June 23, 2010

Mike Holmans

What is the point?

Mike Holmans

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.

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Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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

Posted by 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!!!!!

Posted by 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. "

Posted by 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.

Posted by a j on (June 26, 2010, 18:29 GMT)

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

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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!

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