June 6, 2008

How many leagues can cricket sustain?

Why the marketer's dream of a Premier League in every country is a pie in the sky
34



How many other countries can afford to splash out on a Twenty20 league as bright and shiny as the IPL? © Aneesh Bhatnagar

Of the many things the IPL has done to cricket, one has apparently been the expansion of life's list of inevitabilities. Joining death and taxes are these: that the IPL concept is on its way to global domination, and that ODI cricket is dead. Some things, though, remain less inevitable than others.

The IPL was something cricket had never seen before, and as well as the spectacle it did doubly well to provide some excellent cricket. It was too long, and the boundaries so small as to be insulting to batsmen and cruel to bowlers, but a window should be found for it in the calendar. It's good to see cricket properly glam it up, if only to know that it is capable of doing it. A sport that can be fusty, slow, rigidly traditional but also bling when it wants, is a rare sport and should be celebrated.

But the money of it all has gone to people's heads. Countries that can are trying to ape it and plans to hold a football-style Champions League are being talked about. Dollars are already being counted, enough questions are not being asked. For example, how many boards can afford to not only match the financial muscle of the BCCI but also provide an environment in which it thrives, with innumerable sponsors, big business, film industries and politicians all willing to jump in, and such a large, captive audience?

Let's not kid ourselves: the IPL worked in large part because it attracted the biggest, highest-paid names in cricket, who came together to produce mighty fine cricket. Bollywood and big business played a part, though not as much as the conductor of it all, Lalit Modi. As it happens, it is a pretty unique set of circumstances.

For any country's premier league to work, big names are needed. Otherwise it is just another domestic Twenty20 competition, which, though they are successful and make money, are just not as successful or making as much money as the IPL is and will. Forgetting that more windows will have to be found in the calendar than there are in Microsoft's offices, can boards other than India's realistically afford to bring together so many stars and pull off such a spectacle?

Details about the Champions League are sketchy, none more than how competitive it will actually be. Currently, all of cricket's biggest stars are signed up with Indian franchises because they pay the most. Who will play for the best Twenty20 teams from South Africa or Australia? No other clubs will have any star names, which will make it less a Champions League, more a Chumps League. Perhaps players will be allowed to play for two teams, one in the IPL and, say, one in the South African Premier League, which will be held at a different time of the year. But if Graeme Smith plays for Rajasthan in April and Johannesburg in December, what happens if both teams qualify for the Champions League?

Cricket does not have the talent pool football can draw from. Football sources players from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas - all over the world. Cricket relies on ten countries, a few of whom aren't even that good. UEFA's Champions League thrives off this large talent pool to make it competitive. The best players generally go to the highest-paying clubs in football too, but there are just more quality players and a greater number of bigger clubs who can afford them. Cricket does not have that luxury and until it does, it is difficult to see just how a Champions League will work.

It is also difficult to see how - or indeed why - ODI cricket is destined to death by Twenty20. There are problems with ODIs for sure, but mainly that there are far too many of them and far too few that actually matter. The financial burden on ODIs to churn money has been too great for too long. Thus the needless seven-match ODI series the BCCI has shamelessly inked in with England, or tri-series such as the one we are about to witness in Bangladesh.

Structural problems in are also touted, the main being that an ODI goes to sleep between overs 20 and 40. Actually, it doesn't. It just doesn't have as many boundaries as we're used to, but when was cricket only ever about hitting fours and sixes? And it gives some leverage back to the bowler, which is happening less and less in limited-overs cricket. It also tests one of the underrated cricket skills - running between the wickets. And who knows, if pitches were actually less predictable than they are, in the subcontinent especially, it may actually make the cricket less predictable as well.

 
 
A more accommodating sport than cricket does not exist. Test cricket made its peace with ODIs and the noise, colour, audience and money they brought, taking from them some of the best traits and improving itself and living happily together. ODI cricket will also make similar peace with the newest, shortest, brashest form of the game
 

Yet somehow the IPL has purportedly consigned the ODI to something far less becoming than even the drunk uncle. Forgotten is that the one-dayer has brought much to cricket itself, in altering the face of fielding completely, in broadening the repertoire of bowlers, in encouraging batsmen to break from orthodoxy, in hurrying the pace of Test cricket. It might bring more yet.

Also forgotten is that it has provided riveting cricket. So the World Cup was a dud, but that wasn't because of the format of the game; Australia's dominance, the organising body's incompetence, and a high-profile death saw to that. But as recently as the CB Series this year, ODI cricket was alive and pretty well. The death of that tournament, it was argued here, symbolises the death of ODIs. It does not. It symbolises the death of the tri-series stuffed with pointless, uncompetitive games. Along with it can go the excess fat of bloated tournaments. Maybe bilateral contests can be done away with altogether, replaced by a rolling annual league, to give contests more meaning.

