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Wisden hails IPL but bats for tests

A GLOBAL economic crisis, militant attacks in Mumbai, a Texan billionaire under investigation for an alleged US$8 billion fraud and a Twenty20 cricket competition sanctioned but not controlled by the game's authorities.

By any standards the 2008 calendar year was an extraordinary 12 months for a game chronicled by the Wisden cricketers' almanac.

Since Wisden went to press, the Sri Lanka team has come under direct attack in Lahore and Texan Allen Stanford, who bankrolled the US$20 million Twenty20 match between West Indies and an England XI last year, has been charged with fraud.

This year's Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition has been shifted to South Africa because of security fears after the Mumbai attacks.

Despite the upheavals on and off the field, Wisden editor Scyld Berry believes the fundamental qualities of bat and ball remain unchanged.

"An astonishing, unique, game in all its forms," Berry concludes in his editor's notes. "Cricket has regenerated and grown, over the centuries, as no other sport has done."

Berry acknowledged the appeal of the Twenty20 game and the place of the IPL in the annual calendar.

TV audience

"The Indian population enjoyed it, particularly the females, the TV audience enjoyed it. They were turning on people who never watch cricket normally," he said.

But he said consolidating the importance of test cricket, the longest and ultimately most satisfying form of the game, was paramount.

Berry believes the non-stop action of the Twenty20 game has already filtered through to test cricket, as evidenced by the selection of Indian opener Virender Sehwag as international player of the year.

Sehwag is third on a table of the fastest-scoring test batsmen, behind Australia's Adam Gilchrist and his compatriot Kapil Dev who both went in down the order. He averages 51.06 in test cricket with an overall scoring rate of 78.14 per 100 balls.

"Virender Sehwag has raised the bar of test match opening batting to the point where last year against seriously good opposition he was scoring at five runs an over.

"Eighty-five runs every 100 balls, no opening batsman in the history of test cricket has come close to that."


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