For a considerable period of time, following the suit of many thoughtful writers and observers of the sport, I dismissed T20 cricket as a much lower, less aesthetic form of the elegant, classy and intelligent game. I understood it to be a pure slogfest; a bastemen’s paradise: like in a 50 over game, bowlers had to dismiss 10 wickets if they wanted to prematurely cut down the opposing team to size, and the bowler, unlike in a 50 over game, had only 4 overs to prove his mettle. Such a structure put tremendous amount of pressure on the bowler and so, for a while, I considered the bowler to be more or less insignificant. True, the bastmen’s skills did matter, but the bowler was at a tremendous disadvantage. “This is not cticket”, one would constantly hear from a sanctimonious commentator.
This however did not mean I stopped watching T20 cricket. But the way I watched it was very different: I never supported a team, I only cheered for the underdog, the bowler, regardless of the team. I was under the belief that whichever team had the strongest batting unit would do well. This explained why West Indies and India did so well in this format, and why RCB made it to the final.
But if there is anything the IPL final taught me it is not that the heavy hitters, the big stars with the ‘big bats’ win the game; often the best team is one which is balanced, which has good batsmen and good bowlers. A good team needn’t be star studded, it should, however, be balanced and egalitarian, on the above average or good side. Too high a variance in the quality of players can rupture the team from within by putting too much pressure on some players. A team which is calm and balanced usually comes out victorious in cricket as it did in the t20 final. If anything, it’s a victory for the spirit and soul of the game.