They say timing is one of the most important aspects of cricket. Correct timing not only gives great results, but also shows the sublime form of a player. How true is that! But here I am not talking about the timing of the shots played by the batsmen. I am talking about the most illustrious cricketing rivalry - the Ashes!
The Ashes could not have started at a better time this year. After the overdose of Twenty20, it was time for cricket and its fans to rejuvenate. And the five-match Test series between Australia and England that has a rich history of over 125 years gave them the opportunity to breathe easy and relish the traditional format at its best.
And all those who thought Twenty20 was a threat to the existence of Test cricket, must have had second thoughts after the first Ashes Test at Cardiff. It was a draw, but what an enthralling match that was! Loads of runs were scored by the Australians, who dominated the match for nearly three days. They were almost on the threshold of the victory after they dismissed former English captain Paul Collingwood but failed to get past James Anderson and Monty Panesar, players not known for their batting skills. By the way, how many times have you seen thousands applauding a batsman for ducking a delivery? Every time Monty came on his front foot to defend a ball, he got ovations from English fans reserved for centurions and the match-winners. That was quiet a sight!
But that was not the only purpose served. Post Australia's 2007 Ashes victory, which was also the last series of spin legend Shane Warne and pacer Glenn McGrath, many believed Ashes would lose its dynamism following the retirement of these stalwarts. These beliefs gained strength after Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, too, decided to call it a day. But the first Test proved that it's not about players, it's about the contest that dates back to 1882. It's about the pride of the two countries and their cricket. A player can never be bigger than the game. Had that been the case, the game would not have survived and evolved. Many great players came, took the game to new heights and won accolades before their exit from the international stage. That's how it has been all these years.
I have mentioned it in my previous blogs and I still believe no format can pose a threat to the other. T20 cricket requires quick thinking but the elegance and toughness of Test cricket is matchless. For me Test cricket is like a glacier from where other streams of the game have originated. They cannot survive without Test cricket like a river cannot last long without a glacier.
Almost a fortnight back, ICC chief David Morgan said they were mulling a four-day Test format. Participating in a discussion forum on CricketNDTV.com, a large number of readers said they didn't like the idea. There were a few who are open to the idea of experimenting with a new format. I, personally, don't support the idea. But the idea that followed compelled me to choose the former if ever there was a choice to make. It was T20 Test match in future! We don't know what's in store. But right now, it's one of the weirdest ideas I have come across.
Experimentation is not bad as long as the existence of the origin is not threatened. A TV commercial of a biscuit, that decides the winner of the match at the toss with the punch line "short me niptao" (Wrap it up quickly), represents the future of the game if it's tampered with, too much.
In a world where fakes and fusion make news more often, can we leave something in its purest form for people to enjoy?