Transcript: Couch Talk with Kartikeya Date and Ahmer Naqvi on T20s

Couch Talk 125 (Play)

Guests: Kartikeya Date and Ahmer Naqvi

Host: Subash Jayaraman

Subscribe to Couch Talk podcast on iTunes and Sound Cloud.

Also available on TuneIn Radio and YouTube

RSS Feed

Subash Jayaraman – Hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of Couch Talk where we talk to two very popular cricket bloggers, Kartikeya Date and Ahmer Naqvi about the game of T20, what it has become, how it is perceived, it’s impact on cricket as a whole, what it is, and what it should be. Welcome to the show Kartikeya and Ahmer.

Ahmer Naqvi: Thanks for having us Subash.

Kartikeya Date: Thanks for inviting me back.

SJ: Some people do not see T20 as cricket, while some others view T20 as the natural evolution of cricket. Ahmer, you belong in the second camp and you wrote a piece on Cricinfo’s Cordon to that effect, correct?

AN: Yes.

SJ: Let’s begin with your thoughts on this, and then we can get Kartikeya’s.

AN: For me, the debate about what is cricket and whether T20 is cricket is resolved by the fact that I have a very inclusionary understanding of what cricket is. Kartik and I have had this debate before as well, and one of the things I’ve said is that when you can reduce cricket down to its bare essentials, it’s a game where its about space, its about time, its about deciding what space constitutes where the match is being played and how long it is being played. Within that matrix, you can come up with all sorts of different permutations. By that effect, for someone like me, even a game that’s happening in a gully, or a game that’s happening between my brother and myself in our porch, for me that is cricket. Essentially, I see T20 cricket is a consequence of the way time is perceived in modern society, the kind of compulsions that a world of consumerism creates… (I didn’t follow this bit) .. When we talk about bowling being marginalized in T20, there is little doubt that bowling is marginalized in cricket, for me, not just in T20. Now Mr. Anantha Narayanan had spoken in Cordon about how dot balls are more if not equally important in T20 that wickets are. We are seeing this localized difference emerging within T20 itself which brings us closer to the ideal of what we understand cricket to be – the balance between the bat and the ball.

SJ: Ok. Lets get Kartikeya’s thoughts on this. Kartikeya, first I want to question the very statement that “T20 is evolution of cricket”, keeping in mind the definition of the word evolutions. What are your thoughts on how Ahmer sees T20?

KD: I think the evolution is used very widely as a metaphor to describe change in general. The reason I don’t like it is that it masks why that change happens, and who brings it about and whether those who bring it about should be bringing it about, whether things should change the way they do. I think things change because people want them change, and because people have an interest in changing them. On the one hand I agree with Ahmer that it has to do with the way time is perceived in modern society. Attention spans are lower. The question of how much money is enough money is not to be asked. More money is always better than less money. Therefore cramming cricket into primetime is the obvious economist solution. All of that is fine. But that’s not a natural process. That’s very much a social process. That’s something that has happened because of the way power is distributed in our society. Without belaboring this point, I think the same thing is true on the field. I was looking at the figures of the IPL auction over the last 6 years. Subash actually helped me get some of the data. What is remarkable is that increasingly, the big money is paid for heavy hitters. Not particularly good batsmen, but to people who can hit the long ball, and, interestingly, to people who can hit the long ball and bowl a little as well. Whereas specialist bowlers tend not to get the big money. I hope to write about this. And so I think it is undeniable that what’s happened in T20, for whatever reason, because of natural evolution, or in my view because of the compulsions of people who want to make money from the game, not everybody who plays in a T20 game is equally relevant to it.

I think this is a bad thing for any sport. I think there are opportunities within the format of having a game in three and a half hours to build a game which develops new expertise in all sorts of areas. And someone has to do it. My concern has been that we talk about it in the way we talk about cricket, which is entirely self-serving and it doesn’t describe what’s happening at all. For example, this whole business of spinners deceiving batsmen. It is one thing to say that a spinner deceives a batsmen when the batsman is trying to hit a four once every four overs, it is another thing to say this when the batsman is trying to hit a four every ball. I think this is fairly elementary, and yet we don’t make this distinct. The point of saying the T20 is not cricket is that firstly, I think it is true that it is not cricket, second, it is not trivially true, it is significantly true, because it opens up opportunities to build a new sport. Baseball developed in the 1890s in the US and in the 20th century developed into a great new sport. I don’t see why the IPL cannot be that for India in the 21st century.