A more accommodating sport than cricket does not exist. Test cricket made its peace with ODIs and the noise, colour, audience and money they brought, taking from them some of the best traits and improving itself and living happily together. ODI cricket will also make similar peace with the newest, shortest, brashest form of the game. Perhaps it will become a bridge of sorts between players wanting to move from being Twenty20 specialists to becoming Test cricketers. It needn't die. Only a balance needs to be found between the formats. ODI cricket has shaken its booty long enough for the moolah and been mostly abused in recent years. The burden can and should be shared with Twenty20. Else, 20 years from now, overdosing on Twenty20s will become another of life's inevitabilities.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • M.Y.Kasim on June 8, 2008, 19:09 GMT

    No other country has the money, infra-structures, fans and following to match India and will fail badly in trying to emulate it.

    Next time around, they will cover all loose ends and see to it that more and more International Players are inducted and the tournament is not dragged out too long.

    Lalit Modi and his team are shrewed and competent organizers and businessmen.

  • kingofspain on June 8, 2008, 12:03 GMT

    I admit I hate 20/20 but it seems to me we're well on the road to overdosing on 20/20. There's no reason the IPL teams will dominate the Champions League either. The format is so random that the talent level of the players doesn't matter, at least not in any particular game. Leciestershire with 10 Kolpaks could just as easily win it as either the IPL franchises. Finally, once the FTP expires it's time to get rid of ODI's. That format offers little different than 20/20 and it's time has come and gone. In future a tour could consist of say 3 tests and 7 20/20 matches.

  • sun2 on June 8, 2008, 9:24 GMT

    What i cant understand is why some people are predicting the death of ODI now. First they said it was test Cricket that will die, now ODI? Thats the most craziest thing i have ever heard. Did anyone watch the ads during the IPL? most of them were cut in half as there was ' shortage of time'. Ads bring revenues.. TV stations run ad revenues.. and BCCI/others runs because TV stations cough up in millions to get the rights. So lets sum it up ODI= revenue to TV = Revenue to BCCI/others.

  • 1stSlip on June 8, 2008, 7:50 GMT

    Cricket must continue to move from a principally internationally focused game to an inter club game. Like soccer, cricket must look to focus on developing strong club leagues in each country. These clubs will play each other in 20:20 and the longer form of the game and the best clubs in each league will go to Champions competitions where they will meet the best clubs from other countries. The amount of international cricket -particularly ODI's - will be reduced along with the rise in club cricket. Reducing the amount of international cricket played will improve the publics appreciation and enjoyment of it. Like soccer , the inter-club competitions will become the main focus complimented by occasional international fixtures and of course World Cups.

  • avianwing on June 7, 2008, 9:06 GMT

    I somewhat disagree. While most tri-series played today are obselete, there is some sense in retaining the bilateral series especially between test sides to establish supremacy. The Champions trophy should be entirely done away with. Instead, we should freeze the number of countries playing ODI's to 10. Every year we should divide them into two groups of 5 and play 5-nation tournaments. The top two teams should clash in a best of 3 to determine the winner and the two winners in turn, should again play to determine the annual champion. The group of 5 should be rotated every year and every country gets an opportunity to host/co-host the tournament at least once in 5 years. 20-20 should be used to expand cricket into other countries since most nations don't have the patience for an ODI. In 15 years time the 20-20 world cup could emulate the soccer world cup in substance and grandeur. Similarly test cricket should be limited to 8 countries. All three formats could thrive thus.

  • mlmakin on June 7, 2008, 0:30 GMT

    An excellent article, as other posters have remarked. But, again like others, I disagree about the shallow talent pool. Cricket isn't football, and problems certainly remain -- the most obvious being that, if there is to be a champions league, what is to be done about top players under contract to several different teams, playing in different domestic competitions at different times of the year? However, let's remember that IPL rules (very sensible rules that will help the emergence and reinforcement of domestic talent) meant that there were always major international players on the bench during the tournament, while, as posters have pointed out, many very good international cricketers were not involved in the IPL. Therefore, it ought to be fairly easy to create a top-class champions league, so long as rules favour the participation of domestic players. If England can sort out the Kolpak issue, it should be all systems go.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on June 6, 2008, 20:04 GMT

    Here is what is going to happen. Every board will have their own PLs of 20/20. Every franchise will participate in it's own auction. Then due to the schedule conflicts, they will divvy up the calendar, so each country can have their own PL for 6 weeks. This means that test cricket will be given a much lower preference. The FTP (future tours program) of ICC will be thrown out. One day game will cease to exist. There will be more leagal problems. i.e. if two countries are involved in a test series, and many of the players from both teams are contractullay bound to one or other franchise, then, it is in the players' best interest to either retire or get deeply involved in a legal battle with their board and the franchise. Since money speaks, players will obviously prefer to retire from international cricket and pledge their lifetime support to which ever franchise that showers them with money. Basically this IPL (and the global PL) is going to breed mercenaries. No loyalty. End of Story.

