July 5, 2009

Mix it up right

This summer, with its blend of Twenty20 and a top-flight Test series, may offer a blueprint for cricket's programme in the years ahead
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It's a rare English summer when an Ashes series shares top billing with a limited-overs tournament. To discover another year like 2009 you have to go back to 1975, when the first World Cup preceded four Tests between Australia and England.

However, 1975 was different to 2009. First the World Cup was scheduled, and the authorities then decided that as Australia would be in the country, they might as well play a Test series, even though it wasn't an Ashes year. Thirty-four years ago the World Cup with its memorable final probably outshone a lacklustre Test series that provided three draws.

This time around it appears likely Twenty20 and the Ashes will share the spotlight. With cricket currently in a state of flux because of the success of Twenty20, this scheduling rarity may provide a blueprint for the game's future. The international cricket programme is a complete shambles, and there's a feeling that something has to give. The future could well feature a more selective Test programme, a wide range of Twenty20 competitions, including globalisation of the game via franchising, with precious little 50-over cricket. I'd be tempted to predict the death of 50-overs cricket, except that the World Cup is a valuable commodity and the administrators will be loath to let it slide into oblivion.

If Tests and Twenty20 are the main way forward what are the pitfalls?

First, the administrators need to wind back the peripheral entertainment element at Twenty20 matches. It was fine to have dancing girls and players miked up when international Twenty20 was a sideshow, with the odd game supplementing the main fare of Tests and 50-overs contests. However, now that Twenty20 has proved itself a popular and worthwhile form of the game, providing thrilling contests and skilful cricket, the balance has shifted. The game itself provides ample entertainment and the extraneous variety should be kept in its place: before and in between, but not during the matches.

This is more than just acknowledging the game can stand on its own two feet. The administrators have inadvertently devalued Twenty20 and created the thought in the players' minds that it's like a blob of fairy floss to be enjoyed following a substantial meal. The problem with planting that thought in the players' minds is where it could lead.

The administrators have inadvertently devalued Twenty20 and created the thought in the players' minds that it's like a blob of fairy floss to be enjoyed following a substantial meal. The problem with planting that thought in the players' minds is where it could lead

It's easy to manipulate a Twenty20 game. A slight alteration to the batting order here, an unconventional bowling change there, and the occasional wide slipped down the leg side at the appropriate moment and the crooks are satisfied. The unscrupulous player can rationalise his greed with the thought, "I haven't sold out the result."

There have been widespread rumours about the legitimacy of some of the cricket played in the now defunct ICL tournaments. That should alert the administrators to be on the lookout.

There's no doubt any manipulation of the Twenty20 game is heavily dependent on a corrupt captain. With the explosion in spread betting, the crooks could probably survive purely on having the captain in their pocket, although their greed generally knows no bounds. Cricket needs the captains to be in step with its crime-stoppers, not in league with the gangsters. It's important the public are sure it's always innovative captaincy on view, rather than an occasional greedy gamble.

Cricket has progressed in a haphazard vein for too long now and while there's much to commend there's also plenty to lament. Now is the right time for the administrators to start planning assiduously for the future. A future involving Test cricket played by just the major nations and including a world championship, plus a variety of Twenty20 competitions that globalise the game through franchises, is a manageable format.

There's no doubt this year's World Twenty20 was a resounding success, and the upcoming Ashes series promises to be a tight contest. This is a mix of cricketing entertainment that keeps everyone happy - the players, the fans and the bean counters. However, unlike 1975, where cricket fortuitously stubbed its toe on a large gold nugget, the way forward needs to be structured. If the administrators don't plan wisely, they may find that in the near future they are only nominally in charge of the game.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kantipur on July 7, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    I agree with Ian. It is easier to fix in 20-20. A batsman can delibrately get out playing an unorthodox shot . Public will not question the shot calling an unorthodox shots are norm of 20-20.

