Mike Holmans June 23, 2010

What is the point?

Why is this five-match series being played at all
31

The England-Australia ODIs are "a pointless irrelevance and should not have been staged" © Getty Images

The cockles of an English cricket fan's heart can always be warmed by seeing England beat Australia at cricket. I suppose that if it were inevitable that an England win in such a game would mean the outbreak of global nuclear war, or the massacre of the hostages taken in reprisal for a previous victory, there might be some twinge of concern but otherwise I cannot conceive of it being unwelcome.

And yesterday's game was an entertaining one, with some unexpectedly good batting from Michael Clarke, who has not always shone in limited-over cricket, what is fast becoming characteristically good batting from Eoin Morgan to outdo Clarke for the Player-of-the-Match award, and the result remaining in doubt until about the last eight or ten overs. All in all, pretty much what the doctor prescribes when someone complains of not having seen England beat Australia often enough.

But what on earth is the point? Why is this five-match series being played at all? Yes, I know the answer is that it makes money, but if ever there was an example of pointlessly adding to the international schedule, this is surely it.

Australia are only here at all because Leeds is dressing up as Lahore and London doing its best to be Karachi for Australia's tour of Pakistan, just as movies set in New York are often actually filmed in Toronto. They were here last year for the main event and we're off to their place this winter for the return bout, so this is just redundant - international cricket for international cricket's sake.

True, the England football team may be out of the FIFA World Cup by the time you read this, but if they manage to squeeze through, that's where the nation's attention is going to remain focused, and if they don't the sports media are in any case going to spend at least the next two weeks on the post mortem. Nobody except rabid cricket fans is going to even notice these ODIs are taking place.

And rabid cricket fans already had a juicy item on their menu as an alternative to the football in the shape of the Twenty20 Cup, the competition which usually guarantees full houses at small grounds and crowds of 15,000-plus at the big ones. This would have been the ideal opportunity to let fans see their England heroes in their county colours and thus promote the Twenty20 Cup as the premier event the ECB keep telling us it is and give it a serious chance of surviving the deadening effect of the soccer. In fact, Middlesex were promoting the Twenty20 as an opportunity to see six internationals playing – Adam Gilchrist, David Warner and Owais Shah are appearing, but Andrew Strauss, Eoin Morgan and Steven Finn have been removed from the fray by their England commitments. There is surely a case to be answered about truthfulness in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority should anyone care to lodge one.

Of course I shall continue to watch the games, turning up in person to the one at Lord's, and with any luck be generally entertained by them. There is a novelty value in the fact that it is no longer inevitable that England will lose unless their opponents make a horrible mess of things – which is perhaps all the tweaking that was necessary to redeem the format for English audiences – and England v Australia is, as I said at the beginning, never entirely devoid of meaning.

But it is still a pointless irrelevance and should not have been staged.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Luke on July 8, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    What's the argument? Whether you want to watch the cricket or the world cup, then just choose one...or buy 2 tv sets and watch both! Personally, I'm not much of a football fan, so why should I be denied cricket because of the football. The whole argument of maximising revenue is still circling like hungry, greedy vultures over the game of cricket.

  • Abhilash on June 30, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    i don't know why people raise this argument everytime there's a major football tournament. Who the hell cares if there's a fifa world cup on. i wud still prefer to watch cricket. I am watching the eng vs. aus series, and i hav also watched almost every friends provident t20 match they hav shown here in india. Even the Wimbledon is going on during the fifa wc, yet the matches play to full houses. Those who really love cricket wud follow it, football or no football.

  • Jonathan on June 28, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    Wasn't this series scheduled way before the Pakistan arrangement? It really is just ODIs for the sake of it...

  • maqool on June 27, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    iam cricket fan so i dont care that which other sports is playing and what if the fifa wc is started.if fifa wc has started should we stop watching cricket and switch to football?for me it is impossible and i would rather see test match of south africa and west indies and odi series of aussies and eng than watch a football match which is meaningless for me.everyone like to see their own favorite games so its meaningless to say that this odi series is pointless and everyone is shouting about cricket if they dont like it so change the channel simply

  • saumanka on June 27, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    Dear cricket criticizers what is your point in tarnishing the reputation of this beautiful game? you people better waste your time in some other matters because it doesn't matter what you lunatics say..today there is a match between germany and england in the so called "greatest show on eaeth" and still old trafford is packed to the rafters witnessing the 3 rd odi. So its useless commenting on it cricket was there is there and will be there and just one more point only in 1 cricket wc has there been empty seats ie in 2007 otherwise in all other wcs there have been huge crowds and if you people do not like it just leave it there are millions of othere who love it. If there were no watchers in england then you could have said all this, but not this time!!!!!