  • ashwin_547 on June 6, 2008, 18:45 GMT

    Cricket can pick good players from outside the top ten Wales Ireland Scotland Namibia Kenya Uganda Papua New Guinea Samoa Tonga Canada (John Davison) More Carribbean countries More Zimbabweans Zambia Middle East Other European Countries Many many more!

    Also if thats the problem, shows how good ICC's development program has gone, also good job ICC on making 2011 a 14 team show, instead of expanding you are Kissing India and Pakistan instead of looking to the future of what could be a dead game, half the world barely knows cricket youre just lucky India has a billion population that watches everything. otherwise cricket would be dead, you're development program needs so much more and you are BLIND, wake up before football destroys everything, even american sports are moving into european markets, american football had a 85000 crowd at wembley, even in england if they had that stadium would cricket pack? start being useful and do something!

  • Ralph_McTell on June 6, 2008, 18:14 GMT

    Osman is a superb columnist and has been for years - excellent points throughout the article. Undoubtedly the amount of ODI cricket has to be cut back, but possibly we will now have 3 formats of the game played in roughly equal amounts. I suspect as ODI cricket is played less frequently, we will see it correspondingly grow in fondness.

    As for the 20-20 Champions League, it's difficult to argue with Osman's points. The only solution to the problem of lack of players that I can see: that you stop players playing for more than one franchise, though this does not have to be their usual domestic region. For instance you could have Graeme Smith playing for Rajasthan, and Dhoni playing for Tasmania.

    This would lead to a slightly lower proliferation of stars than in the IPL, but not that much (a lot of internationak players weren't available for large parts of the IPL). Also, this would create a global market for players, creating more money to please the likes of Lalit Modi.

  • DeepCower on June 6, 2008, 17:23 GMT

    One of the best pieces you have written, Osman! It is nice to see people not fall in line with the general crowd and present balanced view points. First one group went "Tests are dead" and now another goes "ODI's are dead". A few authors on cricinfo are just too quick to pass the ultimatum. (Dileep Premachandran's recent pieces and Sambit Bal's rather old but famous 'good bye ganguly' come to mind). I am happy to see articles like these. Keep up the good work. (And yeah, if you get a chance, ask that fellow Ashok Malik to stop writing on cricinfo blogs. Seriously.)

  • M.Y.Kasim on June 8, 2008, 19:09 GMT

    No other country has the money, infra-structures, fans and following to match India and will fail badly in trying to emulate it.

    Next time around, they will cover all loose ends and see to it that more and more International Players are inducted and the tournament is not dragged out too long.

    Lalit Modi and his team are shrewed and competent organizers and businessmen.

  • kingofspain on June 8, 2008, 12:03 GMT

    I admit I hate 20/20 but it seems to me we're well on the road to overdosing on 20/20. There's no reason the IPL teams will dominate the Champions League either. The format is so random that the talent level of the players doesn't matter, at least not in any particular game. Leciestershire with 10 Kolpaks could just as easily win it as either the IPL franchises. Finally, once the FTP expires it's time to get rid of ODI's. That format offers little different than 20/20 and it's time has come and gone. In future a tour could consist of say 3 tests and 7 20/20 matches.

  • sun2 on June 8, 2008, 9:24 GMT

    What i cant understand is why some people are predicting the death of ODI now. First they said it was test Cricket that will die, now ODI? Thats the most craziest thing i have ever heard. Did anyone watch the ads during the IPL? most of them were cut in half as there was ' shortage of time'. Ads bring revenues.. TV stations run ad revenues.. and BCCI/others runs because TV stations cough up in millions to get the rights. So lets sum it up ODI= revenue to TV = Revenue to BCCI/others.

  • 1stSlip on June 8, 2008, 7:50 GMT

    Cricket must continue to move from a principally internationally focused game to an inter club game. Like soccer, cricket must look to focus on developing strong club leagues in each country. These clubs will play each other in 20:20 and the longer form of the game and the best clubs in each league will go to Champions competitions where they will meet the best clubs from other countries. The amount of international cricket -particularly ODI's - will be reduced along with the rise in club cricket. Reducing the amount of international cricket played will improve the publics appreciation and enjoyment of it. Like soccer , the inter-club competitions will become the main focus complimented by occasional international fixtures and of course World Cups.

  • avianwing on June 7, 2008, 9:06 GMT

    I somewhat disagree. While most tri-series played today are obselete, there is some sense in retaining the bilateral series especially between test sides to establish supremacy. The Champions trophy should be entirely done away with. Instead, we should freeze the number of countries playing ODI's to 10. Every year we should divide them into two groups of 5 and play 5-nation tournaments. The top two teams should clash in a best of 3 to determine the winner and the two winners in turn, should again play to determine the annual champion. The group of 5 should be rotated every year and every country gets an opportunity to host/co-host the tournament at least once in 5 years. 20-20 should be used to expand cricket into other countries since most nations don't have the patience for an ODI. In 15 years time the 20-20 world cup could emulate the soccer world cup in substance and grandeur. Similarly test cricket should be limited to 8 countries. All three formats could thrive thus.