    20-20 is more of a hit and miss cricket even though it is popular and greater tv viewers. But I believe an average cricket fan cares about result in test more. They tend to remember test matches for longer time. With so much 20-20 going on I don't think people even remember many of the results.

    Ian also draws an interesting point about scheduling of the games. Whats more pathetic is how ICC has demean the global event like world cup. Look at this First they played 20-20 world cup, again in the same year all the teams come again for champions trophy, earlier half of next year there is another 20-20 world cup, immidiately after that within one year there is again 50 overs world.

  • aswam on July 7, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    I agree with anmn. Why so much hype for Ashes? Neither England nor Australia are strong teams currently and a test series between them is almost boring.. We cant watch a test series just for its history, can we? "Ashes is sharing the limelight with T20" - Limelight from who? The whole world? Thats unacceptable.

  • pappu_saala on July 7, 2009, 0:13 GMT

    Interesting thoughts, but don't see the point discussing it. ICC decides rules not based on public opinion.

    For shaitaan and paullie http://static.cricinfo.com/db/PICTURES/CMS/70500/70583.jpg

  • Trish.Tripp on July 6, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    for those of you who were disappointed just like me ... here's the bikini girl :-) http://www.cricinfo.com/cbs/content/image/275855.html

  • mani86 on July 6, 2009, 16:16 GMT

    i agree, the most interesting thing about this article is the very misleading picture of a cheerleader on the main page. im sure i have seen the same picture on cricinfo before. is this some sort of a lure i wonder!

  • malepas on July 6, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    This is cheating, gosh, what a shock to find out after clicking on sexy,beatuful bra stripped girl's pictures that all you gonna get is 70's black & white oldies playing cricket --- I think that should also sums up what people want now-s-days, a good cricket match which is fast moving,thrilling and entertaining.

  • Shahzad_Tirmizi on July 6, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Well Ian I'm not sure if you read viewer's comments but I want to know your opinion about; Don't you think ODIs should be replaced by T20 & keep test cricket in its real form?

  • Shaitaan on July 6, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I'm with Paullie... about the bikini girl, I mean. Why would one click into an Ian Chappel article on a Monday morning otherwise, for gosh sakes. A nondescript black and white picture of 1975 cricket? Yawn!

  • kirkeet-fan on July 6, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    how about removing all the restriction on the bowling regarding the bouncers and the elbow-bending for the slower bowlers and letting the visiting captain the choice to bowl or bat... I think this makes the game a lot more fair between the bat and the ball if the local team wants to prepare the pitch to their advantage, that advantage is negated by offering the visiting captain the first use of the pitch, I think I'd stop watching test cricket, which by the way is still the only cricket I watch, if I see the home team prepare pitches to suit their bowlers and conditions and then have talented visiting teams come in but basically toil for nothing as the conditions and rules are so heavily favored to the local team

  • chinaman_swinger on July 6, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    T20s are no more like the ones introduced four years ago. They have changed a lot, particularly in the intensity & range of competition. Test matches are however a tradition and they should be played as a tradition, with responsibility & lots of intensity. ICC should really think of saving cricket matches from the rain gods.

  • kantipur on July 7, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    I agree with Ian. It is easier to fix in 20-20. A batsman can delibrately get out playing an unorthodox shot . Public will not question the shot calling an unorthodox shots are norm of 20-20.

    20-20 is more of a hit and miss cricket even though it is popular and greater tv viewers. But I believe an average cricket fan cares about result in test more. They tend to remember test matches for longer time. With so much 20-20 going on I don't think people even remember many of the results.

    Ian also draws an interesting point about scheduling of the games. Whats more pathetic is how ICC has demean the global event like world cup. Look at this First they played 20-20 world cup, again in the same year all the teams come again for champions trophy, earlier half of next year there is another 20-20 world cup, immidiately after that within one year there is again 50 overs world.

  • aswam on July 7, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    I agree with anmn. Why so much hype for Ashes? Neither England nor Australia are strong teams currently and a test series between them is almost boring.. We cant watch a test series just for its history, can we? "Ashes is sharing the limelight with T20" - Limelight from who? The whole world? Thats unacceptable.

