“Pink isn’t just a colour, it’s an attitude.” These words were made famous by the teen sensation Miley Cyrus a few years ago. The fashion industry clung to them ever since and have not looked back. Miley Cyrus may know a whole lot about pink but she sure does not know anything about pink ball cricket. But the bigger issue here is, how much do even cricketers who played pink ball cricket know about this new addition? Judging by their lack of enthusiasm and alacrity, it seems clear that pink is not the colour cricket is ready to embrace anytime soon.
It is often times baffling and regressive to watch cricket being changed to suit the “sign of the times” so to speak. Cricket has gone through a milieu of changes in the past and all for the sake of generating interest and collecting audience. Is that really what this sport is boiling down to? Is it necessary to change a sport just because no one is watching it? Wasn’t the IPL created so that the viewership conundrum could be solved? Wasn’t the ODI format put into place by Kerry Packer for the same reason? Why is only cricket put through changes every decade or so? Basketball has never been changed in terms of its basic format and James Naismith would probably roll in his grave if the game was condensed any further under the garb of generating viewership. Golf has a slew of critics and detractors for its long and drawn out game plans and yet Tiger Woods clocked a billion dollars winning open championships all over the world.
So, the matter comes down to revival or the bigger issue—survival. Is test cricket dying and will the pink ball save it? So far, the report from the frontier is that the pink ball is a blob of stress for the bowler and the batsmen. It seams and it moves but it also makes fielding difficult. According to Ravi Shastri, the manufacturers should go back to the drawing board and rework the constitution of the ball. Really? Is it the manufacturers or the board that should go back to the drawing board and figure out a way of keeping test cricket alive within the prescribed tenets of the game? Has golf shut down because it hardly has any television viewership outside the United States? On the contrary, the sport is growing at an exponential rate.
The problem is not that the format in test cricket is not attractive enough, the problem is that after the quick bite concept of T20 cricket, the long and droopy events of test cricket seem like an eternity to a millennial who is used to having his soup and his cricket in the same manner—quickly. If tomorrow golf came up with a shorter 4-5-hole version and the competition became a hit, will it have the same impact on the 18-hole game? One can’t be sure, but the tilt would be towards the negative. No matter how you cut and chop some sports, their formative legacy will stay intact and always generate the respect it deserved in the first place. So, are we dissecting the game of cricket to an extent that it altogether loses its sheen? In popular opinion, if that be the case then cricket is still not an evolved sport. We might be in the middle of making a history or perhaps becoming history if these moves are not calculated properly.
Vineet Malhotra is a Consulting Editor and Prime Time Anchor with News X.