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IPL 2024: Is a 6 really a 6 anymore?

The IPL is underway. And, as usual, it has thrown up some interesting food for thought.  

This season, the wall of 500 runs has been breached; already, more than once and counting. 

Let that sink in. 500 runs. Across just 40 overs. In a little over 3 hours!

But, is that really entertainment?    

Could that even be called ‘cricket’? 

Cricket: that nomenclature is more than just a game. It points to an expression and expectation of fair play, where everyone has an equal chance. But the IPL has decisively moved the focus, stardom, and the entire conversation, essentially towards batsmen. 
There is a ‘gully cricket’ feel to the proceedings. Where, anybody, at any point in time, can send even the greatest bowlers in the game, soaring over the fence. 

In fact, as the title of this article postulates, does a 6 even have the same value anymore?
Think about Viv Richards depositing Mike Hendricks in the stands in the 1979 World Cup final. It seemed like an epochal moment for the game. Which Indian can forget Javed Miandad’s last ball six off Chetan Sharma? There was something monumental about Kapil Dev striking Mushtaq Ahmed over extra cover for 6 in the 1992 World Cup. Or, Sachin Tendulkar, climbing into Andrew Caddick in 2003, with a lightning fast hook, retorting to the bowler’s jibe in the press, about Sachin not being able to handle short pitched bowling. Of course, there will always be the ‘Yuvraj Singh’s over’, where he showcased a really ‘Broad minded’ approach to the game, perhaps, in a sense, kindling the very concept of T20 cricket. 

There was a touch of gravitas about those strokes. 
These days, a six seems to be as commonplace, as an ad popping up, when one is in the midst of something interesting on the internet. 

To bring in some inflationary theory here, a six isn’t worth as much as it used to. 
Not in the sense of impact at least. 

This all seems to have been borne out of the premise that seeing boundaries scored frequently, is the only way to sustain interest in the game. 

That’s one way to look at things-perhaps a really simplistic one. There are surely other options to explore, especially which makes it more of a contest between bat and ball. 

Reflect back on the 1999 cracker of a World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa. Australia, had put up just 203 on the board in 50 overs. Certainly an under par score. But the mesmeric spinning talents of Shane Warne, spun a web around the South African batsman. His courage, in giving the ball prodigious flight, even when the target was getting closer, and the South African batsmen were looking to attack, was absolutely riveting to watch. Then, came the devastating cameo of Lance Klusener, awesome in its display of power, which brought South Africa really close. And, finally, the drama of the chaotic run-out which handed Australia the match. Few films could have been scripted better. 

Staying with cine stories, the best action movies like Terminator, Rambo or even Sholay, Satya or Dabangg), are interesting because the actual gun-fights and fisticuffs, are only a part of the overall theme. Often, used very sparingly and strategically. Making moments when they surface even more powerful. 

Perhaps it’s time for the IPL to learn from other such entertainment blockbusters. 

Vinay Kanchan is the author of Sportivity, Lessons from the Playground, and The Madness Starts at 9. He is the patron saint of Juhu Beach United, a footballing movement which celebrates the unfit, out-of-breath working person of today.

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