While the sight of a batsman with great strength and the ball travelling with frightening velocity will take your breath away, I am still not convinced that the T-20 format is the true barometer of a player’s ability. Given extremely benign tracks, short boundaries and a licence to kill, fours and sixes are bound to come like water gushing from a dam.
In such unfavourable conditions, the poor bowlers become mere robots, their function reduced to feeding the game’s voracious appetite for runs. The T-20 format is designed to appease the delusional ego of a batsman, with every possible condition being created for him to lord over the hapless bowler.
T-20 is a feast that feeds on bowlers.
Sure, there is the odd good spell in which the bowler gets the better of a batsman through variation of pace or deception of spin and flight. But in the absence of a helpful pitch, such moments are all too rare. When a wicket falls, it is because the batsman made a mistake. In the T-20 format, a bowler rarely takes a wicket; it is the batsman who gives it away.
I am not being a prude here. Nor am I a nihilist who discounts the pressure on a batsman, a lonely man at the crease menaced by 11 men hunting for his wicket. Who would not marvel at the sheer timing and flow of Nitish Rana’s bat that sends the ball soaring into the stands? Who would not enjoy the serene elegance of Hashim Amla’s strokes or the muscular strength of Chris Gayle’s big hits or the brute force of Jos Butler which makes you wonder why the ball had not come apart at the seams?
Since the main aim of the T-20 game is to gather runs fast, batsmen innovate and create new strokes. And these get replicated by others in the longer formats. The votaries of T-20 claim that this is the benefits of this version; it makes a batsman fearless and inventive. Which is good for the game.
Sure. But see the game from a bowler’s point of view. The contest has rules and regulations that have give a huge advantage to one set of skills. The wicket is designed for the batsman, which makes the contest even more lopsided. The main interest lies in which side scores more, and the adrenalin flows when the run chase gets tight.
This is artificially stimulated interest. Calculations matter more than the joy of watching two sets of equal skills pitted against each other. What one witnesses day in and day out is the fear in the eyes of the bowlers which, in the long run cannot do any good to the game. Without a level-playing field, is any craft worth pursuing?