October 1, 2007

Fifty more reasons to embrace change

The 50-over game falls comprehensively between two stools, and is becoming fast irrelevant
43



Paul Collingwood: leader of a sinking ship, in a sinking format of the game © Getty Images

England is the country where Twenty20 cricket originated, and if today's apology of a performance in Dambulla is anything to go by, they have already decided that there's no point in expending any energy on the longer version of the shorter game. Their hopeless 119-run drubbing in the first ODI against Sri Lanka provided yet more grist to the mill of those, like myself, who believe that 50-over cricket has run its long and not-incredibly-distinguished course.

Aside from your average Formula One Grand Prix, there can be no sport in which the winners and losers of any given contest are so blatantly telegraphed so far from the chequered flag. And yet, even when Lewis Hamilton is cruising at top speed, there is always the threat of a last-lap blow-out to keep the contest on artificial tenterhooks. At 132 for 6 in the 30th over, however, chasing a dim-and-distant 270, it's time to avert the gaze - even though there may still be enough time remaining in the contest to complete 50 laps at Spa Francochamps.

For the record, England are also useless at 20-over cricket, so this is not a partisan rant. They mustered a solitary victory in the recent tournament in South Africa (and that, let's not forget, came against Zimbabwe). They were routed by Australia and India, and blew promising positions in two of their key games against New Zealand and South Africa. Their ineptitude, or that of any of their fellow international no-hopers, is not the issue in this argument. It's all about the interest engendered by the contests.

The ICC World Twenty20 was not a flawless tournament - its very speed was dizzying, especially with three matches a day in the group stages, and the surfeit of slogging on display brought a number of critics out in a po-faced rash. Not since the days of WG Grace has the phrase: "It's not cricket!" been uttered with such pomposity (although this time, in a neat historical twist, the chief nay-sayers were Australians rather than establishment Englishmen).

But there's no denying the spectacle provided in that heady fortnight. Most of the games were thrilling to watch; two in particular being the final and Australia's shocking loss to Zimbabwe. But best of all was the speed of the no-contests - in particular Kenya's two pitiful efforts against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Against New Zealand, the match was as good as over after 11 balls when Kenya slumped to 1 for 4. Twenty-four overs later, it was over. Done and dusted inside two hours, much like a 9-0 scoreline in football. Now that's entertainment, regardless of the one-sidedness.

The debate will continue to rage about the merit of Twenty20 cricket. Yes, it may well be cricket from ADHD-sufferers, but why should that be a criticism? That was exactly what 50- (or 60-) over cricket was designed for in the 1960s and 1970s, in the days when Test and county cricket was so stultifyingly slow that any change was for the better.

These days Tests are doing just fine - in terms of sporting spectacles, the 2005 Ashes has not been bettered since the start of the millennium. It's the 50-over game that has to change. We can never again be subjected to a World Cup as appalling as the Caribbean campaign earlier this year. The 2003 tournament was scarcely any better and the sporting public will simply not allow a third installment. Besides, conventional ODIs have no redeeming features that cannot be better expressed in either Tests or Twenty20 cricket.

Take, for instance, the best match of recent months - Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad's epic run-chase at Old Trafford in August. The only reason that game was such a cliffhanger is that England had already bowled India out for 212 and so, at 114 for 7 when the pair came together, they needed to bat at less than five runs an over to win. In other words, they had landed themselves a Test-match scenario, in which they could play every ball on its merits, put a price on their wickets, and crank up the tension with every run or dot-ball they accrued.

The 50-over game falls comprehensively between two stools. It's neither one thing nor the other, it rewards no-one but the very, very best - ie the unassailable Australians, who have not lost a single World Cup fixture in eight years - and it virtually eliminates the upset by doing away with, first the get-out clause of the draw (Test cricket's single most wonderful feature), and secondly by stringing each game out over far, far too long. If FA Cup fixtures lasted six-and-a-half hours like your average ODI, there's no way that Hereford Utd would ever have held on against Newcastle, or Bournemouth against Man U. Class always wins out in the end. But where on earth is the fun in that?

The bottom line is that 50-over cricket is boring (I mean, truly boring, even to those who love the sport, not "bo-oring" in the way that non-believers and toddlers dismiss it). Sadly - regardless of how good, bad or indifferent the participating teams happen to be - that has been the case for years.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Julz on October 4, 2007, 23:16 GMT

    IMHO, the more Twenty-20 will be sought to invade cricket, the more it will tarnish the true spirit of the game. As many has commented, T20 is starting to resemble Baseball. I have a feeling that the pursuit of T20 is to tap into the American market - who are more familiar with Baseball. At the end of the day its all about money. In 10 years time we may see an amalgamation of Baseball and Cricket. I would hate to see such a day.

  • nuru76 on October 3, 2007, 18:38 GMT

    Mr. Miller 20-20 cricket is a by-product of the 50 over game, while it may entertain us now would you please tell us 8-10 years down the line when the current international bowlers will all be gone, WHO will line up to bowl to get hammered all around in 20-20?What motivation will the upcoming young cricketers have to take up bowling in the 20-20 format?And where did you get this notion that the 2003 WC was as appalling as the 2007 WC?Seems that any World Cup where english don't perform well is appalling to you!Australians have put a benchmark for others to follow and a standard to emulate so instead rather than cringe from their achievements and jumping on the 20-20 bandwagon to escape the truth...learn from them.And can you believe a cricket match reduced to 5-5 over affair or worse a bowlout to decide a result!!!!Mr.Miller Buy a lottery or a lotto ticket!