  • pappu_saala on July 7, 2009, 0:13 GMT

    Interesting thoughts, but don't see the point discussing it. ICC decides rules not based on public opinion.

    For shaitaan and paullie http://static.cricinfo.com/db/PICTURES/CMS/70500/70583.jpg

  • Trish.Tripp on July 6, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    for those of you who were disappointed just like me ... here's the bikini girl :-) http://www.cricinfo.com/cbs/content/image/275855.html

  • mani86 on July 6, 2009, 16:16 GMT

    i agree, the most interesting thing about this article is the very misleading picture of a cheerleader on the main page. im sure i have seen the same picture on cricinfo before. is this some sort of a lure i wonder!

  • malepas on July 6, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    This is cheating, gosh, what a shock to find out after clicking on sexy,beatuful bra stripped girl's pictures that all you gonna get is 70's black & white oldies playing cricket --- I think that should also sums up what people want now-s-days, a good cricket match which is fast moving,thrilling and entertaining.

  • Shahzad_Tirmizi on July 6, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Well Ian I'm not sure if you read viewer's comments but I want to know your opinion about; Don't you think ODIs should be replaced by T20 & keep test cricket in its real form?

  • Shaitaan on July 6, 2009, 4:48 GMT

    I'm with Paullie... about the bikini girl, I mean. Why would one click into an Ian Chappel article on a Monday morning otherwise, for gosh sakes. A nondescript black and white picture of 1975 cricket? Yawn!

  • kirkeet-fan on July 6, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    how about removing all the restriction on the bowling regarding the bouncers and the elbow-bending for the slower bowlers and letting the visiting captain the choice to bowl or bat... I think this makes the game a lot more fair between the bat and the ball if the local team wants to prepare the pitch to their advantage, that advantage is negated by offering the visiting captain the first use of the pitch, I think I'd stop watching test cricket, which by the way is still the only cricket I watch, if I see the home team prepare pitches to suit their bowlers and conditions and then have talented visiting teams come in but basically toil for nothing as the conditions and rules are so heavily favored to the local team

  • chinaman_swinger on July 6, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    T20s are no more like the ones introduced four years ago. They have changed a lot, particularly in the intensity & range of competition. Test matches are however a tradition and they should be played as a tradition, with responsibility & lots of intensity. ICC should really think of saving cricket matches from the rain gods.

  • anmn on July 6, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    Is there a place where data related to the number of TV viewers per match is available? Or stadium attendance for that matter? I always felt, if it doesnt involve India, the number will look awful. But, there seem to be an agenda to talk-up lame series and games. Cricket is not #1 sport in Eng or AUS. Then why would a game involving these two interest may followers? I feel, this hype is just to get more viewers from other countries. Both Eng and Aus have pathetic teams. Perhaps, they want us to see who performs the worst. Eng and Aus should learn from Pak/ SL/ India cricket bodies and learn how to promote cricket and get their own audience, instead of trying to leach....

  • __PK on July 5, 2009, 22:28 GMT

    Interesting article, with only two problems, in my opinion. Firstly, the more we take T20 seriously, the more like Test Cricket it becomes and it will share the same fate as ODI's, when they became more about winning than entertaining. Secondly, where is the bikini woman featured so prominently next to your link on the cricinfo main page? The article was ok, but not the main reason I clicked on your link!

  • ablue1972 on July 5, 2009, 21:40 GMT

    Im bored with the ashes already. To much hype. fed up of 2005. The ausies are coming for revenge?? errr 06/07 the 5-0!!! 20/20 is the way forward with no doubt to make everyone in cricket end of story.

