October 14, 2009

More innings, more fun

The way to go to save the ODI would be to get rid of the various artificial restrictions and have four innings
48

Watching international sporting tournaments unencumbered by the blinkers of overt nationalism bestows certain inalienable rights on the observer. We demand a level playing field, where the protagonists compete on equal terms, ensuring a true test of worth. We demand quality. We demand action. We demand sweat and toil, and perhaps even a drop or two of blood. We demand justice. Above all, though, we demand tension and drama. Which is why the Champions Trophy, for all its merits, proved a more effective dampener than an extremely damp squib.

It is not unreasonable to assume that we Poms are predisposed, by our extensive experience of national failure at 50-over cricket, to turn our noses up at ODIs. Still, for all Peter Roebuck's justified complaint that the wall-to-wall nature of contemporary cricket so often deprives its followers of anticipation, I was fully prepared to shelve my disenchantment once I realised, however belatedly, that the Champions Trophy promised to be the leanest and meanest major one-day tournament yet.

Yes, the format, for once, was just right. Yes, thanks in good part to the pitches, it was often compelling. Yes, on occasion it was gloriously unpredictable, repeatedly rubbishing the formbook. Yes, individuals shone. Shane Bond and Mohammad Yousuf returned to the world stage and the game was all the richer; Mohammad Aamer and Gavin Tonge introduced themselves with dash and a flourish; Ricky Ponting emphasised the permanence of class, reaffirming that no contemporary batsman is his superior; Shane Watson continued stuffing humble pie down sceptical throats. Even gallantry was present and correct. Tension and drama, conversely, were infrequent and fleeting guests.

Of the 14 completed matches, only one - Australia's two-wicket, last-ball win over Pakistan - entered the final five overs with the outcome truly in the balance. Three went to the final ball, twice when the result was already decided; Australia-Pakistan aside, the closest margins were 22 runs and four wickets. Notwithstanding the absence of the hosts, to see a half-empty Wanderers for the final was to be assured that a) Monday is not quite the ideal day of the week to host such a climax, and b) imaginations had not been captured. Of course you can't orchestrate these things. Nor should we want to.

Twenty20, though, has exposed the limitations of its 50-over parent. That JP Duminy should give the Champions League such a rip-roaring kick-off three days later rammed home the point. Yes, most of the subsequent contests have been one-sided strolls blighted by slapsticky batting and stickier pitches, but at least they had the priceless virtue of a swift conclusion.

Of course familiarity has bred contempt. Of course the priority must be to reduce the number of ODIs (14, a record in a non-World Cup or Champions Trophy year, are scheduled for the next British season, plus four Twenty20s). Five-match series should be the maximum, ideally three. And yes, they should always precede any Test series. But the future of the planet's most chameleonesque ballgame requires rather more than a mere pruning of the fixture list.

LET'S EXAMINE THE THEATRICAL value, without which spectator sport would be the height of mundanity. Unlike Tests, where drama comes second to a leisurely appreciation of skill rather than vice versa - and where, crucially, saving a match is a worthwhile strategy - the abridged game is largely reliant on the close finish. Of late, these have not exactly been abundant. Of the 158 completed ODIs played by the 10 ICC full members prior to the Champions Trophy, just 19 culminated in winning margins of fewer than 10 runs or four wickets. That's barely 12%, one every couple of series.

Cricket needs a bridge between Twenty20 and Tests, a format that links these disparate forms. Persuading teenagers that five-day games are worth their time and easily divided attention will take some doing. Introducing them to the concept of a two-innings contest is a better bet

There was no better snapshot of this freedom from drama than the 2008 Asia Trophy: six sides played 13 games, with the closest margins 64 runs and six wickets. Of the past 28 bilateral series of five or more games, 20 have been decided before the final fixture. The merits of baseball's playoff system, where five- and seven-game series are concluded as soon as an overall result is obtained, have seldom been plainer. Fans put up with the uncertainty, as do broadcasters and clubs. Why should cricket be any different?

Talking from the safe side of the white line during that flatliner of a NatWest Series, Greg Blewett admitted finding 50-over games "tedious" to play (which might well explain why he averaged barely 20 in 32 ODIs, but that's another matter). Watching them can be even less stimulating. The third Powerplay has been hailed as a positive change but it didn't look so hot during the England-Australia series, where it was persistently delayed until after the 40th over, bleeding into, and thus obscuring, the customary last-10-over dash.

For those who believe the international game should retain its primacy, the figures are intensely sobering. According to a recent report in the Times of India, advertisers are willing to pay more for a 10-second slot during a Twenty20 match than for one in a Test or ODI, even though both offer more opportunities for prolonged brand exposure. During the IPL, advertisers were paying more than Rs 4 lakh for a 10-second slot, 25% more than for the World Twenty20. After India failed to qualify for the semi-finals, rates dropped. For the Champions Trophy, the projected rate was also Rs 3 lakh.

The ominous news certainly doesn't stop there. A few years ago, an ODI involving India was worth at least US$6 million (from broadcast, title and on-ground sponsorship); now it's down to less than $1m; an IPL game is worth $8m and a World Twenty20 match valued at $5m. TV rights to the entire five-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka in March, plus a Twenty20 international, cost $5m all in. ''Valuation is not everything,'' insisted BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla. Really?

Caution has been urged. ''Anything which is new in India generally does well and Twenty20 is not an exception," said one broadcast executive. "We wonder how long the spectators can sustain their interest before reverting to ODIs. We are confident the trend will change." According to Shukla, "you can't mix the two [ODIs and Twenty20]". Both, he added, "have their charm and [both] are here to stay''.