  • Rooboy on October 3, 2007, 3:51 GMT

    If we're going to embrace a game where the best side quite often won't win, and where luck is a greater factor in the outcome than skill, why don't we just toss a coin and leave the contest at that? And the comment that this article is not based on england's form in the ODI arena is very dubious at best. The comment '50-over cricket is boring (I mean, truly boring, even to those who love the sport, ' is just plain wrong. Some cricket lovers have a concentration span exceeding 2 hours. I cannot believe the author would have the audacity to speak for all others who love the sport. And now even the 2003 World Cup was almost as 'appalling' as the 2007 version? Give me a break! I am sure that we would not be reading comments like this from this writer were england not hopelessly uncompetitive at the game.

  • valvolux on October 2, 2007, 23:20 GMT

    Jeez, I'd have to agree this is just another misguided piece of angry English journalism. Please quit mentioning the ashes in 2005 - that sort of series is just as rare as the 800+ run bonanza between Australian and SA. There are a heck of a lot of lop-sided test series (read 2006 ashes) and my goodness there were some boring 20/20 matches that you could walk away from within 5-10 overs of an innings. Where's the spectacle in that? I agree whole heartedly that 7 ODI series should be reduced and formats like the VB and Natwest series are stale, but they should be reduced in length, not replaced. The 2 test series should be made 3, the 4 test series be made 5...whatever, just get rid of this 20/20 garbage and leave it for the amatuers where it belongs. I liken the English love affair with 20/20 to their love affair with football - it is a game which gives the worse team a chance. That is the difference between AU and ENG and why we hate football-we think the best man to win.

  • Faraaz_Y on October 2, 2007, 22:15 GMT

    If ODI cricket is "neither one thing nor the other", then you must realize that getting rid of it will create two extreme forms of the game. On one hand you have a 5 day match and on the other you have a 3 hour match. This would be fine except young cricketers will have no way of proving themselves on an international level that shows they would be suitable for the test team. And to just attempt to throw new cricketers right into test cricket with only T20 cricket as their sole international experience would be ridiculous. There would be no transition from one to the other and as Pakistan and India have shown that T20 creates some bad habits that hurt them in the tests and ODI's respectively.

    ODI's, while not always nail-biters, are still fun to watch and provide some sort of story and intrigue into the game. Getting rid of ODI's will create a huge divide in terms of cricketing skill and will significantly reduce the quality of tests, leaving only a smattering of unsatisfying T20s.

  • TamilIndian on October 2, 2007, 19:30 GMT

    100% agree. I have been following cricket for a very long time and interesting ODI games are far and few.. Atleast as far as I have seen. The current Australian dominance has made things even worse. One would say no one asked other teams not to try and be like Australia. Well they have been trying for a decade but no one has come anywhere near. The viewing public is turning away from the ODI. So I think economies will take its natural course and ODI will be done away with unless ofcourse there is a change. I saw one very interesting suggestion by Buchanan - 2 innings in 50 overs.

  • gochi on October 2, 2007, 15:04 GMT

    fundamentally maybe its time the one day internationals need some sort of changes to infuse more interest in them. This is critical due to the instant success and excitement that was created by 20-20 World cup. Maybe its time to trim the one day international as a 40 overs event, with potentially 16 over of power play, 10 over at the start and one slot 3 overs has to be a power play only after say the 20th over ...and maybe evolve from there on

  • smashing_sidd on October 2, 2007, 14:44 GMT

    Hi Andrew,

    I beg to differ on the points that you have presented. It is true that after such a successful T20 WC, and all the hysteria surrounding the Indian victory, I did find the 1st ODI between India and Australia to be crawling at a snail's pace, but the 2nd one day today has removed my doubts. The way Australia came back after the initial hiccup was quite amazing, and one that can only be observed in a 50 over ODI game.20-20 hardly offers any time to breathe and batsmen can go about smashing bowlers, becuase they know that even if they get out trying to play a shot that is not on, someone else would come and continue in the same vein, and that I feel is not cricket. Cricket is all about temperament, and level headed play according to the situation that a team is in, which T20 surely doesn't allow.It is fine as long as it is played once in a while to pull in new people, but an overdose of it will surely take away the the 'real' cricket away from all the genuine cricket lovers.

  • panduk on October 2, 2007, 14:09 GMT

    few years on what can we expect miller to say ."surely 6side matches r better than 20-20"simply coz england can't shine even in 20-20s.they may succeed in chilly english conditions,but asia is specially too hot to handle,but anyway english crcketeres should be commended 4 their brave display except last hour of 1st odi amidst hot n humid conditions .i wish they'll put up better display future without negative frame of mind like, miller

  • Chinae on October 2, 2007, 14:01 GMT

    I totally agree with Mr. Miller. 50 overs cricket has run its course and to continue playing it to generate revenue is foolish. 20 overs cricket will definitely be able to generate enough revenue to keep the sport in good health plus it will attract bigger market than 50 overs cricket. I watch Test cricket and Twenty20s with totally different mindset. 50 overs cricket is neither here nor there as the writer correctly says. I lost interest in 50 overs cricket after the 2003 world cup even without being exposed to Twenty20s.