  • Martyn Thomas on June 27, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    As Andrew Miller writes in Cricinfo today: "Anyone who questions the relevance of this isolated five-match ODI series should have been present at Cardiff on Thursday to witness the darkening of Ricky Ponting's features when it was put to him by a fellow Australian that England are on the verge of claiming bragging rights in all three formats of international cricket. His response was abrupt and prickly, and betrayed the frustration he feels after two contests that were significantly more one-sided than their eventual four-wicket margins suggested. "

  • sayed sadiq on June 27, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    why the hell everybody shouting about too much cricket if you dont wana watch then its ok no body is forcing you to watch it i am indian but i always like to watch england beat austalia and i am enjyoing this series like when india beat pakistan and i want to watch every match ODI,T20 AND TEST CRICKET if you give me 365 days i am ready to watch so i think many people in the world is like me who loves to watch cricket anytime so let it go on if you dont want go away.

  • a j on June 26, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    Because every game is a sell out. Ecb make loads simples!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous on June 26, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    I fully agree with "Umair_umair". Well said, this days we all seem to have our opinions, and suddenly too much of it, and especially against ODIs. This has to stop. Let there be cricket...

  • Anand on June 26, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    Hey Imran

    your comments about the ICC are the best that I have ever seen from a cricket fan. Nail on the head!

  • Luke on July 8, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    What's the argument? Whether you want to watch the cricket or the world cup, then just choose one...or buy 2 tv sets and watch both! Personally, I'm not much of a football fan, so why should I be denied cricket because of the football. The whole argument of maximising revenue is still circling like hungry, greedy vultures over the game of cricket.

  • Abhilash on June 30, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    i don't know why people raise this argument everytime there's a major football tournament. Who the hell cares if there's a fifa world cup on. i wud still prefer to watch cricket. I am watching the eng vs. aus series, and i hav also watched almost every friends provident t20 match they hav shown here in india. Even the Wimbledon is going on during the fifa wc, yet the matches play to full houses. Those who really love cricket wud follow it, football or no football.

  • Jonathan on June 28, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    Wasn't this series scheduled way before the Pakistan arrangement? It really is just ODIs for the sake of it...

  • maqool on June 27, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    iam cricket fan so i dont care that which other sports is playing and what if the fifa wc is started.if fifa wc has started should we stop watching cricket and switch to football?for me it is impossible and i would rather see test match of south africa and west indies and odi series of aussies and eng than watch a football match which is meaningless for me.everyone like to see their own favorite games so its meaningless to say that this odi series is pointless and everyone is shouting about cricket if they dont like it so change the channel simply

  • saumanka on June 27, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    Dear cricket criticizers what is your point in tarnishing the reputation of this beautiful game? you people better waste your time in some other matters because it doesn't matter what you lunatics say..today there is a match between germany and england in the so called "greatest show on eaeth" and still old trafford is packed to the rafters witnessing the 3 rd odi. So its useless commenting on it cricket was there is there and will be there and just one more point only in 1 cricket wc has there been empty seats ie in 2007 otherwise in all other wcs there have been huge crowds and if you people do not like it just leave it there are millions of othere who love it. If there were no watchers in england then you could have said all this, but not this time!!!!!

  • Martyn Thomas on June 27, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    As Andrew Miller writes in Cricinfo today: "Anyone who questions the relevance of this isolated five-match ODI series should have been present at Cardiff on Thursday to witness the darkening of Ricky Ponting's features when it was put to him by a fellow Australian that England are on the verge of claiming bragging rights in all three formats of international cricket. His response was abrupt and prickly, and betrayed the frustration he feels after two contests that were significantly more one-sided than their eventual four-wicket margins suggested. "

  • sayed sadiq on June 27, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    why the hell everybody shouting about too much cricket if you dont wana watch then its ok no body is forcing you to watch it i am indian but i always like to watch england beat austalia and i am enjyoing this series like when india beat pakistan and i want to watch every match ODI,T20 AND TEST CRICKET if you give me 365 days i am ready to watch so i think many people in the world is like me who loves to watch cricket anytime so let it go on if you dont want go away.

