Transcript June 24, 2009

Adam Gilchrist's Cowdrey Lecture, 2009

ESPNcricinfo staff
28

Ashes | Twenty20 cricket | Olympics | Further observations | Conclusion | Your comments

Firstly, I wish to sincerely thank the MCC for giving me the opportunity and great honour of delivering the 2009 Cowdrey Lecture. I would like to acknowledge my parents, Stan and June, who are back home in Australia, and thank them for giving me all the opportunity I could ever imagine and for instilling in me the values and qualities that allowed me to achieve in life. For that I dedicate this lecture to them both. Given I was only 3 years old when Colin [Cowdrey] played his last Test match at the MCG in 1975, I obviously never had the pleasure of seeing him play- although many have relayed to me stories of his unique elegance and poise at the wicket - his trademark cover drive and effortless timing to all parts of the ground, in all match situations.

But for many Australian cricketers of my generation, the quality most associated with Colin was his great courage and willingness to put his country's fortunes in front of his own. It is now well and truly established in Ashes folk law what Colin did in my hometown of Perth one memorable afternoon in December 1974. On the fastest wicket in the world, facing perhaps the fastest and most dangerous bowlers to have ever played the game and just one week shy of his 42nd birthday, Colin defied the Thomson and Lillee juggernaut for over 2 hours, in a display that revealed as much about the quality of the man as it did about his unique batsmanship and strokeplay. Without the aid of a helmet and in the twilight of his career, Colin selflessly and without hesitation, put not only his enormous reputation on the line, but literally his life as well, and in so doing earned the respect of every Australian cricketer and cricket fan.

Ashes
Colin's bravery and skill - so readily on display for the world to see all those years ago in Perth - in many ways epitomises the very essence of what I think, still remains the greatest contest in cricket - the Ashes. Test matches between the two oldest combatants have defined not just a cricketing, but also a sporting tradition in both countries that will undoubtedly be fiercely renewed in around two week's time.

Whilst on the Ashes I'll take the opportunity to debunk the myth that myself and many of my teammates from a pretty successful era of Australian cricket, somehow took a blasé attitude when playing against England. That we took it for granted that we could just roll up and win. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do we have the 2005 Ashes to show this was clearly not the case, but I can promise you that every time I stepped out to play in an Ashes Test match I was always nervous and desperate to do well against the old enemy.

There's no question he and his bowling tactics were inside my mind that series, and I knew I'd hit rock bottom when one night I rolled over in bed to give my wife Mel a kiss goodnight and all I saw was Freddie Bloody Flintoff

From my first game in 2001 at Birmingham to my last in Sydney nearly seven years later, every Ashes Test match I played in was always fiercely contested with no quarter given or asked for by either side. The last series here four years ago doesn't hold too many happy memories for me personally. And on reflection, I guess I can put that down to a certain tall, burley lad from Preston by the name of Flintoff. There is no doubt he was the hero for England in that successful campaign and he was also a marketer's dream. Everywhere you looked there were billboards of him, he was on all the talk shows and sports shows and generally speaking, he was standing at the top of his bowling mark every time I walked out to bat!

There's no question he and his bowling tactics were inside my mind that series, and I knew I'd hit rock bottom when one night I rolled over in bed to give my wife Mel a kiss goodnight and all I saw was Freddie Bloody Flintoff. However, what I do recall with great affection about that tour, was seeing the crowds turning up in their thousands, desperately trying to get into Old Trafford and the Oval, in the hope of seeing their side reclaim the Ashes after so many years. As the house full signs went up and people in their thousands were turned away, it reinforced to me just how resilient and important the Ashes are, both in Australia and England, and what they continue to represent for world cricket.

As I stated earlier, it all starts again in Cardiff in two weeks and like most, I can't wait, but just for the moment can I divert your attention away from the Ashes to talk to you about Twenty20 cricket.

Twenty20 cricket
I think most of us would agree that the 50-over game is slowly starting to feel the pinch. Diminishing crowds, diminishing interest in many countries and as a result diminishing financial returns for the game. Much the same thing could also be said about Test cricket - although I believe that trend began further back in time. At the same time, the last five years has seen the emergence of Twenty20 cricket. From its humble origins in 2003, it has rapidly developed into a trans-world game, particularly on the back of the highly successful Indian Premier League.

Imagine for a moment, if one-day cricket had never come along and we had to rely exclusively on Test cricket to pay our way. Even for the harshest critics of the one-day game, this is a very hard thing to contemplate

I do some work for Channel 9 TV and in the last 2 years, Twenty20 cricket has sometimes outrated one-day cricket nearly 2 to 1 in Australia. I am sure that this type of trend is repeating itself in many other countries. TV executives in Australia were initially quite cold on Twenty20 cricket, as it reduced their advertising opportunities. However with the great ratings for the game, they have quickly changed their tune. It is not surprising that pressure is already being placed on the cricketing authorities to substantially increase the Twenty20 component into our summer schedule.

It is well documented that the last 50-Over World Cup in the West Indies failed to attract the crowds and the public's imagination that many of its predecessors had done, although I do know one left-handed slogger who thoroughly enjoyed the final of that tournament and thought it was a wonderful spectacle!! Conversely, the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa nearly two years ago and the 2009 tournament have been highly successful on all levels - crowds, television ratings and financial returns. If we're being honest with ourselves, this downward trend in the one-day game probably started a lot earlier than 2007. For a few years prior to this, I can clearly remember seeing half empty stands during one-day internationals, where previously they were sell-outs and even queues outside those grounds.

I think nearly everyone agrees that over the years, one day cricket has slowly but surely become more formulated and predictable, resulting in a less pleasing package for the cricket fan. An abbreviated form of test cricket, it is still played over an 8 hour period and certainly remains extremely difficult for people to watch from start to finish, particularly on television. Well some of you might be saying "so what?" Test cricket is the ultimate game and I never really cared much for one-day cricket at all. And that would be fine except for one problem. Even its most ardent admirers would have to acknowledge that Test cricket is now redundant as the financial driver of the game.

