What’s wrong with cricket?

The 2023 Ashes was the first Ashes since 2005 that I followed with passion and not habit or boredom.

I need three things in my cricket: competition, personality, context. In this Ashes, the games were good, there were magnetic superstars, and with ‘Bazball’ and Australia’s WTC victory, there was context. Similar to the 2005 Ashes but with England the arrogant ones. 

But the Ashes is over now and I struggle to find series or tournaments to continue the cricket buzz I got from it. None of the things going on matches its intensity. I want that next beer but all I see is flavored gin or lukewarm water.

The India-West Indies series is not interesting. The tests generated slight interest as I hoped some Indian batsman would do something crazy like score 500. In the ODIs, India was in an experiment mode while West Indies were irrelevant. It lacked both competition and context. I don’t enjoy bilateral T20s (because bilateral ODIs eclipse them).

I don’t follow women’s cricket because it wasn’t on the TV when I started watching cricket. I approach cricket in a timeline. To enjoy the 2023 Ashes, I need to have experienced the 2005 Ashes. To enjoy the 2023 World Cup, I need to have experienced the 2003 World Cup and so on. Although T20 came later, it continued with most of the players I was familiar with. I find it difficult to enter into women’s cricket. It lacks context.

That leaves all the T20 tournaments going on simultaneously. And they are absurd.

On one hand, you have The Hundred. It has all the top English cricketers but that’s not enough to make a tournament interesting. It has a few international stars but it lacks Indians, most West Indians,  Australians, and Hasaranga. This means it lacks some of the best personalities in the game. And since it is relatively new, it lacks context.

And then there is the LPL. Although the league has Hasaranga, it lacks Warner and Buttler. It doesn’t even have Pooran! This league lacks personality and context. It doesn’t even have an updated website.

Let’s not even go to the GLT20. It still has Shahid Afridi!

This leaves me with no series or tournaments to sustain the cricketing buzz I got from the Ashes.

A few months of absence is normal in all sporting systems.  Premier League fans have around two months of nothingness. NBA fans have five months. The same with NHL fans.

But all of them have the next season to look forward to (to fill the nothingness). There are transfer rumors and business gossip to engage in between. But they all know how the structure works so their brain is well-wired to the wait and anticipation. The break is well-deserved for the fan after months of anxiety and joy.

With cricket it sucks. It’s random. There is no Ashes in 2024 and there is an Asia Cup and a World Cup in the span of two months. There is no break.

It’s like gambling. You look at the calendar and hope there is something interesting this month. This is not good for the buzz. The buzz wants to know the beer’s location and brand.

The interesting cricket starts later this month with Asia Cup. There is competition, superstars, and context. I have an added interest. I am from Nepal. I can’t wait to see world records broken when they play Pakistan and India.

And there is New Zealand in England. This comes with the context of McCullum and Stokes. But…oh wait, there are no tests!

Australia in South Africa doesn’t have that spark anymore.

Later this year, there is India-Australia and there is the World Cup.

It has been this way forever. But the last few years have been worse. This time last year, the Indian cricket team was (again) in the West Indies playing ODIs and T20s.

In 2021, Australia was playing Bangladesh, and India was playing England. It was the year the Hundred began. And it began a few days before England’s home series with India and continued alongside the tests!

The fun part is that Srilanka will be in England around this time next year.

What are they doing? What is wrong with cricket?

The structure and the schedule. It is messed up. This is what you get when you can’t come up with a solution to three different formats and countless different leagues. Cricket is already unique, you don’t need three formats and senseless leagues. Even as a nostalgic follower, I can’t understand why the ODI world cup still hasn’t been converted into the T20 World Cup and ODI cricket ditched forever.

With tournaments, only the IPL is an interesting and real professional sports league. It has all the best players and everyone can follow it. All other leagues may make some money here and there, but they suck.

As a follower, I need a pattern. After the wonderful buzz from the Ashes, I want to look forward to another Ashes next year or a better series next month. And I want to know that by heart. I want to know what’s there without having to note it down in a spreadsheet.

That’s what’s wrong with cricket:

Its scheduling has proved the old Shaw saying true: cricket is a game played by eleven fools and watched by…

Do something about it. Come up with a pattern. Ditch the ODIs. And don’t let India tour West Indies again.