I feel that a sportsman’s/cricketer’s style is always recognised because of his Test cricket-playing technique. Of course, I may be wrong and it may be debatable but I feel style, temperament, master shots come from Test cricket.
Playing five days consecutively does not sound really easy for players, you have to be mentally and physically fit for all five days. That’s the reason many shorter format players have not performed well in the longer version of the game, except for a very few. In Test cricket, if you have to survive, you need to have a lot more qualities apart from just talent. You need to have patience, be a good reader of the game, be aggressive, judge timing the ball, how to use the crease if the ball is swinging etc.
All the cricketing greats before the social media era or, you can say, pre-T20 and IPL era, are mostly from Test cricket though ODI cricket has its own charm and following. Remember that Test and ODI players were the same then because there was no specialisation like today. Be it Sir Don Bradman, Sunil Gavaskar, Greg Chappell, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Bishen Singh Bedi, Sir Richard Hadlee and later Mohd Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, etc, were all legendary.
On 1 February, 1985, I remember being in Kanpur’s Green Park when I was a cricket crazy 10-11 year old and watching Azharuddin score his third century against England in his debut series and create Test cricket history. Similarly, when Sunil Gavaskar crossed Bradman’s tally of 29 centuries and became number one in the world with 34 centuries, and Kapil Dev surpassed Hadlee and became the one with the most Test wickets and when Anil Kumble took 10 wickets against Pakistan in 1999. I was there for that match and the joy and happiness I saw in the stadium was historic.
With the advent of T20 and later IPL, the cricket scenario has totally changed. It’s become more commercial and more entertainment-oriented these days. The players become crorepatis in one IPL auction and with one or two great performances, they became overnight sensations. And also, thanks to social media platforms, they soon have millions of followers. Hardik Pandya is an example but no matter how big he becomes as an IPL or T20 player, he cannot be the Rahul Dravid of Indian cricket nor can he be Kapil Dev, the two legends he has been compared with by people.
To end, I would request all the cricket boards to initiate small changes to bring the crowds and let all of them enjoy some classic cricket, so that this generation and the following will remain in awe of this beautiful game.