Not the star players, not the big names, not the international stage, not the corporate franchises, not the big auctions, not the coloured clothing, not the half-clothed cheerleaders, not the millions spent on marketing gimmicks, not the shortened versions but the most basic need – “An equal contest between the bat and the ball.”

The match I’m referring to lacked the big names – Tendulkar, Dravid, Zaheer, it was not an international encounter, it was not the IPL. It was India’s premier domestic league – the Ranji Trophy final match between the best two teams in the nation. The Karnataka Vs Mumbai final in Mysore. The 5 day contest – the one which is termed boring. The one which Mumbai won by 6 runs amidst a million heartbroken Karnataka fans.

The most heartening aspect was the crowd turn-out and the spectators glued in to the internet from all over the world. The crazy cricket buffs- the true fans of the game – the ones I know who revere the 5 day game -were totally glued in. This brought a smile to my face. Who the hell says test cricket or the the 5 day contest is boring? Take the recent test matches in SA and Aus, and now this amazing final. Boring, you call this boring? Compare the viewers glued in to Idea Cup – the international tri-series competition and the Ranji Final. The latter will win the honours hands down.

The pitch was a fine example as to what the BCCI needs to build at all venues in the country. This will avoid dull draws and prepare the batsmen better to face green tops and give the bowlers confidence to do well on the bigger stage. Keep it equal, I’ve had enough of batsman hitting bowlers all over the park and run-rates of 6 an over seeming low. You could well not have any bowlers and put those bowling machines in if all you want to watch is batsmen get runs. Please get rid of that.

There is no need to re-format the shorter versions, making bikinis from business suits. When you need limited fun put the swimwear and go to the beach, when it is serious business – devising strategies, chasing targets and beating the competition- get those business formals out. Don’t you dare change test cricket – none of you who are sitting in ICC and BCCI. It does not need any change – get good pitches and the crowd will come in on its own. Stop driving the world crazy with your stupid marketing gimmicks – invest instead on the budding players and grounds. Ensure good cricket will be played and fans will step in automatically. A true fan of the game looks for what he knows best – a good contest between the bat and ball.

Let the ball seam, let it swing, let it bounce of the deck, let it be short and let the batsmen pull, hook, duck, sweep, and earn some applause for a delivery well left rather than well hit. Yeah give me some of that!

Let’s have some pure unadulterated fun. I did not get to see the match live cause there is no telecast here in Dubai, but from what I read; the Karnataka and Mumbai pacers bowled extremely well on a pitch that had something for everyone. The batsmen with grit would survive and Manish Pandey showed what to do with the pitch. I’ve seen the bloke in the IPL and he seemed a good potential for the future, 144 of 151 balls chasing 334 to win on a good pitch is proof enough what this bloke can do!

At the end, it turned out to be the kind of game where one would feel heartbroken and elated at the same time. 6 runs was the victory margin, 6 runs, it was not a game for heart patients! Sigh!

Once again – kudos to the teams, kudos to the curator and more kudos to the crowd who thronged the stadium to watch – what we all know – CRICKET – The real 5 day game!