For the last 30 years, one-day cricket has clearly been the financial engine of the cricketing world. When World Series Cricket began in the late seventies, Kerry Packer did a lot more than just turn on the lights and put our cricketers into coloured clothing. He established a business model for world cricket that had at its core, the 50 over game. This financial template was first adopted in Australia but soon spread to England and the subcontinent and eventually to all the major cricketing nations.

Even in countries like Australia and England where Test cricket remains supreme, 50 over cricket has made substantial revenue contributions to the five day game. It has also allowed its respective feeders, Sheffield Shield and County cricket to be properly maintained and run. In the subcontinent and other major Test playing countries, one-day cricket has not only fulfilled a financial imperative, but the game itself has often proved more popular amongst fans than Test cricket.

Given this, it can be taken as read that the health and vitality of the 50 over game has the potential to affect every aspect of cricket. From the Test cricket played at Lord's and the MCG, to maintaining the viability of junior development programs in Cape Town and Dhaka. I don't think that anyone could possibly believe that cricket would be where it is today, had one-day cricket not made the enormous financial contributions to the game that it has over the past 30 years. Imagine for a moment, if one-day cricket had never come along and we had to rely exclusively on Test cricket to pay our way. Even for the harshest critics of the one-day game, this is a very hard thing to contemplate.

Whilst it seems that the 50 over game has been around forever, one-day cricket and the revenue streams it has created throughout the cricketing world - have only existed for less than one third of the modern cricket era. So where then does Twenty20 fit into all of this in a financial sense? Simply put, I believe that this format has the real potential to surpass 50 over cricket as the revenue generator for the game.

Many would argue that process has already started. Like most things, only time will tell, but Twenty20 cricket certainly has the great advantage of being able to slot directly into the one-day financial template. A bit like ejecting the one-day dvd from your player, taking it out and inserting a Twenty20 dvd into the same machine. Again I ask you to imagine, in a commercial context, if at this point in time there was no such thing as Twenty20 cricket. For starters, if Twenty20 cricket did not exist, cricket authorities would still be facing the constant challenge of needing to maintain and grow world cricket's revenue base - amidst the backdrop of a decline in one day and test cricket - but without the benefit of a very real substitute in the form of Twenty20. With fewer revenue options available, many of the ongoing and difficult issues facing our game would be looming even more ominously on the horizon.

In saying all of this, I am not trying to suggest that Twenty20 cricket is necessarily some type of panacea for all of the challenges currently confronting the game. Indeed, the advent of 20 over cricket itself must take some of the responsibility for the decline in the popularity of the longer formats. Personally, I feel its growth primarily came about because of the slow decline in the popularity of one day cricket and the public's hankering for something different.

Whilst I now appreciate and enjoy playing and watching Twenty20 cricket - especially after captaining the Deccan Chargers to the 2009 IPL title - I am at heart a traditionalist, who firmly believes that Test cricket is the ultimate test of a player's and team's ability. This is not to say that Twenty20 isn't a skilful game. It certainly is. For all their similarities, Twenty20 still requires many different skill sets from the longer forms of the game. The fact that some very well credentialed Test cricketers have struggled to adapt to the game, whilst others who will probably never come close to playing Test cricket have thrived in Twenty20- is surely proof enough.

So, does 20 over cricket have anything else to offer the game, other than being the cash cow for cricket over the next few years? I think it does. My personal experience with Twenty20 is perhaps indicative of many professional players. I was certainly a late convert - both in terms of my international career and perhaps more importantly in my thinking towards the game. I ended up playing only 13, 20/20 Internationals as the game was introduced to International cricket quite late in my career.

At the start, I think we all looked on the game as a bit of a novelty. Something that seemed to generate a high level of frenetic excitement on an off the field. Something that wasn't to be taken too seriously. Probably two things changed this initial perception. The first, the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa, took everyone by surprise and I think for the first time showed that this format could be played in a very intense, competitive way. After that, the IPL came along and showed what a fast and unforgiving game it really was and just how intense the cricket became when played between two committed sides.

Whatever its detractors may argue, the obvious benefits of the game have already become apparent in a very short space of time. Clearly, the greatest distinction it has over One day and Test cricket is the length of time it takes to play. I think that we sometimes don't fully appreciate just how significant a point of distinction this really represents. Perhaps this is because we have all become so accustomed to the extended length of time our game usually takes. By playing a cricket match over a 3 hour time frame, 20/20 cricket brings the game into the 21st century in terms of its ability to adapt to the busy, time poor world in which we all live.

In short, this one characteristic alone opens up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities that were previously unavailable to cricket. For the first time competitions like the IPL have been able to structure round robin, football like seasons. As many as 8 to 12 teams can now compete on a true home and away basis like the great domestic football leagues of the world. Indeed the IPL in its structure and intent has been squarely based on its namesake and arguably the world's greatest domestic sports competition - the English Premier League.

It is a game that can be learnt relatively quickly and we've already seen that non Test playing nations can become competitive far sooner than if they played one-day or Test cricket. It has also been an enormous boost to woman's cricket, where participation levels have increased dramatically and the profile at international level has risen substantially in the last couple of years as a direct result of the 20 over game.

The playing and viewing aspects of Twenty20 cricket will continue to be debated for as long as the 20 over game is played. However there is little doubt that it has rapidly rejuvenated crowd levels and increased television ratings. But, importantly...most importantly, it has introduced a number of new demographics to cricket that weren't there before.

Olympics

If you were a director of a large trans global corporation, you would be constantly looking to expand your markets and secure your cash flows for the future. To survive long term in any business, you must not only maintain your clients, but keep growing your client base as well. Amongst the trinity of cricket's international formats, Twenty20 alone has perhaps the greatest chance to achieve this for cricket.

