November 17, 2009

Cricket's tangle of formats

Far from being complementary, Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s are competitors; in many instances they cannibalise each other
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The afternoon of 21 August 2009 at The Oval was cold and wintry, not the best for cricket; for Australian cricket, in fact, it could hardly have been worse. Ricky Ponting's team, hanging in gamely after losing a crucial toss, were abruptly upended, in the 21 deliveries it took Stuart Broad to nip out 4 for 8. After Graeme Swann chimed in with 4 for 18 from 43 deliveries, England ended the day with a 230-run lead and seven second-innings wickets in hand, a deficit Australia could not make up for three further days' trying. So it was that the Ashes changed hands.

But it was worse than that, if such a sentiment can be believed from an Australian. Had Australia won that fifth Test, and thus the series, they would have maintained their status atop the ICC World Test Championship. As it is, they slipped to fourth, an ignominy not experienced in a generation. To all intents and purposes, Australia had led the cricket world since 3 May 1995: the date they recaptured the Frank Worrell Trophy, ending the West Indies' 22 years in the Caribbean without defeat. So their 13-year dynasty crumbled in an afternoon. It should have been the proverbial "shot heard around the world" - but it wasn't.

Why? For one thing, the ICC Test Championship table is almost as obscure to the general public in its workings as the Duckworth-Lewis Method. For another thing, Australia's was only a partial eclipse: they remain atop the ICC one-day international table, an ascendancy they have ratified in India, and are not about to slump as dismally as the West Indies after their prolonged premiership.

Yet the main reason is that there was no obvious inheritor of the champion's mantle. It wasn't the handing over of a blue riband, yellow jersey or green jacket, or even a Richie Benaud-style blazer: South Africa rose to the top like a bureaucrat being promoted because of the incompetence of his predecessor. Now there is also Twenty20, cricket's richest and most glamorous format, to consider. Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in its global summit this year, where South Africa fell short again in a global tournament, and Australia was a listless mess

So it's all become a bit of a muddle. Indeed, you could liken global cricket supremacy to umpiring: certainty disappeared the minute science and technology were introduced to make definitive judgements. But the overriding difficulty is simple: the game has been allowed to grow so diverse as to make consensus impossible about what cricket "is".

Actually Test cricket, one-day cricket and Twenty20 hang together like an Italian political coalition: because of slight momentary convenience rather than innately long-term coherence; in the free market of entertainment, they are more naturally destined to compete

Think about trying to answer the simple question anyone new to cricket would ask: who is the world champion? Where football or rugby are concerned, the answer would be succinct: you would name the last winner of the World Cup. But cricket's World Cup is decided in a 50-over format, and the trophy's last instalment was so dire that you'd be pardoned for wanting to forget it. In general, Chris Gayle always excepted, cricketers think of Test matches as the fullest and most searching examination of a team's skills. But fans are increasingly drawn to the lickety-split spectacle of cricket in 20-over chunks.

So what would you say? "In the five-day format known as Test cricket, South Africa are the best, although they lost their last series at home to Australia, who are now rated fourth, and India are third even though they've only played three matches so far this year and at the moment aren't scheduled to play any next year. In the one-day format… " Too late: your interlocutor is glazing over, he's forgotten his next question about the Kolkata Knight Riders' wacky helmets and is staring into space. Sheesh, how are you going to explain the Champions League?

Administrators keep insisting that the three forms of cricket are cosily complementary. Actually Test cricket, one-day cricket and Twenty20 hang together like an Italian political coalition: because of slight momentary convenience rather than innately long-term coherence; in the free market of entertainment, they are more naturally destined to compete, even to cannibalise one another, searching out the same broadcasters, the same sponsors, and many of the same fans. Already, it seems, countries are more precisely calibrating their ambitions. India, certainly, is contemptibly marginalising Test cricket, hosting its first five-day match of 2009 in November, and leaving Eden Gardens without a Test match for two years. None of which bodes well for the future of international cricket in the face of the rivalry from soi-disant "domestic" Indian Premier League and Champions League. As Abraham Lincoln famously warned, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

To be the top, to be the best, to have conquered all comers and to be garlanded for doing so: this, for players and for fans, is the summit of all ambition. On how that is constituted in cricket, alas, agreement has been made almost impossibly elusive. In hindsight, then, that spell of Broad's was even more seminal, and undersung: it ended not just a dynasty but the last such dynasty, and perhaps the whole idea of dynasties itself.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ww113 on November 20, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    For a jaded fan,all three formats leave something to be desired.Test Cricket takes up way too much time.On lifeless wickets,particularly in the subcontinent,watching Test matches becomes torture.The 50 over game has become a bore.Too many matches and too much predictability.T 20 does is just too compressed a format for both bowlers and batsmen to adequately display their skills.