SJ: Let’s get something clear here. Where do you both stand? Are we arguing the semantics of what cricket is? Everything and everybody has the right to exist of course, and so in that sense, T20 also has a right to exist, so does Test cricket and everything else. Are we saying that T20 should be developed as a complete sport separate from Test Cricket? Ahmer thinks it is a continuation of how we have seen cricket so far.

AN: One thing that I would look over here, the three of us have talked about this a lot as well, in a lot of ways we share the same insights. When I talk about evolution, I don’t want to get people into thinking that I am advocating some sort of biological right for the IPL to exist. For me, the reason why I think IPL is cricket, is because one of the basic arguments we’ve been having (and I’ll let Kartikeya explain this in greater detail) is about the idea of the balance between bat and ball. For me, cricket aspires to that ideal. Every game of cricket that is played is interesting as long as there is a sense of balance in it. But ultimately it is a myth. It is about as real as talking about men and women being treated equally. We can talk about it, it is an ideal to strive towards, but when we look at the reality, and Kartik talked about how power is being manifested, if you look at the history of the game, you look at who the administrators are, how the rules are made, how the rules are changed, it is almost always done to service the batsmen.

When you look at the big changes that have come in bowling, you see the reactions that the cricket fraternity has to that. You look at bodyline, you see the West Indians (quartet of pace bowlers), you see reverse swing, and now we’ve come to the point where the doosra is happening. The Saeed Ajmal debate is a remarkably stupid one. Michael Vaughan puts up a picture, and everyone starts talking about cheating and long sleeves and this and that, but Kevin Pietersen bats like a left hander one day and hits Murali for a six, and I think it was within two days that the MCC comes out smiling and saying that ‘Oh yes, this is a great new innovation and we accept it wholeheartedly’. The reactions that you see to innovations in batting and bowling, for me, highlights the fact that in the way the game is run, changes are very rarely made to help bowlers, and it is usually bowlers (and fielders) who have managed to beat the odds and evolve. A lot of the time when they come up with these innovations, there’s always legislation made to prevent them. Or even if they are allowed like in the case of bowlers having a bent arm (using video you can show that even Paul Reiffel had a bent arm), the debate around it is idiotic. It is like slut-shaming – always casting aspersions. Stuart Broad, who doesn’t have the backbone to say anything to the ECB or the ICC about the major changes they made over the last six months, turns around and accuses the ICC of being either incompetent or corrupt when he says that bowlers can fool them. I’m going off topic here a little bit, but my point being that when I say evolution, the history of the game shows that bowlers always find a way to fight back and even up the odds. So that’s where my insight into T20 being cricket comes in.

SJ: Kartikeya, your take on the concept of addressing the balance between bat and ball, and how T20 is really not that different from what has been all around cricket that Ahmer raises?

KD: I broadly take his point. But there is a difference of category here. In Test Cricket, you can’t actually win a Test match unless you take 20 wickets. So that basically means that the bowler is actually slightly more important than the batsman in my view. Firstly, there are only 4 or 5 bowlers while there are 7-8 serious batsmen who are expected to know how to bat at least a little bit. That basic structural balance is there in Test Cricket, which is not there in T20. I mean, look, you have a game here in which in the 6th wicket does not fall in a majority of the first innings. That is extremely badly skewed in favor of the bat. I agree that laws are changed in a biased ways and I broadly agree with Ahmer about those biases. But so what? The point is to try and change that right? The point is surely to have better laws. If everybody who observes cricket and writes about it, and watches it and likes it is just going to sit as a spectator and say “Oh this is how it always is, so why bother”. Instead, if 15 people say the law should be changed, I think there’s a better chance that the law will be changed than if only 3 people do it. While I agree with the facts of the counter argument, I don’t understand the purpose of it.