  • a j on June 26, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    Because every game is a sell out. Ecb make loads simples!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous on June 26, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    I fully agree with "Umair_umair". Well said, this days we all seem to have our opinions, and suddenly too much of it, and especially against ODIs. This has to stop. Let there be cricket...

  • Anand on June 26, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    Hey Imran

    your comments about the ICC are the best that I have ever seen from a cricket fan. Nail on the head!

  • Michael Hall on June 26, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    The grounds are full, the weather is wonderful, it is mid summer and Australia are here anyway. I am failing to see the problem. Cricket is entertainment.

  • afzaal Khan on June 25, 2010, 22:23 GMT

    Then dun watch it. Jesus some of us wana watch how abt shut up and dun watch it. Stop moaning and complaining go watch IPL.

  • Vish on June 25, 2010, 20:06 GMT

    No matter how much ever we debate on this issue the argument still remains. In a way it is both money and the dissipating interest towards this game that is making ICC schedule so many matches. At one point cricket lovers demanded to see their country play more matches then ICC provided that and now few of those who demanded are not happy. Like they say too much is too bad. For me any time of the year a cricket game is a must watch game and same with the soccer. And if I have to choose one of both then it depends on which game has better teams and better players of that game its as simple as that.

    [Mike: It's a bit unfair to blame the ICC for everything. There is no requirement from ICC for England to play Australia this summer, and ICC don't get any revenue form it: it's entirely on the initiative of the ECB and CA.]

  • david kirkup on June 25, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    im sure the counties in the first class game would like their england players. but im sure they are more happier to get the million pounds + the ecb gives the counties from international games that they are playing in. and in case you have forgot all 5 games have been sold out. i for 1 enjoy these games . david

  • malcolm on June 25, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    Who even cares to watch the cricket when the soccer world cup is going on

  • CricketPissek on June 25, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    i agree with Goose. Lahiru was out of line. The only thing ugly these days is that money seem to be the ONLY motivating factor for cricket administrators. hence, these countless indian series which guarantees a good bit of dosh in the kitty. Also, that triseries in Zimbabwe recently gave opportunities for SL and IND to test their bench strength and give ZIM some competitive cricket after ages. it's not ALL wasted.

  • CricketPissek on June 25, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    to misquote Edmond Blackadder, "Some of these ODI tournaments are like a broken pencil..... pointless" however, it's interesting to watch some competitive 50 over cricket after the sugar rush of Twenty20s recently :)

  • Goose on June 25, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    Dear Mr. Lahiru,

    Since Mr. Jammy did not make any comment on the physical appearance or the cephalic index of Lankan cricketers, those comments about the ugliness about Dhoni and crew are unwarranted.

  • Lahiru on June 24, 2010, 19:54 GMT

    Jammy ,

    I what way do you think lankans like to see those ugly faces of Dhoni and the crew over and over again? Although to it is a trat to watch someone like sachib batiing it is really depressing for us to see your ugly bats palying with us in a cricket ground.

  • Naveen on June 24, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    True India is playing Sri Lanka a lot and true I want them not to. But it is also true that every time India plays SL, I start hoping for an India victory. Maybe I am not too concern about how, or about relevance of the game, and might even watch fifa instead. Bt i'll have an eye on the proceedings and will keep enjoying every boundary indian batsmen score and every wicket indian bowlers take (like i m doing right now). And the whole point of me saying all this is, I am sure there are fans like me every where, who might complain on the increasing number of games, but still tune into them and cheer for their countries.

  • AB on June 24, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    One may easily extend this argument to -Why play cricket at all? Spend the time and money in charity to the needful millions.

    [Mike: I don't think that's a reasonable extension. I'm not against playing cricket: it just seems to me that endless Eng v Aus is going to get samey and we'd have been better off promoting the T20 Cup by allowing the England players to take part. International cricket is not the only valid cricket: thriving domestic cricket is important too - just look at the IPL.]

  • Des Platt on June 24, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    £100, Martyn! Glad I'm getting a freebie from my old employer, Nat West. Well they got enough unpaid overtime out of me over the years.

    Must admit I find one day cricket unintersting but find a Nat West freebie hard to resist particularly as we don't get real Tests at Old Trafford any more(to which I also usually got a free day) . Hoping to see Ponting score runs; have never seen him do that live and he is class in any form of the game. I've only ever seen Pietersen fail too.

