

What will probably happen: 
Money talks unfortunately, business shall continue.

5. The West Indies Deliver
Its about time we saw a strong West Indies and finally they have eleven men who can actually do it. They have a willing leader, Chris Gayle, adequate support for Chris Gayle, real all-rounders, a quality spinner and some decent (but not great) quicks. We haven't seen this in about fifteen years and their time has finally come. First stop, Australia.

What will probably happen: 
Gayle gets injured, Samuels gets banned at the wrong time and therefore they lose the matches that matter.

6. Somebody Drops Gambhir
I should get this wish pretty shortly. Has anyone had a more blessed run after nearly two years of nothing in every form of the game? Well, he has contributed his big mouth with his "we'll see you at home" tirade after getting towelled in Australia. Fat lot of good that did son.

What will probably happen: 
Your guess is as good as mine with Indian selectors. He'll make a century soon (in India of course and after offering two dropped catches) and the feeble minded administrators will jump for joy at what a fine player he is. He'll secure his selection for another six months and then run himself out on 101.

Bring it on 2013!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Finally Some Real India-Pakistan Cricket

Last year we saw the two biggest rivals clash in what should have been the semi-final all cricket fans dream of.  But we instead got a dog's breakfast of a match where both teams were more interested in smiling like clowns and dropping catches at a rate that would make Akmal proud.

Fast forward about a year and we had Virat in the middle of his purple patch (remember that?) blasting Pakistan away with his "future of Indian cricket" form. His celebration alone showed us exactly what an Indo-Pakistan match is all about, passion, pride, bruised ego's and a uncompromising will to win.  This was followed by an enthusiastic but much too short encounter in the T20 World Cup.

And now, we finally have what we have been waiting for... this is the first *real* tour in five years and already it has wasted no time delivering exactly what has been expected. Some of the highlights then:

1. Throwing Toys of the Pram
After the classic Prasad vs Sohail gambit there has been too few moments where tempers really waned and the opposition gave each other a good old fashioned spray. Boy was I glad to see the Ishant perching over Akmal like an irate giraffe who had his lunch money stolen.

"That's Mr Giraffe to you" © AFP

2. Blowing Away Top Orders
This would make even the big bad wolf proud.

3. Staunch Resistance
The man I love to hate produced a true gem to rescue India from the hopeless (yes there you go, a rare Dhoni compliment).  Finest innings of his career.

4. New Heroes
Where the hell did Bhuvaneshwar Kumar come from? If Zaheer Khan's bizarre axing resulted in this kid, so be it. Finally an Indian bowler who can actually swing the ball and bowls with a cricketing brain. This country in its history has produced only three quick of proper quality, do we have a fourth?

But not all is rosy...

No Tendulkar?
Life is just not the same without him really. I was calling for his retirement earlier but I am surprised he called it before this tour and especially in one day cricket. Surely there is no greater stage set up for one last hurrah? He could have walked out there and gone ballistic, given it to his arch rivals one last time. That's what I call going out with a bang! Not to be.

No Test Matches?
This will be over before you can blink, too bad that after two more ODI matches and this clash will be done.

But lets savour those two matches then shall we?