Kids want T20 action
The swashbuckling improvisation displayed by both AB de Villiers and Martin Guptill was mind-boggling during the fourth ODI in Hamilton.
It is quite astonishing how the batting capabilities of the very gifted have soared to new heights. The same level of skill escalation cannot be said about bowling, and although clever variations are aplenty, batting overwhelmingly rules and wins short-form games.
T20 cricket has altered the landscape of batting forever.
During the South African summer I went for a stroll in Cape Town and came across a group of lads enjoying a net session. There were no teachers or parents in sight and they were just attempting to thrash the bowlers like kids do. I stood there and watched for a while.
It struck me that these youngsters had grown up in a cricket world where T20 was the norm and perhaps the only form they watched. They didn't know test cricket back to front as I did at their age. From the time they had been introduced to the game, T20 was exciting and thriving, and no doubt attracted them like a magnet.
You should have seen the shots these guys were playing. Some of them were nothing short of outrageous, the sort of stuff a rampant AB360 would have been proud of, or even MG180. These kids were having so much fun. There was none of the stoic technical stuff that I was taught way back when the dead sea was only sick. It was crash, bang, wallop... and go fetch.
I couldn't help but think of those kids when I recently watched the IPL auction. Millionaires were made in minutes. Some players who had spent years slugging away, dreaming of representing their countries at the highest level playing test cricket, were suddenly snapped up for serious cash for only a few weeks' work.
The latest leading cricket millionaires will earn more in six weeks than reasonably recent past players did in decades. I heard an interesting reference to that last week. Newly appointed England vice-captain Ben Stokes will apparently earn more during his first edition of the IPL than Mike Atherton or Nasser Hussain did throughout their entire playing careers. That is astonishing.
Back to those schoolkids in the nets. We are kidding ourselves if we think cricketers growing up today don't want to follow in AB or Stokes's footsteps.
The test cricket dream has diminished for most youngsters. If they are talented enough, T20 franchise events can result in enormous pay-packets. Look no further than the two KPs, Pietersen and Pollard, to see how much coin can be made while thoroughly enjoying the ride. @KP24's situation was forced but he sure ain't looking back.
The travelling T20 pro can cash in handsomely these days while plying his trade in the IPL, BBL, PSL, BPL, the soon-to-be EPL and hopefully the relaunched South African version.
Guns for hire. That is the modern kid's mindset. Who can blame them?