Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fixing Cricket and My Childhood Hero

Mal Meninga....Finally gets rewarded

When I was a young punter growing up on the Darling Downs, there were two things that I was pretty passionate about, cricket and Mal Meninga.

My most impressionable years were the 70’s and 80’s and it was about this time Kerry Packer introduced us to World Series Cricket. I remember all the purists kicking up a fuss and condemning this “pajama” cricket.

Fast forward to today. Not only is one day cricket going gangbusters, but we are poised on the verge of seeing another innovation in the game of cricket, the Indian Premier League (IPL) which kicks off this weekend.

Some things never change. There are still the traditionalists turning their noses up at the 20/20 format the series will adapt.

The IPL got their show up and running quickly, which cost them a few of the most talented players in the world.

England and the West Indies have a series scheduled at the same time and thus English players were not allowed to take up any offers to play in the breakaway league.

I can see this becoming a problem if IPL becomes a big hit and players start to miss out on the big money offered in the sub-continent. It is going to force a player to weigh up his options once his contract expires with his country and that may mean some of the players opt in favour of the money.

The most glaring example of that right now would be England’s Kevin Pietersen. He would be one of the players commanding the big dollars had he been allowed to get in on the IPL action. Because of the figures thrown at these players, you can’t tell me he is not going to have to put some thought in before committing to England for another contract.

No fan of the game wants the situation to come to the point where we watch an international competition that is missing some of the best talent the world has to offer.

I hope that the cricketing countries unite in their support of this new arm of cricket sooner rather than later and can work harmoniously to promote the game in any form. I would love nothing more than to see the world’s best on display in both the IPL format and the international competition.

Now, on to Mal Meninga. He was my childhood hero and I still have the scars from when running over my brother to score that winning Origin try in the backyard to prove it.

I was nervous all day on Thursday for Big Mal. No one was happier to see his name revealed as part of the Team of the Century than me.

Through my eyes, Meninga always had to live in the shadows of “the King”, Wally Lewis, during his playing days. I think I was the only Queenslander during the 80’s that despised Lewis.

It began when Lewis was playing for Brisbane Valleys and Wynnum-Manly against Mal and his South’s Magpies in the Brisbane comp. It always seemed to be these two teams battling for the premiership.

This fierce rivalry that occurred between these two men (strictly in my head, I might add) intensified when Meninga moved to Canberra to join the Raiders and Lewis was with the powerhouse Brisbane Broncos.

The real kicker for me was that I felt Mal came up with the game winning plays, especially come Origin time, while Wally got all the glory for his gutsy and gritty play.

Well, my childhood hero has finally been given the recognition he has deserved for years and I can finally sleep easy.

Both these legendary figures of Rugby League got what they deserved and were both honoured with a position on the Team of the Century. Now I can honestly say I have put this fierce (yet, imaginary) rivalry between them to rest for good.

My article appears weekly in the Townsville Bulletin.

BIG MAL

3 comments:

The Substitute said...

I must admit the IPL did impress me, so I too blogged about it today. I think that this concept (twenty20 and the IPL) will skyrocket cricket to unpreecedented heights.

Although, I think the ICC have dropped the ball. It is a shame that the IPL is run by the BCCI. All that cash is just going to make the powerful even more powerful.

The ICC needs to also make sure a calendar window is carved out in the future for the event so the best players can play.

Good article in the paper today from Warnie who said that the main issue with England is the IPL season clashes with county cricket, although the general consensus is that the county cricket season is too long anyway.

John Rillie said...

SUB:

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments. I will continue to drop by your blog, and who knows, we may even bump into one another at a game in Melbourne this year.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

hey jr My news is the crocs resigned Corey and ellis have we???what news do u have?