I wonder. The England and Wales Cricket Board drew heaps of ridicule after 13 county chairmen not only voted to abolish their 50-over competition but expressed an enthusiasm for 40-over matches spanning two innings of 20 overs per side: it was ill-deserved. The South Africans are going the same way; both, clearly, have sniffed the winds of change. The ICC, after all, is also considering such a split, with ODIs comprising four alternating segments of 25 overs per side. One notable proponent is Sachin Tendulkar, who reckons that the results of "close to 75% of matches" could be predicted after the toss. "I quite like that idea," said David Richardson, the ICC cricket manager, who rightly believes that a good restaurant should never be fearful of changing the menu.

Writing with characteristic sagacity in the Times, Michael Atherton begged to differ. He urged the ICC to "deregulate", to go back to basics, and hence bring the 50-over game closer to the more natural way in which a Test evolves. No gimmicks. No artificial aids that only ever benefit batsmen. Their impact, he justly argued, has diluted the spectacle. "It has become more not less predictable and more formulaic. Bowlers know that containment can win games, batsmen know that the non-Powerplay overs demand risk-free accumulation, and captains are rendered powerless by restrictions."

Atherton's message is simple: ditch the additives and lose the clutter. No Powerplays. No fielding restrictions before the last 10 overs. And no limitations on the number of overs per bowler, a measure this laptop has been banging on about for years. Yet, potent as it may seem, this remedy goes only so far. Cricket needs a bridge between Twenty20 and Tests, a format that links these disparate forms. Persuading teenagers who have fallen for the former's fast-forward charms that five-day games are worth their precious time and easily-divided attention will take some doing. Introducing them to the concept of a two-innings contest, the very essence of the game, is a better bet.

Reducing the influence of the toss would be one positive by-product, though that shortcoming could be just as easily redressed if the toss was scrapped altogether and the choice given to the visiting team. Another, more far-reaching advantage would be conferred on the way the game markets itself.

When I was a teenager, only two friends shared my love of Test cricket. Happily, the 40-over Sunday League, televised live every Sunday afternoon of the summer, saw the non-disciples slowly acquire a taste for the longer game. Unless it doubles the number of innings, Twenty20 may prove too short to permit such a transition, hence one's reservations about commending the extremely prejudicial termination of the ODI. That, nonetheless, may still be the best bet.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shirazu on October 16, 2009, 14:34 GMT

    The only problem that I think they are going to have with a two-innings ODI format is having too many games where the team coming out to bat in their fourth innings has lost already, for example needing 250 in 25 overs or something like that. Or on the flipside, a team that does badly batting first, say they go down by 70 runs, will know that there is no hope of victory unless they post a very big total in their second innings, leading to blowout or even innings wins.

    Still this happens all the time in regular ODI's, so it's no big loss. And the strategy in the new format should be very interesting.

  • sysubrceq0 on October 15, 2009, 3:43 GMT

    In my opinion, ODI's are fine with the current format.. dont need to split into 4 innings. But the disadvantage is weather conditions and Due in air for D/N matches for batting second team. Now currents pitches which allow 300+ scores means Win toss and select batting.. like Premadasa stadium. So i feel ODI's should be divided into 4 innings as four 25 overs, but the second innings is continuation of first innings. Ex: AUS-ENG match... Aus 1st inng 1-138 in 25 overs and Eng 3-68 in 25 overs. BREAK. then Australia starts from 25.1 where it discontinued with same batsmen not as fresh innings, which allows the batsmen to score centuries and reach milestones, may ENG can get advantage to comeback and fight. If rain interrupts we can decide the match on first 25 overs play. So no boring 15-40 overs, if a team is allout before 25 overs then can win by innings (as in test matches)

  • vladtepes on October 15, 2009, 2:36 GMT

    Leave ODI alone. If anything, move them back to 60-overs matches like they started back in the 1970s. That gives teams more chance to rebuild after an early collapse, and it gives bowlers more time to attack the tail who tend to take liberties in the waning overs. Also, when a team is chasing a low D/L total in a few overs, they can still hack away at the bowlers with the security of all 10 wickets in hand. I think removing wickets by using the D/L formula levels the field, so, instead of chasing 120 in 20 overs, they could chase 120 in 20 overs with only 7 wickets in hand. Now I dare you to hack away. The comparison with baseball is skewed because you don't start each baseball innings with the same opening batsman. Each innings begins with the next batsman in the batting order, which is set and unalterable before the game begins. One of the charms of cricket is it's not baseball.

  • NZ_Cricket_supporter on October 15, 2009, 2:27 GMT

    Its not just watching cricket, remember that people ACTUALLY go out on a saturday and play cricket. I personally hate 20/20 and dont watch it at all. If our current tournament where I lived changed to 20/20 (which was a proposal) then I would retire from cricket altogether. Cricket players like to watch test and 1day cricket. Not many people I know like 20/20 except non-cricket players (my partner for example), because the action is faster. But is this who you are trying to get to come along to games? and are you trying to get rid of the people who play cricket?

  • peeeeet on October 14, 2009, 23:30 GMT

    They don't need to change anything about ODIs. The best thing, for all cricket actually, would be to get variety in pitches again. Being an Australian, I remember when the WACA was the bounciest pitch in the world, Sydney was a dustbowl, Gabba and MCG were green - now they all pretty much look and do the same. Personally, I'm loving the low scores in the Champions Trophy and the 'difficult' pitches, as we are seeing batsmen of real class succeed because they have to build an innings rather than smash and dash (Katich, Kallis and Hughes to name a few). ODIs are fine - maybe get rid of powerplays and go back to normal first 15 overs. Or maybe enforce that all powerplays must be done by 35th over, so the latest the batting team can take their's is the 30th. And they could try the super-sub again because that would work, they just got it wrong. The captain should have available maybe 14 players, lineups can change after toss, then 3 players to choose from to make 1 sub for 2nd innings.

