For more than a hundred years of cricket, the game was played in the most pedestrian manner – of batsmen prodding and playing forward defensive, only occasionally striking the ball with any aggression. It was cricket seemingly inspired by the Zen philosophy – to bat without seeming to bat. If it was given a name as a style of batting the name Boycott became its embodiment as England’s Geoff Boycott mastered the art of just holding the fort rarely firing a shot at his opponents.
Those were the days when life was lived in a comatose state of splendid suspension, when to seem to be in a hurry was considered tacky, undignified. But then the world switched gears and went on fast-forward; things began happening in the 20th century that cumulatively in the previous 19 centuries never happened, never seem likely to happen.
The game of lazy boy cricket got a high octane adrenaline shot in the seventies via the introduction of limited 60 overs cricket. This was a quantum leap for the game which at one time went on and on interminably until the game was finally resolved. With the limited over game finishing in just hours rather than days, cricket became something exciting for both players and spectators. Ironically, Gavaskar, one of the masters of the game who was still to get acquainted with this new format back then batted for 60 0vers and infamously scored just 36 runs. Today, 10.12.2022, a young Ishan Kishen, scored 210 runs of just 21 overs – proving that he understood that the tempo of the game was quite swashbuckling and not meditative in nature.
Change often happens exponentially and so the 60 over format was reduced to 50 overs and after a while a 20 overs format came into play and the magic of this format has created a style of cricket that is the classic example of what pyrotechnics means. A current player of the modern style describes it as video games batting as one of his juniors of the game plays the kind of cricketing shots that evokes the expressions that it is not real, possible. even unlawful.
The game has created cricket’s first set of Jedis in AB de Villiers, Surya Kumar Yadav and now Ishan Kishen, who play the kind of cricket shots that are so cinematic, so surreal, that it is reminiscent of kinetic action in the Star Wars movies.
So, because change is exponential, even the 5-day test matches are racing along, thus, in the past, a team’s score for one day was between 225 and 250, now 400 in a single day is not unusual.
Cricket has become a classic example of a world speeding along at breathtaking speed trying to catch up, it appears, with the great unknown.
L. Siddhartha Orie