Reaction to Flintoff's contract refusal September 16, 2009

End 'meaningless' tours - Graeme Smith

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South Africa's captain, Graeme Smith, believes that Andrew Flintoff's decision to turn down his ECB central contract in favour of a "freelance" career has set a precedent that the ICC cannot afford to ignore.

Speaking to Cricinfo on the eve of the Champions Trophy, the second-biggest event in the ODI calendar, Smith said that the international game was going to have to adapt to its changing environment and cut down on the current glut of "meaningless" contests, if more of the world's leading players are to be prevented from following Flintoff's example.

As tournament hosts and the No. 1 ODI nation in the world, South Africa start next week's Champions Trophy as favourites, and with a proper challenge to whet the appetite after a rare three-month break, Smith reiterated that international cricket remained his absolute and over-riding priority. But, he added, unless the ICC tackles the thorny issue of the Future Tours Programme head-on, the riches on offer in the IPL and beyond will prove an even more tempting alternative to many cricketers who, by the very nature of their careers, have a finite period of time in which to make the most of their talents.

"I don't think you can blame the individual, but it's an interesting time for cricket, and interesting to see where it goes now," Smith told Cricinfo. "The crucial aspect is the decisions the leadership makes in the future. The ICC needs to give cricket a good direction, and crucial to that is how they look at the Future Tours Programme, because the decisions they make around that are going to be so important for the future of the game.

"For me international cricket is still the pinnacle," he said. "But you can't hide the fact that huge financial rewards and benefits for players have come into the game in the last few years, and it's obviously such a short career, so you want to make as much money in that time as possible. But I think playing for your country is the best, and the most important thing for us is to carry on being as successful as possible and try not to be distracted by other things that are taking place."

The FTP is a six-year calendar during which all nations are required to play each of the others, home and away, in at least two Tests and three ODIs. However, it expires in 2012 and a replacement has yet to be agreed upon, with some nations favouring the implementation of a World Test Championship to replace the often haphazard bilateral arrangements that are currently in place. But whatever solution is reached, Smith believes that a greater importance has to be attached to future international matches, and cited the current seven-match ODI series between England and Australia as a classic example of poor scheduling.

"With the greatest respect, the seven ODIs taking place in England at the moment are more for financial benefit than meaningful cricket," he said. "People want to see strength for strength, they want to see international sides trying their best in competitive tours. I mean, the Ashes was great to watch, it was competitive down to the last Test match, and speaking for myself as a cricketer, that's how you want to see all cricket being played.

"But all these meaningless tours just sap your body, especially when you are playing away from home for a long time," he added. "I think the ICC needs to really look at the format going forward, and really take control of the international game."

In the absence of such leadership from above, Smith was sympathetic with Flintoff's reasons for taking his career into his own hands. "I don't think you can blame Fred for the decision that he's made," said Smith. "He's had a very successful career, and at this stage of his career, he wants to maximise his worth and really take control of things. He's had a number of injuries, and for his own good, he needs to take control of the few years he has left in him."

Smith's immediate priority, as South Africa's captain, is to lead his country to glory on home soil in the Champions Trophy, and he is determined to put all other thoughts about the future of the game out of his mind.

"It's a terrific time to be a sportsman in South Africa, and to be a role model," said Smith. "When you think about our readmission after the apartheid years, we've got a young country in many ways, and our sport is going from strength to strength at the moment. The opportunity is there to grow, and the better that South African teams can be, the more the youngsters will want to be the heroes of the future. The Champions Trophy is another opportunity for that."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Freeflow on September 21, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    Being a sportsman doesn't only challenge you in the field of play. Look there's two sides to this coin. What are meaningless tours? Are we referring to lower ranked test playing teams? If so, then does it mean only top 8 teams will play among each other?South Africa, Australia, England, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand? what about West Indies? So countries like Bangladesh will only play Zimbabwe and Kenya or Ireland, Canada, Bermuda etc.. Well I'd say continue with 10 test playing nations with the last two spots always up for grabs. Look Bangladesh have quality players although maybe as a unit not challenging enough. That's the only way other countries can improve by playing the best in the world. Smith has a double hundred vs Bangladesh. Is that going to be striken off the records?Why don't high ranked teams rest their top players when they play lower teams, just as to provide a rest for the players and to provide a larger pool of international players.

  • Garson007 on September 20, 2009, 0:40 GMT

    What about turning dead rubber ODIs into 20/20 games (kind of like how the Davis cup turns dead rubbers from 5 sets into a best of three affair), instead of totally scrapping them, and scrap scheduled 20/20 matches.

  • SatishT2105 on September 18, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    One of the suggestions up there about the Champions Trophy being restricted only to 5 teams was brilliant. Maybe, there is scope to include 1 more team thus making it a 6 team event, with 2 groups enabling elimination and sorting teams for the semifinal. Also, for the World Test Championship to take over the Future Tour Program, there is a need for uniformity in the number of games played. Each team should play the other in 3 Test matches & 5 ODIs as well on a home and away basis. The Champions trophy and World T20 need to be strictly played in alternate years as biennial events thereby not taking the sheen away from the World Cup.

