Form is temporary and class is permanent. A cliché that has been often used in cricket commentary to describe batsmen of great skill.
The tenth edition of IPL concluded recently with Mumbai Indians being crowned the champions for the third time. The heartening thing about the biggest showpiece of international cricket is its ability to showcase promising young talents and much needed alternate mode of sustenance to domestic players.
As a cricket fan who will completing three decades of following cricket, I would remember 2017 IPL differently though. Hashim Amla a dyed in the wool test batsman making significant contributions and emerging as one of the top scorers in the tenth edition.
When he made his debut around 2004 when T20s was still in its infancy nobody would have guessed that Amla would make an impact in this format. After all he is known to exhibit great composure, persistence, steadfastness qualities valued in test cricket. T20s on the contrary preferred their heroes to be mercurial, edgy and volatile and that came in handy given the harried nature of the format. In T20s bound by time constraints one’s instincts take control of their game with no time for deeper analysis and patient control. On the contrary test cricket one had infinite time at their disposal.
Teams have understood this and have different people playing in each of these varied formats with hardly anyone who is considered a test speciality playing the T20 format. This makes Hashim Amla’s feat unique is the way he plays all the three formats with due adjustments and style suited to the needs of each of the format. On the contrary, David warner plays the same way across all three formats.
Among the younger generation of fans who have taken up watching cricket post the 2000s, test cricket is seen a sort of skulduggery of sorts compared to the entertainment quotient that comes with T20s.
Any keen follower of amla’s cricketing career would certainly notice that he has certainly made adjustments to meet the changing needs. Those cuts in the test matches are replaced by slaps outside of the offs ump lending elevation. More sixes in his repertoire in the T20 format compared to the boundaries.
In celebrating his performance in this IPL, I would like to call in a change in the time tested adage often quoted in addressing class batsmen. “Form is temporary, class is permanent and format is indifferent” to them.