When the impossible becomes common place, there is something seriously wrong with our standards – or the way we approach the task. It also means that we need to realign our expectations with the ‘current’ reality. As India chased down another 350 plus total against Australia, there was no excitement among those watching. Instead, there was disillusionment. Was it real? Or was it a result of the ICC tinkering with the rules? Or is Kohli simply the best in the world at what he does?… ICC has taken the bowlers out of the equation – two new balls, five fielders in the ring, nothing down the leg-side, heavier bats and batsmen brought up in the T20 era mean that the bowler’s who will go down as ODI greats have been killed in one fell swoop…
On his way down from the first ever ascent of Mount Everest in 1953, Edmund Hillary ran into teammate Geroge Lowe and shouted out a now legendary greeting: “Well, George, we knocked the bastard off!” Till that point, Mount Everest had been considered as the ultimate climbing challenge. At a height of 29,035 feet (8,850 m), it was the highest mountain in the world – getting there took a while, oxygen cylinders were not all that common then and they were heavy and one was never quite sure of what the weather conditions would be like (there was no satelite imagery).
First attempted in 1921 by the British, Everest had repulsed at least ten major expeditions and two lunatic solo attempts. But things changed in 1950 with the discovery of a southern approach to the mountain from Nepal and the first ascent of the treacherous Khumbu Icefall in 1951. By 1990s, the route was known as the “yellow brick road.” By 2013, there was two hour waiting line at the Hillary Step — a 40ft near-vertical rock face at 29,000 ft that is the last obstacle to the summit — to get to the top.
Since Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953 more than 3,500 people have successfully scaled the mountain. But the ease of the task is revealed by the fact that more than a tenth of that number scaled the peak just over the past year. In 2013, there were well over 600 summits. On one day alone in 2012, 234 climbers reached the peak. And if you can’t do it yourself, you can pay over $100,000 and an experienced pro will guide you to the summit. It’s that easy. The bastard doesn’t take much to knock off anymore.
So why are we talking about Mt Everest here? Simply because when the impossible becomes common place, there is something seriously wrong with our standards – or the way we approach the task. It also means that we need to realign our expectations with the ‘current’ reality. As India chased down another 350 plus total against Australia, there was no excitement among those watching. Instead, there was disillusionment. Was it real? Or was it a result of the ICC tinkering with the rules? Or is Kohli simply the best in the world at what he does? Kohli’s got it right but what about the ICC? BCCI?
There was a point in time when getting to even 280 meant that you had batted very well. After 15 overs, you wanted to be somewhere close to 100. After 30 overs, on an average, you could expect to double the score. But now all that has been reduced to a joke. The top 11 scores in ODIs have come since 2006. The one that breaks the monotony is a match between Sri Lanka and Kenya in 1996.
In 1996, Sri Lanka hammered 398-5 against Kenya in the World Cup. Yes, the opponent was Kenya but we were still impressed. It was 398 in a 50-over match. Now, we’d probably yawn and say that against Kenya, they should have got more – even 500 may not be out of reach. But then it still meant something. It gets worse, in the top 50 totals of all time, only 6 have come before 2000. And it all those instances, it took something pretty spectacular to get there.
- 1999 – India 376-2 vs New Zealand (Tendulkar 183, Dravid 153, 31 extras)
- 1999 – India 373-6 vs Sri Lanka (Taunton is a small ground, Ganguly 183, Dravid 145)
- 1996 – Pakistan 371-9 vs SL, (Afridi 102 off 40 balls)
- 1992 – England 363-7 vs Pak (Not a single century, 39 extras , 55-over match)
- 1987 – WI 360-4 vs Sri Lanka (Viv Richards 181 off 125 balls with 16 fours and 7 sixes)
That’s how rare it was to get to a 300-plus total and once you did get there, victory was almost assured. But now, it doesn’t matter what you get – teams can chase down anything and with that ability, ODIs have become mundane. They have become mundane because the ICC has taken the bowlers out of the equation – two new balls, five fielders in the ring, nothing down the leg-side, heavier bats and batsmen brought up in the T20 era mean that the bowler’s who will go down as ODI greats have been killed in one fell swoop. Dale Steyn gets hammered as does every other bowler known to the game. Indeed, we are left to wonder if the likes of Joel Garner and Wasim Akram would have been meted out the same treatment in this era.
On ESPNCricinfo, V Ramnarayan had an interesting blog a few days back on way to empower the bowlers in ODIs. He came up with eight options but among them one that really caught my fancy was to allow the bowler to bowl as many overs as his captain wants him too. No 10-over limit. The ICC keeps talking about wanting to revive ODIs but they simply can’t constantly keep tinkering with the rules. The problem with so many rule changes is that no one quite knows what tactics to adopt and by the time teams do get used to this – the ICC, in all it’s wisdom, will change the rules again.
They might argue that this is one way to keep the game fresh but in reality, they are devaluing the game and all the earlier records. We just can’t judge them by the same yardstick anymore. Recently, cricket saw a day of contrasts – Tendulkar playing in what was possibly his last first-class game at Lahli against Haryana and Virat Kohli alongwith Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma guiding India to another win in a high-scoring match over Australia. But which match was more interesting? Which match were people talking about more? Which match grabbed our attention? The answer to all those questions was the Lahli game. It was simply because the bowler’s were asking question that forced the batsmen to search for answer in Lahli. In Nagpur, by contrast, it was almost as if the batsmen were armed with a cheat sheet. And cheating only takes you so far.
– Firstpost: Why watching Tendulkar in Lahli beat Kohli in Nagpur hollow
Tendulkar’s US$160 million personal fortune dwarves that of Dhoni
Post Retirememt Should Still Be Of Great Value As A Brand
Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, with a personal fortune of US$160 million, is the country’s wealthiest cricket player. According to a Wealth-X estimate, Tendulkar has amassed a fortune that eclipses the combined net worth of the four other cricketers on the list, and is more than three times the net worth of the next wealthiest player, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Tendulkar should be of great value as a brand even after his retirement. The 40-year-old former India captain, who stepped down from one-day internationals in December, 2012, will end his career with his final and 200th test match against West Indies in late November. Tendulkar played his final Twenty20 match in the Champions League T20 final between his Mumbai Indians team and the Rajasthan Royals side led by another former Indian skipper, Rahul Dravid, who made his last competitive appearance on the cricket field during that match. Dravid, 40, is estimated to be worth US$20 million.
Below are India’s top five wealthiest cricket players:
1. Sachin Tendulkar (age 40) US $160,000,000
2. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (32) US $50,000,000
3. Yuvraj Singh (31) US $30,000,000
4. Rahul Dravid (40) US $20,000,000
5. Virat Kohli (24) US $15,000,000.