The Original Returns!Test Match Cricket is Just as Much Fun!

After a hiatus, we were back to watching a five-day series, a far cry from the quick fix T20 and its older version of ODI, the 20 overs and 50 overs miracles introduced to the game only recently. Before then, it was only the five days’ matches, tending to become monotonous and long drawn out, tuk-tuk, with the likes of Bapu Nadkarni bowling 26 of his 29 overs as maidens. Easily, looking back, the time had come for a disruption and it did. Another remarkable ‘Made in India’, the T20 brand of cricket. Much like the 2-minute instant noodles that changed the history of how Indians changed the game in Indian food.

But, what did we see during these games. As we go into print, four from the five-day matches have concluded. Not long drawn out draws, as we used to encounter long time back, but invariably, not even entering the fifth day! What a change to see and consider. The term ‘bazball’ has been invented with the English thinking they were inventing that form of fast cricket. But whosoever invented it, it is here to stay as the new incarnation of the five-day format. Could this witness a newer version with a four-day affair, ensuring more interest?

Even more importantly, there was the return of the good old grace that we had long associated with the game, players dressed in whites, red ball, copy book batting, we saw the sublimity was back. And indeed, we did watch the game, just as much on our JIO screens and the big screens at home, as we do the instant version. If it was a gentleman’s game, meaning possibly confined to the well-to-do sections in society, those who can afford to play the game, that time has blissfully passed on. In India especially, the game has become more ‘inclusive’, as we remain so fond of using the term. It is no longer a game for the Bombay wallahs, no longer a big city sport, but now bringing a new crop from the real ‘Bharat’, across the country. Every other day, a new case study emerges, of how dreams are being made, how as a young boy he came to the big city, spent nights on the same maidan, where he is playing today as a champion. The five-day game only highlights, even more poignantly, how the culture of cricket has seeped into the hinterland, with sheer talent becoming the only consideration.

At this time, with India playing the maximum number of international games, across all formats combined, we fortunately have that depth of talent, with players in almost all positions vying with each other for a place in the final eleven. As an example, take the position of the wicket keepers – with two players in the chosen team, as is the norm, there are a few more equally talented ones behind the stumps, as well as with the bat, waiting in the wings. So it is in the pace department, and so in spin, we have plenty of back up available. And, while we may have thought we will split them across formats as per their style of play, many of them are showing their skills in more than one of them. Is the choice getting even more complicated?

Last year, at this time, we had Yashasvi Jaiswal on our cover, with his triumphant discovery unfolding in the IPL 23. It is a good chase for him to make it again, just a year thereafter. So, thus far, he has kept his tryst with his game. Perhaps only redoubled our faith in him, and his faith in his own game. All of his 22 years of age, he does look like the bright spot into our future game. Along with Subham Gill and not to forget the likes of Rinku Singh, Tilak Verma, Rituraj Gaekwad, we have plenty of young guns blazing on the international scene.

While one wishes the best to him, in his individual capacity and his possible contribution to Indian cricket into the future, and hopes he has many more miles to go, as Rohit Sharma said, much has been said about him already, the success so far of Yashasvi Jaiswal deserves to be refreshed, not that it would be forgotten so easily. The young crop is most heartening to see! Its their version of individual ‘start-ups’, playing their game as best as they can.

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