Cricket is game internationally recognized as an instrument for the establishment of world peace. Teams from far and remote corners of the world visit the countries turn by turn where the game is played. Teams are comprised of extras, attendants, cricket fans and managing staff whereby there is mutual give and take of social systems and culture and national and regional differences give way to harmony. The game of cricket is highly absorbing and extremely interesting for all age group from teenagers to octarians and for the both sexes. Every ball that is thrown may create wonder. Previously there to used to be only five-day international matches. These were watched by millions of cricket enthusiasts all over the world over the radio and T.V. network.
With the ever increasing human wants necessitating more and more efforts, consuming more time it became inconvenient for the masses to spare five long days to watch five day test matches. Hence a shorter version of the game in the form of one day internationals of fifty over of six balls each came into vogue. Kary packer of Australia was the brain behind it. And then early in 2006 still shorter version of 20 over was introduced, when the International Council of Cricket discussed the organization of first ever world twenty-20 tournament. Incidentally India was the only cricket playing country that opposed the move. But BCCI was outvoted 9-1 and Secretary Niranjan Shah gloomy remarked “We had no other go but to embrace the format”.
Now that India has condescended with the proposal of ICC the task for arranging the event has become more challenging to save Twenty-20 from explosion into a feeding frenzy for corporates. Some checks have been adopted such as member countries are to play in total seven twenty-20 international in a year, three during home bilateral series and four abroad. The world-20 event shall be arranged once every two or three years as a show piece event.
The challenge for twenty-20 game is to retain its ability to appeal to the masses. This version of the game needs muscle-loaded batsmen who can clear the field over and across the boundary and bowlers who can bowl a heavy ball. Players’ abilities will have to improve with strength enough to cope with power batting and there will be no room for unatelatic and slow movers. The ball travels very fast over small grounds and stopping boundries is a key defensive method. Twenty-20 batsmen will have to play without fear. They will need speed between the wickets because when unable to hit boundaries they must convert bat on ball into runs.
For the bowlers the pace must be precise and long run-ups will have variety of swing, change of pace, Yorkers, bouncers and good length balls. The wicket-keeper should know where the ball is going and where he should stand. The game is skewed towards batsmen, bowlers, fielders and strategists- coaches, game analysts and captain- will have to divert their attention to reduce the number of boundary hits. This needs precision in bowling, speed, anticipation and movement in fielding. Twenty-20 game is a car chase cricket, full throttle, with no time or space for hesitation. Packed with modern bells and whistles crows identify with it and respond to its clamor and vibrancy.
The first twenty-20 international tournament was organized in South Africa under the auspices of ICC between twelve countries viz. (i) South Africa, (ii) Bangladesh, (iii) West Indies, (iv) Australia, (v) England, (vi) Zimbabwe, (vii) Sri Lanka, (viii) New Zealand, (ix) Kenya, (x) Bharat, (xii) Pakistan and (xiii) Scotland. Out of these twelve teams Bharat, Newzealand, South Africa and England of group E and Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh of group F qualified for super eight. In group matches world champion Australia had embrace defeat at the hands of one of the weakest teams Zimbabwe. Australia was again defeated in super eight matches, this time by Pakistan. But they had the best run rate +2.256, better than any super eight teams. England lost all three matches of super eight. Sri Lanka had won both her group matches but in super eight they were able to beat Bangladesh only. Of the super eight India was in group E while Pakistan was in group F.Thus from group E India and Newzealand and from group F Pakistan and Australia qualified for semifinals were played between were played between Indian and Australia on the one hand and Pakistan and Newzealand and in the second semifinal India made history by defeating Australia. It was just like a dream. Neither India nor Pakistan was ever considered to reach the final. Probable claimants were Australia, Sri Lanka, South Africa and New Zealand.