  • Night-Watchman on July 5, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    There is no doubt that TEST CRICKET is the ultimate test of a cricketer. The game is not cramped by limitations like overs per bowler or runrate or similar conditions placed on other forms of cricket. This often brings out the battle between the best. That said, test cricket should be played to WIN. Each team MUST srtive to win the match. Despite produing some of the best test saving innings in his career, I just cant stand the sight of Rahul Dravid patting back fulltosses in tight situations. THAT is simply NOT CRICKET. Seondly, it is high time that ICC chucks out teams that are not test class. There should be clearcut criteria set out, maybe make a test playing nation a mentor nation to a test aspiring nation. Provde free exchange of players between these countries and in their internal tournaments. The best way to develop a test playing nation is to develop its players to test level. Finally, some way must be figured out to ater to bad weather ... cotnd

  • borninthetimeofSRT on July 5, 2009, 18:02 GMT

    Signs of a failed sport?-------It is hard to believe that in this age of technology, when any thing and every thing is possible, cricket can be overruled by drizzles and bad lights and D/L systems. Even the old conservative Wimbledon has changed with a fabulous retractable roof that made history this year. Why does cricket become so lame when it rains? Why can't the ICC schedule the matches looking at the forecast? This is not a good sign for the game - it looks like it is dying. Nobody wants pays to see wet covers on the play field. There are other places around the globe where there is enough sun. A change with time is needed. I wish that Buckminster Fuller was there to see the India- WI game and came out with an innovative geodesic dome for the stadium. Cricket stadiums need domes that can transmit natural light and ventilation, it is not rocket science. How many years more do we need to realize that? It is unbelieveable to see that so much money is at stake with the game.

  • cyborg on July 5, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    super , its the other side of the beautiful game twenty 20 is 5 one night stands

  • Aahd on July 5, 2009, 14:14 GMT

    When it comes to corruption the one day game is probably just as vulnerable as the T20 game, in fact, we saw the whole Cronje episode and KNOW that the captain in a bookie's pocket can be highly unfortunate for cricket. The warning is timely but again, Ian seems to side with convention instead of the pure truth. If there were doubts about ICL you can't surely forget some games from the IPL either. Especially with all that was at stake in that tournament.

    As for the cheerleaders providing 'entertainment', I think Ian is spot on, we had very little of it in England and it was unobtrusive as well as discreet, didn't mind it because cricket was the main feature there.

    By the way, even as a Pakistani, I can comfortably say that the World Cup win wasn't as great as it felt when Pakistan took the ODI cup. I'm not saying these guys didn't deserve the laurels but the 50 over game still holds much more value...whosoever thinks its 'dead' is delusional.

  • townball on July 5, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    Aditya, that is a very good point. No finer commentator that CLR James, a traditionalist if there ever was one, even lamented back in the 1950s that a Test Match, played on a competitive wicket, with teams fixed on winning the game rather than forcing a draw, should only take 3 days -- which in fact they did, right through the 1940s. He thought the ponderous attitude engendered by a 5 day game would eventually kill it. It took some 70 years, but he may well be proved right.

  • sray23 on July 5, 2009, 11:42 GMT

    All three forms of the game have merit. Tests are the greatest expression of the game, T20s is the most commercially viable and a great intensification of all cricketing skills and ODIs, contrary to most opinions, provide a platform for the worlds of T20 and Test cricket to converge. What all three forms need is close and competitive matches all year round where all the skills of the game are showcased. That means meaningful matches on result-oriented pitches. India has to play a big role on both these counts as the biggest market in cricket. India has already showed its innovativeness with T20 whilst organising the IPL, now it has to make sure the rest of the game aligns itself in a healthy manner. It should start by going back to preparing turning pitches for Tests to produce more results. The 50-over world cup could be replaced with a bienniel world championship consisting of 5 match bilateral series with the rest of the calendar consisting of franchise-based T20 competitions.

  • FaisalSaudagar on July 5, 2009, 11:15 GMT

    As usual another excellent article from Mr.Chappel, the next time around I would want you to share some expert comments on the ICC thinking of test matches reducing to a 4 days and also changing them into day night affairs

  • TheDecipher on July 5, 2009, 11:13 GMT

    I am extremely dissappointed that the next 20/20 world cup is in 9 months. First they talk about not having too manny 20/20's and now the have world cup in two consecutive years.