  • mlmakin on June 7, 2008, 0:30 GMT

    An excellent article, as other posters have remarked. But, again like others, I disagree about the shallow talent pool. Cricket isn't football, and problems certainly remain -- the most obvious being that, if there is to be a champions league, what is to be done about top players under contract to several different teams, playing in different domestic competitions at different times of the year? However, let's remember that IPL rules (very sensible rules that will help the emergence and reinforcement of domestic talent) meant that there were always major international players on the bench during the tournament, while, as posters have pointed out, many very good international cricketers were not involved in the IPL. Therefore, it ought to be fairly easy to create a top-class champions league, so long as rules favour the participation of domestic players. If England can sort out the Kolpak issue, it should be all systems go.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on June 6, 2008, 20:04 GMT

    Here is what is going to happen. Every board will have their own PLs of 20/20. Every franchise will participate in it's own auction. Then due to the schedule conflicts, they will divvy up the calendar, so each country can have their own PL for 6 weeks. This means that test cricket will be given a much lower preference. The FTP (future tours program) of ICC will be thrown out. One day game will cease to exist. There will be more leagal problems. i.e. if two countries are involved in a test series, and many of the players from both teams are contractullay bound to one or other franchise, then, it is in the players' best interest to either retire or get deeply involved in a legal battle with their board and the franchise. Since money speaks, players will obviously prefer to retire from international cricket and pledge their lifetime support to which ever franchise that showers them with money. Basically this IPL (and the global PL) is going to breed mercenaries. No loyalty. End of Story.

  • ashwin_547 on June 6, 2008, 18:45 GMT

    Cricket can pick good players from outside the top ten Wales Ireland Scotland Namibia Kenya Uganda Papua New Guinea Samoa Tonga Canada (John Davison) More Carribbean countries More Zimbabweans Zambia Middle East Other European Countries Many many more!

    Also if thats the problem, shows how good ICC's development program has gone, also good job ICC on making 2011 a 14 team show, instead of expanding you are Kissing India and Pakistan instead of looking to the future of what could be a dead game, half the world barely knows cricket youre just lucky India has a billion population that watches everything. otherwise cricket would be dead, you're development program needs so much more and you are BLIND, wake up before football destroys everything, even american sports are moving into european markets, american football had a 85000 crowd at wembley, even in england if they had that stadium would cricket pack? start being useful and do something!

  • Ralph_McTell on June 6, 2008, 18:14 GMT

    Osman is a superb columnist and has been for years - excellent points throughout the article. Undoubtedly the amount of ODI cricket has to be cut back, but possibly we will now have 3 formats of the game played in roughly equal amounts. I suspect as ODI cricket is played less frequently, we will see it correspondingly grow in fondness.

    As for the 20-20 Champions League, it's difficult to argue with Osman's points. The only solution to the problem of lack of players that I can see: that you stop players playing for more than one franchise, though this does not have to be their usual domestic region. For instance you could have Graeme Smith playing for Rajasthan, and Dhoni playing for Tasmania.

    This would lead to a slightly lower proliferation of stars than in the IPL, but not that much (a lot of internationak players weren't available for large parts of the IPL). Also, this would create a global market for players, creating more money to please the likes of Lalit Modi.

  • DeepCower on June 6, 2008, 17:23 GMT

    One of the best pieces you have written, Osman! It is nice to see people not fall in line with the general crowd and present balanced view points. First one group went "Tests are dead" and now another goes "ODI's are dead". A few authors on cricinfo are just too quick to pass the ultimatum. (Dileep Premachandran's recent pieces and Sambit Bal's rather old but famous 'good bye ganguly' come to mind). I am happy to see articles like these. Keep up the good work. (And yeah, if you get a chance, ask that fellow Ashok Malik to stop writing on cricinfo blogs. Seriously.)

  • Hassan.Farooqi on June 6, 2008, 17:13 GMT

    I totally disagree that the talent pool is too small. Actually there are a lot of talented players sitting outside waiting for their chance. Take a look at the long list of Pakistani players like Fawad Alam sitting outside and doing nothing. Look how Sohail Tanveer came up as the top bowler given one single chance, and his position in team is not even guarenteed.

    A Premier League in USA would highlight unsung stars from Canada, Bermuda and USA itself. The screwed up politics of West Indies would be exposed and many ignored players would rise and shine.

    Just think about it!

  • meme on June 6, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    Why do people keep saying ODI is Dead..is that some marketing gimmick?..The CB series was alive as well as the Sri Lanka vs West Indies ODI. GeT A GRIP! Yes some games do meander along but the ODI should remain. What i suggest should happen is that instead of 7or 5 ODI's make it only 3. Can a 20/20 format really replace the ODI Worldcup?..bearing in mind most players do not think this form of the game seriously. That would mean a Worldcup would not be a serious venture.

