I read a brilliant article in the Daily Mail online this morning; it was from Jimmy Anderson, England’s top wicket taker in the recent Ashes victory in Australia. One thing that stands out apart from the obvious one about him being totally knackered by the end of the gruelling Ashes, then World Cup tours away, was his massive desire to want to play test cricket for England for as long as possible. This attitude seems different to the attitude of Lasith Malinga, who would prefer to get as much money playing IPL. Now I am not condoning Malinga’s philosophy here, he says his body is put through hell every time he bowls, and the shorter game will not cause him as much distress. It is more to do with the mind set, Jimmy Anderson is also a fast bowler and also has to put his body through hell to play but he wants to play on, he wants to play for as long as possible.
Malinga and Anderson are around the same age but it seems to show a worrying trend for the sub continent players to be lured by the money of the IPL, than playing the pure form of the game. Over time it may cause a shift in who plays what format. Australia still have a strong tradition of playing the longer game and of course England do as well, I think India, South Africa and Pakistan are still teams who want to play test cricket, but it seems that Sri Lanka and West indies are declining in that form.
I think if players are not prepared to want to play a five day test, then it will ultimately lessen the quality in cricket overall. Test cricket is the supreme TEST, hence its name and the wham bam, thank you mam of 20/20 is not going to produce quality batsmen or bowlers. It will create a type of player that is good for short sharp bursts and likely turn the game, making it less exciting.
Let’s not forget that nearly all of the marquee players in world cricket are the great test players, not the great 20/20 ones and players like Malinga need to remember they made their names in Test cricket not 20/20. The IPL is unlikely to pick a player from Sri Lanka and pay them hundreds of thousands or even millions, unless they are a great test player with a name. Otherwise they will have to go and play for peanuts like I suspect the majority of Indian IPL players play for. It seems that only the Aussies can send over their specialist one day players and maybe England, all other countries, you need to be a name.
Something tells me the IPL will not be the great cash cow it is at present in future, so trying to be the best cricketer you can be should be the goal of every cricketer. That means trying to play test cricket for your country, and not playing IPL in India.