I happen to believe that as a starting point, the single best way to spread the game globally is for the ICC to actively seek its inclusion as an Olympic sport. For sure, this would be a massive challenge for cricket to take on and undoubtedly there would be a whole host of issues along the way to contend with, but what a great and worthwhile challenge it would be.

Without doubt, the Olympic movement provides one of the most efficient and cost effective distribution networks for individual sports to spread their wings globally. It would be difficult to see a better, quicker or cheaper way of spreading the game throughout the world. For most sports seeking to get a berth at the Olympics, the greatest challenge is usually to try and convince the International Olympic Committee. In our case however, cricket as a sport mounts a very impressive and almost irresistible case for several reasons.

Firstly, the Olympic movement's only remaining dead pocket in the world happens to coincide with cricket's strongest - the sub continent. This region, which includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, represents just over one fifth of the world's population. But with the exception of their great hockey teams of the past, these cricket powerhouses have received barely a handful of Olympic medals in nearly 100 years of competition. More importantly, general interest in the games and the Olympic movement in the subcontinent remains comparatively low by world standards and addressing this has been an issue at the IOC for some time.

What better way for the IOC to spread the Olympic Brand and Ideals into this region, than on the back of Twenty20 cricket? The rewards for both the ICC and IOC getting this right would be enormous. Above all else, if cricket became an Olympic sport, many countries would be playing cricket seriously for the first time in their history. By seriously, I mean that they would have to start developing a truly integrated cricket program as part of their participation in the Olympics. Currently many associate members of the ICC rely heavily on a small group of expats to help keep the game alive and growing in their adopted countries.

For the first time, the introduction of Twenty20 cricket as an Olympic sport could see the emergence of government backed, junior development programs in those countries and the beginning of true indigenous participation in the sport from schools to club and representative level. I am not saying that all countries would suddenly adopt the game because it became an Olympic sport. But given cricket's already established international footprint, they wouldn't have to, and again it is more about the opportunity that it would provide our game to truly spread its wings.

On this point, a friend of mine recently cited China as a perfect example of what I am talking about. Field Hockey was virtually nonexistent in that country until the early eighties, when the Chinese government decided that it wanted to start playing all Olympic sports in preparation for their entry into the Olympic games at Los Angeles. From virtually nothing, field hockey in that country developed with such speed that less than 20 years later, the woman's team were world champions and just last year won a silver medal in Beijing.

In an article I wrote last year for the Deccan Chronicle in India I posed and tried to answer a few fundamental questions that such a proposition poses. With your indulgence I would like to briefly restate them here:

  • 1. Would cricket's participation in the Olympics lose money? No, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rewards international federations that compete at the Olympic Games and there would be a dividend for competing nations flowing from ICC to its members, just like at the ICC Cricket World Cup.
  • 2. Would this compromise the Future Tours Program? No, with Twenty20 you would only need a small window in August, once every four years, to play the Olympic tournament - possibly as few as ten days.
  • 3. What would be the timeframe for cricket to become part of the Olympic Games? The IOC decides on the sports for an Olympic Games seven years in advance, to allow people time to prepare.
  • 4. How would players feel about competing at the Olympics? The Olympics is the absolute pinnacle in sport. I have spoken to a number of Olympic champions and know how Sydney 2000 changed Australia and how London 2012 will change England. I think it would be massive for cricketers. Unlike basketball and baseball, our best cricketers would definitely participate in every Olympic games that featured cricket. The chance to stand on top of the Olympic podium, to wear an Olympic gold medal and the pride of belting out your national anthem would be a life-changing, money-can't-buy experience.
  • 5. Is it a realistic dream? I really believe it is. The ICC has already taken the step to become a recognised Olympic sport and for that I commend them, for this is the first step on the road to becoming part of the Olympic programme. The bid for cricket's inclusion and subsequent Olympic participation should sit at the heart of the ICC's global game development strategy, to naturally complement all the other development programmes that are currently being planned and delivered. Any narrow, self interest by countries with regards to their respective playing windows must give way to the bigger picture of making space in the cricket calendar every four years for the Olympics.

In my opinion, every cricket administrator should hold and promote the Olympic ambition for our sport.

The five-day match, so steeped in history, on its own will never come close to providing the cold hard cash needed to maintain and grow the game

Further observations
By way of some further observations. If cricket is to survive and prosper - and I am convinced it will - I believe that there needs to be:

1. A realisation that Test cricket, arguably one of the greatest sporting contests ever devised, is by the same token an anachronism amongst modern professional sports. That many of its strengths also contain many of its weaknesses. That the 5 day match, so steeped in history, on its own will never come close to providing the cold hard cash needed to maintain and grow the game. That what we cricket lovers regard as the prince of games, will always remain almost completely incomprehensible to people not familiar with it. Accordingly, it will continue to be the most impractical vehicle to use when trying to promote cricket throughout the world. That to preserve its future, which we must - less is infact more - that we should go back to the future where there were fewer test matches, but a lot more important ones, and where the best cricketers of the day played closer to 50 tests in their career, not 150.

2. That Test cricket should be tampered with as little as is possible - its rules, customs and playing conditions - like Major League Baseball - should remain as close to how it has been played for the past 130 years. That many of cricket's innovations should be applied only in the shorter forms of the game. This not only includes the expanded umpire referral system, but especially the mooted introduction of night test cricket and a different coloured ball needed to accommodate this. My personal experience nearly 15 years ago with night Sheffield shield cricket was that it struggled because of the very different playing conditions between day and night. Often it made for an unfair contest, especially when batting, which always seemed much more difficult late in the evening than earlier in the afternoon. But all of this begs the bigger question - why play around with test cricket at all? Fine tune maybe, but not fundamental changes. As someone recently said - You don't see the London Philharmonic doing a rappers remix of Beethoven's 5th - so why should cricket do the same with its masterpiece?