  • NashRambler on October 14, 2009, 22:34 GMT

    Mr. Steen,

    When arguing in favor of a 2 innings per side One-Day format you need to make CRYSTAL CLEAR whether you are arguing for 2 innings per side with 10 wickets per innings (20 wickets total for each side) or whether you are arguing for 2 SEGMENTS per side for 10 wickets across both segments. The comments to your article demonstrate the confusion which results from not clearly indicating your preference.

  • chaitumart on October 14, 2009, 21:08 GMT

    A better way of making ODI more interesting , split it in to 30 and 20 overs innings,choice of which to choose first is up to the captain. In the 30 overs innings ,a team has only 5 wickets while batting.This would make batsman more cautious ,making them play more of cricketing shots rather than slog, making them build their innings.This would allow bowlers to be more attacking, looking to take wickets ,as they have very chance of taking 5 wickets in 30 overs.The other 20 overs would be like t20 .This set up would bring both test players as well as t20 players in one frame , would make cricketers to acquire both test as well as t20 skills. If a team starts of batting 30 overs , the other team can bat 20 overs innings,then bowl 20 overs , and at last bat out their 30 overs innings.This would make teams more strategic on how they plan their innings.

  • criceasy on October 14, 2009, 19:46 GMT

    Dividing ODIs into two 20 overs innings is basically making it a Twenty20 game with 2 innings and accepting defeat to Twenty20 format. I would rather preserve ODI in its current form, but reduce it to 40 overs, with some creative ideas that stimulates interest. For example, penalize batsmen, if they play score less than 2 runs a over. award 1 extra ball to the batsman, if he scores 2 or more sixes. when you can penalize the bowlers for bowling wides, why not do that to batsmen, who are boring. that makes them look for runs and entertains the crowds. Leave that purist game of playing on merit to test cricket. Think out of the box to generate interest. otherwise, it is just a matter of time before ODI will meet its creator

  • lucyferr on October 14, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    Finally! Someone who realizes that the true measure of a sporting contest is how much uncertainty of the result there is near the end. (Come to think of it, a statistician could quantify this using information theory.) In baseball, there are nine innings - the batting & bowling/pitching are really mixed up, making it easier for a team to 'catch up' - and making a superior sporting product. (Plus baseball isn't overly biased towards the batters.) Of course, nine innings in cricket would be ridiculous - nobody's calling for that. But the question purists like geedubnz should be asking isn't why ODIs should be modified to have two innings, but rather why ODIs didn't have two innings to begin with in the first place. In the 70s, when ODIs were started, didn't anyone question the validity of having a cricket match with just one innings?

  • emir on October 14, 2009, 18:49 GMT

    odi are still interesrting there is nothing bad about it its just those who have now started to watch cricket feel that 2020 is better but pure cricket lovers still watch odis and more focus sould be given to the international fixtures

  • shirazu on October 16, 2009, 14:34 GMT

    The only problem that I think they are going to have with a two-innings ODI format is having too many games where the team coming out to bat in their fourth innings has lost already, for example needing 250 in 25 overs or something like that. Or on the flipside, a team that does badly batting first, say they go down by 70 runs, will know that there is no hope of victory unless they post a very big total in their second innings, leading to blowout or even innings wins.

    Still this happens all the time in regular ODI's, so it's no big loss. And the strategy in the new format should be very interesting.

  • sysubrceq0 on October 15, 2009, 3:43 GMT

    In my opinion, ODI's are fine with the current format.. dont need to split into 4 innings. But the disadvantage is weather conditions and Due in air for D/N matches for batting second team. Now currents pitches which allow 300+ scores means Win toss and select batting.. like Premadasa stadium. So i feel ODI's should be divided into 4 innings as four 25 overs, but the second innings is continuation of first innings. Ex: AUS-ENG match... Aus 1st inng 1-138 in 25 overs and Eng 3-68 in 25 overs. BREAK. then Australia starts from 25.1 where it discontinued with same batsmen not as fresh innings, which allows the batsmen to score centuries and reach milestones, may ENG can get advantage to comeback and fight. If rain interrupts we can decide the match on first 25 overs play. So no boring 15-40 overs, if a team is allout before 25 overs then can win by innings (as in test matches)

  • vladtepes on October 15, 2009, 2:36 GMT

    Leave ODI alone. If anything, move them back to 60-overs matches like they started back in the 1970s. That gives teams more chance to rebuild after an early collapse, and it gives bowlers more time to attack the tail who tend to take liberties in the waning overs. Also, when a team is chasing a low D/L total in a few overs, they can still hack away at the bowlers with the security of all 10 wickets in hand. I think removing wickets by using the D/L formula levels the field, so, instead of chasing 120 in 20 overs, they could chase 120 in 20 overs with only 7 wickets in hand. Now I dare you to hack away. The comparison with baseball is skewed because you don't start each baseball innings with the same opening batsman. Each innings begins with the next batsman in the batting order, which is set and unalterable before the game begins. One of the charms of cricket is it's not baseball.

  • NZ_Cricket_supporter on October 15, 2009, 2:27 GMT

    Its not just watching cricket, remember that people ACTUALLY go out on a saturday and play cricket. I personally hate 20/20 and dont watch it at all. If our current tournament where I lived changed to 20/20 (which was a proposal) then I would retire from cricket altogether. Cricket players like to watch test and 1day cricket. Not many people I know like 20/20 except non-cricket players (my partner for example), because the action is faster. But is this who you are trying to get to come along to games? and are you trying to get rid of the people who play cricket?