  • andyrao1971 on September 18, 2009, 14:14 GMT

    Cricket has to take a leaf out of soccer in terms of a meaningful co-existence between club (IPL-style) and international cricket. Let's face it - The IPL is here to stay. The ICC would do well to smell the coffee and strike a balance and allow a clear 3-4 month window every year for club cricket.

    My proposed solution is as follows: 1) Limit test cricket to 8 nations (no B'desh). Each nation plays a 3-test series against the other 7 once in 2 years so that over a 4-year cycle, each nation would have played all the others home and away. That should form the basis of the World Test Championship. 2) Each international series should consist of 3 Tests and 5 T20 games (scrap ODIs). Each series should be 6 weeks in duration. 3) Each Test nation plays 2 home and 2 away series every year - this should consume 24 weeks 4) Create a 16-week window for club cricket. This would still leave 12 weeks time for international cricketers to rest and recuperate.

    4)

  • celeberate on September 18, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    Graeme Smith is definitely one of the leading ambassadors of the game and what he says need to be thought seriously. One of the best ways to revive 5-day and 1-day formats of cricket is to provide result oriented pitches throughout the world. Get rid of the benign pitches where bowlers are always on the receiving end. another concern is the role of toss in deciding matches; which is directly influenced by the nature of the pitch (apart from the climatic conditions of course). probably cricket is the only game where 22 people occupy the playfield for 5 days, watched by 22,000 spectators and at the end of the game no one wins. isnt that a bit strange and boring? the 50 over format could be experimented with ideas like 4 innings (as SRT suggested) or reduced to 40 overs to revive more commercial interest in the game. That would bring back the attention to Test and One day cricket!

  • Chiragsenyork on September 17, 2009, 19:38 GMT

    He is true in some ways actually.Adaptation is the key for survival of anything and ICC has to adapt with current scenario of Cricket and allow cricketers to earn money from other sources as well ,after all they work so hard for the national pride so their interests should also be taken care of.Also, limited cricket preserves it freshness and keep spectators interested , meaningless cricket should be minimized ...even Aus or Ind playing cricket in Bangladesh is merely waste of time.

  • howizzat on September 17, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    I agree with Smith. Reduce work load and imbalace by, 1.Scrap meaningless triseries and quadrangulars. 2.Limit ODI bilateral series to a maximum of 4 ODIs.3.Stipulate at least one full home and one away series of 3 TESTS and 4 ODIs for each nation against each other in FTP. 4.PLAY c'trophy immiadiately after within 90 days of WC and restrict to top 5 nations on a round robin point system.

  • AC.Radix on September 17, 2009, 15:44 GMT

    Smith talks about many ODIs (principally the current seven between Eng and Aus) being only there for money .... "With the greatest respect, the seven ODIs taking place in England at the moment are more for financial benefit than meaningful cricket" then he says this .... "it's obviously such a short career, so you want to make as much money in that time as possible" What is he on? Flintoff will now only be playing "meaningless" cricket... I mean IPL...does anyone care (apart from those with ties to the Indian cities) who wins ... do people even know who Pietersen, Flintoff or Ponting play for in that competition.

  • cricketchand on September 17, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    surely what he is saying is correct. the persons who are controling are just interested in money.india has toured srilanka 3 times in just 12 month.this shows the greed of the administrators.ftp needs a complete revamp or else more players would follw flintoff

  • swartshaun on September 17, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    Come on popcorn, the issue is not about Graeme Smith being scared, he is just expressing his concerns about world cricket (the adminastrators mostly) . I don't know where you get your assumptions from but anyways.... I really think and agree with a lot of you that the only way forward is a strength vs strength system. To see the likes of a Dale Steyn and Sachin battling it out or Ponting vs Mendis on a regular basis would be great.

  • Freeflow on September 21, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    Being a sportsman doesn't only challenge you in the field of play. Look there's two sides to this coin. What are meaningless tours? Are we referring to lower ranked test playing teams? If so, then does it mean only top 8 teams will play among each other?South Africa, Australia, England, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand? what about West Indies? So countries like Bangladesh will only play Zimbabwe and Kenya or Ireland, Canada, Bermuda etc.. Well I'd say continue with 10 test playing nations with the last two spots always up for grabs. Look Bangladesh have quality players although maybe as a unit not challenging enough. That's the only way other countries can improve by playing the best in the world. Smith has a double hundred vs Bangladesh. Is that going to be striken off the records?Why don't high ranked teams rest their top players when they play lower teams, just as to provide a rest for the players and to provide a larger pool of international players.

  • Garson007 on September 20, 2009, 0:40 GMT

    What about turning dead rubber ODIs into 20/20 games (kind of like how the Davis cup turns dead rubbers from 5 sets into a best of three affair), instead of totally scrapping them, and scrap scheduled 20/20 matches.