  • Julz on October 4, 2007, 23:16 GMT

    IMHO, the more Twenty-20 will be sought to invade cricket, the more it will tarnish the true spirit of the game. As many has commented, T20 is starting to resemble Baseball. I have a feeling that the pursuit of T20 is to tap into the American market - who are more familiar with Baseball. At the end of the day its all about money. In 10 years time we may see an amalgamation of Baseball and Cricket. I would hate to see such a day.

  • nuru76 on October 3, 2007, 18:38 GMT

    Mr. Miller 20-20 cricket is a by-product of the 50 over game, while it may entertain us now would you please tell us 8-10 years down the line when the current international bowlers will all be gone, WHO will line up to bowl to get hammered all around in 20-20?What motivation will the upcoming young cricketers have to take up bowling in the 20-20 format?And where did you get this notion that the 2003 WC was as appalling as the 2007 WC?Seems that any World Cup where english don't perform well is appalling to you!Australians have put a benchmark for others to follow and a standard to emulate so instead rather than cringe from their achievements and jumping on the 20-20 bandwagon to escape the truth...learn from them.And can you believe a cricket match reduced to 5-5 over affair or worse a bowlout to decide a result!!!!Mr.Miller Buy a lottery or a lotto ticket!

  • Rooboy on October 3, 2007, 3:51 GMT

    If we're going to embrace a game where the best side quite often won't win, and where luck is a greater factor in the outcome than skill, why don't we just toss a coin and leave the contest at that? And the comment that this article is not based on england's form in the ODI arena is very dubious at best. The comment '50-over cricket is boring (I mean, truly boring, even to those who love the sport, ' is just plain wrong. Some cricket lovers have a concentration span exceeding 2 hours. I cannot believe the author would have the audacity to speak for all others who love the sport. And now even the 2003 World Cup was almost as 'appalling' as the 2007 version? Give me a break! I am sure that we would not be reading comments like this from this writer were england not hopelessly uncompetitive at the game.

  • valvolux on October 2, 2007, 23:20 GMT

    Jeez, I'd have to agree this is just another misguided piece of angry English journalism. Please quit mentioning the ashes in 2005 - that sort of series is just as rare as the 800+ run bonanza between Australian and SA. There are a heck of a lot of lop-sided test series (read 2006 ashes) and my goodness there were some boring 20/20 matches that you could walk away from within 5-10 overs of an innings. Where's the spectacle in that? I agree whole heartedly that 7 ODI series should be reduced and formats like the VB and Natwest series are stale, but they should be reduced in length, not replaced. The 2 test series should be made 3, the 4 test series be made 5...whatever, just get rid of this 20/20 garbage and leave it for the amatuers where it belongs. I liken the English love affair with 20/20 to their love affair with football - it is a game which gives the worse team a chance. That is the difference between AU and ENG and why we hate football-we think the best man to win.

  • Faraaz_Y on October 2, 2007, 22:15 GMT

    If ODI cricket is "neither one thing nor the other", then you must realize that getting rid of it will create two extreme forms of the game. On one hand you have a 5 day match and on the other you have a 3 hour match. This would be fine except young cricketers will have no way of proving themselves on an international level that shows they would be suitable for the test team. And to just attempt to throw new cricketers right into test cricket with only T20 cricket as their sole international experience would be ridiculous. There would be no transition from one to the other and as Pakistan and India have shown that T20 creates some bad habits that hurt them in the tests and ODI's respectively.

    ODI's, while not always nail-biters, are still fun to watch and provide some sort of story and intrigue into the game. Getting rid of ODI's will create a huge divide in terms of cricketing skill and will significantly reduce the quality of tests, leaving only a smattering of unsatisfying T20s.

  • TamilIndian on October 2, 2007, 19:30 GMT

    100% agree. I have been following cricket for a very long time and interesting ODI games are far and few.. Atleast as far as I have seen. The current Australian dominance has made things even worse. One would say no one asked other teams not to try and be like Australia. Well they have been trying for a decade but no one has come anywhere near. The viewing public is turning away from the ODI. So I think economies will take its natural course and ODI will be done away with unless ofcourse there is a change. I saw one very interesting suggestion by Buchanan - 2 innings in 50 overs.

  • gochi on October 2, 2007, 15:04 GMT

    fundamentally maybe its time the one day internationals need some sort of changes to infuse more interest in them. This is critical due to the instant success and excitement that was created by 20-20 World cup. Maybe its time to trim the one day international as a 40 overs event, with potentially 16 over of power play, 10 over at the start and one slot 3 overs has to be a power play only after say the 20th over ...and maybe evolve from there on

  • smashing_sidd on October 2, 2007, 14:44 GMT

    Hi Andrew,

    I beg to differ on the points that you have presented. It is true that after such a successful T20 WC, and all the hysteria surrounding the Indian victory, I did find the 1st ODI between India and Australia to be crawling at a snail's pace, but the 2nd one day today has removed my doubts. The way Australia came back after the initial hiccup was quite amazing, and one that can only be observed in a 50 over ODI game.20-20 hardly offers any time to breathe and batsmen can go about smashing bowlers, becuase they know that even if they get out trying to play a shot that is not on, someone else would come and continue in the same vein, and that I feel is not cricket. Cricket is all about temperament, and level headed play according to the situation that a team is in, which T20 surely doesn't allow.It is fine as long as it is played once in a while to pull in new people, but an overdose of it will surely take away the the 'real' cricket away from all the genuine cricket lovers.