  • peeeeet on October 14, 2009, 23:30 GMT

    They don't need to change anything about ODIs. The best thing, for all cricket actually, would be to get variety in pitches again. Being an Australian, I remember when the WACA was the bounciest pitch in the world, Sydney was a dustbowl, Gabba and MCG were green - now they all pretty much look and do the same. Personally, I'm loving the low scores in the Champions Trophy and the 'difficult' pitches, as we are seeing batsmen of real class succeed because they have to build an innings rather than smash and dash (Katich, Kallis and Hughes to name a few). ODIs are fine - maybe get rid of powerplays and go back to normal first 15 overs. Or maybe enforce that all powerplays must be done by 35th over, so the latest the batting team can take their's is the 30th. And they could try the super-sub again because that would work, they just got it wrong. The captain should have available maybe 14 players, lineups can change after toss, then 3 players to choose from to make 1 sub for 2nd innings.

  • NashRambler on October 14, 2009, 22:34 GMT

    Mr. Steen,

    When arguing in favor of a 2 innings per side One-Day format you need to make CRYSTAL CLEAR whether you are arguing for 2 innings per side with 10 wickets per innings (20 wickets total for each side) or whether you are arguing for 2 SEGMENTS per side for 10 wickets across both segments. The comments to your article demonstrate the confusion which results from not clearly indicating your preference.

  • chaitumart on October 14, 2009, 21:08 GMT

    A better way of making ODI more interesting , split it in to 30 and 20 overs innings,choice of which to choose first is up to the captain. In the 30 overs innings ,a team has only 5 wickets while batting.This would make batsman more cautious ,making them play more of cricketing shots rather than slog, making them build their innings.This would allow bowlers to be more attacking, looking to take wickets ,as they have very chance of taking 5 wickets in 30 overs.The other 20 overs would be like t20 .This set up would bring both test players as well as t20 players in one frame , would make cricketers to acquire both test as well as t20 skills. If a team starts of batting 30 overs , the other team can bat 20 overs innings,then bowl 20 overs , and at last bat out their 30 overs innings.This would make teams more strategic on how they plan their innings.

  • criceasy on October 14, 2009, 19:46 GMT

    Dividing ODIs into two 20 overs innings is basically making it a Twenty20 game with 2 innings and accepting defeat to Twenty20 format. I would rather preserve ODI in its current form, but reduce it to 40 overs, with some creative ideas that stimulates interest. For example, penalize batsmen, if they play score less than 2 runs a over. award 1 extra ball to the batsman, if he scores 2 or more sixes. when you can penalize the bowlers for bowling wides, why not do that to batsmen, who are boring. that makes them look for runs and entertains the crowds. Leave that purist game of playing on merit to test cricket. Think out of the box to generate interest. otherwise, it is just a matter of time before ODI will meet its creator

  • lucyferr on October 14, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    Finally! Someone who realizes that the true measure of a sporting contest is how much uncertainty of the result there is near the end. (Come to think of it, a statistician could quantify this using information theory.) In baseball, there are nine innings - the batting & bowling/pitching are really mixed up, making it easier for a team to 'catch up' - and making a superior sporting product. (Plus baseball isn't overly biased towards the batters.) Of course, nine innings in cricket would be ridiculous - nobody's calling for that. But the question purists like geedubnz should be asking isn't why ODIs should be modified to have two innings, but rather why ODIs didn't have two innings to begin with in the first place. In the 70s, when ODIs were started, didn't anyone question the validity of having a cricket match with just one innings?

  • emir on October 14, 2009, 18:49 GMT

    odi are still interesrting there is nothing bad about it its just those who have now started to watch cricket feel that 2020 is better but pure cricket lovers still watch odis and more focus sould be given to the international fixtures

  • anton1234 on October 14, 2009, 18:20 GMT

    Even though I am for the switch to 40 overs a side as I think dividing ODIs into 4 innings will be a huge mistake (the concept did not work with MAX cricket in NZ where they had four 10 over innings), sometimes I think there really isn't a need for longer limited overs cricket with 20-20 being so popular.

    Most ODIs do not provide good entertainemnt and nor are they memorable. Then I think the only really good point of 50 over cricket is that it makes better statistical comparison between players which 20-20 does not do as well i.e. you can make better judgement of players based on their averages.

    Most of 2007 ODI world cup was truly forgettable a swas the 2003 world cup in SA. The fact is, the biggest ODI tournamnet throws up very few good matches.

    And most ODIs in between are just played for the TV and gate attendances.

    I agree that the recent ICC champions trophy was a good one (in fact, most CT tournamnets have been good), but that alone should not fool anyone.

  • santhoshkudva on October 14, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    ODI's need the test match flavour.for a start, we could limit the minimum number of bowlers required to 4 as against 5. two to bowl 13, two to bowl 12. and if one bowler is having a good day and another a bad day, it could be 14-11 for one pair. increase the size of grounds. encourage running b/w the wickets.make heavier outfields. thereby, emphasis will be on quality batsmen. have a 40 yard circle for the last 10 overs. modify rules to suit a playing condition where 4 or 4.5 runs per over is a good score.

  • mayuri78 on October 14, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    Sorry Rob but its absolutely ridiculous idea. One Day in the current format is absolutely OK. Changinging will be disastrous. 20,20 is enough for a change. Lets see its implications

  • Kumar_cricket on October 14, 2009, 14:36 GMT

    I dont want to change the current format.Lot of fun still avaliable in the one dayers. But the only concerns is track used for one dayers. The tracks are become flat and batting paradise in all the parts of the world. Provide lively Pitches or dry tracks which will help the bowlers to an extent.We will much more fun in One dayers.Still lot of people loves one day cricket.

  • crikketfan on October 14, 2009, 13:54 GMT

    I don't agree with the "no restrictions on bowlers" idea. Yes there could be a slight relaxation (say 12-13 overs per bowler) but no restrictions is too far. To compare with test cricket again, "weak links" are a fundamental part of that game. Teams need balanced, complete attacks of at least 4 bowlers because the length of innings means it is not physically possible for 2-3 bowlers to do all the work.