  • StreetCricketer on November 19, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    If test match were the only international format, what will be the level of popularity of the game? I think it will be more in line with table tennis. Similarly, with only T20Is, cricket will soon loose a part of its following. I think the game's big-tent approach is responsible for its wide appeal. While there is some competition among the formats, it will be misguided to pit one against the other.

  • atuljain1969 on November 19, 2009, 8:49 GMT

    atul writes, I tell you a real fact which though every body knows yet have never disclosed. That is Test cricket is the only form of sport which is played exclusively by players selected for it, it has never been played in schools,college or for that matter in domestic champinship frequently over a period of 5 days. At least in my life of 40 years I have never seen a match apart from test cricket being played over 5 days, yet it is supposed to be the real cricket, what a funny analysis. Nobody plays it yet is supposed to be the real cricket.In no other sport this happens, even the other sport comparable, Golf played over 4 days is being played consistently over 4 days at all levels. So this perception of Test cricket being real is a farce. I beleive it is due to colonial past that it is still being played.

  • popcorn on November 19, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    It is very clear that australia are head and shoulders above any other country in the 50 over form of Cricket - Three world Cups in Succession, Two Champions Trophies in Succession. the ONLY WAY you can boost Test Cricket is to have a similar Test World Cup. I suggest that EVERY FOURTH YEAR BE DEVOTED TO A ROUND ROBIN FORMAT WHERE EVERY COUNTRY PLAYS THE OTHER SEVEN - HOME AND AWAY - THE TOP TWO TEAMS PLAY A BEST OF THREE TESTS - ONE AT HOME, OME AWAY, AND ONE AT LORD'S. This will excite Test playing Nations. Forget Twenty 20 - the Wham Bam, thank you, ma'am format.

  • Homer2007 on November 18, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    @sajohn,

    And yet, in the era when "had led the cricket world", the India Australia head to head in Tests stands at 10 apiece. And if I were to extend the author's argument, between 1995 and 1999 ( when Australia won the ODI World CUp), the India Australia head to head in tests stood at 3-1 in favor of India!

    The only barometer for Australia's dominance in the Test arena was the much derided "the ICC Test Championship table"!

    Cricket ranking were as muddled then as they are now - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

    Cheers,

  • dragqueen1 on November 18, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    the fact that the 3 formats don't really sit well together at the moment is obvious. the schedule was mammothly overcrowded before T20 came along, before long players will start to specialise. now this may or may not be a bad thing, as i write this i'm watching Brazil play Switzerland at the Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai, there's no big names here from the mother game but it's a genuine world event the players are commited & desparate to win. now would it matter if India's test 11 bore no resemblance to it's T20 11. it's the same in Rugby where 7's players tend to specialise & lets not forget its 7's which will be at the Olympics.

  • Sanks555 on November 18, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    Four-day cricket is the norm in the Indian domestic format where 28 teams compete. So, it is entirely wrong to say that only 11 talented cricketers can come from the country. No one asked anyone to privilege a Test match between two countries over a first class match.

  • del_ on November 18, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    The world champions will always be the premier team in test cricket and anyone who argues otherwise either knows little about CRICKET. Until the ICC actually realises that the FTP is a farce and works out a test championship format (like those that have been suggested stretched over a 4 year period), instead of developing a points system to work AROUND the flawed FTP, nothing will change. Why are the ICC so enamoured with the FTP anyway?!

