For as long as I can remember I have been in love with cricket, even growing up watching the under-performing England teams of the 90’s. There is something magical about the ebb and flow of a test match, or the drama of a close finish in a limited overs game where every ball counts. But watching the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, I have found myself becoming disillusioned by the way the modern game is played.
AB De Villiers is a super human and his feats in scoring the world’s fastest 150 should never be understated. His power, precision and unorthodox shots should be celebrated as he breaks the mould of the traditional cricketer. Similarly, Chris Gayle’s double century, the first at a World Cup, against Zimbabwe only a few days before De Villiers’ knock, was astonishing. But when does this powerful hitting become too much of a good thing?
Who would be a fast bowler in modern limited overs cricket? Batsmen have all the protection they could ever hope for. Generous fielding restrictions, limits on the type of deliveries they can bowl and the shorter boundaries mean that hitting the ball to/over the fence is much more achievable for batsmen. As a bowler, you are also faced with the combination of two new balls, which rather than helping bowlers has become a distinct advantage for batsmen, and flat pitches designed to guarantee a full day’s play means fast bowlers are on a hiding to nothing. If I was asked to name five genuinely world class fast bowlers in today’s game, I would struggle to do so.
This is where my growing disillusionment is coming from. The very best games are close contests between bat and ball. Low scoring test matches are much more entertaining than watching sides post 500 and amble towards a draw. Equally, I have found the games between the associate nations, such as the Ireland v UAE game which went right to the death, much more electrifying than the high scoring blow outs we have seen when the established nations have played one another.
Maybe I have become prematurely curmudgeonly, or I am just jealous that England do not seem capable of producing batsmen to that standard, but I feel cricket has moved too far in favour of the batsmen and must do something to address the balance and give more assistance to the bowlers. If not where will the carnage end for long suffering bowlers? It is a distinct possibility that if Aaron Finch and David Warner, for example, tee off from the beginning of an innings there could be an innings of 500 in this World Cup or a combined aggregate score of 1000. Whilst this would be incredibly entertaining in the moment, I do not believe these scores can be good for the game, as an even contest, in the long run.