AN – I think the purpose of it is – For example, when you say the 6th or the 7th wicket does not fall in T20s, and that’s verifiable as well – the dot balls are far more important in T20s. For example, if we go back to two of the overs in the recent World T20, there was this (Dale] Steyn one and then there was the {Lasith] Malinga one. The Steyn over, for me is not a definitive concern but it’s a valid concern and it’s that we apply a lot of the One Day and Test cricket terminology to understanding T20s. When he bowled that last over, Steyn wasn’t even bowling yorkers but was bowling wide outside the offstump. Through a combination of the pressure that dot balls bring about, New Zealand end up mucking it up. In contrast, when Malinga bowled in the final – which was lot less celebrated because it wasn’t the last over of the match since Indians were batting first – he actually had a plan which was to bowl full and wide, yorkers on the fifth stump. He wasn’t getting wickets but you could understand that it wasn’t his point either. His point was to get dot balls. In the grander scheme of T20s, they are just as valuable as wickets. We can’t know for sure whether Malinga was pursuing it but that sort of bowling cannot get you wickets. In a way I can understand Kartikeya recoiling at this but the fact is that it may not be the bowler’s primary aim to get wickets but is to keep the batsmen from not making runs. Since dot balls are just as important, it requires the bowlers to come up with a different set of skills than bowling at the stumps. The kind of players he bowled weren’t chumps either; it was MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. It was clearly a strategy that worked. I’m making this argument because bowling sort of shifts the goal posts in cricket and we are seeing that process in T20s as well now.

SJ – I want to bring up another topic now. How do you define “Good”, “Bad”, and “Mediocre” in T20s? We are borrowing the conventions of merit from Test cricket essentially and applying it to T20 situations. As you mentioned Ahmer, with respect to the overs by Malinga and Steyn, the merits of the exercises are solely based on the outcomes rather than the processes. Kartikeya, you want to address that, and we can then get Ahmer’s input on your take?

KD – Sure, I agree with what you are saying. I don’t think there are measures of merit beyond just outcomes in T20s. One of the reasons for that is that the contest is so heavily skewed in favor of the bat. Once you say that the point of bowling is not to take wickets, you are talking about a different sport because in cricket the point of bowling is to take wickets.

As far as dot balls are concerned, too much is made of it. I’ll give you an example from One Day cricket. The importance of dot balls in One Day cricket came about – as far as I know – when Bobby Simpson as Coach of the Australian team had a thumb rule that if you have 110 singles in a 50-over innings, you are going to win, and if you keep the other side to under 100 singles and what happens otherwise is less of a factor in the sense that the correlation between winning and scoring more in singles is pretty high. Later on what happened in One Day cricket is that, in 2005 the new power play rule was introduced and in 2011-12, that rule was changed even more. What that has done, and I have seen the data on this, is that it has diminished the importance of dot balls. While the totals have gone up, the number of non-boundary runs has come down.

On the one hand, it is kind of obvious that when you few balls to play with and if you don’t score from a larger percentage of them, you are likely to be in bigger trouble. But the question is, How are you not scoring?

In a T20 innings, for the large part, you have what is known in Baseball parlance as “defensive indifference”, such as, when Ravindra Jadeja fires it in to the leg stump with no fielder on the leg side within the circle.  They are basically conceding that single. So, you are already ready to concede six runs an over. What exactly is going on there? Something different [from cricket] is going on there and nobody is trying to find out. I wish people would try to find out because then they would make better rules.

The reason why we had all these changes in the One Day rules, for better or for worse was because people at least understood what was going on really well. It’s been 12 years since T20s was played, and there is a lot of talk of innovations that IPL has brought about. What has it brought about – something called “Strategic Timeout” whose purpose is to provide opportunities for a long commercial break. It has brought Pink Cap and other caps – I don’t even know what other colors there are – and even that is basically borrowed from other sports and that’s about it, everything else is exactly the same.

There could be so much more. T20 could actually really become a great sport but right now, it’s just an ordinary, boring sport.

SJ – Ahmer, what’s your take? I want us to talk about what T20s could be and should be, and also the perception of people on both sides of the line.

AN Ek toh dekhein toh aise, jab we talk about the value of the game, and what it means to call one thing cricket etc, general level pe, cricket in the countries that all of us are from, we can talk about it within cricket cricket itself and what’s happening with the game etc, but when we step out of it, the innovations that IPL has brought about, it has nothing to do with the game itself.

For me, what IPL has changed is that it is a domestic league which generates considerable interest from a global – I use that term lightly – audience, something like World Series Cricket had. The kind of changes it’s bringing about is in ways cricket is consumed by fans and what they see in it and the sort of identities it creates and pleasures they get from it. All of these things have value for me but they are separate from the game itself. These are innovations within the game itself. The most you can say is that it is an incubation lab where things can be tried out. Beyond this level. the international T20s haven’t caught on in any significant way.

Coming to the point of “defensive indifference” that Kartikeya said T20 breeds, I think we see this sort of thing in other forms of the game as well, such as in Test cricket when the game is attritional. The kind of cricket Pakistan now plays, and England used to play, it works not because it is smarter cricket but because batsmen have shorter and shorter attention spans. Their technique, since they play across formats, is not as watertight as it used to be. So the kind of bowlers for example Misbah brings on are – There is Ajmal – but rest of the bowlers are those that can keep it tight. Twenty years ago if you tried something like this, it wouldn’t have worked.