  • MarkW on November 18, 2009, 13:20 GMT

    Last year I went to the Cardiff Test match for a day and later in the summer a T20 match. I personally enjoyed the Test more, but others would enjoy the T20. It is simply a matter of personal preference. However the game is not being marketed in a coherant way by anyone. Why has T20 not been trialled/offered in the American or Far Eastern markets, where baseball is so popular? Why have repeated calls for a proper Test World Championship not really materialised? Why do 50 over World Cups seem to last so long? Why are domestic T20 tournaments clashing with national engagements and draining international players? In Formula One, world wide popularity, and commercial success, have been achieved by leadership and logical promotion. Races have succesfully been held in new markets. As Mr Haigh rightly says, the structure of cricket needs to sorted out for the good of the game and to promote itself to new fans.

  • sachinandhenry on November 18, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    I am long time listener (on radio), watcher, player, debater and lover of cricket. I know enough about cricket to know that test cricket is the real deal. If test cricket dies I will permanently stop watching cricket. Don't get me wrong, I am as capitalistic as anybody and if the market is only willing to bear T20 as a profitable cricket so be it, no one should try to alter the market. It just means cricket will loose few fans like me and possible gain many more, hence the market wins in the end. That said, I blame it on the governing body and administrators who have been unable to market test cricket and found the easy/lazy answer to grow cricket first via ODI and now via T20 - both these forms of cricket are not pure cricket. People who call tests boring have not watched them enough to know how exciting, thrilling, strategic, manipulative, emotional roller coaster test matches can be. I can write more, but cricinfo says I am out of words, one day I will write why I love test cricket.

  • ww113 on November 20, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    For a jaded fan,all three formats leave something to be desired.Test Cricket takes up way too much time.On lifeless wickets,particularly in the subcontinent,watching Test matches becomes torture.The 50 over game has become a bore.Too many matches and too much predictability.T 20 does is just too compressed a format for both bowlers and batsmen to adequately display their skills.

  • StreetCricketer on November 19, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    If test match were the only international format, what will be the level of popularity of the game? I think it will be more in line with table tennis. Similarly, with only T20Is, cricket will soon loose a part of its following. I think the game's big-tent approach is responsible for its wide appeal. While there is some competition among the formats, it will be misguided to pit one against the other.

  • atuljain1969 on November 19, 2009, 8:49 GMT

    atul writes, I tell you a real fact which though every body knows yet have never disclosed. That is Test cricket is the only form of sport which is played exclusively by players selected for it, it has never been played in schools,college or for that matter in domestic champinship frequently over a period of 5 days. At least in my life of 40 years I have never seen a match apart from test cricket being played over 5 days, yet it is supposed to be the real cricket, what a funny analysis. Nobody plays it yet is supposed to be the real cricket.In no other sport this happens, even the other sport comparable, Golf played over 4 days is being played consistently over 4 days at all levels. So this perception of Test cricket being real is a farce. I beleive it is due to colonial past that it is still being played.

  • popcorn on November 19, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    It is very clear that australia are head and shoulders above any other country in the 50 over form of Cricket - Three world Cups in Succession, Two Champions Trophies in Succession. the ONLY WAY you can boost Test Cricket is to have a similar Test World Cup. I suggest that EVERY FOURTH YEAR BE DEVOTED TO A ROUND ROBIN FORMAT WHERE EVERY COUNTRY PLAYS THE OTHER SEVEN - HOME AND AWAY - THE TOP TWO TEAMS PLAY A BEST OF THREE TESTS - ONE AT HOME, OME AWAY, AND ONE AT LORD'S. This will excite Test playing Nations. Forget Twenty 20 - the Wham Bam, thank you, ma'am format.

  • Homer2007 on November 18, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    @sajohn,

    And yet, in the era when "had led the cricket world", the India Australia head to head in Tests stands at 10 apiece. And if I were to extend the author's argument, between 1995 and 1999 ( when Australia won the ODI World CUp), the India Australia head to head in tests stood at 3-1 in favor of India!

    The only barometer for Australia's dominance in the Test arena was the much derided "the ICC Test Championship table"!

    Cricket ranking were as muddled then as they are now - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

    Cheers,

  • dragqueen1 on November 18, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    the fact that the 3 formats don't really sit well together at the moment is obvious. the schedule was mammothly overcrowded before T20 came along, before long players will start to specialise. now this may or may not be a bad thing, as i write this i'm watching Brazil play Switzerland at the Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai, there's no big names here from the mother game but it's a genuine world event the players are commited & desparate to win. now would it matter if India's test 11 bore no resemblance to it's T20 11. it's the same in Rugby where 7's players tend to specialise & lets not forget its 7's which will be at the Olympics.

