Sachin Tendulkar is a gentleman

Sports : Showdown on the subcontinent

Fresh money or old values? This is the subject of heated debate during the World Cricket Championship, which is currently taking place in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The global fan base is deeply divided over how the sport should go on. There are the traditionalists who don't let anything come of the classic test cricket, in which a match lasts five days. For them, cricket is more than a game. They still regard it as the school of the English gentleman. It is not for nothing that the saying “That's not Cricket” - “That is not fair” exists. But the weights have shifted. The economic center of cricket is now in India.

While cricket has to lag behind football or rugby in England or Australia, it is number one on the subcontinent. The TV and sponsorship money is correspondingly high, the players are top stars and advertising icons. A short form of the game, the Twenty20, is particularly popular. The matches only last three hours and are much faster. The Twenty20 made its breakthrough with the debut of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008, in which teams played against each other, backed by billionaires and large corporations. The players can earn more there in a few weeks than in their entire career. Therefore, the league also attracts top international stars. A culture shock awaits them: with cheerleaders, commercial breaks and hysterical television commentators, the fully commercialized IPL is the opposite of traditional cricket culture.

At the World Cup, however, neither Twenty20 nor test cricket will be played. It is played in the 50-over format, in which a match lasts eight hours. It's considered unattractive because it lacks both the epic size of the test cricket and the intensity of the Twenty20. The mode is also controversial: The preliminary round will be played in two groups of seven, a total of 42 matches are necessary to determine the quarter-finalists. Many games are irrelevant from a sporting point of view - but they also generate advertising income. At the last World Cup, in which 16 teams took part, they were still played in groups of four. The aim was to eliminate the supposedly unattractive outsiders as early as possible. But that went wrong: After a sensational defeat against Bangladesh, India was eliminated in the preliminary round. Now it is guaranteed that the teams that promise high ratings will stay longer in the tournament.

Despite all the criticism, the World Cup promises greater excitement than last. The Australian team, which is now in a period of upheaval, won the last three tournaments. While it is one of the favorites, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa are also given chances. Above all, India, which won its opening game against Bangladesh this time, is highly valued because of its home advantage, as external conditions play a major role in cricket. It is unlikely that the Indian team could start a new era in the event of a victory, as it is facing a turning point: Sachin Tendulkar (37), the country's greatest athlete, is saying goodbye to the international stage. He has been adored by his compatriots since his national team debut in 1989, and he now holds almost all records for batsmen. Even if India should actually win the title, the fans should mix a few tears of goodbye with the joy.

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