So we return to our questions. The last 10 years have been breathless, tumultuous, acrimonious, chaotic, crass, and unintentionally seminal. How the coming years will shape up will depend largely on the beliefs and wisdom of the men who govern the game.
The biggest challenge before them is to find a semblance of coherence in the cricket calendar. The number of Tests increased from 347 in the 90s to 464 in this decade, and ODIs from 933 to 1402. Add the IPL, the Champions League and the World Twenty20 and the quantity is simply unsustainable. Forget what it might do to the players, the bigger threat to the game is what it might do to spectators.
This decade began with an abominable crisis. It will end with a crisis of a different kind, but fuelled by the same vice: greed. Match-fixing shook the foundations of the game and tested the faith of its followers. Cricket overload is robbing the game of all sense of occasion and context and testing the passion of the fans.
Consistency is an elusive quality in cricket. Not at the International Cricket Council. It began the decade in crisis. It finished the decade in crisis. In between has been sandwiched one crisis after another, in some of which it has been the unwitting coat-holder for two nations duking it out, to others it has contributed by sheer ineptitude: who can forget the “database error” that last year led New Zealand judge John Hansen to believe that Harbhajan Singh had a choirboy’s disciplinary record?
In some ways, you have to hand it to them: in absorbing punishment to its authority and credibility, the ICC has shown a chin like Jake La Motta’s. But surely only the ICC could transform a source of celebration, like a World Cup final, into a debacle like the one at the Kensington Oval 30 months ago, then reward the perpetrators with further appointments, so that Rudi Koertzen, for example, could turn his 100th Test, at Lord’s six months ago, into another fiasco.
Many commentators on this post appear to have taken jingoistic patriotic umbrage at Haigh’s strictures; such natural (?) choler notwithstanding, the points the writer makes about the international cricket calendar are worth noting. Cricinfo promises more in this series; for now, end with Sidharth Monga’s ‘RIP’ riff on all that cricket has lost in the decade of the noughties.