  • lanks146 on June 6, 2008, 15:05 GMT

    I agree with 'Wild_Type' If cricket can make club teams the main focus rather than country teams (at the moment each country need only produce 11players rather than 11players per team effectively) then a greater pool of players can be created. Whether the governing bodies are capable or long-sighted enough to acheive this is at best debatable, but one can still hope. Also i would like to keep ODIs on the basis that they are the best balance of twenty-20 and Tests. Cricket is incredibly flexible in this regard and the fact that teams can compete in 3 different formats is something to be cherished. Good article Osman, keep it up

  • AjaySridharan on June 6, 2008, 15:03 GMT

    I like the idea of a rolling annual league format for the ODIs culminating into a champions trophy once a year than the meaningless bilateral contests. Keep the bilaterals to Test cricket, and try to fit in T20 here and there. Nonetheless ODI needs some rejiggling too...maybe reduce it to a 40 over contest - it will still continue to test the true skills, and provide a tense atmosphere. I liked T20, but it is like a 3 hour climax. ODI has the classic aspect of tempo-building phase eventually culminating in a climax.

    Cannot agree more with the comment on Cricket being the most accomodating sport there is. That is a testament to the passion the sport inspires in its fans. Truly, there is a case study in cricket that many other global sports can learn from

  • Chill on June 6, 2008, 14:55 GMT

    You make a fair point. Do we have enough stars to reproduce IPL's success in other nations? But then you must also ask if there are enough quality players for three versions of the game.

    ODI cricket was invented to reach bigger audiences. T20 was invented with the same purpose in mind. No doubt ODIs served cricket well for more than three decades, but where ODIs failed, T20 will be successful. And really, who's going to miss ODIs really?

    As far as there not being enough stars, I can make two counterpoints. 1. Domestic T20s have been quite successful in SA, Aus, and Eng, even without the star power and the marketing hoopla of the IPL. And reality is that some of the biggest stars didn't play more than a handful of games in the IPL. 2. Each T20 tournament will unearth new stars. Didn't the IPL unearth some already?

    You gotta cut T20 some slack; give it some time. It will conquer new markets. Hell, I know Americans who find T20 exciting.

  • pawan1975 on June 6, 2008, 14:11 GMT

    Osman, you are as eloquent as ever. However, I disagree with you on the fact that Cricket does not have a decent talent pool to draw from. This whole concept of star players should be thrown out of the window, at least for Twenty20 Cricket's sake. Just as an illustration, compare the performances of Shahid Afridi, VVS Laxman, Jacques Kallis, or Ishant Sharma to the performances of Swapnil Asnodkar, Manpreet Gony, Shaun Marsh, or even Niraj Patel for that matter. I would so look forward to seeing players like Ryan ten Doeschate for Holland, Niall O'Brien from Ireland, David Kemp from Bermuda, Ashish Bagai from Canada playing for Indian, South African, English franchises. This gives an opportunity for Cricket to have a worldwide appeal.

  • Calavai on June 6, 2008, 14:06 GMT

    I do not understand why the author is fascinated by ODIs. I do not see any value proposition for the ODIs. Firstly, the spectators (Tv and in the ground) make up any sport. T20s are ideal as an alternate entertaintment package for a family evening. Tests will remain the auspicious home of the puritan afficanados. What do One days do?

  • Wild_Type on June 6, 2008, 13:35 GMT

    Osman, I disagree on both points - firstly your argument for keeping ODIs alive is Ganguly-esque: granted that ODIs have done much to help the game, but now that T20s have come up as a much better alternative, there is no need to have them around; the advantages you mentioned ODIs having over T20s can be found in Tests. Thus ODIs are redundant. Secondly, your concerns regarding world T20 leagues, while admittedly worthwhile, are also quite obvious and I'm sure the people concerned will find ways around them. While world cricket may not have the talent pool right now, the glitz and money of the IPL (like that in football) will be exactly the sort of incentives needed to seduce people into taking up the game, and create the required talent pool. Like now we have Indian kids dreaming of one day playing for Man U, we could have young Irish or Kenyan cricketers hoping to play for a Mumbai or Melbourne team.

  • Vkarthik on June 6, 2008, 13:04 GMT

    Balanced article amidst the "suck up(to BCCI)" articles we see these days. He has raised valid questions. The way the officials decide which is good for audience which is bad for audience is more like movie producers decide which is good or bad for audiences. Getting to the top is much easier than staying at the top. Sustainability will be the moot point here. It will be interesting to see how next few editions go.