    This is not true in ODIs, and removing restrictions would leave open the possibility of one or two parsimonious bowlers bowling most of the innings and killing the game dead.

  • dsquires on October 14, 2009, 13:27 GMT

    The problem with 50 over cricket is easy. A good score is around 300, but that is approaching a decent test match innings score, where there is no pressure to score quickly. In other words, for a limited overs game, 50 overs is too many. Maybe 40 would actually be better, although having said that the Pro40 games in England are generally abysmal.

    As for the games themselves... After the awful substitute idea was a failure as expected I would actually like to see an alternative - introduce the ability to have a "designated hitter". In other words - a batsman. He does not field, he is just in the side to bat in place of one of your bowlers. It would bolster the batting, meaning more runs for the fans, but could also open the game up for less mobile powerful one day batsmen.

    Test match cricket tells a story, whereas one day cricket needs to be about speed and intensity. T20 definitely achieves that, but 50 over cricket doesn't.

  • robheinen on October 14, 2009, 13:23 GMT

    I'm all for abolishing as many regulations as possible and while we're at it also abolish the ridiculous law that restricts the number of fielders behind square on the on side, which stems from the days of the bodylibne series when bvatsmen needed protection that they wear these days. I'm all for one day matches as they're truly formulated in the laws. A one day match consisting of two innings per side. As opposed to the limited overs games of 50 overs per side. Therefore I agree with Rob Steen. However stating to be in favour of this format doesn't close the discussion or alter the cricketing world. For what does this new form of cricket look like?Ten wickets to be taken in two innings? Twenty wickets to be taken in two innings? How many overs per bowler? Is that in two innings or per innings? To name just a few questions that readily spring to mind.

  • JimDavis on October 14, 2009, 13:04 GMT

    Turning 20/20s into 2 innings affairs will see test matches go the way of Royal Tennis!

    I totally agree that we should try playing ODIs with only restrictions that last the full 50 overs. I think if you keep them in for the last 10 overs you run the risk of the first 40 overs being risk free and not just overs 15 to 40.

    The main reason I can see for the "boring middle overs" in ODI is down to teams trying to play risk free cricket rather than entertaining cricket. Kevin Pietersen and MS Dhoni (post hair cut) are two perfect case studies. Dhoni has lost most of his flamboyance in the last few years and plays risk free whenever possible - we are the poorer for it. Pietersen, on the other hand gets hammered by the press for being a fool whenever he does something entertaining which doesn't come off. Sort this conundrum out and you'll sort out your ODI problem.

  • geedubnz on October 14, 2009, 12:20 GMT

    Problems with ODI matches, in order of relevance/importance:

    1) Too many games. Who remembers what happened in game 4 of the 7 match series between England and Aust? We know Australia won it - but had the series finished 4-3, we probably would have forgotten. I agree that the ideal number of ODIs in a series should be 3.

    2) Too many aides for batsmen. It's far too easy to score 275+ these days - have batsmen magically got better in the last 5 years compared to the 30 that preceeded them? Partially yes, but now we have 20 overs of fielding restrictions, 10 of them used at the batting teams discretion, the pitches are better, the bats heavier, boundaries shorter.This is why games arent producing close finishes

    3) Too much expectation. Cricket is a purist's game. It's not baseball, basketball or Ice Hockey. Let's stop trying to artificially turn it into those sports by introducing silly rules just to appease people who don't appreciate it for what it is

    Leave it well alone.

  • anton1234 on October 14, 2009, 12:05 GMT

    I think the problem with 50 over game is not that its not interesting because some games are hugely interesting, but the games seem to last forever. 100 overs in a day with a 45 min break in the middle is just too long. Games start at 11AM and sometime finish as late as 8PM. People do not want to be at the ground for some 8-9 hours in the hustle and bustle of the modern day. Making the game into 4 innings will just prolong the matches even more with teams having to switch over after each innings.

    Change it 40 overs a side (as they are doing in SA domestic cricket) with a minimum 16 overs to be boweld an hour. The innings break should be 15-20 minutes. You then have a nice and compact game that lasts around 5 hours in totality.

    Most ODI matches can be day/night affairs. You can start the matches at 5PM and finish at 10PM as opposed to starting at 2:30PM (as is the case nowadayc

  • SurreyXI on October 14, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    The main issue is clearly the amount of cricket that is being played at the moment. I think this not only reduces the impact of each cricket match but also decreases the standard of cricket being played - how many out and out fast bowlers will be able to remain fit and firing for long periods of time with such a packed schedule? Aside from this I do think that in its current format ODI cricket needs deregulating, as wise man Athers says it has become too formulaic.

  • Joszen1 on October 14, 2009, 11:12 GMT

    Hear Hear Mike Atherton! Also, a real innovation to make things more interesting would be a five over 'underpower-play' (chosen by the fielding captain of course, and can overlap with any batting power-plays) where the batsmen can either only grip the bat with one hand, or be forced to hop on one leg while facing/playing a shot.

    ODIs (more especially ODIs between good teams and with enough space between each other) still embody the virtues of cricket (toil, individual moments of brilliance, diversity).

  • BEDEKAR on October 14, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    I think the main problem is too much cricket --in all formats ,tests,ODIs or T 20 ! It is like daily TV soap opera. This has robbed cricket of most of its charm . T 20 also has started becoming predictable--the current Champions League is boring ! Secondly ,viewers should be able to identify & relate themselves with the teams like it happens in Tests or ODI at Nations level . The goose that lays the golden eggs is being killed by the greedy administrators

  • dar268 on October 14, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    I agree with lachlan114. Pampered journalists may be bored with one-day cricket (poor things) but they are not like ordinary paying spectators who watch a handful of games each year. The 40 over domestic game in England is still very popular 40 years after its introduction (let's see how T20 is doing in 2043) in spite of the ECB's best efforts to market it out of existence. I don't watch T20 live (I have no inclination to travel to watch what, despite all the impressive skills, is essentially a slogfest over in a couple of hours) and like to see a result in a day - take away one-day cricket and I'll raise white flag.