  • popcorn on July 5, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    It is imperative that the Cricket administrators maintain the primacy of Test Cricket in its original form - 5 days.It is also imperative that 50 over cricket which requires talent must be maintained. It is well known that Twenty20 requires klittle or no talent. So it should be played for fun, not as a World Cup Tournament. Test Cricket has sustained for 100 years, and should for another 100. The 50 over format of cricket has survived since 1975 - now 35 years, and should continue.Twenty20 is a money-spinning format that should provide some extra money to cricketers like a Pension Fund.

  • squidhead on July 5, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    I haven't always agreed with what Ian Chappell has to say - often, but not always -credit where it's due though, there's a lot of good stuff packed into a short article here. Thanks for that, well done and a timely warning well worth thinking about.

  • iamherenowfear on July 5, 2009, 7:52 GMT

    Eng, as host, just didnt give the WT20 the same respect as the ashes. "This time around it appears likely Twenty20 and the Ashes will share the spotlight", if giving 99% of the spotlight to the ashes is "sharing", then i dont understand either cricket or fractions. furthermore, i think what mr.chappell proposes is something on the lines of club footbal. the franchises control T20 while the intl test matches are fought between nations. the idea is to make T20 staple while tests are the equivalent of WC or Euro in football.

  • borninthetimeofSRT on July 5, 2009, 6:12 GMT

    This is an interesting perspective from Chappell. I think cricket isn't worthy of so many experimentations that are slowly but surely making us forget the game that it used to be. The ICC has left no stones unturned to Americanize the game with an intention of popularizing the game. However, Ian left aside the on going Wimbledon Grand Slam for an example that the cricket fraternity might want to follow. How about that for tradition and classicism. Nothing ever changes but the game keeps getting better and better every year. Cricket is worthy of tradition my friends, lets preserve the bowl while you finish the soup. T20 is overly rated and nonetheless overly criticized. Now we are changing test cricket, and being warned by the cheif to be prepared of sea changes in the game. Can anyone tell us why? The game has changed so much that even Bradman sitting in the box would not know whether he was watching cricket. And so will not Tendulkar 50 years from now. Please don't change the game!

  • Manube on July 5, 2009, 5:42 GMT

    Twenty20 is like a one night stand fun and exciting, but only the most fickle of characters can be satisfied with it for a life time.

  • Vamsi.Tetali on July 5, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    What an excellent article. Mr. Chappell provides an objective, no-nonsense view point rather consistently.

  • AdityaMookerjee on July 5, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Test cricket and One Day International cricket was enough cricket, if the cricket was played in the proper frame of mind. Mr Chappell may disagree with me, but if Test cricket were played in the correct manner, then One Day International cricket and T20 cricket are not needed. The Test playing careers of the players, would also become longer. What is detrimental to Test cricket, is that players and captains take a cautious approach to the game at the beginning of the test match, when both captains should be looking to win the Test match. Indeed, this has been the bane of Test cricket, and most Test playing nations have been guilty of it. The purest form of the game is Test cricket, and the other forms of the game have been invented, because of the incorrect attitude of the players, and not because of any deficiency in Test cricket. I believe, that if Test cricket were played with the correct attitude, and it was the only form of cricket played, then Test cricket would become awesome.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • AdityaMookerjee on July 5, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Test cricket and One Day International cricket was enough cricket, if the cricket was played in the proper frame of mind. Mr Chappell may disagree with me, but if Test cricket were played in the correct manner, then One Day International cricket and T20 cricket are not needed. The Test playing careers of the players, would also become longer. What is detrimental to Test cricket, is that players and captains take a cautious approach to the game at the beginning of the test match, when both captains should be looking to win the Test match. Indeed, this has been the bane of Test cricket, and most Test playing nations have been guilty of it. The purest form of the game is Test cricket, and the other forms of the game have been invented, because of the incorrect attitude of the players, and not because of any deficiency in Test cricket. I believe, that if Test cricket were played with the correct attitude, and it was the only form of cricket played, then Test cricket would become awesome.

