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Sad day if badminton drops 21-point format: Padukone

AFP PHOTO / Manjunath KIRAN / AFP PHOTO / MANJUNATH KIRAN

Prakash Padukone has said he does not agree with Badminton World Federation's (BWF) intention of reducing the 21-point game format drastically. He said that if the BWF was successful in its attempt, it would be a "sad day" for the sport.

The BWF has been deliberating shrinking the game size from the existing 21 points to anywhere between 9 and 11 in an attempt to reduce the match span.

By reducing the points in a game, Padukone feared badminton would become more physical. "Ideally they would not like any match to go beyond 40-45 minutes keeping the TV time in mind," he said. "But, personally, I am not in favour of that. If you do away with the 21-point format and try to make it faster, there will be no place left for skill. It will become all physical. Whoever is fit will win. Personally, it will be a sad day for any sport if only the physical parameters can decide the outcome of a match -- especially in a sport where there is so much opportunity to display different skill sets."

Padukone, who became the face of Indian badminton after his All-England triumph in 1980, played in the era of the 15-point format and still subscribes to it. Women used to play 11-point games till 2006.

"A lot of the old timers feel in the 15-point format there was opportunity for skill, use of intelligence to come back [in the match]," he said. "A lot of fitness was also required because matches were very long."

According to Padukone instead of shrinking the points across the board, badminton could experiment and follow the example of cricket where Test, ODI and T20 formats run parallel to each other.

"I am in favour of all the formats coexisting together," Padukone said. "Just as Test matches, 50-over and 20-over formats in cricket, there is place for all the three formats to coexist. It is worth considering the same in badminton. Why can't we have all the formats: the old 15-point format, the current 21-point format and if you want to change and bring it down to 11, 9 or 7 points played on the best-of-five or best-of-seven games to make the matches finish quickly to bring in the crowds? So players can use different skill sets to play in each of these formats. So there can be one set of tournaments where you have just the 15 points, another where you play for 21 and one featuring the shorter points system. It is a little complicated, it will take time, but it is definitely worth considering."

Padukone said he understood why the BWF was trying to quicken the pace of the matches. With the advent of television coverage, sports are trying to change according to that. But to compromise skills and the intellect would rob players -- especially those from countries like India who rely on deception and guile. "There has to be some element of skill involved," he said. "A combination of both would be ideal. The 21-point format is reasonable, but if they can bring back the 15-point format that would be great for people who want to excel in that format."