Split innings to be shelved by CA
Australian cricket's marketing experiment with split innings limited overs matches, and a bevy of exotic proposed rules for next summer's expanded Twenty20 competition, have been thrown out by the Cricket Australia playing conditions committee.
The committee, which serves a similar function to the ICC's cricket committee by deliberating on issues within the game, will forward these conclusions to the CA board for final approval at its next meeting. Committee members observed that the global body's commitment to 50-over cricket for the 2015 World Cup, and the success of the 2011 tournament on the subcontinent, made further split innings experimentation redundant.
Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, sat on the committee alongside the CA chairman Jack Clarke, Greg Chappell and Mark Taylor - Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne were absent - and said that no other decision could have been made.
"It was really the only decision the committee could take from our perspective given that the ICC have now elected to push forward with the 50-over format towards the next World Cup," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "It wouldn't have made sense to have our players playing a different format domestically, heading into the next World Cup, so it was a sensible decision.
"The remit of the playing conditions committee, there's various things we look at but one of them is that it has to be a realistic chance of getting up at international level, but there's a time to trial things, and last year was that time. While we [the ACA] didn't think it should've been trialled, it was and now we've got to go back to keeping ourselves in-line with what the international format is."
Clarke noted that other elements of the domestic competition, "such as using two balls, one from each end, reducing restrictions on the number of overs bowlers can deliver or increasing the number of bouncers allowed", had been accepted as possible innovations by the ICC.
However a raft of outlandish proposed rules for next summer's T20 competition, presented to the public via a survey, were given short shrift by committee members, who reasoned that gambits like letting the crowd keep the ball or overs worth double runs were simply unnecessary.
"Common sense prevailed there," Marsh said. "The committee I know from the ACA's perspective we're supportive of initiatives that will promote the Big Bash and get the most people through the ground, and we've talked through a few alternative things there to help achieve that."
The matter of domestic playing surfaces was also addressed, and while general assessments of pitch conditions last summer were favourable, often achieving scores of 4.33/5 or better, groundsmen will be reminded of the need to prepare surfaces that reflect the challenges of Test cricket. Numerous players, coaches and the CA chief executive James Sutherland, have all pondered whether or not last summer's pitches did not help to equip Australia's players for the Ashes, where England's batsmen repeatedly ran up tall scores.
"The focus should most certainly be on trying to have wickets or pitches around the country that are as close to international pitches as you can get, that's the best preparation for players," said Marsh. "But there's no doubt the weather played a part in it last year, we've thought in some cases that states are prioritising result pitches over preparation for international cricket."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo