What a dreary Sunday of cricket it was. West Indies capitulated to a defeat of mammoth proportions against England — by an innings and 209 runs, and Sri Lanka tumbled to a one-sided loss to India. Two island teams with a glorious past, one a powerhouse champion and the other a charmer punching against its weight, collapsed so meekly that it yet again raised questions about the quality of international cricket.
The decline of West Indies harks back to the late ’90s, much before the advent of T20 cricket which only exacerbated its fall. The economies of numerous small islands that constitute one cricketing nation couldn’t keep up with the rest of the sporting world, and the slide began.
Also, importantly, the bricks of anti-colonialism that kept the islands together began to break away, and the time was ripe for T20 to swoop in for the money kill. It’s no surprise that cricketers began to value Test cricket less and less. For decades, Sri Lanka produced outstanding cricketers from a small population but with the decline of school and club cricket, the quality began to ebb.
The slow fall into mediocrity was met with a shrug of indifference by the international cricket body, whose eyes were glued to the fattening purses of T20 leagues. The attitude of the administrators is affecting other teams as well: Australia, for instance.
Consider the recent fracas between players and the board. It was a sobering spectacle for the rest of the world about how money matters can blind even mature cricketing nations. That’s why this dreary Sunday was no surprise, and what’s more, it could be the template for the near future.
The Indian cricket board is in courts, the Australians are in a civil-war of sorts, England are being pulled and dragged by counties who demand their pound of flesh, top South African cricketers aren’t too chuffed with international cricket, Pakistan don’t play at home. International cricket might well slip into coma if something isn’t done soon.