  • bondu on October 14, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    I think, don't need to split an ODI in four innings because it become as same as T20. I suggest that 6 Runs will convert into 8 runs during the 25th to 35th over when ball goes over the rope, and teams has to take batting power play before 45th Over. So administrator have to make some more interesting changes to survive the ODIs instead of cut-short this format.

  • ramzi462000 on October 14, 2009, 10:29 GMT

    I agree with Atherton. I propose 50 overs for both sides with no fielding restrictions, no power plays, no maximum no.of.overs for a bowler. Lets play in this format for 2 or 3 tournaments and we can see how it works

  • sabina2009 on October 14, 2009, 10:00 GMT

    I hate to believe that sooner or later ODI and TEST cricket would be wiped off from the face of the planet because of T20. I never want to see this happen in cricket. I have been seeing 50 over ODI since childhood and it will always be a fascination for me. I still prefer watching 50 over ODI than T20. I should blame ICC for not being able to promote 50 over game like they should have. It is their responsibility to promote 50 over game and try their utmost best to popularize the game to the audiences.

  • lachlan114 on October 14, 2009, 9:54 GMT

    YOU are killing the current one day format, the journalists and the analysts, you say some don't like the current format however there are thousand of others who do and turn up to watch it? Almost all the comments on this article are disagreeing with the alteration of a one day format. The crowd still love and want to see one day cricket. When there are less people turning up for a one dayer, than a test match (excluding the ashes), then some alteration might be in order, but while the crowd and everyone else except the journalists and analysts still want one day cricket, one day cricket they shall have.

  • anton1234 on October 14, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    I can't believe you propose this idea, too, Rob. The idea of breaking a 50 over a side game into 2 innings each will do nothing but make into series of 20-20 over matches within a single ODI.

    This will detract from the real 20-20 over game which has proved hugely popular. We don't want to deluge the game with 20-20 cricket, do we?

    My proposal has always been to change ODI (50 over cricket) into 40 over a side (single innings with minimum 16 overs an hour to be balled and a shorter (20 minutes) mid-innings break.

    This move will take away the dull period that are common in the 50 over game between overs 20 and 40 or so.

    40 over a side is a good compromise between making sure batsmen do not get bogged down but also avoiding the rush shots quite common in 20-20.

  • philsil on October 14, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    How about making T20 2 x 10 over innings? No LBW, 4 fielders in 5 out, 2 overs per bowler, aluminium bats and a bigger ball. Then T20 will create a new game away from the current state of cricket. The game can evolve and the new Pontings, Tendulkars and Malingas will emerge. This will not be a step down from ODIs but a step up from Quick Cricket. There can be plenty of breaks for commercials and no hold ups with dubious screams of LBW.

  • Hooves on October 14, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Lots of ideas and interesting ones too. But how does anyone really regulate the qulaity of the pitch? I can remember someone saying that these drop in pitches are creating a monotone effect. Headingly becoming more like Edgebaston with their individual characters being lost, or where ever. That was perhaps 10/15 years ago when i was a lad at the Taunton county ground nets. But how do you roll out a equal for both bat and ball standard around the world? Being a bowler, and plying my off stumpers nibblers in shallow soiled North Devon, I would like to see more equal measures for bowlers on the International platform, but i suppose if you can turn the ball at right angles or bang it down at 92mph, lively tracks might bring problems, and dentistry. My heart belongs to test cricket and I hope that the 20/20 bubble bursts like most bull markets do. (or is that Bear market??)

  • Saim93 on October 14, 2009, 8:35 GMT

    Please enough of changing cricket, why not make it 5 overs each and have more blitz than T20!!!??

  • PeterWebb on October 14, 2009, 7:39 GMT

    More innings, more fun: What a ridiculous idea, why don't we just turn it into baseball and have nine 5-over innings.

  • pradeep_dealwis on October 14, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Pete B makes a very good point. Changing 50vrs into 25 X 2 won't make much of a difference, if anything it'll make ODIs more complicating.... The first thing to do is to ensure good pitches...the problem is , like Tendulkar said "75% of the matches can be predicted based on the Toss"...the ICC should ensure good quality pitches where both bat and ball has a equal say and both teams get to play on a pitch plays the same. Plus all these big scores have made ODIs boring....it used to exciting when a team scored 300+...now its happening every other match....the quality of cricket is has come down because of batsman friendly pitches.

  • BoomBoomAdnan on October 14, 2009, 7:02 GMT

    Atherton has the best idea they r making ODI too confusing this way it will b great contest between bat and ball no part time bowlers. no predictable field setttings predictable team linups

  • Shahzad_Tirmizi on October 14, 2009, 6:51 GMT

    I agree with crikketfan. ODIs in its present design are playing a part of a bridge between Tests & T20. So there's no need to split an ODI in four innings. I personaly feel T20 is more closer to baseball than original cricket, batsmen try to hit every ball & we don't see the beauty of building an inning. On the other hand in ODIs a team needs batsmen to stay on wicket & building partnership. So T20 is not the right form to check the abilities of a batsman or a bowler instead ODIs & Test are the real test of a player's ability. So we shouldn't destroy ODIs by making it just a copy of T20 or otherwise in future people may come with the proposals of spliting a test match in 5 innings of both teams of 20overs par innings.

  • crikketfan on October 14, 2009, 6:15 GMT

    I get fed up with the number of people, especially those who claim to love the longer forms of the game, who so misunderstand the attraction to many of ODIs.