  • SatishT2105 on September 18, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    One of the suggestions up there about the Champions Trophy being restricted only to 5 teams was brilliant. Maybe, there is scope to include 1 more team thus making it a 6 team event, with 2 groups enabling elimination and sorting teams for the semifinal. Also, for the World Test Championship to take over the Future Tour Program, there is a need for uniformity in the number of games played. Each team should play the other in 3 Test matches & 5 ODIs as well on a home and away basis. The Champions trophy and World T20 need to be strictly played in alternate years as biennial events thereby not taking the sheen away from the World Cup.

  • andyrao1971 on September 18, 2009, 14:14 GMT

    Cricket has to take a leaf out of soccer in terms of a meaningful co-existence between club (IPL-style) and international cricket. Let's face it - The IPL is here to stay. The ICC would do well to smell the coffee and strike a balance and allow a clear 3-4 month window every year for club cricket.

    My proposed solution is as follows: 1) Limit test cricket to 8 nations (no B'desh). Each nation plays a 3-test series against the other 7 once in 2 years so that over a 4-year cycle, each nation would have played all the others home and away. That should form the basis of the World Test Championship. 2) Each international series should consist of 3 Tests and 5 T20 games (scrap ODIs). Each series should be 6 weeks in duration. 3) Each Test nation plays 2 home and 2 away series every year - this should consume 24 weeks 4) Create a 16-week window for club cricket. This would still leave 12 weeks time for international cricketers to rest and recuperate.

    4)

  • celeberate on September 18, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    Graeme Smith is definitely one of the leading ambassadors of the game and what he says need to be thought seriously. One of the best ways to revive 5-day and 1-day formats of cricket is to provide result oriented pitches throughout the world. Get rid of the benign pitches where bowlers are always on the receiving end. another concern is the role of toss in deciding matches; which is directly influenced by the nature of the pitch (apart from the climatic conditions of course). probably cricket is the only game where 22 people occupy the playfield for 5 days, watched by 22,000 spectators and at the end of the game no one wins. isnt that a bit strange and boring? the 50 over format could be experimented with ideas like 4 innings (as SRT suggested) or reduced to 40 overs to revive more commercial interest in the game. That would bring back the attention to Test and One day cricket!

  • Chiragsenyork on September 17, 2009, 19:38 GMT

    He is true in some ways actually.Adaptation is the key for survival of anything and ICC has to adapt with current scenario of Cricket and allow cricketers to earn money from other sources as well ,after all they work so hard for the national pride so their interests should also be taken care of.Also, limited cricket preserves it freshness and keep spectators interested , meaningless cricket should be minimized ...even Aus or Ind playing cricket in Bangladesh is merely waste of time.

  • howizzat on September 17, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    I agree with Smith. Reduce work load and imbalace by, 1.Scrap meaningless triseries and quadrangulars. 2.Limit ODI bilateral series to a maximum of 4 ODIs.3.Stipulate at least one full home and one away series of 3 TESTS and 4 ODIs for each nation against each other in FTP. 4.PLAY c'trophy immiadiately after within 90 days of WC and restrict to top 5 nations on a round robin point system.

  • AC.Radix on September 17, 2009, 15:44 GMT

    Smith talks about many ODIs (principally the current seven between Eng and Aus) being only there for money .... "With the greatest respect, the seven ODIs taking place in England at the moment are more for financial benefit than meaningful cricket" then he says this .... "it's obviously such a short career, so you want to make as much money in that time as possible" What is he on? Flintoff will now only be playing "meaningless" cricket... I mean IPL...does anyone care (apart from those with ties to the Indian cities) who wins ... do people even know who Pietersen, Flintoff or Ponting play for in that competition.

  • cricketchand on September 17, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    surely what he is saying is correct. the persons who are controling are just interested in money.india has toured srilanka 3 times in just 12 month.this shows the greed of the administrators.ftp needs a complete revamp or else more players would follw flintoff

  • swartshaun on September 17, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    Come on popcorn, the issue is not about Graeme Smith being scared, he is just expressing his concerns about world cricket (the adminastrators mostly) . I don't know where you get your assumptions from but anyways.... I really think and agree with a lot of you that the only way forward is a strength vs strength system. To see the likes of a Dale Steyn and Sachin battling it out or Ponting vs Mendis on a regular basis would be great.

  • thenightwatchman on September 17, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    In regards to a Test Championship it would be wonderful for the champions who would play for 2 or say 3 years of meaningful test matches but what is the reward in coming say 5th or Lower? And what do you do when your team cannot make the final and the tournament still have a year to go. Are you playing a load of dead rubbers until the top teams play in a final. Is it really that much of saviour? I actaully think T20 will dies a slow death as people will get sick of 50s and 3 wicket hauls being reward.

  • Ahamed_Dammy on September 17, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    Well said jamrith... Its always better to conclude the series when one team loses it... Its always been commented that the side lost is playing for pride to win the remaining matches... Its atrocious.. They have already lost the pride by losing the series.. No scope in saying that or conducting the remaining matches... Just scrap these idiotics...

