I asked this question on Twitter, and I’d like some discussion: Is T20 creating too many heroes? Over the past month, we’ve seen some incredibly cricketing feats — Dwayne Smith, 14 off 3; Dwayne Bravo; 5 off 1; De Villiers 1000 off 1 (sort of). These are amazing moments to behold, but how do they compare to the achievements we usually celebrate in the longer formats of the game? For example, would you give more credit to a Shiv Chanderpaul batting the whole day, or an Anil Kumble batting with broken jaw, than to a batsman chasing an implausible target in the final over? Are we seeing the cheapening of achievement in cricket?
The final-over heroics we have seen reveals to what extent norms/traditions/psychology rules sporting behavior. Climbing asking rates were once seen as fatal to a chase; anything above eight an over was enough to doom the whole enterprise. The pressure of the chase would force errors and a heap of wickets. No longer: IPL batsmen now believe that anything is possible in the final overs of a game (possibly because the death-bowling has been so utterly terrible). The smart batsmen realize that there just isn’t enough time in the IPL to regress to the mean; if you have enough courage and reasonable eyesight, chances are the night will belong to you — all you need to deliver is a quick 20 runs, in one game, against one bowler.
But this heroism — if it can be called that — reminds me more of playground cricket, where records fall fast and memories are short. Who can remember who did what last week? Who can know which no-name player will have his inevitable day under the light towers? In other words: who cares about the Lord’s honors boards when you can rule the roller coaster just for one day?