Australia's new domestic one-day format October 6, 2010

What is split-innings all about?

Nobody knows quite what to expect from Australia's new split-innings domestic one-day format - including the players

It's always hard for a new captain to juggle the requirements of one-day cricket, calculating bowling changes, deciding on powerplays and setting restricted fields. But Australia's new domestic limited-overs format turns all six state leaders into first-time captains. Everything is different, and everyone is learning on the run.

The Ryobi One-Day Cup kicks off at the Gabba on Wednesday, when Queensland host Tasmania. There are a range of new rules, but the key changes are that each side bats for 45 overs in blocks of 20 and 25; teams can use 12 players; bowlers may bowl 12 overs; powerplays are abolished; and there is one competition point available for a "first-innings" lead.

Even basic cricket principles such as whether teams will prefer to bat first need to be reassessed. Stuart Clark, the acting captain of New South Wales, said it would be a learning process for all concerned.

"There is an idea that it might be better to chase first, given that no one really knows what a good score is or how you should go about the game," Clark said. "But conversely, if you get some runs on the board there could be a lot of pressure as well."

The removal of powerplays takes one tactical decision out of the captain's hands, but instead there are set periods of field restrictions. Importantly, no more than four fielders can ever be outside the circle, down from the figure of five in regular 50-over cricket, which poses an extra challenge for bowlers.

"I think it will be a little bit hard for spinners, with only the four fielders out but they're going to have to make adjustments to their game and work out the best way of being successful," Clark said. "Teams will come out and attack different sorts of bowlers, try and be defensive against other types and captains are going to have to set unusual fields at times to try and protect the runs from blowing out."

Tasmania last year sailed to the Ford Ranger Cup title by using two spinners, Jason Krejza and Xavier Doherty, and often opened with one of the slow men. The Tigers captain George Bailey said they would still aim to play the two tweakers, which had worked in practice split-innings fixtures.

"We've had some good success with our two spinners in trial games, still being able to bowl really successfully," Bailey said. "It provides a challenge not having the extra bloke out, in terms of boundaries, but it also means there's an extra bloke in the infield to take catches and create wickets as well. Good bowlers will work it out pretty quickly."

Although Tasmania are the defending champions, Bailey knows that no side will enter this season with an advantage in the one-day competition. He believes one of the major changes will be that the mid-innings break might allow a team to change their tactics halfway through, depending on how their first 20 overs have gone.

"You get a lot of options, which is pretty exciting," Bailey said. "You'll see games change and ebb and flow a little bit more mid-game. Also having that split innings, the break allows you to regroup as a team and chat about how your plans are going."

The halfway mark also provides a notable incentive, as whichever team finishes with more runs after their first 20 overs will win one point, retained even if they go on to lose the game. An extra four points are then awarded for the outright victory, so teams will need to be careful not to get into too much trouble chasing the first point.

"There's one point up for grabs at the 20-over mark, so that's 10 points across the season," Victoria's captain, Cameron White, said. "That could be something that teams will play differently, but it could be pretty important, I think."

Team selection will also provide a fascinating insight into a side's tactics, with 12 men allowed to take part in the match, though only 11 may bat. And because bowlers can send down 12 overs each and teams can therefore get by using only four bowlers, sides are more likely to choose specialist batsmen and bowlers rather than "handy" allrounders.

"The genuine bits-and-pieces allrounder is probably dead now," the Tasmania batsman Ed Cowan said. "But the guy that can bowl you eight or nine or ten overs and bat in your top seven is invaluable still, because it means you can play an extra batter."

Whether any or all of the changes add to the game's appeal remains to be seen. Even Cricket Australia are unsure of what the future holds for one-day cricket. But for the next five months, this is the one-day format of choice on Australia's domestic scene. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess.

