Cricket is reaching a breaking point
A dark cloud is hanging over cricket at the moment and, although understandable, I don't like it.
Why do we fixate on international sport? That basic question evokes a simple response.
We revel in watching examples of excellence challenge themselves against the very best. At the highest level it is all about the best versus the best in an often raw display of skill, bravery and endurance. When that is no longer, we have a problem.
We have all bemoaned an occasion when a star from a team we support has been sidelined through injury. Such is the missing player’s influence in that situation that we often prepare ourselves for possible defeat and realise a bit of magic may be absent.
An injury is always an unwelcome guest in the international arena but that is part of the fabric of sport. There was a time when that was considered the only reason for national non-selection. The best available talent on show was always a given and that is what attracted us. That was then.
In the modern game of cricket that is no longer the case. A powerful diversion has arrived that is thieving exceptional talent from some forms of the game. Big cash is influencing judgment and decisions.
Kevin Pietersen is the latest star to choose the selective path. He has retired from international limited overs cricket to free up his calendar and climb aboard the lucrative T20 runaway train. Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga were the
five-star pioneers and now more will surely follow.
It must be remembered that the rewards on offer are substantial and the players cannot be chastised for their choices due to scheduling conflict.
A classic case in point could play out mid next year when New Zealand may well be represented at test level by a second XI against England as their premier players choose to be IPL engaged. New Zealand's best can earn as much on the IPL stage in one week as they do donning the Black Cap for a year. That certainly puts things in perspective.
The game is reaching a breaking point and something has to give. Don't expect it to be the players’ bank balance.