This is all happening in a world where we consistently have homogenized the pitches, boundary sizes and systematically have taken away the advantages bowling had. A part of me definitely mourns the fact that in T20s there is not a space for the out-and-out wicket taker. When you se Steyn bowling in the IPL, it makes you sad because the poor guy is not a good fit there despite how fast and beautifully he bowls. However, my hope comes from the fact it was a similar situation that a young Imran Khan and the set of fast bowlers came in to 20-30 years ago and they found ways around it. That for me is consistently the greatest joy of the game, to see the ability of the bowlers to find ways to defeat the batsmen.

For me, there has been no balance between bat and ball in cricket. We can look at it in terms of gender politics with patriarchy represented by the batsmen or in Marxist terminologies, the bourgeoisie are the batsmen but the conflict is eternal.

KD – I slightly disagree with Ahmer here. One of the reasons is because I think there is certain amount of nostalgia that creeps in to the position that he takes. For one thing, there are more results in Tests in the 2000’s than there were in the 1980’s. Ricky Ponting won Test matches at a faster rate after Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath retired than Imran did with Wasim, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir and all the other bowlers. There is a tendency to see the 80’s and especially the 60’s through extremely rosy glasses. Where as, if you actually look at the figures, there were a large number of draws back then.

One of the things that certainly changed from then is that a certain kind of bowler has died. The kind of bowler who would take a wicket every 60-65 balls but concede only 18-22 runs in those.

SJ – It seems to me that there is a fundamental struggle between cricket’s followers about the “definitions”; The definition of what Test cricket is and what T20 is. Should definitions matter? Do they matter? If they do matter, what should those definitions be? Kartikeya, you want to get started on this?

KD – Sure. I think definitions do matter and they have to constantly revised looking at reality very closely. For example, when you see a spinner bowling at Mike Hussey when his team is 70/0 in 8 overs, you shouldn’t talk about it the same way you would when he is batting with his team is 90/3 in the 21st over of an One Day game. That is a question of definitions. If you don’t have definitions, you will not be able to discuss those two things differently. Therefore, I think definitions matter.

SJ – Do definitions matter Ahmer?

AN – For me, the fact that we are having this conversation even though we have different views on T20 is good. What matters to me the most and it’s something we share and despair about, is the ability to talk about the game in a way you are putting a lot of thought in to understanding what’s going on. When we get really, really desensitized by the spectacle of Danny Morrison yelling out the same excitement “Oh, he completely deceived him” or whatever…When you know that hasn’t happened. We go back to the (Dale) Steyn over. It was electric. I really liked that, enjoyed that over. But you can’t say that it was one of the greatest T20 overs. Unfortunately you hear that everyday – “The greatest cricket innings ever played” etc. Those, in that sense, it is very important for people who love the game to talk in a way where they understand what is going on. In that sense, what we are defining does matter. I would never argue that “No, Kartikeya, you are seeing it wrong. He has set up the batsman and that is how he got the wicket. That is what Jadeja is doing”. I am not going to lie about what is going on. What is important is what makes the difference in this form of the game. That is what we accord value to. ‘This is good bowling because he is doing x, y and z.’

At the end of the day, when you are talking about skills, you are talking about someone trying to accomplish something. The problem T20 brings about – and this is at the heart of the matter – is that it rewards bullies quite often at individual level of the game where you can have some guy who is closing his eyes, whom we call lapetu. There are lots of them. There is a good bowler who is bowling good and even getting swing out of nowhere, and yet this guy is just waving his bat and getting sixes. You think, “What the hell is going on?” It is very rare to see it happen the other way around. You think that is unfair. For me, one of the things that I get involved in to is because the bullying aspect reverses at cricket’s team level where now the smaller sides have a chance to not be bullied by the bigger sides because the game is so random.

You see that aspect of it change with ways of addressing it. The only way that we will come around addressing it – let me be clear in that I am not saying it can be addressed in a way to give bowlers the advantage or even out the game, I don’t expect that to happen – the attraction that T20 gives, why I am attracted to cricket, is because of the way it makes me and people in my society feel and how they relate to it and how they interact with it. You saw the celebrations in Nepal when they won, or the fact that T20 can go global and such, meaning more to different people – these are things of value. They don’t have the same value as other things. Let’s not confuse them, that is one of the things that is very important in this discussion; and not “IPL has brought innovations to the game.” what the hell does that mean? Camera on his cap is neither original nor really an innovation in cricket – it is an innovation in broadcasting. It is very important to have definitions and understand what has value and why it has value. Blindly attributing value is what all of us are against.