3. An acceptance that professional players will increasingly make pragmatic decisions about their careers, which may involve playing less test cricket or even perhaps, none at all. That the arrival of rich, franchised based competitions like the IPL will hasten this trend and reduce the primacy of playing for your country or provincial team. That a young first class cricketer in Bangladesh or the West Indies may have an entirely different set of playing priorities and goals to those youngsters playing in England or Australia. That cricket administrators must adapt to these realities with clever programming of international fixtures to dove tail off these competitions and if necessary radically change, even jettison the Future Tours Program in order to achieve this.

In Australia, there have been rumours for some time about establishing a Southern Premier League to be squeezed into an already crammed playing itinerary in October. Whilst Cricket Australia should be applauded for further embracing Twenty20 cricket, in my opinion, an SPL would only ever really be a poor man's IPL. Anyway, Australia's already got a franchised based playing structure - they 're called States. My preference would be for an expanded, state based, Twenty20 competition, running from November to February. You could potentially add two teams from New Zealand, with a feature being the Australian Test and one-day stars, with selected overseas invitees, being available for a majority of the matches.

4.That the potentially enormous revenue streams from playing Twenty20 cricket can actually help to protect and enhance the viability of Test cricket into the future. That strong cash flows must be maintained by cricket administrations in all the major cricket playing nations to help underwrite the costs of junior development, first class and ultimately test cricket.

5. That cricket is unique amongst other professional sports in that it can successfully mutate itself into various forms and formats, to invigorate itself, its players and its supporter base. This is something that should be welcomed and appreciated as a strength and perhaps even a potential salvation for the game. That these differences and anomalies between the various formats should be applauded and enjoyed, not looked down upon or over analysed by the cricket community.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I suppose those of you who have heard my lecture could perhaps say that I am fast becoming obsessed with 20/20 cricket. Again let me make it clear - Twenty20 cricket, or anything else the game throws up in the future, will NEVER be Test cricket, nor should it ever pretend, or try to be. What I think I have been trying to say is that as members of the international cricket community, the most important thing is to approach any new development or change - of which Twenty20 cricket is the latest - as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Whatever happens, its emergence has squarely placed under the microscope our game's ability to adapt and carve out our niche in the modern, ultra competitive sporting world. Are we to embrace change or shy away from it? Not change for change's sake, but a willingness to really take on board, practical and necessary developments like 20/20, in order to keep world cricket healthy and vibrant.

As it has done before, cricket must constantly adapt to the times to remain relevant as a world sport. We all have to be pragmatic about this. 15 year olds no longer listen to the cricket at night with their transistors tucked underneath their pillows. They are instead bombarded with a range of sports, social activities and events to watch and participate in that previous generations could barely contemplate. Most people can probably afford to go and watch 3 hours of cricket on the weekend - but to spend a day or more out of their busy lives to do the same thing is becoming increasingly problematic. A similar situation exists for those wanting to play the game at a club or recreational level. Cricket must accommodate these realities and factor them into how the game is played and watched into the future. In many ways, Colin Cowdrey's long and distinguished career mirrored many of the significant changes and adaptations that cricket has already made in the last 40 years. In over 130 years of Ashes contests, he is still the only Englishman to have toured Australia six times. In 1968 he became the first player in the history of Test cricket to play 100 matches. Yet just over two and a half years later, he participated in the first one-day International ever played. And as we all know, in the year 2000, he was the catalyst to enshrine the Spirit of Cricket into the Laws of the Game - surely as good an example as any of the new embracing the old, as the game entered into the new millennium.

Notwithstanding all of the complex and challenging issues currently confronting world cricket, I think that if Colin were here today he would be genuinely excited by the way the game is developing and its prospects going forward. For all I've learnt about him, it is clear to me that above all else, Colin was an optimist - a traditionalist, who both on and off the field, embraced the changes that had to be made to our game to ensure its future, but at the same time did that without ever losing sight of its core values and constants.

He and his legacy very much represent the true Spirit of Cricket. That statement, the Spirit of Cricket, means different things to different people. In finishing, I'd like to share something with you that I believe illustrates well and truly that the Spirit of the game is being passed on from generation to generation. [visual Powerpoint presentation shown]

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ATC1810 on June 26, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    This lecture just demonstrates what an intelligent, forward thinking individual Adam Gilchrist is as well as being a superbly talented cricketer.

  • Son_Of on June 26, 2009, 12:39 GMT

    i oppose the move to reduce the number of Tests being played. that would be an end to the era of Test supremacy. but Dan-argent and others need to recognise that if limited over cricket is not embraced there will not be enough revenue to support Tests. central contracts will not be big enough, esp in countries other than Eng, Aus. tickets and advertising for Tests are crippled because most jobs make it impossible to attend or watch live on TV for 3 out of 5 days

  • Gillys_club on June 26, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    its not like Gilly completely asks to ignore Test cricket, the pinnacle..... as in further observations he has listed out.....he's given realistic ideas on how to popularise cricket and sustain/grow interest in it..... the thing that makes me sad in that lecture is it almost says that Test Cricket will become a thing of the past, and will have to feed off the revenue from T20, much like being on life-support, which is how no-one wants to see Test cricket in....

  • him1784 on June 26, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    gilly is absolutely right.........and for those making fun of his ideas and criticizing 20-20....just grow up.......game needs to grow with time.......i m not against test cricket and one day cricket I love it....in fact true cricket lover will love every format of cricket.....even super sixes which is played in hongkong ....its just we need to take the game forward so that it can grow............I support everything what Adam Gilchrist has said and yes we need him in ICC.

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 26, 2009, 2:26 GMT

    I read recently a really amusing quote; why stop at 20/20.Why not play 10/10 or 5/5? Why play cricket at all? Why not throw a stump up in the air and shout 'whoopee' on one leg and whoever goes the reddest gets the dosh-in this instance $3bn a go. It's gotta be worth a try. I'm sure the Olympic Committee would love it..... Or lets just carry on having 5 day Tests and watch a game that's recognisable to cricket fans and not to fans of every other sport except cricket.If you want a 90 minute game,you are in the wrong place,I think. In other words if you don't like cricket, watch something else.Simple, isn't it. Thank God the Ashes are just about here!

