A great batting display, but it’s hardly a true Test
Not for a minute did I fail to enjoy watching Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting make the Indian “attack” look like a very weak defence yesterday afternoon.
And if you think that two double negatives make for a confusing opening line to this story, you’re right. But it’s hard to be positive when there were so many negatives in the big picture of yesterday’s first day of the Adelaide Test.
India are dead. They are last week’s vindaloo. They are a bloated cow carcass floating down the Ganges. And they should go home. They should not even be playing this Test.
The cricket schedule, circa 2012, is crowded. Test cricket’s wild unruly grandson, Twenty20, is eating up more and more of the white spaces on the calendar. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a subject for another day.
But one thing is certain. The calendar is going to have to change. Some fixtures both regular and occasional will have to go. The obvious place to begin the cull is with Test cricket’s once wild and unruly but now increasingly placid and irrelevant son, the ODI (or 50 over match).
After this series, India and Australia will play two T20 matches, which is fair enough. They will then be joined by Sri Lanka for a full month of completely meaningless One Day rubbish, during which time Sachin Tendulkar will no doubt add to his considerable statistical record, as he inevitably does when nothing much is on the line.
And then it will be March. And India will have been here for more than 75 days. Honestly, you’d think the only boat of the year sailed on March 1 and the aeroplane had never been invented.
This tour is too long. Even if India had been at the top of their competitive game, the tour would have been too long. By the time they leave, they will have spent a fifth of a year here. And for what?
The answer to all this is simple. Abandon dead matches. Whether it’s a One Day series or a Test series or a T20 series, give it up when a team has claimed victory.
Show me another sport where you keep going in a best-of-three, or best-of-four, or best-of-any-number series when the winner has been decided. Actually, I can name a couple. Rugby league’s State of Origin plays dead rubbers for pride, as does tennis’ Davis Cup, where at least they have the good sense to play abbreviated matches.
But really, if we want to save cricketers from the endless injuries they seem to pick up nowadays, we need to look at killing off dead series. If we want to unclutter the calendar, we need to kill off dead series.
And if we want to keep public interest at its peak – because professional sport is nothing without fans and players at fever pitch when something real is at stake – then we need to kill off dead series. And yes, that goes for the Ashes too.
The venues that miss out on games? Boo-hoo, that’s their problem. They’re already doing well out of all those extra Big Bash games. Neither do I feel sorry for the jilted fans. But I do feel for fans who today were treated to a supreme Australian batting exhibition which effectively means nothing.
Stand-in Indian skipper Virender Sehwag knew that, which presumably is why he bowled himself for 13 innocuous overs. Thirteen! Kerry O’Keefe, who was in as fine form as the Australian middle order, hilariously speculated as to the damage Sehwag would wreak if he were facing his own bowling!
Kerry’s right. Sehwag would have carted himself all over the field. Instead, Ponting and Clarke did it, with bats which looked as wide as the Adelaide Oval is long. But it was all a bit hollow. Enjoyable, but hollow.
I’d rather Clarke and Ponting saved their form and their fitness for matches that really matter. And I bet you anything you like, cricket administrators will soon see the same logic.
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