  • panduk on October 2, 2007, 14:09 GMT

    few years on what can we expect miller to say ."surely 6side matches r better than 20-20"simply coz england can't shine even in 20-20s.they may succeed in chilly english conditions,but asia is specially too hot to handle,but anyway english crcketeres should be commended 4 their brave display except last hour of 1st odi amidst hot n humid conditions .i wish they'll put up better display future without negative frame of mind like, miller

  • Chinae on October 2, 2007, 14:01 GMT

    I totally agree with Mr. Miller. 50 overs cricket has run its course and to continue playing it to generate revenue is foolish. 20 overs cricket will definitely be able to generate enough revenue to keep the sport in good health plus it will attract bigger market than 50 overs cricket. I watch Test cricket and Twenty20s with totally different mindset. 50 overs cricket is neither here nor there as the writer correctly says. I lost interest in 50 overs cricket after the 2003 world cup even without being exposed to Twenty20s.

  • Kilat on October 2, 2007, 12:45 GMT

    Simply because one team played much better than the other is surely not a reason to abandon the format! We can't always have nail-biting matches like India-Pakistan in the Twenty20 and in Pakistan in 2003-04. Under Mr Miller's logic, any format in which one team can drub the other should be removed; therefore, the only solutions would be either to remove all the good teams or the format that allows their victories. And that would not be cricket.

    It is in part Twenty20 that makes ODIs one-sided, because batsmen are losing any grasp on that virtue called patience. They become bored with the basics, with ticking the scoreboard over, getting the ball back to the keeper in the field, and get overcome with the desire to become flashy. This is why Bangladesh has struggled in Test cricket; it is why disciplined teams dominate ODIs - not because of the failings of the format. The game is bigger than any player, and because a player does poorly does not justify abandoning the game.

  • jambul on October 2, 2007, 12:34 GMT

    I have to disagree with the coments above as i believe that 20/20 is a bit of fun its not a real contest. He says that "at 132 for 6 chasing 270" there is no contest this may be true but in a 20/20 1 bad over can cost you the game. 50/50 is the best OD format as it gives teams a chance to rebuild when in trouble. For example Australia were 8-2 today and managed 306-6 at the end. It should never reach a no-contest in a 50/50 but its teams like England where all the players think about their strike rate and not the innings as a whole that cause no-contests. If these lower level teams learnt to rain them selves in and rebuild instead of paniking they would be able to compete with the top teams like Australia & Sri Lanka. 20/20 is a quick way to make money but i would say that it may be the only way to incourage cricket in countries like America. I also think value for money is better in the 50/50 because the mimium game length is 20/20 (rain delayed ect) but in a 20/20 it can be 6/6.

  • lee_vfr on October 2, 2007, 12:29 GMT

    i have to say i'm extremely tired of every cricket fan from around the world (especially the sub-continent, with some frankly tiresome examples of nationalism) assuming that every british cricket writer's opinions on the game are informed solely by the form of the england team. There is more to it than that, i'll watch cricket with any two teams involved whether its a local club team or australia vs india and fifty over games at international level are frequently very, very boring. The article makes all the points necessary about the 50 over game, i'm not going over them again.

  • robertsm on October 2, 2007, 9:01 GMT

    Andrew clearly states that recent England performances are not the reason for his criticism of ODIs - he refers to them simply as examples. So to claim that his argument is partisan is nonsense. Nearly everyone (except those who design the fixtures) agrees that there is too much international cricket. If something has to give, then surely it must be ODIs. I do not think that they should be phased out completely, but the disproportionate importance currently attached to them is totally unwarranted. I think an average English summer, for example should be based on a substantial test series, then perhaps 3 ODIs (not 5, certainly not 7!) and then a big 20-20 bonanza over a few days at the end, to finish on a fun, and lucrative note.

  • JohnAndrew on October 2, 2007, 8:51 GMT

    This tallies exactly with my own long held views of the one-day game. Thank you for putting it into words so clearly.

  • Night_Rider on October 2, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    Good article Andrew, but I do not understand why there is all this backlash against ODI cricket after the T20 World Cup. There will be scope for all the three forms of the game, but with the IPL and the ICL, there will be more Twenty20 cricket played.

    Further, England are poor in all forms of the game, so it is better to leave England out while debating about international cricket. British media can talk about the Ashes victory for the next 50 years as they talk about the football world cup victory many decades ago. England's performance or non-performance should not be a basis for discussion about international cricket.