"Everyone knows that one-day cricket has been in decline for many years now," Clark said. "Whether the problems is as bad as [they say] it is, we don't really know. But Cricket Australia are taking a step forward to try and change it. At the end of the year it will either be a real success or maybe we'll have to go back to the drawing board."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TimmyF_23 on October 8, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    Look for Tasmania to thrive in this format. They are by far the most innovative team in the competition and they should suit this format very well. Lead by skipper George Baily Tasmania have various unorthodox and innovative tactics i.e open bowling with X Dougherty, sneaky field placements and changing batting line up. Also they were the only team who looked to change the time in which they implemented the 'predictable' power plays last year. They should be able to adapt to the new format very well and will give us plenty of entertainment.

  • 9ST9 on October 7, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    THE SAD TRUTH... is that we who comment on cricket on cricinfo are a minority. very few people dedicate time to type a comment on the game - they just watch it. those who comment do out of sheer devotion. to them test cricket is the cream of cricket. In the democratic world we live numbers do matter and thats why administrators promote these new fangled formats. Let me ask a simple question - How many in the world know to play noughts and crosses? apply the same question for Checkers and Chess.

  • dummy4fb on October 7, 2010, 3:52 GMT

    Critics of T20, one day format and the split one day format have to realise that there is a market for all types of cricket and all formats are here to stay. It is essential to maintain a balance between all the formats and try to tweak the formats to make them more interesting, without sacrificing the beauty of the game.

  • L.Ryan on October 6, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    See MinusZero for the truth about cricket.

  • Hoggy_1989 on October 6, 2010, 13:18 GMT

    I agree with Runster1 and bobagorof. I like ODIs, I don't like when there's a 7 match series and its match 5 with one team winning 4-0 going into it, makes those 3 games left pointless. If India gets a hold of this format, we can kiss goodbye anything that would normally be called 'cricket.' If CA start tinkering with the Sheffield Shield, same thing. What the powers in charge need to do is think about reducing the number of pointless games. If we're judging interest by crowd numbers, then don't play games mid-week when everyone is at work/school, and think that maybe people who would go will now just sit at home and watch/listen to the inevitable live coverage on TV/radio. Other than that, I don't hear many people (other than disgruntled commentators and money hungry cricket boards) say that they don't want ODIs to be around. Wait for another 10 years, and see if people start saying T20s are boring. If that happens, then cricket will be dead, cause we can't get any shorter than T20.

  • TS-M on October 6, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    instead of giving 12 overs to each bowler, one over can be added to the quota of 10 overs, if the bowler takes a wicket. that will make the captain attack more and look for wickets with his main bowler rather than containing.

  • JMS89 on October 6, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    Allowing bowlers to bowl 12 or more overs each is a great idea in that it reduces the need to play one or two 'part-timers' who are more than likely going to just try to keep scoring to a minimum. This should at the very least allow specialist bowlers to do all the bowling.

    On the whole these changes still ignore the root of the problem - the scheduling that reduces the novelty and meaning attached to each fixture and the dead pitches that reduce the level of skill on show. Administrators need to think long term and about fundamentals - gimmicks, even when they work initially (eg.T20), tend to get tiresome before long.

  • Sepathie on October 6, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    I think this is a really good format. As T20man said, pitch, day or night and toss will have lesser effect on result. But there are few things has to be changed in the fundamental level.

    1st and 2nd innings have to start from the beginning. Just like a test match. But limited overs for the innings. I suggest 20 overs for the first innings and 20 or 25 overs for the 2nd inning. Regarding bowlers as there is only a few overs I suggest 4 mandatory bowlers .

    If you can implement these changes I would think it would the next new big thing happening to cricket. I think it will bring all the excitement and planning of test cricket into onedayers.

  • dummy4fb on October 6, 2010, 11:55 GMT

    What id like to know is what happens if a team (god forbids) gets bowled out within there 20 overs, what do they do for there other 25 overs of batting they would of had left. Because there score continues on from there 20 overs.

  • ladycricfan on October 6, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    Split-innings format SCORE CARD should show the score details of first 2X20 overs SEPERATELY followed by the score details of the whole innings 2X45 overs. This way the readers will know at a glance how the teams fared during the first two sessions.

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