  • Vamsi.Tetali on July 5, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    What an excellent article. Mr. Chappell provides an objective, no-nonsense view point rather consistently.

  • Manube on July 5, 2009, 5:42 GMT

    Twenty20 is like a one night stand fun and exciting, but only the most fickle of characters can be satisfied with it for a life time.

  • borninthetimeofSRT on July 5, 2009, 6:12 GMT

    This is an interesting perspective from Chappell. I think cricket isn't worthy of so many experimentations that are slowly but surely making us forget the game that it used to be. The ICC has left no stones unturned to Americanize the game with an intention of popularizing the game. However, Ian left aside the on going Wimbledon Grand Slam for an example that the cricket fraternity might want to follow. How about that for tradition and classicism. Nothing ever changes but the game keeps getting better and better every year. Cricket is worthy of tradition my friends, lets preserve the bowl while you finish the soup. T20 is overly rated and nonetheless overly criticized. Now we are changing test cricket, and being warned by the cheif to be prepared of sea changes in the game. Can anyone tell us why? The game has changed so much that even Bradman sitting in the box would not know whether he was watching cricket. And so will not Tendulkar 50 years from now. Please don't change the game!

  • iamherenowfear on July 5, 2009, 7:52 GMT

    Eng, as host, just didnt give the WT20 the same respect as the ashes. "This time around it appears likely Twenty20 and the Ashes will share the spotlight", if giving 99% of the spotlight to the ashes is "sharing", then i dont understand either cricket or fractions. furthermore, i think what mr.chappell proposes is something on the lines of club footbal. the franchises control T20 while the intl test matches are fought between nations. the idea is to make T20 staple while tests are the equivalent of WC or Euro in football.

  • squidhead on July 5, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    I haven't always agreed with what Ian Chappell has to say - often, but not always -credit where it's due though, there's a lot of good stuff packed into a short article here. Thanks for that, well done and a timely warning well worth thinking about.

  • popcorn on July 5, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    It is imperative that the Cricket administrators maintain the primacy of Test Cricket in its original form - 5 days.It is also imperative that 50 over cricket which requires talent must be maintained. It is well known that Twenty20 requires klittle or no talent. So it should be played for fun, not as a World Cup Tournament. Test Cricket has sustained for 100 years, and should for another 100. The 50 over format of cricket has survived since 1975 - now 35 years, and should continue.Twenty20 is a money-spinning format that should provide some extra money to cricketers like a Pension Fund.

  • TheDecipher on July 5, 2009, 11:13 GMT

    I am extremely dissappointed that the next 20/20 world cup is in 9 months. First they talk about not having too manny 20/20's and now the have world cup in two consecutive years.

  • FaisalSaudagar on July 5, 2009, 11:15 GMT

    As usual another excellent article from Mr.Chappel, the next time around I would want you to share some expert comments on the ICC thinking of test matches reducing to a 4 days and also changing them into day night affairs

  • sray23 on July 5, 2009, 11:42 GMT

    All three forms of the game have merit. Tests are the greatest expression of the game, T20s is the most commercially viable and a great intensification of all cricketing skills and ODIs, contrary to most opinions, provide a platform for the worlds of T20 and Test cricket to converge. What all three forms need is close and competitive matches all year round where all the skills of the game are showcased. That means meaningful matches on result-oriented pitches. India has to play a big role on both these counts as the biggest market in cricket. India has already showed its innovativeness with T20 whilst organising the IPL, now it has to make sure the rest of the game aligns itself in a healthy manner. It should start by going back to preparing turning pitches for Tests to produce more results. The 50-over world cup could be replaced with a bienniel world championship consisting of 5 match bilateral series with the rest of the calendar consisting of franchise-based T20 competitions.