  • Zahran_F on October 2, 2007, 6:49 GMT

    It's true that the 20Twenty world cup did bring in a lot more spectators and probably got a lot more youngsters interested in the game but I don't think it does any good in the long term. The game requires a lot more improvisation and unorthodox stroke play - for the current crop of international and domestic players this would not be a big adjustment but for a youngster who is learning his basics this would not be the way to start. The effect of this would be seen probably in ten years time. We'd see a lot more Afridi's and Dhoni's and there would not be a place for a Dravid or a Laxman. If 20Twenty was to replace the 50 over version, Cricket would gradually turn into a game similar to baseball. Maybe in a few years time there would be a case for an even shorter version. Carnival cricket or Baseball cricket should be left as an one-off event. It's true that everything has to change with the times - but it should not change for the sake of changing. Thank god the ICC realizes this.

  • PastorDave on October 2, 2007, 6:35 GMT

    At the end of the day money will talk. And money in sport follows the eyes. And by everyone's admission, The T20 format has got the eyes. It may take 10 years - sadly in my personal opinion - but it will happen. It's inevitable regardless of our differing opinions.

  • Julz on October 2, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    I have to disagree on this one Andrew. Cricket, for most fans, is more than just about the end result of the game. While test cricket is the main stage of displaying the authenticity of cricket, one-day matches give us a chance to experience this authenticity in a more managable time-frame, without compromising this authenticty as does the 20-20 format. Personally, 20-20 does not appeal much to me, as its over in such a short time!! For me, watching it is equivelant to having a bowl and a slog at the local nets... rather than experiencing the atmosphere that the longer formats provide. I have only been to a handful of 20-20 matches - and I have to say the satisfation I have gained from these were minimal in comparson to watching one day matches.

  • daksilva2007 on October 2, 2007, 5:25 GMT

    It's time that ICC consider England as "minnows" along with Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh for their horrible ODI run.

  • Kassto on October 2, 2007, 5:18 GMT

    Too many cricket writers overreact and want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, particularly when England have just done really badly, or done really well for that matter. For a start, weren't we experiencing the rennaissance of England's ODI fortunes in the series win over India? Journalists want to see trends, often when there aren't any there.

    This year, I've seen England play one day cricket well under Michael Vaughan (and yes, I still think he's the best captain -- both for ODIs and Tests), Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood. And I've seen them play poorly under all three too. They played exciting cricket in the two best games at the World Cup, vs Sri Lanka and vs the Windies. The World Cup was a flop, with poor atmosphere and boring games but there have been some desperately exciting World Cups too. The Chappell-Hadlee series this year was an amazing thriller. One fizzy tournament seems to have gone to a lot of heads. There's room for all three forms of the game.

  • Afta on October 2, 2007, 4:06 GMT

    It doesn't matter whether it is the longer version or the shorter version, but what matters is the excititement, the crowds and the money of course. So the Tests became one dayers and the one dayer to 20/20. Who is to blame the theory of evolution. So lets try another method that would fit in between the 50 overs game and the 20/20. eg:a TWO INNINGS game, each inning containing 20 overs each. So, totally each team gets to bat 40 overs. But here when the team comes out to bat the second time, the openers do not come out to bat again, instead the batting order follows from the fall of the last wicket. (eg. in the first innings at the end of 20 overs if the batting team lost 5 wickets, when they come out to bat in the secong innings they open with the same pair batting) How is this for excitement....! So, Andrew now we can fit-in something for the lovers of 50 overs and 20/20.

  • AjithSL on October 2, 2007, 4:01 GMT

    I can summarise this for you Andrew, England can not get a decent 11 to play the game and the resulting humiliation especially on these the very-very-very long 50 over games is unbearable, hence we should abandon that form of the game altogether. The 20-20 is more suitable as England can not only hide and duck and survive with a short prayer but can showcase some performances occasionally as well.

    --- There was a dancer who could not dance. He first blamed the music and then the floor and then the earth as it was not flat... He finally sat down to watch the others dance......

  • KingOwl on October 2, 2007, 2:43 GMT

    I totally disagree. Just because England is not good at it does not mean that we should get rid of 50 Over cricket. And, the world cup became boring because India and Pakistan got kicked out early due to surprises - yes, the very surprises you claim 50 over cricket lacks! If they were in the final four, you would have seen the utter excitment the 2007 WC would have generated. Also, the idea that there are no close mathches in 50 over cricket is absurd. There are many thrilling matches. Finally, what is wrong with the best team winning. I am no fan of Australia. In fact, being a supporter of SL, I hate to see Australia winning. But if they are the best team in the world, they should keep winning. So, stop whinging Mr. Miller.

  • RaviBabu on October 2, 2007, 1:55 GMT

    I completely disagree to this. The 50 over game is a true substitute for the class and skill of the game in the shorter version where as that 20-20 is just an entertainer and its only for those people making it a substitute for a 3 hr fun. When talking about a change we can think of reducing those pointless ODI tours like the one Australia is having now. The change should be in the way the ICC or other boards packing the yearly schedule with the amount of ODIs each nation is playing. But the thought of replacing ODIs with 20-20s is never a good idea and its the worst thing that can happen to the game.

  • RohitS on October 2, 2007, 1:16 GMT

    I think we are being a bit too critical of England in the limited overs format.This is the same team that won a ODI series in Australia and won the home series against India , both of which were pretty good viewing. Even in the twenty20 cup , most of the matches other than Australia were pretty close.Adjusting to alien conditions can be tough and this being their first match on the tour, we gotta give England the benefit of the doubt here and hope they do better in the upcoming ODI's. Personally i think England do have the firepower to challenge the Sri Lankans , with batsmen like Collingwood and Bopara well suited to handle slow low pitches.Calling for 50 over cricket to be abolished seems like a knee jerk reaction from the author.

