Decade Review 2009

The rise of the US, the death of Tests

Test cricket will die, Twenty20 will kill it; Test cricket will thrive, Twenty20 will peter out: our writers and columnists have all sorts of predictions for the 2010s

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Fans watch from an under-construction building adjoining the stadium, India v Australia, 6th ODI, Guwahati, November 8, 2009
Will the crowds still turn out in packs for Twenty20, 10 years from now? © Associated Press
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Peter English Australasia editor, Cricinfo
Tired of meaningless fixtures, bored by the constant cheque presentations, and worn down by the dominance of corruption and gambling, spectators will have deserted Twenty20 by 2019. The proliferation of domestic tournaments at the beginning of the decade will hold their spark for a couple of years before the followers lose interest as the players switch allegiances as quickly as team uniforms change. Due to the power of the corporate backers, the results will be decided in the boardrooms, despite the pretence that those on the field are actually involved in determining who wins. Test cricket will have regained its status as the unsullied, sparkling form of the game, although it will be played under lights, over four days and in a minimum of three-game contests. Ireland and the Netherlands will be above Zimbabwe and West Indies on the rankings, with Bangladesh regularly challenging the top teams.

S Rajesh stats editor, Cricinfo
The 2010s will see the resurgence of West Indies and of one-day cricket. Dwayne Bravo will go on to lead the team with distinction, while a couple of fast bowlers will give the attack the bite it has been lacking for several years. They'll be a strong contender for the 2015 World Cup, and will move up to be among the top four teams in both forms of the game. The one-day game will be revived by a rule change, which will give the bowlers a greater say - two of them will be allowed a maximum of 12 overs per innings. Interest in the Twenty20 format will stay for a couple of years, before gradually tapering off. The IPL will be around, though interest in it will dwindle, but the Champions League will die away.

Martin Williamson executive editor
The last decade has seen some major changes in the game, but on the field few have been as important as the increasing use of technology. Many of those who moan that it robs cricket of human error (and just why is that good?) are the ones who berate umpires when they make howlers. Most other sports, with the stubborn exception of football, are embracing technical advances, and cricket should be leading the way. The game's administrators keep dipping their toes in the water without taking the plunge. So what if officials became little more than number counters and coat-hangers? Surely the most important thing is that decisions are right? There's a suspicion that the ICC doesn't want too much technology as it might mean games are over quicker, but you have to hope common sense wins through. And please, can changes be thought through and explained to the public and officials? Too often they are rushed into place, with the end result the systems are confusing and discredited.

T&T players launch themselves on Kieron Pollard after their four-wicket win, New South Wales v Trinidad & Tobago, Champions League Twenty20, League A, Hyderabad, October 16, 2009
Champions League: Dead or alive? © Global Cricket Ventures-BCCI
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Dileep Premachandran associate editor
One way or the other, the Champions League Twenty20 will shape the game's future. If it succeeds as Lalit Modi hopes, the Champions League will eventually emulate its footballing counterpart, and become the competition every player craves to be part of year after year. If the global audience doesn't tune in - and remember that there are no home-and-away fixtures as in the UEFA version - the losses will be catastrophic. Twenty20 overkill could in some ways be the salvation of Test cricket, especially if we keep getting five-day games of the quality of Dunedin, Perth and Centurion last year.

Ian Chappell commentator and columnist
If the officials aren't extremely vigilant, the fixers will dampen the public's enthusiasm for Twenty20.

Gideon Haigh Australian cricket historian and writer
Ascendancy will fluctuate, because cricket has become too diverse a game to dominate. Overall, however, I suspect India will grow in on-field authority to match their off-field influence. God, as Napoleon said, is on the side of the big batallions.

Sambit Bal editor, Cricinfo
I cringe at the thought, but sometime during the next decade Tests will start getting crunched. Either they will reduce the number of hours per day, or more likely one whole day will be lopped off. Neither will be a bad thing if they can put a bit more life into the pitches. Batsmen will still score quickly, but if the bowlers are in the game, the right results will follow.

Christian Ryan former editor, Wisden Australia
Dimwitted administrators, with little feel for the game's charms, will do nothing about the too-powerful bats, with the result that twos and threes are seldom sighted, while fours and sixes become so routine that spectators cease to clap them.

Andrew Miller UK editor, Cricinfo
For most of the game's traditional supporters, the fate of Test cricket is the topic that will dominate all agendas. The grand old format has taken a battering in recent months, overwhelmed on the one hand by the popularity of Twenty20s and undermined on the other by deathly flat pitches and dwindling crowds. In the short term, Test cricket will soldier on; there are too many greats still in play - Tendulkar, Dravid and Ponting among them - for interest to fizzle out overnight. But as and when they retire, with a raft of records that will never be matched, what on earth will come in their stead? A clue as to the future will be on display next summer, when Pakistan and Australia play their series in the one country where five-day cricket remains a guaranteed crowd-puller. England, the country that gave birth to cricket, could well find itself nursing the old game through its dotage. As for 50-over cricket, the hideous schedule for the 2011 World Cup may well seal its fate. By 2020, Twenty20s will stand alone.