  • mayurbaruah on June 6, 2008, 12:46 GMT

    A more accommodating sport than cricket does not exist. Test cricket made its peace with ODIs and the noise, colour, audience and money they brought, taking from them some of the best traits and improving itself and living happily together. ODI cricket will also make similar peace with the newest, shortest, brashest form of the game - This quote has really touched my heart like n e thing really...M A BIG FAN OF TEST CRICKET....HAIL TEST CRICKET.....!! LOVE TEST CRICKET

  • long_handle9 on June 6, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    Great article, Osman Samiuddin. I personally am not a big fan of Twenty20 (there is such a thing as a change in tempo) but it must be admitted that the ODI has seen a glut in recent times. This does not mean that the ODI should die, only that its supply should be cut down a little. Same applies with T20; apart from the thrilling IPL final, the format was getting a little repetetive; one team notches up 150, the second either gets there with three overs to spare or combusts in 15 overs-and all to the shimmy of those cheerleaders who we all pretend to like, just to please the over-liberalized world. In any case, there should be a nice good balance; perhaps a tour can feature 3 tests, 3 odis and 3 t20s.

  • TwitterJitter on June 6, 2008, 11:43 GMT

    Interesting article! Can't say I agree with everything written, but I concur for the most part. More importantly it is thought provoking without throwing too much of author's preexisting prejudices into the column.

    How about playing club vs.club test matches instead of country vs. country all the time? A few of those games would be interesting too. There should be 26 weeks of test cricket every year, 6 weeks of ODIs, and 8 weeks of T20. Players can get 10-12 weeks of rest per year.

  • boltfromheaven on June 6, 2008, 8:17 GMT

    I know of no other team sport with so many official variants. Instead of being a good thing, as the author believes, I believe it is a dilution of the limited resources that can be brought to bear on improving the game for the players and spectators. Just because we can drone on about the plusses and minuses of the three versions does not alter the ground reality of the limited, available talent pool. Let the consumer decide. Let the markets rule. And lets remove this outdated strangle-hold that the ICC and the national boards have on who, what, when and which format will be available to the consumers. If you think about it, its a sporting version of the planned economy with a politburo and all. Too much weight is being given to the opinions of ex-test and ODI cricketers and not enough to the likes of Modi.

  • fakhy on June 6, 2008, 7:14 GMT

    If every country has its own T20 league, T20 will become boring because the small pool of the best players will be dispersed around the world. so there wont be a particular hi-profile team, plus no one would know who to support. Plus, players would rather join the IPL where they will definitely get more money than say from a Bangladesh Premier League. To my eyes, the IPL will be the reason for the growth and survival of T20 cricket. Cricket should not try to emulate football in order to become more appealing and popular. It already is, esp in the subcontinent. So there doesn't need to be a Champions league.

    They should have a window for the IPL in the calendar. ODI cricket hopefully shouldn't die. But i have a feeling that the fan base will become thin, especially with the high demand of fast-paced cricket these days.

  • crikketfan on June 6, 2008, 5:58 GMT

    Excellent article. Best I've read. Particularly pleased that it hasn't got carried away with the "abolish ODIs" mantra being pressed all over the place. 2020 represents a great opportunity to replace quantity in ODIs with quality. But no more.

    One other point that hasn't been often made in this debate is the ICC drive to develop cricket in other countries. If there were one sure way to kill this dead it would be to abolish ODIs.

  • ErnestHemingway on June 6, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    I think people forget the main thing.

    1. Cricketers have family. 2. People have other things to do than watching cricket for 10 hours for 1 game. 3. Just like 50/50 came in place of cricket, 20/20 will take place of 50/50. 4. Cricketers also want some money.

    Things change, what was good in the past is not as good as it used to be. This generation wants fun and quick games.

    I love 50/50 and test but at same time I look at other side of life. That cricketers also have a life and things they wanna do.

    5 months in a country without family, and then games that last day and night. I think people who r shouting 50/50 should understand that cricketers have life and they wanna do things as well..

    Further 2008 is changing, people work to feed their family and feed themselves nobody has time to stay at home and watch a 50 over match.

    20/20 is quick and that is what people love.

  • Uppi on June 6, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    It amazes me how all thie analysis of IPL on cricket focuses only on the impact of T20. IPL had TWO departures from the past. T20 and privately owned team. Ignoring the latter is very surprising in my opinion. For details see article published under the byline of Yogesh Upadhyaya in livemint on the web.

  • SatyajitM on June 6, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    Great piece from Osman. Almost completely agree with what he says. Not too many countries can support a league like IPL. IPL is good as it could get best talent from whole cricket world (barring England). If there are too many such comepetitions around, the standard will be pedestrian and people won't be interested. IPL succeeded not because of Modi or BCCI but because of the large middle class of India who can afford to spend and love the game. Some of the major cities get less than one international game a year. So, they are starved for quality cricket. How do you explain Hyderabad supporters filling the the stadiums for seven successive home losses in IPL? That's not the case with most of the other cricket playing countries. I don't feel middle overs in ODI are useless. They show specific skills for both batsman and bowler and matches are often won in those overs. I feel all the three formats of the game will survive and will work as advantage for cricket.