  • poderdubdubdub on September 17, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    Yes I agree, meaningless cricket also means when some top test playing nations are deprived of playing test cricket while others keep playing innumerous bilateral games. Pakistan were ranked No 2 in test rankings, before they were startved of playing test cricket for a long time, for various reasons. It was ICC's responsibilty then to help countries carry on playing even in the troubled times, unfortunately ICC's only objective is MONEY!!

  • nzpiggy on September 17, 2009, 9:17 GMT

    My solution, I don't like the idea of having worldcup-like tornaments every year, I think that would detract from the WC. Every tour would consist of 3 tests (5 tests in cases such as the ashes), and 3 ODI's. teams play a home and away series against other international teams that are within +/- 3 of their ranking (ranking would be a combined ranking of ODI's and Tests with more weighting on test performance). It would mean middle ranked teams, ENG, NZ, would still play both top and bottom ranked teams, but would mean that top ranked teams like SA and IND would avoid playing BAN and ZIM. As teams win and lose they would move up and down, opening up different opposition. It would mean that scheduling would have to be more dynamic, and agile but would lead to things like NZ vs ENG with the winner to play SL

    Just my thoughts

  • cnkodda on September 17, 2009, 9:16 GMT

    I don't think there's anything wrong with playing 5-7 ODI series. But the authorities(ICC and relevant cricket boards) should take into consideration the fact what your opposition is.You shouldn't be playing 5-7 ODIs with a weak team.I also agree with the fact that priority should be given to the top 5 teams in the rankings.These rankings should be update every six months and according to the rankings future tours should be arranged (for the upcoming 6 months).Not something like the FTP as it is a meaningless idea. As a SL fan i'm dissapointed that Sri Lanka is only playing 3 tests in next year,still they are no.2 in the rankings.

  • SaiBharadwaj on September 17, 2009, 9:08 GMT

    Flintoff is hero because he is playing for England not because he is hero. His financial side will fall down gradually with this freelance career. Pressure on his shoulders will be less & therefore, will take away his interest from the game sooner or later.

  • edged on September 17, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    A test championship would be amazing. It could be a 2 or 3 year long tournament with small conferences played in each country, made up of the current test tours. Right now the rankings are meaningless, but it should be made into a test competition where each team play the others twice at home and away. Then the top two teams could play out a final test match series and the winner could get some prize money. ODI and T20 tours could continue as usual, to coincide with these test matches, and tournaments like the Ashes could be incorporated to be a part of the test championship- like the Bledisloe cup in tri-nations Rugby. This formula would be like a higher level of the county championship, instead of meaningless tours and rankings. ODI's and T20's could continue as usual because they have their world cups as their pinnacles.

  • popcorn on September 17, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    Graeme Smith is running scared! He calls the 7 ODI series between Australia and England meaningless? ! He's watching Australia demolish England and soon after coming to South Africa on a high.Stop trembling, Graeme Smith, we'll let you win against England. They're in your half.

  • BrendanR on September 17, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    Surely a 7 game series more often than not will not produce a down to the wire 3-3 last day decider scenario. 3 or 5 ODI's is plenty. Even at the start of this ENG-AUS series I was getting tired just thinking about 7 matches. Also, the IPL is here to stay for the time being at least. Make room for it in the international calender. It would be easily cut from 59 to 31 games by each team playing each other only once in the round robin instead of twice. This should allow the event to run off in 3 weeks. I know that the franchises would not be too happy with this but it would at least guarantee full strength teams for the duration of the competition. I am a big fan of IPL but its a bit disjointed with big players coming & going for parts of the tournament depending on international commitments.

  • masquerade on September 17, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    Bang on target, we all love this game, (otherwise why would we be even reading this)..but money has become such a big motivator in cricket that everything else comes second. I believe a large chunk of the blame should fall on BCCI though being an Indian myself I am secretly proud that the people calling the shots in cricket are Indians, but if you look at the harm its causing the game we need to really say its enough. A world test championship is an excellent replacement and I totally agree with Smith, it should be adapted ASAP

  • missileh on September 17, 2009, 6:19 GMT

    Back in 1990's, ODI's were at the peak of their popularity. They started loosing the interest of ODI fans in round about the period after 2003. The reason: "A straight forward one! Less & Less number of ONE DAY TOURNAMENTS & a large number of BILATERAL ODI SERIES" During the end of 90's & the beginning of this centuary, there were a lot of thoughts of spicing up Test cricket by playing Test tournaments involving 3 or more teams. Asian Test Championships were such examples of such experiments. Such tournament was really exciting when thought of for the first time. The only problem was the point system which could be improved over a period of time. But then this FTP came and cricket, from being a game of exciting tournaments turned to boring bilateral ODI & Test series. A step forward would have been encouraging tournaments involving not just 3, but 4 or 5 teams even. Bilateral series become boring after 3 or 4 matches. Also even number of Test & ODI's should be banned.