Virat Kohli succumbs nine short of his hundred, Bangladesh v India, Tri-series, 3rd ODI, Mirpur, January 7, 2010
Bangladesh may regularly challenge the top teams © Associated Press
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Jayaditya Gupta executive editor, Cricinfo
Cricket will rise in new territories, especially the USA, aided by technology. Wherever two dozen South Asians assemble - and there is barely a corner of the globe where they don't - cricket will be a lucrative sporting venture, sponsored by nanotechnology companies in Hyderabad and broadcast on high-definition palmtop screens. The USA will have its own version(s) of the IPL and the money on offer will break whatever hold the current powers have on individual players. In this great democratising process, monolithic controlling entities will retain their relevance only in organising a four-nation Test championship.

Harsha Bhogle Commentator and writer
There will be windows for Test cricket, and Tests will increasingly only be played between the better teams. ODIs and Twenty20 internationals will be home-away games. Only the 50-over World Cup will retain icon status. The IPL will become bigger than it is.

Telford Vice writer
Brace yourselves, cricket lovers, for more Twenty20 matches than you can throw your TV remote at. And for the youngest, brashest form of the game to breathe life into its more venerable siblings. Far from killing one-day and Test cricket, Twenty20 will breed new audiences. Now if only we could convince the bigger brothers to spruce themselves up so that they stay relevant enough to keep those audiences entertained.

© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 49 
Posted by NicoliD on (January 11, 2010, 21:24 GMT)

Cricket is hopeless in the US- Any thoughts of penetrating the American market, or even finding a person on the street who could identify the USACA or even any equipment used in the sport, is an absolute pipe dream. They might as well just let the United States be adopted by the West Indies wholesale, take any players with any talent there, and try to prop up one of the failing Test nations.

Posted by inswing on (January 11, 2010, 21:20 GMT)

In the 2010s, both Tests and T20s will flourish. The ODI world cup will gradually diminish in importance while the T20 will gain, while Tests remaining at the pinnacle. People who are unable to realize that Tests and T20s are different games that have different things to offer will come to their senses, and the hysteria about the impending death of either one will subside. Test wickets will improve. Half the year will be devoted to T20s (where T20 leagues will be played in different countries, finishing with a champions league) and the other half to Test cricket, where many exiting contests with no one country dominating. India will dominate the ICC half as much as England and Australia used to dominate it, and the latter two will continue to complain about how outrageous that is. B'desh will improve to where WI is right now, and will win a home series against NZ. Technology will help in eliminating really bad errors, and no one will think twice about it.

Posted by ankursachinislife on (January 11, 2010, 17:33 GMT)

harsha bhogle is ryt wid his coment...

Posted by Hassan.Farooqi on (January 11, 2010, 16:25 GMT)

Australia would be the only country playing test cricket. Against whom? England maybe. ODI will die even in Australia. T20 will expand to all English speaking countries, courtesy of South Asians going there to find work.

Posted by TwitterJitter on (January 11, 2010, 16:00 GMT)

These are not predictions for they wilt in the first check against reality. These are wishlists.

Posted by stmookeyj on (January 11, 2010, 14:46 GMT)

I envisage that the T20 format will be restricted to IPL and a smaller domestic comp each year (with a window for the IPL to be played, with 12 teams playing each other once with semis).

I also see that the 50 over game becomes a 40 over game with tri-nations series everywhere to replace meaningless 5 and 7 game series.

As for test cricket, it will remain a 5 DAY (emphasis on DAY) match, perhaps with later starting times should the conditions permit. Most nations will host at least 2 teams per year and have at least 2-3 away trips per year outside of the IPL window, with the Ashes, Australia vs India, India vs Pakistan and South Africa vs England/Australia the only series lasting more than 2 tests.

And finally, dare I dream, International Cricket to return to Pakistan within 2 years?

Posted by pragmatist on (January 11, 2010, 13:38 GMT)

@mcheckley - excellent comment. So much club cricket is thoughtlessly "limited overs" with the draw element removed. Even in the short format, the draw adds something, meaning bowlers have to perform to win. My prediction for the 2010s - much like the 2000s, hysteria about the death of Tests will subside, T20 will be seen as the two-dimensional kids' game that it is. India will continue to throw its weight around but the cricket world has too great a love and respect for the game to sacrifice too much to the paymasters. Here's hoping. The one thing T20 has done for me is emphasise that Tests are really the only form of international cricket worth watching.

Posted by Sohrab_Hits on (January 11, 2010, 10:20 GMT)

American sports are grand, fast and exciting. There is light, camera and action. Cricket will not thrive. If an IPL like tournament is held in USA (if at all) it will never become a culture for the native american. The Cricket world talks about spreading Cricket to America but does it ever consider bringing American sport to Cricket countries...no...why...American sports will take over.

Posted by MinusZero on (January 11, 2010, 6:09 GMT)

I hope that T20's go away. Its just not cricket. I would like to see day-night tests in the future. Test cricket is still the pinnacle of achievement in cricket. I have no interest in seeing the ball disappear over the boundary several times in an over. Don Bradman would be rolling in his grave.

Posted by andy44 on (January 11, 2010, 4:59 GMT)

I very much doubt that test cricket will die - certainly not in the next decade. Even if the Windies and the Sub-Continent become disinterested - the game will merely return to the Anglo-Australia axis from which it started over 130 years ago, with South Africa and perhaps NZ continuing to compete in the format. The same mistakes that were made with the one-day game will be made with T20 - too many meaningless tournaments, to many games, horrendously docile wickets and ridiculously short boundaries - and its appeal will wear-off in Australia, England and South Africa, although it will no doubtcontinue to flourish on the Sub-Continent.

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