  • cricket4shafiq on June 6, 2008, 5:05 GMT

    Breathtaking article----not the conventional following! Well done Usman, keep writing fantastic things. What would have been in cricket without the one's,two's, three's and odd boundary of Javed, Bevan, Kallis, Yousf etc---the Lords of middle overs! I feel ODI is an ideal format to see combined the giants of DRAVID, KALLIS, Younis, Vaughan, Murali, alongwith likes of Afridi, Yousaf pathan, Shaun Marsh, Youraj, Sohail Tanveer, Gony, Rao (deccan) etc. I will prefer middle overs of Yousaf/Misbah and Ponting/Hussy fighting against Aussie's/PAK attack over Afridi/Pathan/White hitting sixes to some XYZ bowlers. We all need the balance between "True Romance of Test cricket", "Arranged marriage of ODI", and "Date of T20". Isn't the arranged marriage is ultimate wish between true Love and date?it is! atleast with conservatives or matures! (Shafiq ,Islamabad, Pakistan)

  • Saibaskar on June 6, 2008, 4:58 GMT

    I would prefer to disagree with the column. I believe more leagues are possible yes they need not be in the scale of IPL but even a moderate league would be a good thing and as far as the talent pool is concerned right now too many foriegn players are available for IPL and therefore are comperatively cheaper than their indian counterparts. If there are additional leagues situation could change as the home countries would be keen on getting their own stars and therefore would pay the best for them. This could also provide the much wanted break for good players from associate countries. Not so long ago Kenya was having few good talents who vanished from the scene because cricket did not have a professional support system for them. Now if there are 8 leagues then these players may find a city-club to play for which will enhance their visibility in international scene and also their career longivity. My dream for cricket is to watch an Argentinean player playing for mumbai

  • shahidafridi10 on June 6, 2008, 4:56 GMT

    I agree, ODI cricket needs to allow for 2020, but it shouldn't be put on the backburner. 2020's should replace some of the ODI's. Everyone has been saying "less is more" in regards to ODI's for some time now. It would be great to see tours where there are 3 tests, 3 ODI's (instead of 5+) and 3 2020's. That'd mean every game was important.

  • Shan--IND on June 6, 2008, 4:23 GMT

    Yes, international ODI & T20 leagues is the way forward... i seriously believe one-off T20 matches make no sense... T20 luks gud only if it involves more than 2-3 teams... But becoz we hav T20 WC every 2 yrs, we can give away on T20 intl league !!!

    BUT definitely ODIs should be made into league to make games more interesting & meaningful...

    BUT given that there r 10 test playing nations + few associates in the ODI league, and if the league is both home & away basis then how many yrs will it take to complete one... if its like jus present ICC ratings then it doesnt make sense...

    every one has to play everyone else both at home & away & if we take only the 1st 3 matches towards points count, a team has to make 10-12 tours & hav to host another 10-12 tours to get to an end of the league...

    a league spreading over 3 yrs is so boring, i dont think it will work... so how do we make it more feasible ???

  • swam1231 on June 6, 2008, 3:34 GMT

    Very factual piece. Cricket can never be football. Let cricket be cricket. IPL is a huge success. But, if other boards try a similar format, simply, it won't work. And as the author pointed out, why kill ODIs. Which game offers 3 such different versions. Teams are to be tiered. Like Elite and Plate divisions. Australia playing a test series with Bangladesh is literally no use for any one.

  • schak82 on June 6, 2008, 3:21 GMT

    No they are not. As was correctly stated in the article, cricket neither has the money or the talent pool to perform in this manner. As far as cricket leagues go, though, we can create the Champions league, but only under the condition that the IPL ends. Like in football's CL, each country plays their domestic competition thus qualifying for the big tournament. Thus, only players who have retired (as is in the ICL) can players of different nationalities play alongside each other. If this were to happen, however, there is no need for a Twenty20 WC as national rivalries will be taken care of.

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  • schak82 on June 6, 2008, 3:21 GMT

    No they are not. As was correctly stated in the article, cricket neither has the money or the talent pool to perform in this manner. As far as cricket leagues go, though, we can create the Champions league, but only under the condition that the IPL ends. Like in football's CL, each country plays their domestic competition thus qualifying for the big tournament. Thus, only players who have retired (as is in the ICL) can players of different nationalities play alongside each other. If this were to happen, however, there is no need for a Twenty20 WC as national rivalries will be taken care of.

  • swam1231 on June 6, 2008, 3:34 GMT

    Very factual piece. Cricket can never be football. Let cricket be cricket. IPL is a huge success. But, if other boards try a similar format, simply, it won't work. And as the author pointed out, why kill ODIs. Which game offers 3 such different versions. Teams are to be tiered. Like Elite and Plate divisions. Australia playing a test series with Bangladesh is literally no use for any one.

  • Shan--IND on June 6, 2008, 4:23 GMT

    Yes, international ODI & T20 leagues is the way forward... i seriously believe one-off T20 matches make no sense... T20 luks gud only if it involves more than 2-3 teams... But becoz we hav T20 WC every 2 yrs, we can give away on T20 intl league !!!

