I read this interesting article today morning on Times of India newspaper discussing this issue.
I can't find any links for it, but if you guys want, you can search for Times of India epaper and get into that site and check out the issues on 29th March 2007 and 30th March 2007...
Basically, the writer was pointing out how India and Pakistan used to rule the roost in hockey. I am talking about field hockey here, not the American one, just to be clear.
But what the writer said was that hockey used to be an artist's game and full of deft passes, nudges and stuff. It was a touch artist's game, basically, and heavily helped wristy guys. Therefore, India and Pakistan were always up at the top of the rankings there. But since the 1970s, major changes took place in hockey. Astro-turfs were brought in, power plays (hitting the ball a long way) and long passes etc. became common. Athleticism increased like ten times and India and Pakistan have, since then, basically been playing catch up to the rest of the world in hockey, while teams like Netherlands, Germany, Australia (is there a game they are not good at????) kept getting better and better. It has now come to such a level that neither India nor Pakistan are actually even looking like a team that can beat one of the top teams. The same individual skills are still there, as far as the Indian and Pakistani players are concerned, but the way the game is played has changed so much that their style is not rewarded at all now. And these two teams have struggled to attain the levels of fitness and power and precision in planning and execution, that is needed to challenge the top sides.
The flip side is that hockey now contains, to a great extent, players of very similar styles and capabilities. Most of these guys dont miss too many easy opportunities but they dont exactly CREATE opportunities out of nowhere, either, which is what would make a fan go "WOW"... Basically, almost all players look very similar to a large degree and it has taken some of the charm from the game. (I am just saying what was written in the article here, these are not my opinions).
And the writer said that right now, a similar change is happening in cricket too. The power plays have come in, Twenty20 is rapidly changing the face of ODI cricket, and you are seeing similar styled players coming through from most teams and being successful. Hayden and Smith or a De Villiers and a Clarke look rather similar. Athleticism is starting to be placed ahead of skill (????, not sure about that opinion of the author, tbh) and individualism is being slowly taken out of the game. So India should wake up to this reality as soon as possible and start to catch up to the Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans if they are to remain a competitive cricket side.
This was the essence of the article. I thought it was an interesting comparison and an interesting article, even if I dont really agree with most of it. What do you guys think?? Is what the writer is saying true? Do you guys also see cricket slowly reaching a stage where only certain plans will work and that the game will become more and more predictable?
Personally, I think as long as test cricket is around, the charm of the game would remain and teams like India etc., who are not all that fit and athletic, would still get a chance to compete on an even keel (to a certain extent) against the better word ethic sides. But I do agree that ODIs are starting to become more and more predictable (even tests, to an extent, with all these IN and OUT fields at situations like 200/3 on the first day when the spinner is bowling). In fact, I think even Twenty20, once the novelty wears down, will become predictable. So maybe some how, some kind of changes need to be done to avoid that. Also, India HAS to look at the fitness of its cricketers in order to stay competitve in world cricket.