  • jamrith on September 17, 2009, 4:50 GMT

    For starters, we should abandon the practice of playing every ODI bilateral contset to the bitter end be it 5 matches or , horrors, 7 matches. When 1 team is assured of the series, cancel the remaining matches.

  • IanJF on September 17, 2009, 4:25 GMT

    People should just stop and take a cue from legends such as Jayasuriya, Tendulkar... These guys have put "COUNTRY before SELF" for 2 long decades. Flintoff is such an over-rated media figure. All of a sudden the whole world is revolving around Flintoff's decisions. Ok, Smith has a point, maybe some scheduling changes are needed but c'mon there has to be a limit to this - FLINTOFF FEST !!

  • jones on September 17, 2009, 4:13 GMT

    totally agree with patrick clarke!

  • Anil_Koshy on September 17, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    Its silly that every cricketer is talking about too much cricket & 'meaningless' tours', but they are not willing to skip or sit out to give chance to other budding cricketers. There are plenty of talented cricketers in Australia, England, Pakistan, Srilanka, South Africa & India who never get a chance to play international cricket, because only 11 can play. The players should be allowed to form assocations through which they can decide the maximum number of matches they can play. The should be 50-60 one day internationals. Every country should maintain a pool of 30 players who should be rotated. This can help in prolonging their career and also enable every talented players to play international cricket.

  • TheGreatHypnotist on September 17, 2009, 2:47 GMT

    As a SL fan I am sad that Sri Lanka #2 in test ranking played very minimum # of test since 2007 and the few they played most against weak opponents. SL are no longer poor outfit in foreign soils, with a great batting line up, world class spin attack and balanced pace attack they can handle any team both home and away. At least top 5 test nations must play minimum of 3-test series and 3-ODIs. Playing 5 or 7 bilateral ODI's are becoming useless and worthless. Always good to have less competitive matches than more one-sided matches.

  • shim on September 17, 2009, 2:25 GMT

    I agree. Too many meaning less games. I think 3 test matches, 3 ODI and one T-20 should be the limit. Give the players a month's braek to be with their families. Also, Sachin's idea od splitting the 50 over games to two 25 overs is great and should be tried.

    IPL's 59 games should be cut down to size like 15 to 30 games or so with a round robin of twice each team, quaterfinal, semi and finals.

    ICC should also consider separating the top five teams from the rest and set up a means of promoting/demoting the teams from one division to another in Test and ODI games.

  • vswami on September 17, 2009, 2:14 GMT

    I cant understand why Smith is blaming ICC. They did not force ECB and the Australian cricket board to agree to a 7 match series, and yet I find no cricketer pointing fingers at the particular boards. Under the current ICC constitution, bilateral series are arranged between the two boards concerned and ICC merely facilitates the process. I certainly remember the 7 match India- England ODI series a couple of years back, which went into the 7th game 3-3 and with everything to play for in the last game. The matches were intense and of great quality and the grounds were full for all the games. The problem with the current series is that England is totally uncompetitive and going through the motions with the excitement of a funeral. You need two teams that can hurt each other to make a game interesting. In this series, England is getting KO'ed with monotonous regularity and the format is getting blamed for it.

  • Pteris on September 17, 2009, 1:41 GMT

    Meaningless has also to be applied to two test series - the minimum should be three. The series should be decisive. 1-1 with a draw is OK but 1-1 but with no decisive third match removes a lot of supporter interest in our sport. ODI series should be either three or five games. Seven is excessive especially when well spread out. Three games can be safely played in 5 days and 5 in 9 that should be enough. The long series spread out don't allow for rest periods for players and take away supporter interest. Personally, I would eliminate International 20twenty games outside of a condensed periodic world tournament amongst the top eight teams in the ODI rankings. N.B. I have played, scored. umpired and watched cricket for over 40 years.

  • Rooboy on September 17, 2009, 1:06 GMT

    I'm a hardcore Aussie circket fan, and while it's good to see Australia dominating the current one day series, it's hard even for someone like me to assign much meaning to these matches. Even worse is the fact that Bangladesh is allowed to play international cricket against top level countries. These matches truly are meaningless and are causing statistics to be distorting to the point where it is meaningless (there's that word again ...) to compare averages etc even from 20 years ago. Bangladesh's inclusion is a joke and should be reconsidered, but of course since the BCCI are guaranteed their vote, it will never happen, more meaningless contests will occur, and cricket is worse off for it.

  • tigers_eye on September 16, 2009, 22:49 GMT

    Dear Patrick_Clarke, You have an excellent idea. I love that promotion and relegation aspect you have. Now the question is what would happen if England/India gets relegated?

