A few years back, there were only about three or four bowlers who had 400+ wickets in tests. Today, there are 10, with five of them having surpassed 500+ wickets. Batting wise, it took Sachin Tendulkar a long time to surpass Sunil Gavaskar's record of most runs in tests, and now we have five batsmen with 10,000+ runs and two more poised to join the elite club in a couple of years.
Yes, I agree the number of matches played in a calendar year has increased significantly nowadays. But with this increase, the expectations have gone high and so has the competitive nature of the game. You no more see a bowler applauding a glorious straight drive from the batsman, as used to be the case 15 years ago. Nowadays, bowlers give a cold, mean stare if anything. They aren't short for words either, with sledging slowly becoming acceptable.
It's the same story with one day cricket. All of a sudden, the 10,000 run mark doesn't seem unsurmountable, with 5 batsmen reaching there within a span of a short time.Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting are poised to reach there very soon as well. In ODI bowling, the 300 wicket club isn't a rarity anymore. With such a fast development of the shorter version of the game in such short time, one can imagine what the future of Twenty20 internationals would be like.
So, as far as I can see, cricket hasn't degraded a bit. In fact, its quite the opposite. Cricketing technique and standards have risen sharply, especially the fielding aspect. Gone are the days when fielders used to accompany the ball to the fence. Now you have fielders who dive like goalkeepers and stop the ball on a dime. The batsmen have to work really hard for the runs, and they are in fact doing that very well. Only the best of the lot last long to reach the top.