  • dragqueen1 on June 25, 2009, 19:56 GMT

    the olympics, hoorah! the great panacea for globalising the game yeah right,currenty the wT20 only allows 2 qualifers, with the West Indies having to split into their various island nations to compete at the Olympics NO non test nation will be represented yeah that'll help won't it. it don't matter how enthusiastic you are or how good you are once yourealiseyou can't play you will go & do something else & until this little nugget permeates the elitist mindset at the ICC this sport will never be truly global & will never be(quite rightly) an Olympic sport.

  • Muqs on June 25, 2009, 18:18 GMT

    I agree with Gilchrist on each and every single thing he said, a man like him with such great ideas must get involved with ICC sooner rather than later and make the necessary amendments the cricketing system requires. The bunch of x cricketing losers like dave richardson, steve elworthy must not run the game. Instead the guys like gilly, wasim akram, ganguly etc. need to get into the cricket administration, they have enough practical knowledge about present day cricket and they were successful in their career as well. And i dont think the present ICC administrators who more or less a group of stupid old bunch of crap can really push this game down to olympic level. So this smart group of aggressive recently retired cricketers like gilly to take the step on freelance to push the game upto olympic level.

  • tigers_eye on June 25, 2009, 16:11 GMT

    Why stop at T20? Why not F5 and call it a game? This is just not cricket I grew up with. When Edwards denies the English their 20th wicket of the match and protects series, when surviving becomes the only option that is where character is being tested. T20 is a game of chance. Go play Blackjack. That is better for you.

    Mijanul Akbar Bangladesh.

  • Dan-argent on June 25, 2009, 14:28 GMT

    I disagree with Adam Gilchrist. Cricket is about more than money. Twenty20 should be scrapped, as should all other limited-overs cricket. Anyone who prefers a three-hour slogfest to the five-day game is not a true cricket fan. Cricket should also not appear at the Olympics in any way, shape or from. The Olympics is supposed to be the pinnacle for the sports involved, and it never will be with cricket.

  • TwitterJitter on June 25, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    For those of you, who wants to reduce it further so that cricket can fit into a 2.5 hour slot, I have an idea! Let each team play one ball innings, Keep accumulating runs until your 2.5 hour window is reached. Whoever has more runs in their kitty at the end of 2.5 hours wins! How is that for a big idea? However, please just don't call it cricket. You can call it "rubbish" if you want and then do whatever you want with it - make it 2.5 hour game, 10 minute game, or even 2-minute instant noodles game if you want. This format will allow you all that. If you have just one minute left before going for a dump, you can do that too. Just completely spin off from cricket and don't even bother calling it by the same name.

  • ATC1810 on June 26, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    This lecture just demonstrates what an intelligent, forward thinking individual Adam Gilchrist is as well as being a superbly talented cricketer.

  • Son_Of on June 26, 2009, 12:39 GMT

    i oppose the move to reduce the number of Tests being played. that would be an end to the era of Test supremacy. but Dan-argent and others need to recognise that if limited over cricket is not embraced there will not be enough revenue to support Tests. central contracts will not be big enough, esp in countries other than Eng, Aus. tickets and advertising for Tests are crippled because most jobs make it impossible to attend or watch live on TV for 3 out of 5 days

  • Gillys_club on June 26, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    its not like Gilly completely asks to ignore Test cricket, the pinnacle..... as in further observations he has listed out.....he's given realistic ideas on how to popularise cricket and sustain/grow interest in it..... the thing that makes me sad in that lecture is it almost says that Test Cricket will become a thing of the past, and will have to feed off the revenue from T20, much like being on life-support, which is how no-one wants to see Test cricket in....

  • him1784 on June 26, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    gilly is absolutely right.........and for those making fun of his ideas and criticizing 20-20....just grow up.......game needs to grow with time.......i m not against test cricket and one day cricket I love it....in fact true cricket lover will love every format of cricket.....even super sixes which is played in hongkong ....its just we need to take the game forward so that it can grow............I support everything what Adam Gilchrist has said and yes we need him in ICC.

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 26, 2009, 2:26 GMT

    I read recently a really amusing quote; why stop at 20/20.Why not play 10/10 or 5/5? Why play cricket at all? Why not throw a stump up in the air and shout 'whoopee' on one leg and whoever goes the reddest gets the dosh-in this instance $3bn a go. It's gotta be worth a try. I'm sure the Olympic Committee would love it..... Or lets just carry on having 5 day Tests and watch a game that's recognisable to cricket fans and not to fans of every other sport except cricket.If you want a 90 minute game,you are in the wrong place,I think. In other words if you don't like cricket, watch something else.Simple, isn't it. Thank God the Ashes are just about here!

  • dragqueen1 on June 25, 2009, 19:56 GMT

    the olympics, hoorah! the great panacea for globalising the game yeah right,currenty the wT20 only allows 2 qualifers, with the West Indies having to split into their various island nations to compete at the Olympics NO non test nation will be represented yeah that'll help won't it. it don't matter how enthusiastic you are or how good you are once yourealiseyou can't play you will go & do something else & until this little nugget permeates the elitist mindset at the ICC this sport will never be truly global & will never be(quite rightly) an Olympic sport.

  • Muqs on June 25, 2009, 18:18 GMT

    I agree with Gilchrist on each and every single thing he said, a man like him with such great ideas must get involved with ICC sooner rather than later and make the necessary amendments the cricketing system requires. The bunch of x cricketing losers like dave richardson, steve elworthy must not run the game. Instead the guys like gilly, wasim akram, ganguly etc. need to get into the cricket administration, they have enough practical knowledge about present day cricket and they were successful in their career as well. And i dont think the present ICC administrators who more or less a group of stupid old bunch of crap can really push this game down to olympic level. So this smart group of aggressive recently retired cricketers like gilly to take the step on freelance to push the game upto olympic level.

