The former England captain's take on the fortnight in cricket

'Cut the number but not the format'

The future of ODIs, England's meek surrender, and the importance of the toss at the Compaq Cup (07:50)

September 14, 2009

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The Tony Greig Show

'Cut the number but not the format'

September 14, 2009

It's hard to know which of India and Sri Lanka will play their A game in the final of the Compaq Cup. Both sides are packed with cricketers who on their day are capable of making serious contributions. The absence of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir does detract from India's firepower upfront, while Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan are one of the most dangerous opening pairs in the game. Sri Lanka also has wonderful strokemakers in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, and judging by the performances of Chamara Kapugedera and Thilina Kandamby on Saturday, they now have some brute force in the middle order to almost match that of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. The bowling attacks of both sides are effective and so it's my view that there is very little between these two teams. The team that wins the toss at Premadasa has a distinct advantage, which is not good for the game, but that's the way it is until later this week when both the square and the outfield at Premadasa will be dug up and relaid. So for what it's worth I think the winner of the toss will win the Compaq Cup

The Champions Trophy
Played every two years, the ICC Champions Trophy has travelled across the world, with Bangladesh, Kenya, Sri Lanka, England and India all having playing hosts. It's about to get underway yet again despite calls from many quarters to abandon the tournament as part of an effort to reduce the amount of cricket being played by the world's top players. There is also a push for more Twenty/20 matches because of their popularity. Something has to give, and in the years that lie ahead it may well be the Champions Trophy. In the meantime the world's best will be heading for South Africa in what will be something of a test for the 50-over ODI format.

South Africa and Australia are the teams best suited to the bouncy South African pitches, but India even without Zaheer Khan have a balanced attack and must also be in with a chance if their batsmen can provide them with the required runs. The Indian batting without Sehwag is never quite as dangerous, but they seem a confident team under Dhoni.

In Group A, Australia and India should be able to keep Pakistan and West Indies out of the semi-finals - mind you I am always a little wary of underestimating Pakistan. In Group B, South Africa and Sri Lanka should be able to see off New Zealand and England. From the semi-finals on it's a lottery. If South Africa and Australia can stay away from each other in the semi-finals then they should contest the final.

England's lacklustre performance in the ODIs
After losing the Ashes to England it has been a little surprising to see Australia reverse things so dramatically. They are in the process of giving Andrew Strauss and his ODI team a thorough hiding. It's sometimes difficult to work out why it is that a team performs so well in one format of the game and somehow struggles so much in another. This, however, is a little different. There was very little between the sides in the Tests, and there is no doubt the Aussies are smarting and intend doing everything they can to obliterate the memory of losing the Ashes. England on the other hand are seriously missing Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen.

Australia's Callum Ferguson has been one of the stars for Australia so far, and certainly looks the part. He represented Australia at Under-19 level and made his debut for the Australia one-day side in 2009. Ferguson has also been drafted into the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders. He has only played 18 ODIs, but has got off to a great start, averaging over 50. It's early days but this young man is already being mentioned in dispatches as a future Australian captain.

The West Indies contract row
The West Indies contract row has escalated to such a degree that the Prime Ministers of the various countries that make up the Caribbean cricket-playing nations have decided to take it upon themselves to come up with a solution. They don't have many options available to them; some as recently as yesterday instructed the parties to go to arbitration on the specific matters that are preventing a truce. If this doesn't bring about a truce it is also still just possible that the Prime Ministers will instruct the WICB to concede to the players the two contract sticking points on the understanding that they immediately make themselves available. If they don't then WICB may have to threaten them with life bans and they may also refuse to grant them the no-objection certificates that all overseas players need to take part in the lucrative IPL. If they go down this path it could be a big financial blow to the players.

The WICB and the striking West Indies players have already tried mediation but unfortunately that effort broke down. One way or the other, action has to be taken soon if the West Indies want their best team in South Africa for the Champions Trophy. Australia too will be hoping that the problem is resolved because the West Indies are due to travel down under in November, and the last thing the Australians want is a West Indies fourth XI turning up. James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, thinks it is too early to have contingency plans in place - which could mean replacing the West Indies with another team

How good is Daniel Vettori?
There is no doubt that Vettori is a superb spin bowler - known for his flight, guile and accuracy rather than prodigious turn. He is also only the eighth Test cricketer to capture 300 wickets and score 3000 runs, and as such will be considered an allrounder by most. The youngest man to play Test cricket for New Zealand, at the age of 18, he sits beside Richard Hadlee and Chris Cairns in the list of New Zealand's top modern allrounders. But I don't consider him an allrounder. Vettori himself considers that he is a bowler who bats a bit. He is a born leader and New Zealand will have to hope that he continues to play for a while, because they will find him difficult to replace.

