Issue :   
February 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Feb' 2020


Debate on format


The future of Test cricket, the longest format of the game, has been the subject of debate since the rise of one-day internationals (ODI) and the Twenty20 version. Test matches, with the exception of those held in Australia and England, are played to dwindling audiences. The Australia-New Zealand “Boxing Day” Test last December at Melbourne was watched by record crowd of 80,473. But then Tests in Australia against visiting teams are, to repeat, are exceptional cases. Nowhere else in the cricket-playing countries do you see such spectator support for Test matches.
In the debate over the duration of Test matches, players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Ricky Ponting have argued against reducing the length from five days to four. On the other hand, there are those like Shane Warne, Michael Vaughan and Joe Root who would welcome a switch to fourday Tests.

The International Cricket Council is all set to discuss the four-day Test proposal during its cricket committee in March. There will be some change sooner or later. Cricket isn’t so different from fashion. Test matches have been played for as few as three days; on the other hand, 99 timeless Tests were played between 1877 and 1939! Weren’t those the days of enjoying sports at leisure?

The sports accountants were not obsessed with profitability, and the audience was yet to discover the perceived pleasures of instant gratification, derived today from 10-over and 20- over formats.

The problem with cricket today is both players and administrators are working against each other, when they should think together to devise ways of getting more crowds to the longer formats of the game. No harm with multiple formats; the key is for both players and spectators to enjoy the proceedings.

Keeping sports clean

Derara Hurisa It wasn’t just Ethiopia’s Derara Hurisa who bettered Gideon Kipkerer’s four-year-old record at the 17th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon. Two other runners, both Ethiopian, who followed him over the finishing line also did so – a clean sweep by Ethiopia.
Kipketer’s old record stood at 2 hours, 8 minutes and 35 seconds. Hurisa finished the race in 2:08:09.
It was the fastest Mumbai Marathon, with as many as seven runners finishing inside 2hrs 10secs – and, something not be missed, all seven wore a variant of Nike Voporfly shoes, a brand runners are seen wearing in elite marathons. Eliud Kipchoge, who holds the world marathon record, donned a Vaporfly prototype in October when he ran the first sub-2-hour marathon ever. “Of course, shoes help, just like if you’re in a fast boat, you’re are faster than if you were in a slow boat, “ Mumbai Marathon’s elite athlete coordinator is reported to have said.

Determined to keep sports clean, organisers of the six World Marathon Majors (WMM)—Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City and Tokyo—paid the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) a lot of money in 2019. The plan included a state-of-the-art anti-doping programme, conducting research to detect cheating and increasing awareness.

Adopting a zero-tolerance approach over the past year has resulted in significant bans for Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong and Chicago and Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo.

Five-time WMM winner and the only man to beat Eliud Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang was provisionally suspended for not declaring his whereabouts and alleged tampering with samples. The sixth fastest man in history (2:03:13) erred in not adhering to the rule that athletes need to inform their whereabouts for a one-hour window every day; three failures within 12 months can lead to an automatic ban.

Events in unclean air

From the Beijing 2008 Olympics to multiple events in India’s National Capital Region (NCR) to the 2020 Australian Open…more and more sports events are likely to be played in unclean air.

Organisers might act concerned but there’s little they can do about it; in fact, they are likely to underplay the effect of the pollution as they focus primarily on the business aspect.

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon organisers last October took a series of steps to control pollution, from using powerpulsed Wi-Fi waves and spraying water mixed with chemical effluents, but no one knows if these helped. The Australian Open organisers admit they can’t control the air; they can only close the roof on some courts and stop play if the pollution level exceeds a particular limit.