  • tigers_eye on June 25, 2009, 16:11 GMT

    Why stop at T20? Why not F5 and call it a game? This is just not cricket I grew up with. When Edwards denies the English their 20th wicket of the match and protects series, when surviving becomes the only option that is where character is being tested. T20 is a game of chance. Go play Blackjack. That is better for you.

    Mijanul Akbar Bangladesh.

  • Dan-argent on June 25, 2009, 14:28 GMT

    I disagree with Adam Gilchrist. Cricket is about more than money. Twenty20 should be scrapped, as should all other limited-overs cricket. Anyone who prefers a three-hour slogfest to the five-day game is not a true cricket fan. Cricket should also not appear at the Olympics in any way, shape or from. The Olympics is supposed to be the pinnacle for the sports involved, and it never will be with cricket.

  • TwitterJitter on June 25, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    For those of you, who wants to reduce it further so that cricket can fit into a 2.5 hour slot, I have an idea! Let each team play one ball innings, Keep accumulating runs until your 2.5 hour window is reached. Whoever has more runs in their kitty at the end of 2.5 hours wins! How is that for a big idea? However, please just don't call it cricket. You can call it "rubbish" if you want and then do whatever you want with it - make it 2.5 hour game, 10 minute game, or even 2-minute instant noodles game if you want. This format will allow you all that. If you have just one minute left before going for a dump, you can do that too. Just completely spin off from cricket and don't even bother calling it by the same name.

  • AARON.IFTEKHAR on June 25, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    We should pushed our cricket to a higher level, so that can compete with football, baseball (which is basically taken from cricket), ice hockey, rugby, etc. Then one day the cricket stadium will be full of spectators with more than 50,000 peoples. That should be a dream of a real cricket fan. For the last 2 centuries rules of cricket have been changed many many times; from indefinite days to 3/5 days test, 1 day ODI, T20, etc.; from 8 balls to 5 balls per overs and so on. Why we can not come back again to 5 balls per over for the shake of olympic cricket? T20 cricket is great. Here, i'm proposing to change some rules of cricket for makin' it more popular and dynamic: 1) 5 balls per over, instead of 6 like earlier rules; 2) all 10 players must bowling at least 1 over, but 1 bowler max. 4-5 overs; 3) 1 batsman shouldn't face more than 50 balls (technical retrd), 50% of total, but if need can be act as a runner partner without counting his run more & could be out finally.

  • tadityasrinivas on June 25, 2009, 11:45 GMT

    The ICC should make every effort it can,to see that cricket features in olympics.Since it would take 7 years to introduce a new game,if we start trying this year,we end up getting to see cricket being played in 2016 Olympics.It is very much true that cricket's inclusion would see subcontinental crowd being attracted to the olympics.It need not be a compulsion that a game musn't be over 2.5 hrs.I would like to point out that tennis,which is an olympic sport, may take as long as 5hrs to be completed.

  • AARON.IFTEKHAR on June 25, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    I agree 100% with Gilchrist and commentators. I honour Mr.adam gilchrist to give such an extraordinarily thoughtful lecture. Hats off to you Gilly. Let us not forget that cricket was in the Olympics in the past, in 1908 and 1912. Back then, they played test matches and it didn't really work. With 20 overs per side, it can really work, a shorter 2 / 2.5 hour version, just for the Olympics / commonwealth games. I also think that we can add a 4th format of cricket at an international level - a 20To or T20io format. Cricket must be an Olympic sport, as well as a commonwealth sport under T20 format. I, on behalf of cricket fans, like to call to include cricket in the Olympics. May be for this we need to change some rules in T20 cricket? The main logics are: 1) to introduce our favorite cricket in the international games; 2) to make it more popular around the world, beyond the ICC test countries; 3) to make it more dynamic and commercially profitable for both sponsors, organizers & players.

  • Chase_HQ on June 25, 2009, 10:17 GMT

    good job!!! Some of the most sensible stuff I've heard for ages.

  • SettingSun on June 25, 2009, 7:49 GMT

    I have mixed feelings about the suggestion of cricket in the Olympics. Watching the 2008 Games, the least entertainment I got was in watching football, tennis and basketball. Why? Because these sports are already massively exposed and most of the participants seemed largely uninterested, creating some pretty poor spectacles. I rather suspect the same will happen with cricket, and I don't believe that it will aid the growth of the game worldwide that much at all. Having said that, more cricket watching is always a good thing!

    Impressive (and verbose) lecture though from Gilly, although I didn't think I could feel more depressed about the future of test cricket than I did before reading that.

  • Ozcricketwriter on June 25, 2009, 7:23 GMT

    I agree 100% with Gilchrist. Indeed, I have been saying this for years and for years people have been telling me what nonsense I was talking. People said to me that ODIs were too long for the Olympics - so I said well why not just have a shorter version, a 2 hour version, just for the Olympics? We play 20 overs per side at primary school level - what is wrong with that? Finally, now, with T20 firmly established, we can seriously push for T20 in the Olympics. Personally, I think that 2020 should be the aim for cricket to be *BACK* into the Olympics. Let us not forget that cricket was in the Olympics in the past, in 1908 and 1912 I think it was. Back then, they played test matches and it didn't really work. With 20 overs per side, it can really work.

    I do disagree with Gilchrist that ODI cricket is dying. I actually think that we not only can support ODIs but we can add a 4th format at an international level. Otherwise, a great speech, and an important speech.

  • ANIRUDH98 on June 25, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    i honour Mr.adam gilchrist to give such an extraordinarily thoughtful lecture. I think always of cricket being implemented in olympics.Test match is the ultimate test to any cricketer in the world. Obviously test cricket i not possible in that world event. T20 can be implemented if ioc and icc have a good meeting about cricket in that world event.

