Rarely, if ever, could such a high profile match have been so one-sided and yet so entertaining. Ordinarily, the organisers of a major international tournament would be pulling their hair out well before the conclusion of a 140-run drubbing in the opening game but, in Twenty20 cricket, the pain is too short to care.
In many ways, it was like a fantastic wake at your best friend’s funeral. Dignitaries, administrators and journalists had come from all over the world to say goodbye to cricket as we have known it for the best part of 40 years – and it was one hell of a spectacle.
The Bangalore Royal Challengers, boosted by the inclusion of Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher, were blown away by the Kolkatta Knight Riders who resembled a GlamRock band from the 1980s in their black shirts and glitzy gold helmets and pads.
Brendon McCullum stole the show with the highest score yet made in any Twenty20 match but even the 158 unbeaten runs he hammered from just 73 balls was overshadowed by the opening ceremony which exceeded even what the most experienced Bollywood followers had predicted.
Thunderous Bollywood rock, fireworks to rival any New Years celebration in the world and a laser show that Jean-Michel Jarre would have been proud of.
The players loved it, the 55,000-strong crowd were in their element and even those traditionalists who hoped to see a flop couldn’t help but shake their heads in wonder. Or was it awe.
Meanwhile, the fourth one-day international between Pakistan and Bangladesh has just been concluded on the same continent. A series so meaningless, so utterly devoid of entertainment that even euthanasia would be a waste of a needle, taking place almost alongside an event so vibrant it made the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
Change is inevitable in everything, not just sport, and cricket’s challenge now is to reinvent Test cricket to maintain its status as the soul, if not always the life, of the game. The first thing to do is restrict 50 over matches to…the pages of history, perhaps? Perhaps the World Cup could still be treated as a 50-over competition. Otherwise, that form of the game will die such a screaming, painful death it may require the intervention of the UN.
Sceptics and traditionalists must, for the sake of the game they used to know, stop their denials and concentrate on saving Test cricket. And the first way to do that is to stop pretending that the IPL, the ICL and future Twenty20 tournaments will tolerate being shoe-horned into the calendar between series in the ICC’s Future Tours Programme.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.