  • Mervyn on October 2, 2007, 0:01 GMT

    I am not a purist but having watched the Twenty20 cup my feeling is that the batsman should be given baseball bats to bat instead of flat bats. And keep the "cricket" label out of it. Then it will be a different game and everything will be fine. Ok Andrew! Bowl out, my foot! The thing is, no one has really given serious thought to improving the ODI game. The Gavaskar committee was a cock-up, in my view. Here is a suggestion that I haven't seen made before. In the present game, the bowlers are restricted (in time ) but the batsmen are restricted only in space but not really in time. (That is the difference in Twenty20; the batsmen are *restricted* in time, as well.) So to introduce that element to the regular 50-over game, restrict every batsman to only 50 balls (=300/6)! That is all anyone would get to show their class! I am sure there are things to be ironed out but the basic idea is that batsmen should not be allowed to hang around to have totals like 230/2 and a lot of dot balls!

  • Chinny on October 1, 2007, 23:43 GMT

    Also I would like to say, great players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Peter Fulton etc are being kept out of twenty 20 games. What would cricket be without these magnificent players. I mean someone has to agree that cricket is not baseball!!! Its not about how many sixes you hit! Its about playing gracefully and enjoying your game. I don't think most players who played in the 20-20 world cup enjoyed playing cricket that much, with the exception of those who took many wickets or got alot of quick runs.

  • Mohusen on October 1, 2007, 23:18 GMT

    I prefer watching England play 20/20 cricket as opposed to 50overs ODIs, simply because watching England batting & being roasted over gradually for 3.5 hrs (sorry 35 overs)of their innings is lot more painful & depressing than the instant humiliation suffered in 20/20 cricket & still have cans of beer left over after the game to drown ones sorrows whereas after the ODI game one would have to go the pub as the cans would have been emptied by then.

  • Akshay_Gupta on October 1, 2007, 23:01 GMT

    Andrew- you have made a good point, a point that basically suggests that 50 over cricket has to offer something different if it has to survive, whatever 50 over cricket could do Test cricket and 20-20 could go do better. So it has to find its own uniqueness like Ladies' tennis. There is no way if 10 wise Cricketing heads sit together they can't find a way of achieving that. From top of my head i see that 50 overs should really become Test cricket of 20-20, meaning 50 overs/innings should reduce to 20 overs/innings and each team will have 2 innings and those interesting things of Test cricket like "Followon" should form part of this new version of 50 over cricket. Just a thought!

  • thefountain on October 1, 2007, 22:59 GMT

    HI Andrew. Your article really hit hard. I think it hits hard because of the truth. The 2003 and 2007 50 over world cups were very bad tournaments. They were too long. Too many bad teams. Too one sided. The reason the 20/20 was was good because it was over in two weeks and you didn't have to endure these bermuda games. If a team is getting a flogging then it's over quickly.

  • askus on October 1, 2007, 22:59 GMT

    Why is it that when your team loses, the game is suddenly boring ? It wasn't so boring when England won the 7th ODI against India.

  • Chinny on October 1, 2007, 22:49 GMT

    Mr. Miller. 50-50 is not boring! It actually bring out the talent in a team. But twenty 20 games are just out there for sloggers, and any team (good or bad) has an equal chance of winning if they have sloggers. For example, Zimbabwe v Australia and Ashraful's quick 50 against Australia. This format of the game also puts alot of pressure on the players which I think is bad for their career and also their health. The bowlers will be feeling down if they get smashed. For example, Stuart Broad, of England, who was smashed 36 in one over. He was a star bowler for England. This format could very much change the context of cricket. Besides sixes and fours can also be hit in a 50 over game. If you love your country and love your cricket, you will be hanging by the team every bowl of the match (Test or ODI). 50-50 cricket is not boring Mr. Miller.

    Thank You.

  • Leg_Spinner on October 1, 2007, 21:42 GMT

    50-over matches boring, Mr Miller? Clearly you weren't, like me, at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on 17th June 1999. Such sustained excitement with the perfect ending would, I think, scarcely have been possible in a two-and-half hour slogout.

  • TimHanan on October 1, 2007, 21:36 GMT

    As a Test cricket fan primarily, I can also enjoy the spectacle of the limited overs game. However, I can see several problems with both the 20-over and 50 over formats. Firstly, I agree that the outcome of too many games is put beyond doubt very early in the piece and this destroys the enjoyment the remainder of the match. This can happen in both of the shorter formats. The main problem is that the game is often simply too short for a team which has had a setback to redeem the situation and 5 or 10 minutes of play can pretty well decide the outcome. One improvement that I can see with the advent of the 20-over format is the removal of the slow period of an innings in the middle overs of the 50-over format. Of course, there have been some classic 50-over matches with tension and tight finishes (Australia v South Africa, WC 1999 comes to mind), but all too often, these are the exception rather than the rule.