  • hermithead on June 25, 2009, 6:26 GMT

    Regin - I totally agree with your post. The shortest format of cricket should be 2.5 hrs in duration at the very most. New audiences will increase ten-fold if this happens. But how do we condense the game further? Some suggestions: *Reduce the amount of balls bowled per innings to 100 rather than 120. *Remove Overs altogether and thus the breaks between Overs. *Limit the time a batsman can take to be ready at the crease. *Reduce the half time break to 5 min. *Allow double team bowling - instead of waiting for the bowler to return to his crease and start his run up have a second bowler waiting to go, the ball once fielded is not thrown back to the first bowler but to a second bowler who is in position waiting to bowl, this can be repeated between each bowler until they tire. From this you get - an overall shorter game, constant non-stop bowling action, more aggressive batting.

  • howizzat on June 25, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    ICC / MCC should go a step further and device a shorter version of cricket which limits to 100 minutes on par with rest of the team games. This allignment will definitely pacify olympic entry and mor nations to take up the game. Naturally in that eventuality T20 will be scrapped. But I am for ODI to continue as it still has all the ingredients of Test Cricket incoroporated and should be retained and promoted as a showcase of the game where top teams meet once in 4 years to find out their RATINGS. And this is neccessary because we can not do it on the platform of tests. Of course, ODIs can be made interesting by some modifications.

  • regin on June 25, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Gilly is absolutely right. I cricket is to become a global sport, it needs to be made a 20-20 game & test cricket & ODIs should be either ended in a planned phase-out may be over the next 2 years or for the purists, there could be like 5 test maches a year for a country, but no need for ODI's. I am sure countries like USA, Japan, , Cuba, etc. will start playing cricket as they already play baseball. One has to be practical, ideally no sport should be more than 2 or 2.5 hours. 20-20 is about 3.5 hours, maybe they should improve over rates a bit more or have a shorter innings break like 5 minutes. Seriously, what fun is there in watching test cricket- players defending & leaving the ball so many times & everyone is dressed in pure white as if it's some holy game. ODI's are also ridiculous 'coz between over 15 & 40, all we see is singles being knocked around with batsman not eager to take risks & field placings very defensive. Time is imp. in life & a sport should also be time limited.

  • ACTComets1 on June 25, 2009, 4:09 GMT

    Gilchrist makes a good point about getting Twenty20 into the Olympics. T20 is the most accessible form for newcomers. I know I tend to watch a lot more baseball, european handball and basketball at the Olympics then I would normally, so T20 at the Olympics would be a brilliant way to get non-cricket fans interested, especially lucrative markets like the USA and China, which already play some form of cricket. The format could be similar to the 1996 One-Day World Cup, with three or four pools, then knockout quarters and semis. If you have, say twelve teams in four groups of three, this would be a total of only 19 games (12 pools games, 4 quarters-finals, 2 semis and the final). You could stage all the group games in four or five days, have a full day devoted to both the quarters and semis and have a stand-alone final. Perhaps, to ensure it would work, it could be trialled on a smaller scale at the Commonwealth Games, like the Rugby Sevenso

  • samod on June 25, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    Very Good talk. Hats off to you Gilly.. Gilly's suggestion should be taken up by the concerned authorities to press for the Olympic participation.

  • hermithead on June 25, 2009, 1:57 GMT

    I'd like to take up Gillys point about how the T20 format is accommodating for our 'time poor', 21st century lifestyles. I'd like to take that point a step a further and suggest that T20 is still too long. I'm not being contemptuous in saying this, purely for pragmatic reasons the shortest format of cricket should not exceed 2.5 hours. This would align cricket with the timeframes of the most popular, global sports like football, rugby etc For us as cricket fans who are used to watching 5 day matches then 3 hrs is nothing yet it is still a 3 hr commitment and in most cases matches run over the 3 hr mark - nearly 4 hrs for some IPL matches this season. Amongst my group of friends who are married with kids convenience is a major factor in their everyday lives, including what sport they follow, and will now choose to watch a 2 hr football match over a 3.5hr cricket match purely based on the timeframe. It may sound ridiculous but I guess the 3hr game did back 2003 as well

  • DeepPoint on June 24, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    Gilchrist is right when he says that Test Cricket's supremacy is only sustainable by the money from T20 and ODIs. Test matches will go the way of the Friendly in soccer, I fear. Time will tell.

  • Arbab.Danish on June 24, 2009, 20:33 GMT

    one thing i always noted while compaigning for inclusion of T20 cricket in olympics is that we are told the benefits of this acts which cricket would get, but i feel whats more needed is to convince olympics authorities is what olympics would get by inclusion of cricket, the benefit and example given by sub-continent is good, there could be other such benefits which olympics can get from cricket. no one doubts that cricket will gain benefits by its inclusion, the things which is doubtabale is whether olympics will get the benefits and how much. please focus on this point while compaigning.

  • Hammondfan on June 24, 2009, 20:28 GMT

    Yes, but, if no one turns up to watch test cricket -- especially in Asia -- it will die.

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 24, 2009, 19:59 GMT

    Reading this lecture made me think that nowadays cricket only existed for the sake of money.There did not seem to be much more than a business executive's view here-how to expand Cricket PLC. It made me ask two important questions: !.How much money does cricket need? Is all this money even remotely relevant to the average cricket fan? I have looked at the pricings of Test match tickets in UK and shuddered. Yes, I could spend up to 600 quid on a day at the Test match.Wowee. How much more do admiinistrators have to drive real cricket lovers away from watching a game which has probably 1000% more relevance to their life than to a business executive wagging a day off from the office.But how many real cricket lovers can even afford a day at the Test? Remember the 2007 World Cup.That should be a warning to us all. Real West Indian cricket lovers were not there. So who does all this money satisfy?Surely not us. Maybe other Allan Stanfords. 2. Who needs a globalised game?Nobody,

  • thoughtheybered on June 24, 2009, 19:32 GMT

    This is such an extraordinarily thoughtful lecture. I always respected Gilly greatly, and his very practical suggestions only raise him in my esteem. In a world of records, however, absolute numbers mean a great deal, and as such, it seems unlikely that the number of tests will be reduced, when hopeful young bowlers and batsmen set their sights on the Muralis and Sachins of the world.

