Tradition wants to keep its place but innovation occurs and looks to make space for itself in a constantly evolving world.
When Bishan Singh Bedi, the eternal proponent of “proper” cricket, questions what he feels is endless experimentation, Sourav Ganguly, the chairman of the BCCI’s technical committee, presents the counterargument.
“Why are we doing this?” asks Bedi.
“Need of the hour,” counters Ganguly.
They are players from different eras but bound by a common purpose: the betterment of the game.
Bedi has his ideas. So does Ganguly.
“We don’t need this experiment with the pink ball. Why? The last Test at Sydney was a sell out. The Oval Test between England and Pakistan drew a full house. And there was no pink ball there,” says Bedi, evidently underwhelmed with the fare on offer at the ongoing Duleep Trophy match here.
Ganguly is convinced that long-form cricket under floodlights and with the pink ball attracts more spectators to the venue.
“Few are interested in coming to the ground in the morning and spending the day here. What is the point of playing in front of nobody? We feel this is the way forward. It is an experiment worth an attempt. Give it some time,” Ganguly says.
“Attract them with good cricket,” insists Bedi. “Don’t have pink ball stuff just for the heck of it. I feel we need to market Test cricket professionally, like the IPL. If you can do it with shorter formats of the game then why not with Test cricket? The administrators have to sell Test cricket properly; organise good contests. Why are the administrators shirking their responsibility towards preserving history and tradition?”
“Cricket was not meant to be messed around with. It was a leisurely game and aimed at getting people out of recession. Able-bodied people who did not play cricket were treated as outcasts. But things have changed drastically. Players have changed. The spectators have changed. The spectators earlier went to see. Now they go to be seen. There is obvious difference,” says an indignant Bedi.
On the Duleep Trophy, Bedi says he is disappointed with the format too.
“What allegiance would a player have to Blue, Green and Red, instead of the Zones of the past? To me, commitment was missing. I could make out their lack of enthusiasm. It is not just about the pink ball. We have to take other aspects of the game also into account,” says Bedi.
“Please don’t mess around with the game!”
On the other hand, Ganguly says he would be happy if the new experiment clicks.
“Our main aim is to bring in spectators to the venue. This step is in that direction,” he says.