A Cricketing Golden Age?

“This is a great time to become involved with cricket. With the advent and expansion of T20 and what in many ways has been a golden age of Test cricket over the last fifteen years or so (higher scoring rates, fewer draws, many all-time greats playing – Lara, Warne, SRT) the game is much more varied, interesting and colourful than it was when I was young.” – Brian Carpenter of Different Shades of Green, commenting on my post Why Cricket?

***

Are we in a golden age of cricket?

It’s a question I have a difficult time answering, as this is the only cricketing age I have ever known, but despite my ignorance I do agree with Brian that we are in a golden age of Test cricket, and I will take it even further and say that we are experiencing a time that will be looked back on by cricket historians as a magical era for this game we all love.

On the pitch we get see Amla, Cook, Sangakarra, Clarke, and Chanderpaul.

Steyn, Ajmal, Philander, and Ashwin.

Plus countless others.

And if the U19 World Cup last August was any indication, a whole new generation of class and quality is ready to their place.

We are being treated to new tournaments like the IPL and the FLt20 and the Test Championship, but we still have the old standbys County Cricket and Shield Cricket and the Ranji Trophy and the Ashes.

Domestic cricket, because of the t20, maybe very well be stronger than it ever has been.

And speaking of the Ashes, it’s competitive again, something it wasn’t for nearly an entire generation.

The West Indies, and Pakistan, and New Zealand are all resurgent, while South Africa is dominating and Australia and India and England all nip at their heals – catching them only to fall back, while another resumes the chase.

Some might say that it is a dark time for Test cricket because teams cannot win under alien conditions, but England just traveled to India and won for the first time in nearly 30 years.

There are problems on the pitch, yes – lots of lopsided Test wins in three days, for one – but all three formats have featured joyful, fun, thrilling cricket over the last three or four years.

Again, I am speaking with a lack of experience, but also I think from a position of strength: I am an American, I am brand new to the sport, and I have stuck with it now for going on six years: I think that speaks volumes as to the state of cricket.

*

Furthermore, we are living in a golden age of how one follows the game. Twitter, Cricinfo, the blogosphere, Willow.TV, and ESPN3 are all just examples of how technology has completely changed the way people experience cricket.

ESPN3 broadcasts Bangladesh’s home matches in the United States; Willow will be showing every ball of the IPL and the Ashes live; and on Twitter the ICC might retweet your Champions League prediction to their 600,000 followers.

We have The Two Chucks, and Alternative Cricket, and the Cricket Couch, and the Cordon – writers and podcasters and bloggers that when it comes to how cricket is covered have to be called game-changers.

And yet we still have Wisden, and Richie Benaud and Bumble and Aggers and Haigh – plus there is a new generation, a whole host of young cricket journalists doing great work like Peter Della Penna who has the thankless and difficult task of covering American cricket.

*

We have access to limitless amounts of data and statistics. We have a thousand different ways to watch and read about some of the best players to ever play the game – and we can watch them playing in three different formats, on six different continents, 24 hours a day. And the game now attracts fans and players from every corner of the globe. Cricket is blossoming in America, in Eastern Europe, in China.

Cricket is not England’s game, or India’s. It is truly an international game.

A golden age? It’s arguable. But I like to think we are in one, and that it is just going to get better.

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10 Responses to A Cricketing Golden Age?

  1. dilippoduval says:

    Interesting view point Matt. I’d say player wise – the era from the early 90’s up to the mid 2000’s were the best time, especially if you were biased towards the bowling side of the game. The list of bowlers then were a delight – Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Pollock, McGrath, Warne, Murali, Kumble, and facing them were the likes of Tendulkar, Lara, The Waugh twins, Inzamam and more.

    That said, the other points you’ve brought up to an extent counter balances the lack of genuine world class players.

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  3. awbraae says:

    It could be a hell of a lot more of a global game were the incentives aligned with spreading the sport worldwide. At the moment though, administrators have no need to bring in new countries as they make all their money off a few key markets, basically India, England and Australia. We might be in a golden age on the field, but off it cricket is often a mess.

    • Matt says:

      Interesting because most of the opinions I got over on Twitter were the opposite: Golden age off the field, but dark times on it.
      You are spot with regard to the behavior of the boards, but that does not mean the game is not growing internationally at the grass roots level – which is how soccer grew in America.

      • Matt says:

        *on. Spot on.

      • awbraae says:

        True, well I live in hope that grassroots growth isn’t ignored or squandered by the powerbrokers of the game. I think the classic example of this happening was when the world cup was almost reduced to 10 teams, before a massive outcry caused the ICC to reconsider.

  4. tulipnandu says:

    Excellent post….In connection to your IPl and this post….IPL and T20 is for the masses and test cricket is for the classes. Feel the golden generation in cricket was called because of their sheer hard work, perseverance dedication and passion. Well the present era cricketers most of them come with the exuberance of youth and in the wake of chasing the Dollar fall behind….As Border would say, “Mate take care of the runs, Dollar would take care of itself….”. All cricketers must follow that mantra I feel…..

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