The future of ODIs Having suggested a fortnight ago that it's just feasible that World Cups of the future could be 40-over matches, I read a wonderful article written by one of my favourite writers, Peter Roebuck. I would like to share with you a few of his pertinent points.

Roebuck is of the view that no version of the game that has produced so many outstanding feats ought lightly to be tossed away in favour of a format that does not offer the possibility of greatness. He also quite rightly points out that for an endangered species 50-over cricket appears to be in remarkably good health. No one can deny that many cricket lovers are excited about Twenty20, but Roebuck thinks this is lust, not love. At the time of recording, India and Sri Lanka are involved in an exciting ODI tri-series with New Zealand, and there has also been some very good 50-over cricket played by the Aussies in England. Cut the number of games back by all means, but don't do anything rash for a while. Far too much has been invested in the ODI format to allow the new kid on the block to take over without a proper fight.

Posted by Manush on (September 17, 2009, 2:41 GMT)

Cutting the number of matches and implementing Sachin's suggestion can be useful. It is not out of place.the just concluded Ashes series gives England a false position. Critically looked it will show that minus 3 sessions ( the last session of 1st Test, Fliintoff's(II) and Broad's(V) burst), it was Australia who did well without luck. Minus Piterson and Fliintoff,the team lacks character and depth. Only Broad and Strauss (improve after becoming Captain) and to some extent Prior and Anderson were good. Pieterson with his immense talents, should be ashamed of the way he throws his wicket at crucial stages, in the name of innovation and aggression

Posted by SuperSharky on (September 15, 2009, 13:12 GMT)

3 Tests, 3 ODI's and 3 x 20/20's would be the perfect balanced tour. I need to see all 3 formats of the game. And when the top teams play each other, in any of these three formats, I will not loose my appetite. Test Cricket is the test of character, the ultimate, The most strategic of the 3 formats and where patience is loved, Thanks too Geoff Boycott, Kepler Wessels, Michael Atherton, ect. I also need to see the spectacular fast big hitting with a bit of luck - formation. Twenty-20 brings out the raw instinctive talent of seeing and hitting the ball. Entertainment at its best. Forgive me for comparing cricket with chess, but both these games use strategy. And when you play a 5 min chess-game, you don't see the same quality moves you see in a 30 min game. Give 20/20 a bit more strategy, a bit more patience, and the captain a bigger influence on the game and whala, you get 50 over games. I grew up with ODI's. I knew a few heroes stats in ODI's. Please don't just throw it away.

Posted by srimaldanushka on (September 15, 2009, 4:29 GMT)

Dear Bikku..

You are telling that Sri Lankans are Slow pitch heros. Did you forget about last Sri Lankan Tour to New Zealand. How you struggled against malinga and how Jayasooriya hit mega sixes to your bowlers.. Did you forget last 20/20 world cup how Sri Lanka Played against New Zealand? Just don't speaking rubbish.. Sri Lanka can play any where.. But New Zealand always struggling against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka the team Which runners up in last two world cups ( 50 Overs and 20/20) India the team which struggling in bouncy pitches not Sri Lanka.. Last two 20/20 world cup is a good example.. and Macculam averrage is just 28. He is not hero.. He is just a small kid against murali and malinga.. Sri Lanka will deffinetly come to the semi final i bet u....

Posted by bikku on (September 14, 2009, 8:12 GMT)

Tony i cant remember homy times ur prediction went wrong. i can remember ur 'groveler' comment abt windies side. For champions trophey u r telling Australia, South Afrika, NZ and IND will make it to the semifinal. it seems ur not only underestimated pakistan but also newzealand. On south afrikan soil NZ will be a better team than SL. srilankans are slow pitch heroes. Batsman like Macculam, Rider, Taylor will be a hit in SA. At the same time Pakistan will also to reach to Semis most probably australia will crash out from group A.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (September 14, 2009, 6:38 GMT)

Tony, I've lost my appetite for ODI cricket. Another exciting Tests series (i.e. The Ashes), has made the ODI series look rather uninteresting, even before a ball was bowled. The game doesn't need two one day formats (50 over and 20 over). Test cricket is the pinnacle and what I want to follow and watch, and will always be my cricket of choice. It's a shame cricket has had to chase the entertainment dollar. Other sports like golf and tennis haven't had to resort to butchered formats to keep the crowds. Maybe cricket needs to pay Test players a whole lot more to bring in star players in all countries to raise the standard in all Test series, not just a few. And maybe T20 can help fund that. From a personal interest point-of-view, I don't see a future for the 50 over format.

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