What Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Can Teach Us About Twenty20

by Devanshu Mehta

In the crazy ride that is Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jay and Silent Bob find themselves on a set where Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (playing themselves) have the following exchange:

Matt Damon: Just take it from “It’s a good course.”

Ben Affleck: Oh, now you’re the director.

Matt Damon: Hey shove it, Bounce-boy. Let’s remember who talked who into doing this shit in the first place. Talking me into Dogma was one thing, but this…

Ben Affleck: Hey look, I’m sorry I dragged you away from whatever-gay-serial-killers-who-ride-horses-and-like-to-play-golf-touchy-feely-picture you’re supposed to be doing this week.

Matt Damon: I take it you haven’t seen Forces of Nature?

Ben Affleck: You’re like a child. What’ve I been telling you? You gotta do the safe picture. Then you can do the art picture. But then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture because your friend says you owe him.

[They both take a beat and look at the camera]

Ben Affleck: And sometimes, you have to go back to the well.

Matt Damon: And sometimes, you do Reindeer Games.

Ben Affleck: See, that’s just mean.

I can imagine Rahul Damon and Sachin Affleck having a similar conversation. In this tortured analogy, Test cricket is the gay-serial-killers-who-ride-horses-and-like-to-play-golf-touchy-feely-picture. Twenty20 is the safe picture. Test cricket is The Talented Mr. Ripley. Twenty20 is Reindeer Games.

See, I don’t usually like Twenty20. I think it’s a waste of talent and has perverse incentives. It’s fun sometimes, if I’m in the mood and if it’s a good game. Put another way, I like it when a Twenty20 game is Bourne Identity, but most games are like Reindeer Games. So I don’t bother watching many. The hit ratio is too low.

Test cricket is like indie or art or foreign film, and I love a good obscure film. It’s long, confusing, sometimes in a foreign language, and usually has a meandering unsatisfying ending. But we don’t watch for the ending, we watch for the journey. I want to be challenged, I want to have to rethink what I believe in. This is Test cricket.

But what Ben Affleck taught me is that it’s unreasonable to expect a world where the world keeps churning out artsy film. There is no business model for someone like Damon to keep at it. So they have to mix it up, and I know that, and I respect that, and I don’t have to sit through everything they put out if I don’t want to. I can wait for the good stuff. And with Twenty20, they can afford to make the good stuff.