    BUT definitely ODIs should be made into league to make games more interesting & meaningful...

    BUT given that there r 10 test playing nations + few associates in the ODI league, and if the league is both home & away basis then how many yrs will it take to complete one... if its like jus present ICC ratings then it doesnt make sense...

    every one has to play everyone else both at home & away & if we take only the 1st 3 matches towards points count, a team has to make 10-12 tours & hav to host another 10-12 tours to get to an end of the league...

    a league spreading over 3 yrs is so boring, i dont think it will work... so how do we make it more feasible ???

  • shahidafridi10 on June 6, 2008, 4:56 GMT

    I agree, ODI cricket needs to allow for 2020, but it shouldn't be put on the backburner. 2020's should replace some of the ODI's. Everyone has been saying "less is more" in regards to ODI's for some time now. It would be great to see tours where there are 3 tests, 3 ODI's (instead of 5+) and 3 2020's. That'd mean every game was important.

  • Saibaskar on June 6, 2008, 4:58 GMT

    I would prefer to disagree with the column. I believe more leagues are possible yes they need not be in the scale of IPL but even a moderate league would be a good thing and as far as the talent pool is concerned right now too many foriegn players are available for IPL and therefore are comperatively cheaper than their indian counterparts. If there are additional leagues situation could change as the home countries would be keen on getting their own stars and therefore would pay the best for them. This could also provide the much wanted break for good players from associate countries. Not so long ago Kenya was having few good talents who vanished from the scene because cricket did not have a professional support system for them. Now if there are 8 leagues then these players may find a city-club to play for which will enhance their visibility in international scene and also their career longivity. My dream for cricket is to watch an Argentinean player playing for mumbai

  • cricket4shafiq on June 6, 2008, 5:05 GMT

    Breathtaking article----not the conventional following! Well done Usman, keep writing fantastic things. What would have been in cricket without the one's,two's, three's and odd boundary of Javed, Bevan, Kallis, Yousf etc---the Lords of middle overs! I feel ODI is an ideal format to see combined the giants of DRAVID, KALLIS, Younis, Vaughan, Murali, alongwith likes of Afridi, Yousaf pathan, Shaun Marsh, Youraj, Sohail Tanveer, Gony, Rao (deccan) etc. I will prefer middle overs of Yousaf/Misbah and Ponting/Hussy fighting against Aussie's/PAK attack over Afridi/Pathan/White hitting sixes to some XYZ bowlers. We all need the balance between "True Romance of Test cricket", "Arranged marriage of ODI", and "Date of T20". Isn't the arranged marriage is ultimate wish between true Love and date?it is! atleast with conservatives or matures! (Shafiq ,Islamabad, Pakistan)

  • SatyajitM on June 6, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    Great piece from Osman. Almost completely agree with what he says. Not too many countries can support a league like IPL. IPL is good as it could get best talent from whole cricket world (barring England). If there are too many such comepetitions around, the standard will be pedestrian and people won't be interested. IPL succeeded not because of Modi or BCCI but because of the large middle class of India who can afford to spend and love the game. Some of the major cities get less than one international game a year. So, they are starved for quality cricket. How do you explain Hyderabad supporters filling the the stadiums for seven successive home losses in IPL? That's not the case with most of the other cricket playing countries. I don't feel middle overs in ODI are useless. They show specific skills for both batsman and bowler and matches are often won in those overs. I feel all the three formats of the game will survive and will work as advantage for cricket.

  • Uppi on June 6, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    It amazes me how all thie analysis of IPL on cricket focuses only on the impact of T20. IPL had TWO departures from the past. T20 and privately owned team. Ignoring the latter is very surprising in my opinion. For details see article published under the byline of Yogesh Upadhyaya in livemint on the web.

  • ErnestHemingway on June 6, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    I think people forget the main thing.

    1. Cricketers have family. 2. People have other things to do than watching cricket for 10 hours for 1 game. 3. Just like 50/50 came in place of cricket, 20/20 will take place of 50/50. 4. Cricketers also want some money.

    Things change, what was good in the past is not as good as it used to be. This generation wants fun and quick games.

    I love 50/50 and test but at same time I look at other side of life. That cricketers also have a life and things they wanna do.

    5 months in a country without family, and then games that last day and night. I think people who r shouting 50/50 should understand that cricketers have life and they wanna do things as well..

    Further 2008 is changing, people work to feed their family and feed themselves nobody has time to stay at home and watch a 50 over match.

    20/20 is quick and that is what people love.

  • crikketfan on June 6, 2008, 5:58 GMT

    Excellent article. Best I've read. Particularly pleased that it hasn't got carried away with the "abolish ODIs" mantra being pressed all over the place. 2020 represents a great opportunity to replace quantity in ODIs with quality. But no more.

    One other point that hasn't been often made in this debate is the ICC drive to develop cricket in other countries. If there were one sure way to kill this dead it would be to abolish ODIs.