Farewell to the great artists

One of my greatest pleasures all through my life has been the art of the great batsmen – Hutton, Compton, Gower, May, Cowdrey, Viv Richards, Sobers, Pollock, Steve Waugh and a handful more. I’ve never quite been able to understand why it is that excellent cricketers like Boycott and Cook can play exactly the same strokes as the great artists and play them exceedingly well, yet these remain actions of utility not of art. Perhaps the last of the great stylists was Ian Bell, although Root’s square cut and back foot cover drive still thrill me. But is Root the very very last? I fear he may be. I can’t bear 20/20 which is just a slogging competition, and one-day cricket seems to be going the same way, and even Test cricket is being undermined, for who wants to undergo the long schooling necessary to become a true son of Gower when you can earn more in a couple of hours of IPL than in a whole summer of Test cricket? I fear it may be farewell to the greatest beauty of this most beautiful of games. Still, at least it will only be a minor aspect of the great catastrophe that is coming. For as we have allowed cricket to be destroyed by money, so pretty much everything else.

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