KINGSTON: It’s no secret that satellite television has cricket by the testicles. If at all more evidence was needed, it has appeared in the form of an ODI tri-series, beginning Friday, among hosts West Indies, Champions Trophy winners India and their inescapable rivals Sri Lanka.
The series marks another instance of Test cricket yielding to the shorter formats: what was originally slated to be a bilateral Test exercise between the Carribeans and Lankans was mutually agreed upon to give way to a money-spinning competition involving India – cricket’s indisputable financial capital, although believed to be fast losing touch with the basic quality that besotted the game so to her masses.
Blaming the ills of over-scheduling on the team per se however, is grossly unfair. It should, if at all, show them in a better light. That the salt in MS Dhoni fortnight-old stubble has all but overrun the pepper is a fair indicator of the cost of success - the sort often taken for granted, as if the product of massive good fortune or the outcome of having a team of match winners.
Dhoni did it all again in England last week with almost none of the team that won the 2011 World Cup, with a side that he can almost call his own creation.
That he will be on a tour he may well have skipped is heartening. The Dhawans, the Kohlis, the Jadejas and all the Kumars and Yadavs, can only learn in the captain’s presence – and not just signing multi-million-dollar contracts.
Angelo Mathews meanwhile is trying to inspire a resurrection of his own. The day is not far when Sri Lanka are going to be without the icons that formed and shaped its most dominant years in international cricket.
Mathews has been entrusted the responsibility of developing the men who will inherit this legacy, something that will become enormously easier if he brings a modicum of consistency into his own batting.
A series against a familiar opposition and another team in search of its soul is an ideal platform to begin from.
The West Indies are also fielding a full-strength ODI side. Packed with game-changing , explosive stars, their focus is understandably on regaining credibility in the shorter formats, before they can attempt a serious comeback to the dizzying heights of a glorious past.
They need to realize that unlike in Twenty20, victory in ODIs generally requires more than a solitary six-hitting strategy. Success here under Dwayne Bravo, against sub-continental powerhouses, will be a step in the right direction - even if nobody remembers it a year hence.