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Where'd All The Good People Go?

Compare the decks prepared for the SSC Test between Sri Lanka and India to those prepared in the ongoing England v Pakistan series and you have before your eyes ample evidence of a sad and irritating attitude of subcontinental indifference to one of the key ingredients that will ensure the continued success of the most revered format of our great game. Add to this the utterly illogical support for the SSC surface from one of the greatest names in Sri Lankan cricket and the picture, of a total lack of understanding of the issue at all levels, is complete.

While the third Test track for the Lanka v India series was almost the perfect subcontinental track in terms of balance between bat and ball, one gets the distinct feeling that such occurrences are a function of happenstance, rather than the result of strategic planning and / or scientific formulation. The issue is one of supreme importance because there appear to be two distinct schools of thought on the issue of good cricket wickets: those that care and those that do not. Unfortunately, these groups are delimited by geographic and board room voting lines, thereby, making it very difficult to impress upon them the need for change.

It is an irrefutable fact that a healthy bottom line is integral to the continued success of the game. It is, however, a travesty that the Asian boards are now intent on devaluing the product to make it last longer for their TV executive masters. Surely it is not that difficult to create a 'product' that maintains its quality while still lasting the best part of five days? What's the point of Viagra, if there is no climax?

As with every malaise in subcontinental cricket, the rot starts at the very top. The charge of apathy towards the what's really good for the game can be laid squarely at the feet of cricket administrators who's wont for power and tendency towards greed far outweighs their sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders who look to them for leadership, guidance and vision.

The ineptitude blighting the administration of the game in both the East and West will do it no good. While not perfect, Cricket Australia actually makes admirable attempt at introspection and continued self-improvement. Its experiments and players may not be the most popular, but name me another cricket board that faces as much pressure from rival sports as Cricket Australia, and still manages to succeed? I guess it really is true that competition really does sort the wheat from the chaff.

Given the rapidity with which preparations for another of the subcontinent's great sporting hopes, the Commonwealth Games, are unravelling I'm moved to join Jack Johnson in asking, "where'd all the good people go?"

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