  • Kirk-at-Lords on September 16, 2009, 22:40 GMT

    Patrick_Clarke's proposal for an ODI League seems sound on face value, and should be explored in the details. If combined with revamped ODI playing conditions -- two innings a side of 20 or 25 overs each (Tendulkar & Srinath), more imaginative use of the coin toss or ODI rankings to determine batting/bowling order (including experimenting with allowing the option of one side to choose to bat or bowl in consecutive innings) -- this could promote a form of ODI that could fit snugly between quick cricket (T20) and the traditional long form of Tests. The best response from the ICC to Graeme Smith's views would be to call a Cricket Convention to revamp the laws and conditions, and settle all other outstanding matters related to governance and finance. Just as the fledgling USA did in the 1780s, it is time for the cricketing world to decide whether it will reform itself and go forward to new heights, or allow itself to suffer a steady descent into the depths of weakness and confusion.

  • kingofspain on September 16, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    I would scrap ODI's and just have 20/20 tournaments and leagues along with tests. I actually hate 20/20 but some people seem to like it. Anyway, I think the IPL should worry about being able to host the tournament in India before it sets its sights on conquering the world.

  • Patrick_Clarke on September 16, 2009, 21:11 GMT

    Bilateral ODIs are meaningless, for instance who remembers the outcome of any of the ODIs played in England in 2005 prior to the Ashes Series? They should be replaced with an annual ODI league comprising two divisions of six with promotion and relegation. Each side plays the other in its division twice home and away, a total of ten home and ten away matches a year - more than enough for everyone. No other ODI should have official recognition other than the World Cup, which could be held every three years instead of four years so that each of the five regional blocs would have a World Cup every 15 years instead of every 18 years as at present. Windows could be put in the international schedule for this World ODI League, maybe 3 weeks each February, May/June & October. For those worried about losing income by being in Division 2, "parachute payments" for relegated countries could be introduced similar to that in English Premier League football for teams dropping to the Championship.

  • 2.14istherunrate on September 16, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    This is a good point when you consider how far people have to travel during tours and to and fro. I think some of the blame for horrendous injuries must be to do with the flying, and the packed schedules,without proper warm ups. Smith mentions ODI series between Eng and Aus,which is 7 matches.After the totally necessary and rivetting nature of the Ashes series the ODI series has been about as thrilling watching paint dry. Surely for every reason a 5 match contest is enough in any ODI series.I doubt I am alone in remembering the results of Test series long long after the result of the ODI series has been forgotten.And do people really want to see games against Bangladesh after 10 ignominious years and a couple of dodgey wins? Surely it is time to let Ireland or Kenya have their spot.Fiinally I think that having all the nations meeting for a competition for more than 1 WC,1 ChampT,and 1 20/20 WC/4yrs is really diluting the otherwise fascinating potential for spectacle of world events.

  • rannad on September 16, 2009, 20:50 GMT

    Freddie and all other pro cricketers have to realise that they haven't come to be playing this level of cricket on their own and just like that. Today they are in a position where they can almost demand and dictate terms to the boards. They seem to forget that these are the very boards which supported them all through their career, provided them enough opportunities to show and shine and gave them the best of training. Who would know anything about a Fred or a Sachin or a Murali when they all just started their careers? Boards must prevent this kind of ripping them off but be jst and fair.

  • chakay-pay-chaka on September 16, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    The problem is not with ODI's but the number played in series. Isnt it about time that both Test cricket & ODI series were streamlined? Whats wrong with having 03 test matches & 5 ODI's (or 03 ODI's) per series? Single Test or even 02 Test match series are meaningless with a very poor chance of a visiting team making an impact. Similarly, 7 ODI's simply kill the game.

  • techmine on September 16, 2009, 20:44 GMT

    Yes, no more useless series. A 7 match ODI series? Are you kidding me? Best of 3 is sufficient and if there was a lot of time then a 5 match 20-20 would have been a better choice. ODI is dying and we all know that. Let it die. I don't care. People like 20-20 these days so give them what they want. Break the monotony of bi-lateral and international fixtures. IPL like tournaments are better because players from all countries play at one point of time. That way audience around the world enjoy at the same time. And frankly there is too much cricket going on. Give time for players to relax or let smaller tournaments like college or semi-professional cricket bloom. They also deserve attention.

  • SeenuSubbu on September 16, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    It's funny these guys take it on to themselves to decide what is meaningful and what isn't . International cricketers have never had a better time than now. Gone are the days when we waited for years to have a competitve tournament. Gone are the days when young talent had to wait on the sidelines for eternity, wasting the best part of their lives. Gone are the days when you wanted to watch the teams you really wanted to watch play and had to kill another few years in waiting. Sure, there is fatigue, both for players and fans. But there is always some one waiting behind you for their turn! Tired? Walk away!

  • JimLaker on September 16, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    Its easy to call all other games meaningless when you're the captain of South Africa. It's also expected of you to say that playing fr your country is the best. I think the 600 000 USD is the great part about this meaningless IPL. Players get tired out because squads only include 14 to 20 players. Baseball players play in excess of 150 games a season. Almost daily. Hence they make the big bucks only the IPL is offering. Cricket at the highest level only allows minimum participation in terms of numbers. India Billions of people cheer on only 11, while Ireland or New Zealand field in the same league with no noumbers. I love International cricket because its the best, but will accept any teams that play at such a high level. The game must grow out of the grip of national boards into a situation where the most players play the best cricket.