    John Mathew (Paris)

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  • thoughtheybered on June 24, 2009, 19:32 GMT

    This is such an extraordinarily thoughtful lecture. I always respected Gilly greatly, and his very practical suggestions only raise him in my esteem. In a world of records, however, absolute numbers mean a great deal, and as such, it seems unlikely that the number of tests will be reduced, when hopeful young bowlers and batsmen set their sights on the Muralis and Sachins of the world.

    John Mathew (Paris)

  • 2.14istherunrate on June 24, 2009, 19:59 GMT

    Reading this lecture made me think that nowadays cricket only existed for the sake of money.There did not seem to be much more than a business executive's view here-how to expand Cricket PLC. It made me ask two important questions: !.How much money does cricket need? Is all this money even remotely relevant to the average cricket fan? I have looked at the pricings of Test match tickets in UK and shuddered. Yes, I could spend up to 600 quid on a day at the Test match.Wowee. How much more do admiinistrators have to drive real cricket lovers away from watching a game which has probably 1000% more relevance to their life than to a business executive wagging a day off from the office.But how many real cricket lovers can even afford a day at the Test? Remember the 2007 World Cup.That should be a warning to us all. Real West Indian cricket lovers were not there. So who does all this money satisfy?Surely not us. Maybe other Allan Stanfords. 2. Who needs a globalised game?Nobody,

  • Hammondfan on June 24, 2009, 20:28 GMT

    Yes, but, if no one turns up to watch test cricket -- especially in Asia -- it will die.

  • Arbab.Danish on June 24, 2009, 20:33 GMT

    one thing i always noted while compaigning for inclusion of T20 cricket in olympics is that we are told the benefits of this acts which cricket would get, but i feel whats more needed is to convince olympics authorities is what olympics would get by inclusion of cricket, the benefit and example given by sub-continent is good, there could be other such benefits which olympics can get from cricket. no one doubts that cricket will gain benefits by its inclusion, the things which is doubtabale is whether olympics will get the benefits and how much. please focus on this point while compaigning.

  • DeepPoint on June 24, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    Gilchrist is right when he says that Test Cricket's supremacy is only sustainable by the money from T20 and ODIs. Test matches will go the way of the Friendly in soccer, I fear. Time will tell.

  • hermithead on June 25, 2009, 1:57 GMT

    I'd like to take up Gillys point about how the T20 format is accommodating for our 'time poor', 21st century lifestyles. I'd like to take that point a step a further and suggest that T20 is still too long. I'm not being contemptuous in saying this, purely for pragmatic reasons the shortest format of cricket should not exceed 2.5 hours. This would align cricket with the timeframes of the most popular, global sports like football, rugby etc For us as cricket fans who are used to watching 5 day matches then 3 hrs is nothing yet it is still a 3 hr commitment and in most cases matches run over the 3 hr mark - nearly 4 hrs for some IPL matches this season. Amongst my group of friends who are married with kids convenience is a major factor in their everyday lives, including what sport they follow, and will now choose to watch a 2 hr football match over a 3.5hr cricket match purely based on the timeframe. It may sound ridiculous but I guess the 3hr game did back 2003 as well

  • samod on June 25, 2009, 3:41 GMT

    Very Good talk. Hats off to you Gilly.. Gilly's suggestion should be taken up by the concerned authorities to press for the Olympic participation.

  • ACTComets1 on June 25, 2009, 4:09 GMT

    Gilchrist makes a good point about getting Twenty20 into the Olympics. T20 is the most accessible form for newcomers. I know I tend to watch a lot more baseball, european handball and basketball at the Olympics then I would normally, so T20 at the Olympics would be a brilliant way to get non-cricket fans interested, especially lucrative markets like the USA and China, which already play some form of cricket. The format could be similar to the 1996 One-Day World Cup, with three or four pools, then knockout quarters and semis. If you have, say twelve teams in four groups of three, this would be a total of only 19 games (12 pools games, 4 quarters-finals, 2 semis and the final). You could stage all the group games in four or five days, have a full day devoted to both the quarters and semis and have a stand-alone final. Perhaps, to ensure it would work, it could be trialled on a smaller scale at the Commonwealth Games, like the Rugby Sevenso

  • regin on June 25, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Gilly is absolutely right. I cricket is to become a global sport, it needs to be made a 20-20 game & test cricket & ODIs should be either ended in a planned phase-out may be over the next 2 years or for the purists, there could be like 5 test maches a year for a country, but no need for ODI's. I am sure countries like USA, Japan, , Cuba, etc. will start playing cricket as they already play baseball. One has to be practical, ideally no sport should be more than 2 or 2.5 hours. 20-20 is about 3.5 hours, maybe they should improve over rates a bit more or have a shorter innings break like 5 minutes. Seriously, what fun is there in watching test cricket- players defending & leaving the ball so many times & everyone is dressed in pure white as if it's some holy game. ODI's are also ridiculous 'coz between over 15 & 40, all we see is singles being knocked around with batsman not eager to take risks & field placings very defensive. Time is imp. in life & a sport should also be time limited.

  • howizzat on June 25, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    ICC / MCC should go a step further and device a shorter version of cricket which limits to 100 minutes on par with rest of the team games. This allignment will definitely pacify olympic entry and mor nations to take up the game. Naturally in that eventuality T20 will be scrapped. But I am for ODI to continue as it still has all the ingredients of Test Cricket incoroporated and should be retained and promoted as a showcase of the game where top teams meet once in 4 years to find out their RATINGS. And this is neccessary because we can not do it on the platform of tests. Of course, ODIs can be made interesting by some modifications.