    The simple point of ODIs is to provide a full game, with a result, within a day. Too often ODIs are compared with 2020 when it is appropriate to compare them with Test cricket (remember the first ODI occurred when several days of a Test match were washed out, rendering continuing with the Test meaningless so inevitable was the draw).

    Too many people make a false assumption that ODIs are only worth watching if there is an exciting finish. Why? If all that mattered was the finish then why would anyone watch the first 90 overs of the game?

    In reality, just like Test cricket, ODIs will have periods of high drama, and periods when play will meander. There are periods which everyone will recognise as "critical", even game determining, and these will not necessarily happen at the end.

  • rohanbala on October 14, 2009, 6:13 GMT

    It would be a ridiculous idea to split the ODI into two innnings format.. In case a set of four batsmen take part in the first innings, will the same set of batsmen be allowed to take part in the second innings too? Will the same set of rules be allowed for bowlers as well? In my opinion, such a move will cause more confusions in the game rather than the idea of making it more exciting. This is bound to end up like short-lived experiment of "super-sub".

  • tonoy on October 14, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    I just don't get all the fuss about having the urgency to change the ODI format. Is it me or is cricinfo the only site where radicals get together and talk about their ill fantasy of needing a change in the ODIs? Honestly, do any of these so called pundits even look at the general polls? Why all of a sudden need for change? Just do us(ODI lovers) a favor and ignore the ODIs if you can't be bothered to watch two 50 over innings.

  • XrSxLxN on October 14, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    Lets just add over limits in test cricket too, preferable limits that will force batsman to slog senselessly because apparently thats what people want cricket to be like. I personally dont think there is anything wrong with 50-over format, better team win and thats how the game should be. As for predictable, who predicted England to be in Semi-final? Who predicted New Zealand to be in the final? ... T20 is just ruining the game, I can say that because its a format where players relatively a 100 times less talented than lets say, Ricky Ponting or Sachin Tundulkar can perform better than them. Cricket should be about class and talent, not slogging.

  • Puntter on October 14, 2009, 5:58 GMT

    With respect to the above commentators, I think the point of Rob's article has been somewhat misconstrued. I believe he is not proposing a "40 over match with 20 wickets each"; instead both teams still only have one innings (with 10 wickets), it is just split into two parts, so they both experience the same conditions throughout the match.

    Personally I like this idea as I believe it will add more to the intrigue of the game. I also agree that the game should be 'deregulated' as that would allow the games to become more unpredictable.

  • riverlime on October 14, 2009, 5:58 GMT

    Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the popularisation of cricket amongst the unknowing, and I love the carnage that T20 serves up, but that should not be the benchmark of cricket. I agree that there needs to be a buffer between Tests and T20's, but reducing ODI's to T25's is not the way. Splitting the match into four 25-over aliquots could be tolerated, provided that each side still only had 10 wickets to lose. I agree that Bowlers should be de-restricted as to the number of overs allowed. After all, no one says to a batsman, "Okay, you've scored 50, now p*ss off". Changing a restaurant's menu is one thing, but throwing away the cookbook and serving burgers from a van in the parking lot is perhaps a step too far.

  • gzawilliam on October 14, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    I can not agree with more with Riverlime.

    Why is it we need this instant gratification and see everything at full speed?

    Cricket was always a game of patience even in ODI's. I fear that batsmen scoring tons will be gone. Which is one of the best moments of these matches. I don't watch cricket to see 6's and 4's every second ball. I watch it to see both sides have their skills tested.

    Slogging is not a skill it is a state of mind. And you watch what will happen to bowlers who care not for Swing or seam movement because they have been brought up in fast moving 20/20 and end up bowling straight up and down yorkers and bouncers.

    Time we all just had a beer and calmed down to watch the cricket. Why should we change the greatest game in the world just to suit the new age fans who seem to be more like speed drug addicts than actual fans.

    Funny thing is aswell that (being a cricket player myself) i know most public players hate the format as it causes holes in their technique.

  • akshay4india on October 14, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    I like the idea of having two innings per team per match, with one exception. It would be a better idea to have 1 innings per team, but split into two parts so that both teams experience the conditions (weather, pitch etc.), or else it would be just like playing two twenty20 games, which would be a bit pointless.

  • riverlime on October 14, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    Sorry Rob, but I respectfully disagree. Transforming ODI's into two 20 over innings, like England has done, is simply playing a 40 over match with 20 wickets each. That doesn't give a change in flavour to cricket; rather, it panders to the baying masses who crave instant gratification." Swing wild, sweet chariot", they seem to chant. The difficult, accumulative, middle overs of ODI's will be sacrificed, because they are too "boring". I put it to you that these are the overs that really show a team's mettle. Anyone can score boundaries off the last few overs, but it takes nerve to do so when you are five down with 25 overs to go, knowing that YOU are the last bulwark preventing the Curtly's of this world blowing away your tailenders! No, changing ODI's to twin innings will make them little short of a T20 two-game miniseries and that I cannot countenance.

  • midwicket5 on October 14, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    I agree whole heartidly with the thought of 4 x 25 over innings. It would even out the conditions for batsmen and bowlers and no longer make it difficult for the one team batting solely under lights. It would give more exciting phases for cricket as there would be two phases of a slog when the innings is coming to a close. Only a ten minute change of innings required for each mid innings and a 30 minute dinner break would only add 5 minutes in total compaired to the normal break of 45 for dinner. It would give captains time to think about tatics and regroup if they are being hit all over the park. It would also give a slight T20 feel and keep the crowd interested. Heaven knows we all get bored by over 30 with milking singles to the outfield.

  • PeteB on October 14, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    I really don't understand why people thing that 4 innings is the fillup ODI cricket needs. So, hypothetically, Australia are 1-138 after their 25 overs and England 3-69. Does this make the next 2 innings any more exciting? This is how cricket has always been. Sometimes it's incredibly tight and sometimes the outcome meanders towards an obvious ending. If people don't like this and are determined to manufacture close contests then maybe cricket is not the sport for them.