  • Sanks555 on November 18, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    Four-day cricket is the norm in the Indian domestic format where 28 teams compete. So, it is entirely wrong to say that only 11 talented cricketers can come from the country. No one asked anyone to privilege a Test match between two countries over a first class match.

  • del_ on November 18, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    The world champions will always be the premier team in test cricket and anyone who argues otherwise either knows little about CRICKET. Until the ICC actually realises that the FTP is a farce and works out a test championship format (like those that have been suggested stretched over a 4 year period), instead of developing a points system to work AROUND the flawed FTP, nothing will change. Why are the ICC so enamoured with the FTP anyway?!

  • MarkW on November 18, 2009, 13:20 GMT

    Last year I went to the Cardiff Test match for a day and later in the summer a T20 match. I personally enjoyed the Test more, but others would enjoy the T20. It is simply a matter of personal preference. However the game is not being marketed in a coherant way by anyone. Why has T20 not been trialled/offered in the American or Far Eastern markets, where baseball is so popular? Why have repeated calls for a proper Test World Championship not really materialised? Why do 50 over World Cups seem to last so long? Why are domestic T20 tournaments clashing with national engagements and draining international players? In Formula One, world wide popularity, and commercial success, have been achieved by leadership and logical promotion. Races have succesfully been held in new markets. As Mr Haigh rightly says, the structure of cricket needs to sorted out for the good of the game and to promote itself to new fans.

  • sachinandhenry on November 18, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    I am long time listener (on radio), watcher, player, debater and lover of cricket. I know enough about cricket to know that test cricket is the real deal. If test cricket dies I will permanently stop watching cricket. Don't get me wrong, I am as capitalistic as anybody and if the market is only willing to bear T20 as a profitable cricket so be it, no one should try to alter the market. It just means cricket will loose few fans like me and possible gain many more, hence the market wins in the end. That said, I blame it on the governing body and administrators who have been unable to market test cricket and found the easy/lazy answer to grow cricket first via ODI and now via T20 - both these forms of cricket are not pure cricket. People who call tests boring have not watched them enough to know how exciting, thrilling, strategic, manipulative, emotional roller coaster test matches can be. I can write more, but cricinfo says I am out of words, one day I will write why I love test cricket.

  • IPLFan on November 18, 2009, 5:02 GMT

    apyboutit: Agree entirely with you. This assumption on the part of the fans/administrators that there can only be 11 class players in an era in any country, no matter its size, is one of the stupidest. Then they turn around and ask, then where are all these other talented players? Hello, you change the structure first which allows any number of talented players to reach the top, then you will find the players. If your system proclaims right at the beginning that only 11 players need apply, then of course you are not going to produce too many more talented players.

    As for the tangle of formats - I think the best way untangle them is for each format to split into its own business. Let them really start competing with each other for fans, players, ad revenues, etc. Let the strongest survive. Surprisingly, none of the Test fans like that idea.

  • Woody111 on November 18, 2009, 4:58 GMT

    The confusing element to the discussion is the contradiction demonstrated by world cricket boards that declare test cricket is number one priority; yet schedule numerous limited over rubbish - at the expense of test cricket. India may well have played a huge load of tests in the last two years; but this should be every year for the main test nations (perhaps all actually). The fact that India and Sri Lanka play just a handful of tests over the next 12 months is rediuclous. Whether or not you're a fan of 20/20 (clearly I am not) over-exposure will undermine its attractiveness to the public irrespective of its popularity currently. Tours that are simply limited over competitions should be banned. Unless they are surrounding test series (3 test minimum) send a 2nd string side. As an Aussie nothing infuriates me more than the prospect of missing Siddle, Johnson and co. this summer because of too much hit and giggle nonsense.

  • paulyt on November 18, 2009, 1:56 GMT

    Get rid of T20 matches. If you want to see hit and giggle cricket go watch a game of Indoor cricket.