Just as 25th of June 1983 is a memorable day in the history of Indian cricket, 24th of September 2007 will also ever be remembered not only as a land mark in the history of Indian Cricket but also as India’s winning the five ever World Cup of Twenty-20. This was with victory transmitted through a billion pounding hearts like an eclectic surge in the here and now, under lights and cameras in wide screen panaromic colors in the fastest version of cricket hitherto unknown. This was with every thing else very seriously cool. It was also entirely unexpected. With the experience of playing but one twenty-20 international with no head coach and rookie as caption and the absence of stalwarts like Caching, Ganguly and Rahul India was expected to cave in to cannier twenty-20 campaigners like England, South Africa and Australia. But the lack of experience and other shortcomings contributed and had nothing to loose and their prestige was not at stake.
India’s victory of the world Twenty-20 shall be marked down as a moment when India’s next generation of cricketers broke through and accepted the challenge of the task ahead and take their own decisions. After years of flicker sing promises, a team of players have charted their own course with bat and ball. On the fold the Younger’s yielded a run out per game and the team named “UNSTOPPABLES” during their one-day series in England proved their worth.
According to captain Dhoni the victory is the consequence of the team’s “Will” to win while the bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad told that it was self-confidence that paid. His colleague Robin Singh attributes it to positive mindset of the team. This unquantifiable quality was developed through the tournament and within a period of 15 days the players made the transition from being merely team-mates to a relationship of brother-hood, Gautam Gambir and Robin Uthappa had to prove their worth for a permanent place in one-day squad. Yuvraj Singh had to prove their worth for a as an al-rounder. Harbhajan Singh and Virendra Shag were keen to retain their position in India Team. Every players’ desperate reason turned into a common goal. R.P. Singh created a difference. He was much quicker and more in control of his line and length.
As India pulled one tight game after another Dhoni’s captainacy began to shine. His presence is now felt in the dressing room. There is no distance between him and his team mates. He keeps communication with each one of them. In the semifinal against Australia giving the ball to Joginder Singh was a remarkable decision which none but Dhoni could take.
Winning the trephine is a matter of pride. Country as a whole gave an unprecedented reception to the winning heroes. On 26th of September, when the team landed in Mumbai, the life in Mumbai came to a stand still. The team traveled from Chhatrapati Shivaji Intrenational Airport to Vankhede Stadium in an open double decker bus exhibiting the troffie all the way through a distance of 30 km. Throughout the march of the longest procession ever seen in business capital of India all crossings were closed and people were impatient to have a glimpse of their heroes and the trophies they had won. The procession was scheduled to reach the stadium in two hours but it took five hours to reach there. Welcome ceremony was to start at 10.30 a.m. but it could be started not before 2 p.m. The security staff had to put up their best to control the unmanageable crowd.
Apart from the affection and hearty reception which they very much deserved the monetary earnings of the squad are also noteworthy and must go a long way to provide encouragement to the booming players. It will not be out of place to mention their earnings as-
Team India earns $ 490,000 (almost Rs. 2 crore) as prize money for winning the Twenty-20 World Cup.
BCCI gives a bonus of $ 3 million (almost Rs. 12 crores) to the Indian team. Each team member gets approximately Rs. 80 laky.
Yuvraj Singh : Rs. 1 crore for hitting six sixes in an over. Also a Porsche 911 worth Rs. 90 lakh as personal gift from BCCI General Secretary, Lalita Modi.
Roil Sharma and Ajit Agarkar: Rs. 10 laky each from the Maharashtra Government.
Joginder Singh: Rs. 21 laky from the Haryana Government.
R.P. Singh: Rs. 10 laky from the Uttar Pradesh Government.
M. S. Dhoni: Will a surprise gift from the Jharkhanda Chief Minister.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag: Rs. 5 laky each from the Delhi Government.
S. Sreesanth: Rs. 5 laky from the Kerala Government.
Support Staff: Rs. 15 laky each from BCCI.
M.S. Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, R.P Singh, Robin Uthappa : Out of tirn promotions and free travel from Air India. Also free travel benefits for all the 15 team members and their family members for five years on Air India.
Each team member will get a house from Sahara India in Sahara City Homes, costing Rs. 4 crores.
Now that Twenty-20 is over, it is time to exhale stand back and contemplate calmly what awaits India. World Cup Tournament for one day series is not for off. We have to face Australia at home in a series of five test matches and seven one dayers. They have to prove their worth to establish their supremacy in all spheres and all versions of the game.