  • chintumani on September 16, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    What a crazy speech by SA' captain. May be he would select Rajasthan Royals as his country (declining SA) .The point about Flintoff, I totally agree. But whats wrong with the 7-match ODI series. Think if it was 3-3 in the series, how wud have the expectations been for the last match. Because of some lacklustre performance by the English team, doesnt make sense to rule out the 7 match ODI series. IPL will have its gradual death in few years as the only thing that lasts is class(ODIs and tests) not commercialism. If you still dont agree, wait for the 7 ODIs between Aus and India and the crowd and fan following and reporters behind it . Then it might be evident .

  • r1m2 on September 16, 2009, 19:33 GMT

    Smith is absolutely spot on. What's going on in Eng right now, is not cricket. It's part of the long process of killing ODIs. I want to know about a single hard working person, who'll care about the last two matches. I stopped caring after the 4th. I think these bilateral ODI series should be turned into best-of with immediate effect. This series in England should've stopped at the 4th match. No point after that. It would've been interesting if IPL was going on right now. I'd consider the cricketers idiots, if they prefer playing meaningless matches for a fraction of the money when IPL is taking place. Because they'll not be making decisions in their best interest. Another solution, is to award ODI status only to matches in the best-of phase. I.e. in the Eng Aus series, the first 4 matches could have ODI status, the rest are List-A, and can be skipped by top players. But then the board makes less money. It's okay for the board to go for money, but not okay for players. Double standards

  • brianbrain on September 16, 2009, 19:00 GMT

    I am sick of hearing cricketers moaning about the amount of cricket iknow plenty of people who play Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday night,work all week and have lots to worry about in these troubled times. Tell you what lets have 1 match test series but only pay players the average hourly rate perhaps they;ll realise how lucky they are,fundamentally players are listening to the wrong people(managers/agents) and becoming greedy and self obsessed it's not football and although the number 1 game in India most of the world has no interest. If time away is a problem don;t tour ,risk a young hungry cricketer to take your place both internationally and your IPL spot its a risk few will take.If the career is so finite i would have thought you;d want to play as much as possible. We played our last game of the season and watched a young man hit 98 off of us in70 odd balls including 5 sixes,it was as entertaining as anything i've seen in an ODI in the last fortnight and it was free.

  • Tanthanathan on September 16, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Hats off to Graeme Smith - he has stood up for what is right and spoken his mind. The ongoing 7 match Eng-Aus ODI series is complete mindless agonizing sport-degrading nonsense. Sure Lalit Modi & co have brought in a lot of money via the IPL but they are also responsible for ODI overkill - take for instance their insistence to have a 7 match India-Aus ODI series every 2 years. Along with doing away with the FTP (where the most commonly occurring fixtures seem to be SL vs Zim and SL vs Bangladesh - it's not as if everyone is playing everyone an equal number of times - so it doesn't make sense as it is), the ICC should, for starters, definitely bring in a 2-tier Test Championship and it should regulate ODIs before the sport of ODI dies as a result of Lalit Modi, BCCI, ECB's' short-term focus on quick money by scheduling gazillion ODIs in a series. What I mean by this is doing away with 7 match series - let all bi-lateral ODI series be no more than 5 ODIs (I'd like to see just 3, max)

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  • Tanthanathan on September 16, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Hats off to Graeme Smith - he has stood up for what is right and spoken his mind. The ongoing 7 match Eng-Aus ODI series is complete mindless agonizing sport-degrading nonsense. Sure Lalit Modi & co have brought in a lot of money via the IPL but they are also responsible for ODI overkill - take for instance their insistence to have a 7 match India-Aus ODI series every 2 years. Along with doing away with the FTP (where the most commonly occurring fixtures seem to be SL vs Zim and SL vs Bangladesh - it's not as if everyone is playing everyone an equal number of times - so it doesn't make sense as it is), the ICC should, for starters, definitely bring in a 2-tier Test Championship and it should regulate ODIs before the sport of ODI dies as a result of Lalit Modi, BCCI, ECB's' short-term focus on quick money by scheduling gazillion ODIs in a series. What I mean by this is doing away with 7 match series - let all bi-lateral ODI series be no more than 5 ODIs (I'd like to see just 3, max)

  • brianbrain on September 16, 2009, 19:00 GMT

    I am sick of hearing cricketers moaning about the amount of cricket iknow plenty of people who play Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday night,work all week and have lots to worry about in these troubled times. Tell you what lets have 1 match test series but only pay players the average hourly rate perhaps they;ll realise how lucky they are,fundamentally players are listening to the wrong people(managers/agents) and becoming greedy and self obsessed it's not football and although the number 1 game in India most of the world has no interest. If time away is a problem don;t tour ,risk a young hungry cricketer to take your place both internationally and your IPL spot its a risk few will take.If the career is so finite i would have thought you;d want to play as much as possible. We played our last game of the season and watched a young man hit 98 off of us in70 odd balls including 5 sixes,it was as entertaining as anything i've seen in an ODI in the last fortnight and it was free.