    Re cricket being played whilst World Cup was on, I was initially pleased that it was only one day stuff and not proper cricket being kept off sports pages but must admit lack of the real game is driving me mad.Cricket is about the only thing I like about hot weather so am even looking forward to Roses match on Monday.

  • Syed Anwar Hasan on June 24, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    Dear Mr Martyn, It's good to see that you love cricket very much and I am really glad to know that you are enjoing a lot Aus v Eng ODI during the maga event of world cup football. I also love cricket very much. But be noted, there is a too much cricket and that's the reason cricket is not being excited like football. Look at the CWC -2007 there were empty seat that you will never see in Football world cup. If Eng & Aus play only 1 or 2 ODI in a year than everybody will be much interest to watch that, not only in the ground but watching on TV as well as big coverage in the newspaper. And finaly when world cup will come people will be much more excited and it will be important game like football W.C. Football world cup is greatest show on earth because very few international game between Country V Country. How many time Argentina play against Brazil in a year ? 1 or 2 not more than that. So when world cup is comming everybody taking eyes on it. ICC should stop to play much cricket.

  • Imran on June 24, 2010, 10:25 GMT

    I think that the ICC is killing cricket.They want money. thats it. no matter how louder we roar against it they are not going to stop this.As a cricket fan iam ashamed that such a great sport is run by such a foolish body.ICC should get and they deserve the worst governing body ever award.

  • Martyn Thomas on June 24, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    I disagree - and so do all of the capacity crowd who packed the Rose Bowl on Tuesday. Australia were here because of the problems in Pakistan, and it would have been a terrible waste not to take the opportunity to see them in action against England. England/Australia matches are always intense, England want to put their ODI defeat last year behind them, everyone is looking towards the Ashes - sizing up the opposition, playing for their place in the side ...

    I'll be at the Oval, paying over £100 for a ticket, and I'm certain that I won't be sitting alone in an empty ground.

  • Anonymous on June 24, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    I agree with Umair that we should not stop to play cricket for football world cup. It's also tru that we should not think cricket will go as we wish. We should remember that cricket can not be more exited than football. Some people are thinking it will be excited as football. But crecket is a different game than football but cricket still very interesting game and if someone understand crieckt he must watch this. Cricket is not becoming popular like football because most of the people in this world donn't understand cricket and only 10 test playing nation out of 210 country. How do you expect it will be like football. But one thing is very important that ICC is killing the cricket due to too much matches and some meaninglesss matches. So ICC should think about it. Why it is needed to play 3 or 5 one day match in a tour match. I think in the tour match counrty v country should play only one ODI+one T/20 & several test mathces. So that CWC can be excited like football.

  • M Hasan Shahid on June 24, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    Considering the amount of cricket being played now a days it is irrelevant and unnecessary to stage this series. This is a series which was not supposed to take place. Moreover if two teams play each other too much then the importance fades away slowly, just look at India vs SriLanka series. People are so disgusted that no one cares when these two teams play with each other.

    I am talking about the interests and importance of the series. Why people are so eager to play a series right before the Ashes? When two big rivals are to meet in such a big series like the Ashes, then it was better for them to not to see each other before that.

  • Umair_umair on June 23, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    What the hell is going on? Is this the first time teams are playing ODI series? So what if football worldcup is going on, should we stop playing cricket? Can I ask? What is a sport for at the first place? Why do we play cricket? Why there are international teams? Some international teams play each other? ODI cricket, just like an other format of a sport? So you want to ask what is the point to play cricket? Why suddenly so much voices against ODIs? I would rather say against cricket. Someone doesn't want ODIs, someone doesn't want drawn test matches, some others want batsmen to play fast (and throw away their wickets), and then people want each ODI to go to that last over, last ball? SO everything should go according to our wishes, otherwise the entire cricket being played is pointless? What a Joke? It seems all of us are doing favor to cricket by finding some time to watch. Sick of this talk.

  • Jammy on June 23, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    In what way does the India tour to Sri Lanka in July makes sense ? I am sick and tired of watching these Lankans over and over again.

  • Adrian on June 23, 2010, 20:29 GMT

    this is so true!

  • Cameron Allen on June 23, 2010, 16:11 GMT

    Couldn't agree more.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Cameron Allen on June 23, 2010, 16:11 GMT

    Couldn't agree more.

  • Adrian on June 23, 2010, 20:29 GMT

    this is so true!

  • Jammy on June 23, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    In what way does the India tour to Sri Lanka in July makes sense ? I am sick and tired of watching these Lankans over and over again.

