Fast bowlers, there are many, but only a few make sense. This is not to suggest that they do so only on occasions. Pakistan’s greatest fast-bowler Wasim Akram, and one of the world’s foremost names that instantly strikes your mind when you say ‘fast bowling,’ has views that are discerning and honest at the same time. Similarly, the world regards Michael Holding or ‘The Whispering Death,’ as the Caribbean and world cricket legend is called. The sonorous voice behind some moving and telling narratives has found greater regard than just being restricted to the West Indies. Then there are the likes of Steve Harmison, surely an English bowling legend.
And while he may not appear or be rancid in any possible way, given his opinions on the sport mirror his gentlemanly playing style, the former fast bowling great has a thing or two to say about the recently concluded Test series featuring India and England.
Importantly, Steve Harmison, who never takes sides or ever appears biased, offered a slightly different perspective, more telling than restrained on this occasion. Perceptibly, the begrudged tone stemming from the fact that the manner in which the series ended suggested that the contest was abandoned instead of one examining as to when could one reschedule it.
This leads to us to introspect what he said and whether that makes any sense. But first up, what did the former right-arm pace bowler had to say
“It’s rubbish, it really is. My initial thoughts are that this is the beginning of the end for Test cricket. But this is all about the IPL. End of. As much as I’d want to sugar coat it, I don’t think I can. The IPL starts in five days, and a month before the tour started India asked if they could move the last Test match forward or clear four days so they can fit the IPL in. All of a sudden this happens. It doesn’t sit well with me and I feel so sorry for the people of Manchester.”
We are no cricket experts. But then, there are, cliches be damned, two sides to every story, are there not? Firstly, the scheduling of the IPL is not the only issue, at least, not the most biting one when you consider having an IPL, for the second time in a year where the COVID bug already bit the most-watched T20 competition in the sport.
Could India, with all due respect, have looked at the prospect of holding instead of the IPL- that will soon go underway in the UAE- a different template altogether? For instance, international T20 friendly’s, the likes of which would have pitted all teams against one another given the mother of all ICC T20 sporting battles- the World Cup is fast approaching.
Now that’s only until the World Cup is considered a bigger international event than the IPL, which would anyways have (in the wake of these friendly contests) and will, involve half of the creme-de-la-creme cricketers from each participating nation.
Having said that, one wishes to re-confirm with absolute faith, not from Mr. Harmison but from the revered International Cricket Council if by giving a nod of approval to the remainder of the IPL, the idea was to offer “much-needed” T20 practice that would eventually benefit the world cup, instead of being perturbed about the commercial angle involved, which in all sincerity, is vital to take care of.
And if so, then could it not have happened that the ICC-approved International T20 friendly contests could instead have gone ahead, leaving no scope for the IPL, and in order to look after the commercial interest of players who are not participating in the world cup, the mighty and respected BCCI along with the distinguished ICC would have arrived as to how to compensate the IPL participants who, obviously could not have featured in the T20 friendly’s?
Of course, we the fans and admirers of this great unifying sport that by virtue of an IPL-like event, have gotten to see, more than cricket- for the first time ever, an Australian, West Indian, Kiwi, Englishman and a Sri Lankan in the common dressing room, something that was previously unimaginable.
And if the above had happened, surely Steve Harmison would not have worried or appeared lacklustre in stark contrast to this usual simple style for he’d have known that Test cricket would have gone ahead and with right scheduling, the players already having tested negative (of India, for English players never had the concern), the T20 contests in Dubai would’ve happened even the next week onward given there would’ve been no rush and scampering for the IPL.
Lastly, the above is a submission to the ICC, not an attempt to mock its planning of the IPL. Though, it would really be lovely to know what contest has more significance- the world cup or a massively-entertaining league-based format that came much later before the world cup itself?