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Gordon Greenidge takes Delhi Metro to arrive at Kotla, says T20Is shouldn’t replace ODIs

A part of West Indies cricket’s golden period in the 1970s and 80s, Gordon Greenidge still watches “only Tests” as he hasn’t yet warmed up to the slam bang nature of the T20 version. On a whirlwind trip of the national capital, the 71-year-old arrived at the Feroz Shah Kotla from Delhi’s Terminal 3 on Delhi Metro. The bat manufacturing company that invited Greenidge for a promotional event, factored in the heavy traffic owing to a political event.

One can safely bet that the late afternoon tube rail passengers would have hardly recognised the man, whose square cuts were the most ferocious and still remembered by contemporaries.

“I am not criticising T20 but it is not my game. Yes, it is there and there to stay. It is exciting, then there is enjoyment. When you go to a game, you want to enjoy. Yes, it’s good to watch but it’s not a game I watch on a regular basis.

“I am the Test match person, and I have always been one. So it’s not criticism but it is my personal view,” Greenidge said during his short but eventful media interaction.

For a purist, with 19 Test hundreds and 30 international tons overall, he opined that T20 is purely a “spectator’s sport” and not a cricketer’s.

So would ODIs become less relevant with the passage of time.

“Frankly, on a personal note, I wouldn’t want 50 overs to be replaced by T20 cricket. I believe T20 is purely a spectator’s sport and not a cricketer’s sport. To me. it’s like fast food. Test match is the real cricket. 50 overs is like a midway, 20 overs and now it has gone 10 overs. “Where are you going to go from here. 2 overs, 1 over?” he asked sarcastically.

For Greenidge, the bigger concern is cricket’s most pristine form — Tests.

“Let’s keep cricket alive but please do not banish Test cricket. That is the Test and real cricket we are here for or we all grew up with.”

But Greenidge also fully understands the viewer’s connect with the shortest format.

“We want to see as much as possible excitement in cricket in a day’s play. Where you can do a full day’s employment and then go and see a game in the evening, take your family along, it is great but it is purely for spectator’s enjoyment.”

I don’t watch Windies cricket anymore.

When asked about the West Indies cricket team’s terminal decline, his answer was sharp and short.

“It used to hurt me but it doesn’t hurt me anymore. Because I don’t watch cricket anymore. Only if it is Test cricket or a young player I have heard about, that is being spoken of, I would try to go alone and see that player and make my own judgement. But I don’t as a rule go to the arena and watch cricket. Especially T20s.”

Being run out at non-striker’s end for backing up isn’t pleasant feeling.

The cricket world is polarised on a bowler running out a non-striker for backing up too far. ‘Mankading’, the term coined by the Australians back in 1948 after Indian legend Vinoo Mankad ran out batter Bill Brown, remains a sensitive issue.

While he doesn’t like the mode of dismissal, as it doesn’t involve skill, Greenidge wants a nuanced view to be taken by all stakeholders of the game.

“I suppose it is not a pleasant way for a batter to lose his wicket (in this manner). Some will say it is not in spirit of game but then I will say if a batter is stealing two or three metres, that is also stealing, so what do you do?”

“It is said that you can inform the umpire when this is happening and should it continue, then I guess you have to actually break the stumps and get the batter out. But that doesn’t often happen. Cricket, I think most of the times, is played as per laws of the game. Sometimes it is broken.”

Greendige also feels for the bowlers as they get penalised for over-stepping.

“It is not right for batters to steal two or three metres and then bowlers marginally overstepping and getting a free hit. I know people want to see sixes and fours but also if you are a real cricket lover, you want to see competition between bat and ball and not just one-sided games.

“So, I expect some changes or amendments in the law in near future to curb things like that,” he concluded.

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