  • tgevans on October 1, 2007, 19:16 GMT

    You make a good point. However, this problem can be easily addressed by splitting the 50 overs into two innings, with the second innings picking up where the first one left off. With this, even if a game is rained out after each team has completed their first innings, one could still compute a D/L outcome.

  • Justin on October 1, 2007, 18:23 GMT

    50-Over cricket eliminates the upsets because it gives time for true class to show and, of course, that's a bad thing? Because unfancied teams never win, do they, Miller? So New Zealand didn't beat (hammer!) Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee and England didn't beat Australia in the (Whoever sponsored it) Tri-Series. Or Bangladesh or, or, or...

    I agree that 50 over cricket needs a drastic modernization, but doing away with it? Way to jerk the knee, mate. Something needs to be done to the middle 30, the overs where Australia (IMO, at least) win most of their games. I have no idea, at this stage, what they should do.

  • mps400 on October 1, 2007, 18:18 GMT

    Well said, Mr. Miller. I always held a soft spot for ODIs, especially after India's 1983 World Cup win, but by the 2007 World Cup (part of which I attended), I could not much stand for the format. Now, after having watched earlier 20/20s and now the 2007 20/20 World Cup, I can see why I was getting so tired of the 50/50s. They are, as you accurately surmise, hopefully predictable in many cases and, in my view, are caught somewhere in the middle of being frenetic and instantaneous to being strategized and played out - the virtues of the 20/20s and tests, respectively. There may be some that would argue that I speak from a partisan's position (having identified my allegiance early in my comment), but I counter that I would have not minded any of the teams winning the recent 20/20 cup and enjoyed almost each game played. I contrast this with only one game - that of Sri Lanka vs. England - in the 50/50 2007 world cup being comparable and challenge others to suggest otherwise.

  • Hope on October 1, 2007, 18:16 GMT

    I cannot but help agree to your point Andrew. I would not have agreed to this a month back, but the T20 world cup has changed many opinions, including mine. It has changed the notion of exciting cricket.

    With ever decreasing attention spans becoming a harsh reality and increased emphasis on T20 in India through ICL and IPL (in addition to UK and SA), ODI's stand to suffer a great deal.

    If no effort is made to make ODI's more competitive, very few will want to watch tournaments involving irrelevant teams like Zimbabwe, Kenya and sadly Australia. The day is not far when as a viewer, I will have a choice between watching Australia-England test / ODI match and a T20 where Warne and Lara take on each other. To me, the choice will be clear.

  • long_handle9 on October 1, 2007, 17:52 GMT

    I'm sorry, sir, but you are completely wrong. 50-over cricket provides the balance between the long-drawn subplots of the Test match and the adrenaline-charged rush of the Twenty20. No matter how much one loves the shortest and longest versions of the game, 50-over cricket is a much-loved, cherished version around the world, with different situations all the time. Maybe there are too many ODIs these days--20 a year should be the maximum for a team--but no matter how much one cherishes Test or T20 cricket, ODIs have GOT TO STAY. If you don't like, turn off the telly.

  • not_that_andrewhall on October 1, 2007, 17:36 GMT

    There's nothing more depressing than watching another terrible England ODI performance - they're so off the pace in any game in coloured clothing, it's embarrasing. It does admittedly influence my views on the 50 over game, but overall I've rather lost interest.

    If a longer form of limited over cricket is to survive, here are my suggestions:

    1. Bring the bowlers back into it. A genuine new ball at 25 overs. More than one bouncer per over. Give them more fielding options, not less.

    2. Reduce the number of overs. This won't be popular with the rightsholders but I'm sure they would rather have an exciting 40/40 contest than a dull 50/50.

    3. Reduce the amount of 50 over cricket. Why are Australia in India - where is that on the ICC's FTP? Oh I forgot, this is an extra "cash in the pockets" tournament. Why are England in Sri Lanka? Is anyone interested? And why all this after a breathtaking fortnight of T20?

    My final suggestion to everyone is watch and savour some decent Test cricket.

  • gummy_singh on October 1, 2007, 17:26 GMT

    Hey Andrew,

    You can't say that we should get rid of 50-over cricket becuase it doesn't produce close games; it's not the game's fault that England, bluntly putting it are rubbish in this form. If you look beyond the games that just England plays, then you'll see that one-dayers between most sides in world cricket are generally even and close. 50-over cricket should be here to stay, with T20 providing a chance for the lesser teams to shine.

  • HenWelder on October 1, 2007, 17:24 GMT

    Very true Mr Miller, the worrying thing is that the ICC seem intent on playing more 50 over cricket and seem blindly ignorant, insisting the world cup was a success. Do we really need these ODI's in Sri Lanka now, no, yet the ICC just want more money and more pointless cricket, surely something has to change.

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  • HenWelder on October 1, 2007, 17:24 GMT

    Very true Mr Miller, the worrying thing is that the ICC seem intent on playing more 50 over cricket and seem blindly ignorant, insisting the world cup was a success. Do we really need these ODI's in Sri Lanka now, no, yet the ICC just want more money and more pointless cricket, surely something has to change.

  • gummy_singh on October 1, 2007, 17:26 GMT

    Hey Andrew,

    You can't say that we should get rid of 50-over cricket becuase it doesn't produce close games; it's not the game's fault that England, bluntly putting it are rubbish in this form. If you look beyond the games that just England plays, then you'll see that one-dayers between most sides in world cricket are generally even and close. 50-over cricket should be here to stay, with T20 providing a chance for the lesser teams to shine.