  • TumTum on October 14, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    If you turn ODI into a 4 innings game, who will there be to make centuries? That is one aspect of ODI's that most people like, its short and batsmen can make milestones. T20 cricket is boring, might be my opinion but we either see batsmen belting runs or batsmen playing ugly shots and not timing the ball well. Keep one day games as they are please, it is still one of my favourite formats.

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  • TumTum on October 14, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    If you turn ODI into a 4 innings game, who will there be to make centuries? That is one aspect of ODI's that most people like, its short and batsmen can make milestones. T20 cricket is boring, might be my opinion but we either see batsmen belting runs or batsmen playing ugly shots and not timing the ball well. Keep one day games as they are please, it is still one of my favourite formats.

  • PeteB on October 14, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    I really don't understand why people thing that 4 innings is the fillup ODI cricket needs. So, hypothetically, Australia are 1-138 after their 25 overs and England 3-69. Does this make the next 2 innings any more exciting? This is how cricket has always been. Sometimes it's incredibly tight and sometimes the outcome meanders towards an obvious ending. If people don't like this and are determined to manufacture close contests then maybe cricket is not the sport for them.

  • midwicket5 on October 14, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    I agree whole heartidly with the thought of 4 x 25 over innings. It would even out the conditions for batsmen and bowlers and no longer make it difficult for the one team batting solely under lights. It would give more exciting phases for cricket as there would be two phases of a slog when the innings is coming to a close. Only a ten minute change of innings required for each mid innings and a 30 minute dinner break would only add 5 minutes in total compaired to the normal break of 45 for dinner. It would give captains time to think about tatics and regroup if they are being hit all over the park. It would also give a slight T20 feel and keep the crowd interested. Heaven knows we all get bored by over 30 with milking singles to the outfield.

  • riverlime on October 14, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    Sorry Rob, but I respectfully disagree. Transforming ODI's into two 20 over innings, like England has done, is simply playing a 40 over match with 20 wickets each. That doesn't give a change in flavour to cricket; rather, it panders to the baying masses who crave instant gratification." Swing wild, sweet chariot", they seem to chant. The difficult, accumulative, middle overs of ODI's will be sacrificed, because they are too "boring". I put it to you that these are the overs that really show a team's mettle. Anyone can score boundaries off the last few overs, but it takes nerve to do so when you are five down with 25 overs to go, knowing that YOU are the last bulwark preventing the Curtly's of this world blowing away your tailenders! No, changing ODI's to twin innings will make them little short of a T20 two-game miniseries and that I cannot countenance.

  • akshay4india on October 14, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    I like the idea of having two innings per team per match, with one exception. It would be a better idea to have 1 innings per team, but split into two parts so that both teams experience the conditions (weather, pitch etc.), or else it would be just like playing two twenty20 games, which would be a bit pointless.

  • gzawilliam on October 14, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    I can not agree with more with Riverlime.

    Why is it we need this instant gratification and see everything at full speed?

    Cricket was always a game of patience even in ODI's. I fear that batsmen scoring tons will be gone. Which is one of the best moments of these matches. I don't watch cricket to see 6's and 4's every second ball. I watch it to see both sides have their skills tested.

    Slogging is not a skill it is a state of mind. And you watch what will happen to bowlers who care not for Swing or seam movement because they have been brought up in fast moving 20/20 and end up bowling straight up and down yorkers and bouncers.

    Time we all just had a beer and calmed down to watch the cricket. Why should we change the greatest game in the world just to suit the new age fans who seem to be more like speed drug addicts than actual fans.

    Funny thing is aswell that (being a cricket player myself) i know most public players hate the format as it causes holes in their technique.

  • riverlime on October 14, 2009, 5:58 GMT

    Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the popularisation of cricket amongst the unknowing, and I love the carnage that T20 serves up, but that should not be the benchmark of cricket. I agree that there needs to be a buffer between Tests and T20's, but reducing ODI's to T25's is not the way. Splitting the match into four 25-over aliquots could be tolerated, provided that each side still only had 10 wickets to lose. I agree that Bowlers should be de-restricted as to the number of overs allowed. After all, no one says to a batsman, "Okay, you've scored 50, now p*ss off". Changing a restaurant's menu is one thing, but throwing away the cookbook and serving burgers from a van in the parking lot is perhaps a step too far.

  • Puntter on October 14, 2009, 5:58 GMT

    With respect to the above commentators, I think the point of Rob's article has been somewhat misconstrued. I believe he is not proposing a "40 over match with 20 wickets each"; instead both teams still only have one innings (with 10 wickets), it is just split into two parts, so they both experience the same conditions throughout the match.

    Personally I like this idea as I believe it will add more to the intrigue of the game. I also agree that the game should be 'deregulated' as that would allow the games to become more unpredictable.

  • XrSxLxN on October 14, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    Lets just add over limits in test cricket too, preferable limits that will force batsman to slog senselessly because apparently thats what people want cricket to be like. I personally dont think there is anything wrong with 50-over format, better team win and thats how the game should be. As for predictable, who predicted England to be in Semi-final? Who predicted New Zealand to be in the final? ... T20 is just ruining the game, I can say that because its a format where players relatively a 100 times less talented than lets say, Ricky Ponting or Sachin Tundulkar can perform better than them. Cricket should be about class and talent, not slogging.

  • tonoy on October 14, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    I just don't get all the fuss about having the urgency to change the ODI format. Is it me or is cricinfo the only site where radicals get together and talk about their ill fantasy of needing a change in the ODIs? Honestly, do any of these so called pundits even look at the general polls? Why all of a sudden need for change? Just do us(ODI lovers) a favor and ignore the ODIs if you can't be bothered to watch two 50 over innings.