SJ–  I think you brought a couple of very important thoughts that I wanted to cover. Basically, Danny Morrison is a snake oil salesman. He says that everything is great and lot of the people who are on air seems to be doing that, too. 1) Are we seeing something really great? 2) When we talk about definitions, some people that some people prefer T20s over Test matches and some people prefer Test matches over T20s. If you tell someone that likes T20 better, then the reaction to that, the recoil in anger saying that you are an elitist – why do fans of T20 have to think that it is cricket? 3) The fans have to think one thing. The broadcasters have to sell a product and say, “Hey, what you are seeing is actually cricket, it is not a different sport.”

KD– Why single out Danny Morrison? He is the most expressive crude example of a trend. You look at more sophisticated people who write match reports who are editors of big portals and stuff. They embrace the same sort of homogeneity in discussing T20. You look at the match reports across the Internet about the various games. Even the game on Sunday, where they chased 80 runs in 30 balls. They are completely devoid of description…you learn nothing from them. They are just an account of the scorecard. There is no discussion of any sport in it. It is just counting one after the other. The question of who likes what is separate from what things are. I don’t particularly care about if someone else likes T20 or someone else likes Test cricket. That is fine. You can do whatever you want. I am more interested in what it is. What is it that you like? That is more interesting, maybe then I can like it, if I know what is going on…. Right now, I have no idea what is going on.

AN–  I’ll put two things here. To give you an example of how to approach this problem: First of all, when we talk about not being able to discuss what things are, I will take you to a Test match – this is a checkmate, both of you will be crying after this is over – we got to 1999 Kolkata. There is Rahul Dravid, who is still new, we still haven’t seen 2001 Kolkata yet. But every motherfucker knows what an amazing batsman he is, and they should know. And Shoaib bowls him. You can put this on YouTube. They switch away from the commentary and they bring on Charu Sharma and the late Tony Greig, may he rest in peace, and they spend 3 minute talking on how great (Sachin) Tendulkar is. Sachin is great; I’ve put this on the record so any trolls out there can search me on it.

KD– That’s no good Ahmer. You can put anything and we have to search the record but joh trolling hona hai who to hoga hi!

AN– The problem is, in Sachin argument… the Indians and the Pakistanis especially find it very difficult to have an objective discussion on this. After a while, I realise there is not point to have an objective discussion on Sachin. You know that whole accolade that he received at Eden Gardens. All Pakistan – and that is how he we love that Shoaib Akhtar wicket so much, it was all going out about how great he was – and Shoaib Akhtar rips his stumps apart. It captures so much about what both sets of fans here are in it for. I think there are completely valid reasons.

What Kartik pointed about the fact that sports editors and people who are writing, they are not being able to differentiate, that is very important. I think that is the issue here. You should understand what you are seeing. One of the reasons I find it comfortable is because the terminology of T20 in particular is very similar to, if you have grown up in an urban space, playing cricket in a gully – not a maidan, but a gully. Gully has only one area open or this and that. Over there it really allowed for the rise of these sort of the guy who has his way of pitching an off spinner made it very difficult to hit it because the area is limited. Is it good bowling, is it bad bowling? It is one-dimensional bowling. He will get found out when we play in a maidan, you can’t play these bowlers there for too long. That has no value outside that context, but has a value within it.

One of the big changes happening is that the analysts of the game the people respect. All three of us are not traditional media people, and we managed to make some sort of respectability within the circle. It is incumbent on us to create the new context for the game. Asking people whose bread and butter it has been to describe other stuff, it is just easier for them to scale it down. That is something that Kartikeya really objects. We can’t scale everything down and try to view it the same way. This is a separate thing. It has to be viewed as a separate format. Cricket has great value in its separate formats and that is something that we need to understand.

SJ– I want to address that. T20 as a sport, as an entertainment vehicle has a tremendous value: commercial value, sporting value etc. The fact that there is a bit of laziness or people thinking that if you talk T20 as a different sport, perhaps the fans of cricket will not pay their money and attention to it. I don’t know what it is, maybe someone has done a research on it. But, there seems to be laziness or fear of possibly fans falling out with it, that seems to be driving to keep this status quo – scale it down and market it as such. Why is it so? Should it be that way? Should it be different? I think that is a good point to end the discussion.