  • r1m2 on September 16, 2009, 19:33 GMT

    Smith is absolutely spot on. What's going on in Eng right now, is not cricket. It's part of the long process of killing ODIs. I want to know about a single hard working person, who'll care about the last two matches. I stopped caring after the 4th. I think these bilateral ODI series should be turned into best-of with immediate effect. This series in England should've stopped at the 4th match. No point after that. It would've been interesting if IPL was going on right now. I'd consider the cricketers idiots, if they prefer playing meaningless matches for a fraction of the money when IPL is taking place. Because they'll not be making decisions in their best interest. Another solution, is to award ODI status only to matches in the best-of phase. I.e. in the Eng Aus series, the first 4 matches could have ODI status, the rest are List-A, and can be skipped by top players. But then the board makes less money. It's okay for the board to go for money, but not okay for players. Double standards

  • chintumani on September 16, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    What a crazy speech by SA' captain. May be he would select Rajasthan Royals as his country (declining SA) .The point about Flintoff, I totally agree. But whats wrong with the 7-match ODI series. Think if it was 3-3 in the series, how wud have the expectations been for the last match. Because of some lacklustre performance by the English team, doesnt make sense to rule out the 7 match ODI series. IPL will have its gradual death in few years as the only thing that lasts is class(ODIs and tests) not commercialism. If you still dont agree, wait for the 7 ODIs between Aus and India and the crowd and fan following and reporters behind it . Then it might be evident .

  • JimLaker on September 16, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    Its easy to call all other games meaningless when you're the captain of South Africa. It's also expected of you to say that playing fr your country is the best. I think the 600 000 USD is the great part about this meaningless IPL. Players get tired out because squads only include 14 to 20 players. Baseball players play in excess of 150 games a season. Almost daily. Hence they make the big bucks only the IPL is offering. Cricket at the highest level only allows minimum participation in terms of numbers. India Billions of people cheer on only 11, while Ireland or New Zealand field in the same league with no noumbers. I love International cricket because its the best, but will accept any teams that play at such a high level. The game must grow out of the grip of national boards into a situation where the most players play the best cricket.

  • SeenuSubbu on September 16, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    It's funny these guys take it on to themselves to decide what is meaningful and what isn't . International cricketers have never had a better time than now. Gone are the days when we waited for years to have a competitve tournament. Gone are the days when young talent had to wait on the sidelines for eternity, wasting the best part of their lives. Gone are the days when you wanted to watch the teams you really wanted to watch play and had to kill another few years in waiting. Sure, there is fatigue, both for players and fans. But there is always some one waiting behind you for their turn! Tired? Walk away!

  • techmine on September 16, 2009, 20:44 GMT

    Yes, no more useless series. A 7 match ODI series? Are you kidding me? Best of 3 is sufficient and if there was a lot of time then a 5 match 20-20 would have been a better choice. ODI is dying and we all know that. Let it die. I don't care. People like 20-20 these days so give them what they want. Break the monotony of bi-lateral and international fixtures. IPL like tournaments are better because players from all countries play at one point of time. That way audience around the world enjoy at the same time. And frankly there is too much cricket going on. Give time for players to relax or let smaller tournaments like college or semi-professional cricket bloom. They also deserve attention.

  • chakay-pay-chaka on September 16, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    The problem is not with ODI's but the number played in series. Isnt it about time that both Test cricket & ODI series were streamlined? Whats wrong with having 03 test matches & 5 ODI's (or 03 ODI's) per series? Single Test or even 02 Test match series are meaningless with a very poor chance of a visiting team making an impact. Similarly, 7 ODI's simply kill the game.

  • rannad on September 16, 2009, 20:50 GMT

    Freddie and all other pro cricketers have to realise that they haven't come to be playing this level of cricket on their own and just like that. Today they are in a position where they can almost demand and dictate terms to the boards. They seem to forget that these are the very boards which supported them all through their career, provided them enough opportunities to show and shine and gave them the best of training. Who would know anything about a Fred or a Sachin or a Murali when they all just started their careers? Boards must prevent this kind of ripping them off but be jst and fair.

  • 2.14istherunrate on September 16, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    This is a good point when you consider how far people have to travel during tours and to and fro. I think some of the blame for horrendous injuries must be to do with the flying, and the packed schedules,without proper warm ups. Smith mentions ODI series between Eng and Aus,which is 7 matches.After the totally necessary and rivetting nature of the Ashes series the ODI series has been about as thrilling watching paint dry. Surely for every reason a 5 match contest is enough in any ODI series.I doubt I am alone in remembering the results of Test series long long after the result of the ODI series has been forgotten.And do people really want to see games against Bangladesh after 10 ignominious years and a couple of dodgey wins? Surely it is time to let Ireland or Kenya have their spot.Fiinally I think that having all the nations meeting for a competition for more than 1 WC,1 ChampT,and 1 20/20 WC/4yrs is really diluting the otherwise fascinating potential for spectacle of world events.