  • Umair_umair on June 23, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    What the hell is going on? Is this the first time teams are playing ODI series? So what if football worldcup is going on, should we stop playing cricket? Can I ask? What is a sport for at the first place? Why do we play cricket? Why there are international teams? Some international teams play each other? ODI cricket, just like an other format of a sport? So you want to ask what is the point to play cricket? Why suddenly so much voices against ODIs? I would rather say against cricket. Someone doesn't want ODIs, someone doesn't want drawn test matches, some others want batsmen to play fast (and throw away their wickets), and then people want each ODI to go to that last over, last ball? SO everything should go according to our wishes, otherwise the entire cricket being played is pointless? What a Joke? It seems all of us are doing favor to cricket by finding some time to watch. Sick of this talk.

  • M Hasan Shahid on June 24, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    Considering the amount of cricket being played now a days it is irrelevant and unnecessary to stage this series. This is a series which was not supposed to take place. Moreover if two teams play each other too much then the importance fades away slowly, just look at India vs SriLanka series. People are so disgusted that no one cares when these two teams play with each other.

    I am talking about the interests and importance of the series. Why people are so eager to play a series right before the Ashes? When two big rivals are to meet in such a big series like the Ashes, then it was better for them to not to see each other before that.

  • Anonymous on June 24, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    I agree with Umair that we should not stop to play cricket for football world cup. It's also tru that we should not think cricket will go as we wish. We should remember that cricket can not be more exited than football. Some people are thinking it will be excited as football. But crecket is a different game than football but cricket still very interesting game and if someone understand crieckt he must watch this. Cricket is not becoming popular like football because most of the people in this world donn't understand cricket and only 10 test playing nation out of 210 country. How do you expect it will be like football. But one thing is very important that ICC is killing the cricket due to too much matches and some meaninglesss matches. So ICC should think about it. Why it is needed to play 3 or 5 one day match in a tour match. I think in the tour match counrty v country should play only one ODI+one T/20 & several test mathces. So that CWC can be excited like football.

  • Martyn Thomas on June 24, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    I disagree - and so do all of the capacity crowd who packed the Rose Bowl on Tuesday. Australia were here because of the problems in Pakistan, and it would have been a terrible waste not to take the opportunity to see them in action against England. England/Australia matches are always intense, England want to put their ODI defeat last year behind them, everyone is looking towards the Ashes - sizing up the opposition, playing for their place in the side ...

    I'll be at the Oval, paying over £100 for a ticket, and I'm certain that I won't be sitting alone in an empty ground.

  • Imran on June 24, 2010, 10:25 GMT

    I think that the ICC is killing cricket.They want money. thats it. no matter how louder we roar against it they are not going to stop this.As a cricket fan iam ashamed that such a great sport is run by such a foolish body.ICC should get and they deserve the worst governing body ever award.

  • Syed Anwar Hasan on June 24, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    Dear Mr Martyn, It's good to see that you love cricket very much and I am really glad to know that you are enjoing a lot Aus v Eng ODI during the maga event of world cup football. I also love cricket very much. But be noted, there is a too much cricket and that's the reason cricket is not being excited like football. Look at the CWC -2007 there were empty seat that you will never see in Football world cup. If Eng & Aus play only 1 or 2 ODI in a year than everybody will be much interest to watch that, not only in the ground but watching on TV as well as big coverage in the newspaper. And finaly when world cup will come people will be much more excited and it will be important game like football W.C. Football world cup is greatest show on earth because very few international game between Country V Country. How many time Argentina play against Brazil in a year ? 1 or 2 not more than that. So when world cup is comming everybody taking eyes on it. ICC should stop to play much cricket.

  • Des Platt on June 24, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    £100, Martyn! Glad I'm getting a freebie from my old employer, Nat West. Well they got enough unpaid overtime out of me over the years.

    Must admit I find one day cricket unintersting but find a Nat West freebie hard to resist particularly as we don't get real Tests at Old Trafford any more(to which I also usually got a free day) . Hoping to see Ponting score runs; have never seen him do that live and he is class in any form of the game. I've only ever seen Pietersen fail too.

    Re cricket being played whilst World Cup was on, I was initially pleased that it was only one day stuff and not proper cricket being kept off sports pages but must admit lack of the real game is driving me mad.Cricket is about the only thing I like about hot weather so am even looking forward to Roses match on Monday.