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Not every change is good

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Cricket has come a long since the days of whites, timeless Tests, and the old age romanticism of the gentlemen’s game. The whites have changed to colours and the coloured ball has changed to white. The timeless Tests have been reduced to conveniently timed T20s. The dawn till dusk games have been replaced with matches that begin and end under artificial lights. Heck, you’ve even got them playing indoors nowadays.

But that’s not all that has changed. The players have changed. Yes they have evolved, but I am talking about a different kind of change.  Cricketers have come a long way from being the gentlemen who played the game. There have been cases of fixing, getting involved in unsavoury incidents with the spectators, and writing autobiographies that don’t talk of their fellow professionals in a way befitting gentlemen. 

But all this is still not half as worrying as the trend of cricketers turning mercenaries. One used to have a nation, a state, and a club where used to play for the entire duration of their career. Through and through. There was great sense of pride playing for their clubs and everyone wanted to be counted among the legends at their club or state. But today that counts for little.

KP would have eventually gotten a chance to play for South Africa. His consistent performances in the county circuit would not have got unnoticed for much long. But he chose the easier way out. He turned out for England instead. Morgan was the star of the Irish side. They hoped to build a side around him and make a case for full time status. They are doing exactly that but without him. While Morgan is neither here nor there when it comes to England’s national team. And his recent performances in UAE have done him no favours. 

And then there are players like Pollard who wouldn’t think twice before pulling out of the national side to play for a club. His loyalty could be seen last year at the CLT20 when he chose to go with the side that paid him the most. He should have had some sense of pride for getting the other sides all the way to CLT20 and chosen to play for the team for whom he was the important player. But he chose to go with MI. Yes he played a role in MI’s eventual win but he could have made a difference for other sides too. 

You could say the same for Gayle. But I disagree. It is true that Gayle has been playing for multiple sides too but he is still fighting to be back in the national side. He could have easily retired post his spat with WICB but he is still not giving up on his place in the side. What for? Certainly not money. But for the pride that one feels when playing for the nation. For their own nation. Something that KP will never experience and Pollard will never care for.

Increasingly the number of T20 tournaments are getting lucrative and there are plenty of them all year round. So players can choose to retire from international cricket and make a career out of this alone. And this will start happening soon. And the game will become the mercenaries’ game.
 



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