Kartikeya, you start, and then Ahmer will have the last word.

KD– To some extent all of those things are true. So what? Why T20 is so popular? I think it is popular because it is there. It is one of those things that “you build and they will come”. That is what has happened. It doesn’t have any competition. What is a competition in the evenings on television in India? It is a regional language work… there is no nationally watched television other than, say, the music contests and the talent shows and stuff like that. The only competition is cricket, as far as I can see. There are others who can know way more than I do. Harsha Bhogle probably knows this inside out.

SJ– You say that you don’t know what it exactly is, but I want to get your thoughts on the question I raised. If T20 is sold as a different sport, do you think we would have the same kind of response to it?

KD– I don’t know if we will. I think it would be a better sport, and in the long run it would be more profitable. In the long run it will survive much more strongly. I think my response to that question is simple. Why should the content – cricket, in this transaction – be dragged along? Why should it react to what the public wants? Why shouldn’t it have its own voice? That is what T20 needs to have. It needs to have its own set of measures of merit. It needs to establish itself as a sport. Right now it is just something just on TV, as far as I can tell.

AN– I think why the people are so afraid of it is because so far, overall in the game, we haven’t come to terms with how naked the control of broadcasters and money men is. People still don’t realize it. You look at global sports bodies, there are a lot of problems. I have done a paper on this. Their organizational political control is something that the real world hasn’t come to terms with in a lot of ways. In cricket as well, nobody wants to say it, the fan doesn’t want to think that he is only watching it because this makes the most money. They have to say that, this and that are the problems. They don’t ever talk about these aspects of the game. The discussion all of us were so involved, when the ICC changes came around… You look at some of the respected media institutions covering it. It was shocking.

You are talking about why people are afraid to not want to call it cricket, it is because if you are using the same metrics of ODI and you are not treating it as a qualitative different thing, then you are not understanding what it is. That is where this uncertainty comes from. For me, cricket has to be taken apart, we have to have some intellectual honesty. For me, when I talk about it, I am not going to hide behind the fact. “Oh, it is just as great as Test cricket.” “It is just as subtle and sophisticated.” I am not, that is not what I am in it for. I would make no bones about the fact that it comes at a time, when it is exciting, it creates regional identities. For me Shoaib Akhtar bowling at Eden Gardens was something I really loved. As a Pakistani fan I can promise you now, the day our players are in the IPL there will be a huge change in how we view it. These things matter to the fans. It is important why the matter is brought about.

Here the problem is that until you explain why T20 is good, these are the things that make it good, something like a dot ball insight… The kind of statistics that they use, the kind of metrics that they use, they are all the same fro the other formats of the game. You are completely misunderstanding what you are watching.  You are afraid that if you actually do something original, then it won’t be the same thing and people will be turned away from the game. Of course not! They are already invested in it, and they will be as long as there is something sophisticated going on in T20s as well. It could be something as simple as getting in the zone for 3 balls in the final over. That is not something that you and I can do easily. It needs skills to do that.

If someone can identify those things rather than saying “He is great batsman and he can do it any time.” That is not explaining anything. That is where the problem lies. Lot of people talking about the game and writing about the game, are not thinking originally about it. They fear that if they are called out on that, they will be exposed as charlatans. That may be true for them but that is not true for what we are witnessing. It would really benefit from treating it with these definitions, in t]fact, treating it as a separate thing. That is why I brought it back to the idea of time and space. That is what made it very interesting.

I am willing to take it on those terms. That is why I don’t get offended by it. People who think are into T20s and value it, may be this is how they should be thinking as well.

KD– I agree with what Ahmer is saying. One way of being intellectually honest is to separate this question of who likes what with what things are. It doesn’t really matter. I am fine with people saying they like T20. But what I don’t understand is what is it that they like. They cannot explain that. That is really the thing. In order for them to explain that, someone has to excavate what it is. That hasn’t been done yet.

AN– That is why it is very ironic that one of the best T20 analysts on Cricinfo is Kartikeya. [Laughs]

KD– I don’t know about best or worst, but at least I try to do it. To Cricinfo’s credit, they publish all the crap that I write. They never said “no”, or anything of the sort. Good for them, I think.

SJ– On that fabulous note, Ahmer, Thank you so much for being on the show, and Kartikeya, thank you as well.

AN– Thanks.

KD– My pleasure.


Episode transcribed by: Bharathram Pattabiraman and K. Date