That great cricket commentator, cricket writer and oenophile, John Arlott, was of the opinion that cricket reflected the times it was played in.
Thus, in Victorian times, there was much apparent rectitude- “Play up, and play the game”- but much cheating and betting. Post World War I, there was a sense of abandonment and relief after the horrors of the trenches. Class distinctions, between paid professionals and dilettante amateurs, were apparent. After World War 2 these started to fade. Political conflict was reflected in the “rebel” tours to South Africa, defying sanctions on apartheid. A more fluid economic situation led to increasing commercialisation and the end of amateur players at the top levels. The attention span of the public grew shorter. Spectators- many spectators, anyway- wanted games that finished in a day. Thus one day cricket became much more popular.
These are just my uninformed interpretations of Arlott’s idea. Moving into the modern age, the proliferation of independent TV channels led to the rights to international cricket being sold to the highest bidder. There was an increasing amount of experimentation: night cricket, white balls, fielding restrictions, coloured clothing and the like. Now the formats of cricket have again changed to include 20 over games, shorter than even village cricket. (My son, a keen amateur player, tells me that decreasing numbers of amateur cricketers want to play games that last even as long as a day; they want them to be over in an afternoon.) We now have pink balls, free hits, power plays and technological umpiring decisions. There are bidding wars for players in some competitions. Even that core of the game, Test matches, is changing, and some players are saying they are only interested in one day cricket. It may be that, by the time I die, there will be no more Test cricket.
What aspects of the modern world are reflected in all of this? One could speculate, for example, that it is globalisation that has led to the IPL (the Indian Premier League) employing foreign players at huge salaries; but of course your guess is as good as mine and probably better.
I try hard, especially in this blog, not to be a “grumpy old man”. However, I find myself less and less interested in a game I used to love beyond reason. Perhaps, if cricket reflects the times it’s played in, I am just behind the times, or out of touch with them.