By Anjum Chopra
It’s new, it’s fast and it’s refreshing. That’s the newest, sharpest format of cricket. The Hundred!
As the game continues to evolve and reinvent itself, it is fascinating to see these alterations and changes.
Since the 1980s, when the white-ball format was introduced, in each decade cricket has seen a newer style of competition. The 50 and 60-over format saw cricket being played in whites. Then came cricket in coloured clothing and under lights. A six-a-side tournament in the 1990s made way for the T20 format in early 2000s. Then came the T10 format and now the 100-ball competition.
While one can safely say that the custodians of the game have done their bit, the challenge has been widely accepted by the players. They have adapted to every change the game has witnessed.
It is creditable that players nowadays are able to make those quick adjustments. Skill levels are phenomenal. Much different to earlier days where we required a complete shift in mindset and skill-set to adapt. Fitness standards obviously help and also the fact that there are many opportunities available to the present generation.
The Indian women’s team players, who have just finished their international tour against England, now have walked right into their respective franchise teams. Arch-rivals last week are now exchanging high fives to celebrate each other’s success.
In the ongoing men’s ODI series between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo, the Indian bowlers bowled slightly short of good length in the first ODI. It is a length preferred by fast bowlers in T20 cricket. In the ODIs, a bowler has more time to work on the batter and can hit the good length more frequently. A correction in length could be easily noticed in the 2nd ODI. The Indian players, who last had an outing in the IPL, were bound to take time to make the subtle change.
The opportunity regularly presents itself for the players to hone their skills further and adapt. It was a healthy sign to see Harmanpreet Kaur, playing for her franchise in The Hundred, dance down the wicket and time the ball to perfection. Something that India’s T20I captain has struggled to do consistently over the last month or two. A few young Indian guns will also be on show during the next few weeks. From the confines of a protected Indian team dressing room to donning a professional’s cap in a franchise, the challenge will be to adapt.
These youngsters have grown up hearing terms like process and fearless cricket. So, it might not be too uncommon nowadays to change gears (be it clothing or style of play). I learnt to drive after practicing in an Ambassador car that had hand-shift gears. I was told that if I can manage to control a heavy vehicle, then manoeuvrability with floor-shift gears in lighter, smaller vehicles will be easier. It’s the era of automatic transmission. Less effort, more luxury.
Cricket continues to be played with the same skill-sets as we had learnt and seen over half a century. The stroke-play is adapted to suit its different styles and formats. While cricket continues to challenge its pupils and followers, it still remains a spectator’s delight.
(Anjum Chopra is a former Indian woman Test cricketer)