Friday, 18 February 2011

50 0ver and Out

This World Cup has an end of empire feel about it, from the $18m opening ceremony featuring yesterday's rocker Bryan Adams to what Jonathan Agnew described this morning as 'a month of matches designed to knock out the minnows'.

The 50-over game belongs to the last century. This will be a final World Cup for some of the players who worked out the format and then exhausted its variations over hundreds of matches: Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ricky Ponting have set records that will not beaten, but that will in time reflect an era.

The first match of the competition will be the 3,100th ODI. The format will not reach 4,000, at least in its current style. The new century has brought with it a new game, new players. T20 is accelerated, intensified, condensed, not just in length of games but in the length of its tournaments. Contrast the last 50 over World Cup in West Indies with the T20 tournament there last year, and contrast this World Cup with the IPL that follows.

Repetition has killed 50 over cricket, both in the methods of play, and the commercial imperative to keep staging it. What percentage of those 3,100 matches have been rendered meaningless by one or both?

Perhaps a tournament in India can keep it staggering on, but if it can't, nothing can. There are kids today who are growing up wanting to be Test players, and there are kids wanting to be T20 players. You don't hear many saying 'I'll make my career in 50 over cricket'.

On the pitch, invention might solve the problem of the middle thirty. Maybe a team will decide to forget about the 50 over limit and bat in T20 style until they're out. It would be interesting to see how many they got. Perhaps someone will bowl death overs from the start. There are new techniques out there.

The radical surgery required though is to the calendar. The way to make something desirable is to make it rare. It won't happen of course. Like an old car, 50 over cricket might as well be run into the ground. There are new things ready to replace it. Welcome to the endgame.


Brit said...

Hear hear. The 7 ODIs after the Ashes were like slow death. Like watching the Rolling Stones followed by an encore of an amateur Bryan Adams tribute act. By seven amateur Bryan Adams tribute acts. Of diminishing quality. What were we down to by the end, England's G-team?

A sensible tour schedule would be 3 T20s, 3 ODIs and then a Test series, in that order. It would make them important again. And then we could just drop the ODIs.

Russ said...

Brit, this might sound like an odd question, but why play any one-dayers of any variety as part of a test tour?

Most of the time they are different squads anyway, there is whole other set of warm-up games, it drags on before it starts. Especially for an Ashes series, play the tests, go home. Australia can cool of its summer with some other tourists, or play the internationals in its domestic T20, which is a lot more fun (and potentially more profitable). England could come back another year, if they must.

John Halliwell said...

The Old Batsman's final para. sums up the whole sad situation perfectly. It is all so dispiriting; the ICC mirrors the grotesque fat man who continues to gorge himself until he passes the point where surgery to staple this and stitch up that is pointless and collapse inevitably follows.

Oh, to hell with it, abandon 50 Over and T20, and replace them with 30/30, with 20 overs classified as 'power play'; fielding captain free to use two bowlers for up to 10 overs each; leg side no-balls to count 4, front foot no-balls 6, off side no-balls 8; teams scoring 250+ to receive 25 run bonus. All worked out on the back of a fag packet. OK, it's rubbish, but the ICC works out the international itinerary using crayons on the whitewashed walls of the asylum.

Brit said...

We've moved away from the World Cup issue here, which is a whole debate in itself, but the one big Good of tour ODIs and T20s is that they bring live cricket to the non-Test grounds. I cherish the annual Bristol day out watching England, even though we always get the least interesting (on paper) games. Always take my dad and a couple of old mates.

Harking back, as we so often must, to the glorious summer of 2005, the Bristol ODI was immense. KP announced himself by smacking the 'invincible' Aussie bowlers out the ground, pretty much ending Jason Gillespie's career that day. It was all significant to the Ashes. Of course, if the ODIs had followed the Tests they would have been as meaningless as this year's sorry set.

RS Radio said...

I've enjoyed some wonderful 50 over games but somehow having three different formats feels unwieldy and unnecessary. IF done sensibly (a big ask, considering the interests of those who run the game) the end of 50 over cricket might provide a real opportunity to sort out the international schedule.
We'll see.

pay per head service said...

I gotta say that I enjoyed that World Cup you mentioned in the first part of this post, it was so exciting and competitive for me