  • not_that_andrewhall on October 1, 2007, 17:36 GMT

    There's nothing more depressing than watching another terrible England ODI performance - they're so off the pace in any game in coloured clothing, it's embarrasing. It does admittedly influence my views on the 50 over game, but overall I've rather lost interest.

    If a longer form of limited over cricket is to survive, here are my suggestions:

    1. Bring the bowlers back into it. A genuine new ball at 25 overs. More than one bouncer per over. Give them more fielding options, not less.

    2. Reduce the number of overs. This won't be popular with the rightsholders but I'm sure they would rather have an exciting 40/40 contest than a dull 50/50.

    3. Reduce the amount of 50 over cricket. Why are Australia in India - where is that on the ICC's FTP? Oh I forgot, this is an extra "cash in the pockets" tournament. Why are England in Sri Lanka? Is anyone interested? And why all this after a breathtaking fortnight of T20?

    My final suggestion to everyone is watch and savour some decent Test cricket.

  • long_handle9 on October 1, 2007, 17:52 GMT

    I'm sorry, sir, but you are completely wrong. 50-over cricket provides the balance between the long-drawn subplots of the Test match and the adrenaline-charged rush of the Twenty20. No matter how much one loves the shortest and longest versions of the game, 50-over cricket is a much-loved, cherished version around the world, with different situations all the time. Maybe there are too many ODIs these days--20 a year should be the maximum for a team--but no matter how much one cherishes Test or T20 cricket, ODIs have GOT TO STAY. If you don't like, turn off the telly.

  • Hope on October 1, 2007, 18:16 GMT

    I cannot but help agree to your point Andrew. I would not have agreed to this a month back, but the T20 world cup has changed many opinions, including mine. It has changed the notion of exciting cricket.

    With ever decreasing attention spans becoming a harsh reality and increased emphasis on T20 in India through ICL and IPL (in addition to UK and SA), ODI's stand to suffer a great deal.

    If no effort is made to make ODI's more competitive, very few will want to watch tournaments involving irrelevant teams like Zimbabwe, Kenya and sadly Australia. The day is not far when as a viewer, I will have a choice between watching Australia-England test / ODI match and a T20 where Warne and Lara take on each other. To me, the choice will be clear.

  • mps400 on October 1, 2007, 18:18 GMT

    Well said, Mr. Miller. I always held a soft spot for ODIs, especially after India's 1983 World Cup win, but by the 2007 World Cup (part of which I attended), I could not much stand for the format. Now, after having watched earlier 20/20s and now the 2007 20/20 World Cup, I can see why I was getting so tired of the 50/50s. They are, as you accurately surmise, hopefully predictable in many cases and, in my view, are caught somewhere in the middle of being frenetic and instantaneous to being strategized and played out - the virtues of the 20/20s and tests, respectively. There may be some that would argue that I speak from a partisan's position (having identified my allegiance early in my comment), but I counter that I would have not minded any of the teams winning the recent 20/20 cup and enjoyed almost each game played. I contrast this with only one game - that of Sri Lanka vs. England - in the 50/50 2007 world cup being comparable and challenge others to suggest otherwise.

  • Justin on October 1, 2007, 18:23 GMT

    50-Over cricket eliminates the upsets because it gives time for true class to show and, of course, that's a bad thing? Because unfancied teams never win, do they, Miller? So New Zealand didn't beat (hammer!) Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee and England didn't beat Australia in the (Whoever sponsored it) Tri-Series. Or Bangladesh or, or, or...

    I agree that 50 over cricket needs a drastic modernization, but doing away with it? Way to jerk the knee, mate. Something needs to be done to the middle 30, the overs where Australia (IMO, at least) win most of their games. I have no idea, at this stage, what they should do.

  • tgevans on October 1, 2007, 19:16 GMT

    You make a good point. However, this problem can be easily addressed by splitting the 50 overs into two innings, with the second innings picking up where the first one left off. With this, even if a game is rained out after each team has completed their first innings, one could still compute a D/L outcome.

  • TimHanan on October 1, 2007, 21:36 GMT

    As a Test cricket fan primarily, I can also enjoy the spectacle of the limited overs game. However, I can see several problems with both the 20-over and 50 over formats. Firstly, I agree that the outcome of too many games is put beyond doubt very early in the piece and this destroys the enjoyment the remainder of the match. This can happen in both of the shorter formats. The main problem is that the game is often simply too short for a team which has had a setback to redeem the situation and 5 or 10 minutes of play can pretty well decide the outcome. One improvement that I can see with the advent of the 20-over format is the removal of the slow period of an innings in the middle overs of the 50-over format. Of course, there have been some classic 50-over matches with tension and tight finishes (Australia v South Africa, WC 1999 comes to mind), but all too often, these are the exception rather than the rule.

  • Leg_Spinner on October 1, 2007, 21:42 GMT

    50-over matches boring, Mr Miller? Clearly you weren't, like me, at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on 17th June 1999. Such sustained excitement with the perfect ending would, I think, scarcely have been possible in a two-and-half hour slogout.