Today, the front page of Cricinfo is made up of four different stories, none of which have anything directly to due with the actual playing of the game, but have a great deal to say about the future of this game we love (not counting the lead story about Sri Lanka v India, despite the fact that Virat Kohli is going to have a huge impact on cricket in the future, but that’s a blog for another day):
Boyd Rankin is “retiring” from Irish cricket. South African Mark Boucher is retiring, sans air quotes, from all cricket. Meanwhile Kevin Pietersen’s international future is in doubt, while Chris Gayle’s international career is seemingly back on track.
Mark Boucher’s story has the least to say about world cricket, but it is by far the saddest of the four. I know a lot of us were hoping he would have one more go with the gloves after that freak accident stole his farewell tour, but it looks like that is not in the cards. What this does remind us of however is that despite the pastoral history of cricket, it is still a violent and dangerous sport when played at the highest level. Especially considering we are in the age of the super athlete. One wrong move and your career is over.
Meanwhile, Irish bowler Boyd Rankin is going to quit the Irish national team after the T20 World Cup in September so he can move to England and hopefully make the England test squad. This talent drain going on in Ireland has to stop at some point. I am not sure accelerated test status is the answer, but I do think tighter restrictions on player movement is. This is one thing that FIFA gets right: play for your country at the U19 level or higher, than you cannot play for any other country. Done. Make this happen, ICC. There are enough Hessians in world cricket, we need to plug the drain on cricket boards at the international level at least before it is too late.
Just think how good South Africa or Ireland could be right now? And just think how poor England could be?
Speaking of which:
South African Kevin Pietersen’s future with the England squad is in doubt after a bizarre post match press conference yesterday in Yorkshire. The rift between KP and the ECB is deep, wide, and bridgeless. And I really do not think it can be fixed. KP is going to retire from all international cricket after the Lord’s test and England is going to be without one of the most exciting batsman in the world.
This is terrible for England, of course, but it is also a tragedy for all cricket, and test cricket specifically. If the longest form of cricket is going to survive in our fast food world, it needs to have players such as KP.
The good news here is that test cricket has another extraordinarily exciting batsman back in its fold: Chris Gayle for the West Indies. Great for test cricket, great for everyone.
These four stories are only loosely connected, but I think together they do a nice job telling the story of the modern cricketer. Its dangers, its obstacles, its shortcuts, and its payoffs. Players right now are more powerful than they have ever been, and the game they are playing is more dangerous than ever, and the ICC and every cricket board needs to stand up and take notice of those facts.
Until next time.