Give cricket a holiday!

Cricket fans from India and Pakistan at the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Super Eight match between India and Pakistan in Colombo on September 30, 2012. The game is a religion in the sub-continent.-K.R. DEEPAK

“The next time someone asks you what is the greatest single change cricket needs, tell them a holiday would do it a world of good. Don’t expect it to happen quickly, if at all, because our heroes need to earn their millions, TV stations have to fill their schedules and everyone hates change,” writes Ted Corbett.

It has been snowing for several days in the corner of Cambridgeshire where I live but that is hardly a concern to a sporting man in this technological 21st century.

As I gaze out from my favourite armchair I can see both the snowflakes and, by moving my head slightly to the left, watch cricket 24 hours a day.

At 9 p.m. it’s England in New Zealand, with the host being held at bay on flat pitches in two of the three Tests. By 4 a.m. it’s India overwhelming the least galvanised Australian side I can remember. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh tune in soon afterwards. By breakfast time it’s steady South Africa vying with those mercurial men from Pakistan; just before tiffin West Indies open up against Zimbabwe.

Then it starts all over again. Wonderful? Maybe not.

It’s a feast for those who do not know when to stop; but surely it is more than sufficient. I can only take a few snatches of this cricket bonanza every day even though the snow confines me to the house.

If I may misquote the poet: “The game is too much with us late and soon.”

Stop this worldwide all-day circus, I scream; I want to get off. I want the former cricketers to stop repeating their clichés, I want mixed men and women teams, I want fun and frivolity where there is pious hope and most of all I want to lose the belief that there is no point to all this cricket which requires a slide rule to produce a victor and a four-year cycle before any team is handed a trophy.

Perhaps it would be best if ICC — instead of toying with the suggestion of a world event to determine which Test team is top of the tree — declared a hiatus, a pause long enough for players to lose that feeling of “this is just one more Test and, OMG, and if it is tied, drawn, won or lost there will be another tomorrow.”

It might be a benefit if wickets were allowed to lie fallow, if all the coaches were told to reapply for their posts and if all the captains were sent back to school and made to write out 1,000 times “If I win the toss I must bat.”

Sorry, Alastair Cook, Nasser Hussain and Mohammad Azharuddin — who all decided at one time or another that they knew better than the wise old men of the last two centuries — but it has been proved time and again that winning the toss is a signal to bat. “Think about bowling first,” said W. G. Grace, “and then go out there and bat.”

A friend of mine in the West Indies has always questioned the captain who put the other side in. “You tossing away your luck,” he used to say and, if that is not a good enough reason to follow my rule then here is another.

I remember Ian Botham, in his days as Somerset captain, choosing to bat on a cold spring day when all his advisors said bowl first. “What do you prefer?” he asked. “Sitting here in the warm, or standing at slip knowing your fingers are so cold that you will not hold on to the ball if you get a catch.”

My point is that the whole game needs a rest. Only six months or maybe a year: so that Kevin Pietersen can weigh up his future, IPL or England; so that the Australians can search for a new side without having to throw second class hopefuls into a Test every other week-end; so that all those niggling, uncountable little injuries can be properly cured; so that at least one Wisden annual will come out that is too small to injure your toe when you drop it.

It would be nice too if that poor classical trumpeter could have a rest from the English theme songs; when there is no longer a Test day with the grounds full of knights in armour, nurses with beards and nuns in short skirts; when tattooists can take a day off instead of destroying the beauty of the fully fit athlete; and we can all be freed from the endless prattle about “right areas,” “wrong lines” and “reverse sweeps.”

It might bring an end to the foolishness of night watchmen — bowlers pretending to be batsmen to protect men paid to bat — and runners who cause as much trouble as anyone can by standing next to the square leg umpire.

Coaches might once again be the vehicle that takes the team to the ground and does not include the interfering busybodies who want to turn the wicketkeeper into a leg spinner, get players to write essays about “why we lost” and allow umpires to prove they have normal eyesight and good hearing and, frequently, the right answer.

All this happened during the Second World War. It was not just that pitches recovered their bite and spectators their enthusiasm for the game but that Johnny Wardle, maybe the finest unsung spinner of all time, learnt his trade slowly but thoroughly because he was not allowed into the Army.

Such unintended consequences come along whenever there are drastic changes — in sport, in art and in life — but they rarely occur when there is too much playing and painting and singing and trying too hard.

So the next time someone asks you what is the greatest single change cricket needs, tell them a holiday would do it a world of good.

Don’t expect it to happen quickly, if at all, because our heroes need to earn their millions, TV stations have to fill their schedules and everyone hates change.