  • bobagorof on November 18, 2009, 1:09 GMT

    @ apyboutit: You raise an interesting point about classy players coming from a country, and what if you have 3 or 4 potential stars at the same time. That answer can be found in history, because it has happened (and before the advent of 20-20, so some people might not be aware of it). Some examples I can think of off the top of my head: Bill O'Reilly and Clarrie Grimmitt (both legspinners) in the same Australian team in the 1930s; Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill (again, both legspinners) in the same Australian team in the 1990s; the 4-pronged Indian spin attack of the 1960s and 70s; the West Indies pace battery throughout the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s; India's batting lineup in the 1990s; Murali and Mendis. The classy players will (usually, if the selectors are worthwhile) make it into the team - and if there are 2 or more outstanding players of the same ilk, they find a way to each get a chance. But teams also aren't static, and there's always some rotation of players based on form.

  • sray23 on November 17, 2009, 22:24 GMT

    What international cricket badly needs is context. An annual or bi-ennial Test championship and ODI championship will revitalise the game and also make it easy to gauge who the best team is at any given time. T20 should only be played at franchise level in my opinion through the IPL and Champions League. This means doing away with all international T20 and ODI tournaments. For ODIs this makes commercial sense too, as every game is then a home game for some team and spectator and TV revenue are much easier to raise. The problem with global tournaments organised in one location is that if the home team has a shocker no crowds turn up for the rest of the matches.

  • sajohn on November 17, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    Homer2007 , author is referring to Australia's victory over Westindies in Westindies in 1995. The Westindies were the test champs till then. They never lost a test series for a couple of decades till 1995 and Australia started their reign as the test champs from then on.

  • leggetinoz on November 17, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    After a good nights sleep i think i have worked it out thanks to comments left on various articles on Cricinfo left by those in India. The simple answer is India is the best. Analysis of the comments from Indian fans who see them every week will tell us that. Every indian loss is due to luck or bad umpiring in favour of the opposition. Any win is seen as proof that India are the new powerhouse and when pushed further they will point out that they won the first ever T20 world cup. Despite whatever results on the pitch they have the most superstars and one god playing for them. We just had a tall country guy, a blonde ladies man and a greyhound trainer. So there you have it, one needs to look beyond meaningless things like results and consistency as they are not proof of the numebr one as anyone who beats India is just lucky.

  • coolsuhas on November 17, 2009, 18:41 GMT

    So often I read articles glorifying Test cricket that carry a tone of 'Oh, those golden days of cricket' referring to this format of cricket. I would say it is just about personal choice. Not recognizing T20 as cricket and billing it as cash-milking cow and noise is just like going to a bad movie, eating popcorn and calling it names. But it does not change the fact that, it was still a movie and the people who created it took the efforts to do it. If you do not like it, it's a personal choice. I have grown up watching only tests and ODIs with T20s nowhere in the picture. But T20s turned out great fun for me. It's only the benchmarks for a good performance have changed. In ODIs an economy of 6 was a dreadful performance, but in T20s, it is good. A slight change in perception will help you come to terms with this new format. I believe there were those who even criticized players using helmets and other safety gear. Would we still agree with them? Change is for the better and it is here.

  • Homer2007 on November 17, 2009, 15:44 GMT

    Funny thing, facts. For a nation that is "is contemptibly marginalising Test cricket" India has played 23 Tests in the last 2 years, third only to England(27) and Australia (24).

    And wasnt it India ( read the BCCI) that pushed for an additional test during its last trip to New Zealand?

    And what about the increased ad revenues and TRP rating when Australia visited India for the B-G Trophy in 2008?

    Some contempt, that!

    Also, the author's argument is a curious one. On the one hand he maintains that "Australia had led the cricket world since 3 May 1995" and that today there is "no obvious inheritor of the champion's mantle". Yet, a cursory glance at cricket's history will indicate that it was Pakistan who were the World Champions in the ODI format between 1992 and 1996 and Sri Lanka took over the mantle between 1996 and 1999. It was only after 1999 that Australia fulfilled the criteria the author lays down for the "obvious inheritor of the champion's mantle".

  • BeeArr on November 17, 2009, 14:02 GMT

    And game is viewed by those who love it and if a game doesn't win the love of viewers it dies. But never for a viewer should the essence of a sport be killed. It's like Roark's statement. He doesn't build for others. He builds for his passion and those who like it will come to him. Indian cricket has long forgotten what cricket is. The standard of a cricket fan in India has come down a long way. And ICC and BCCI wants money and to make attractive, they are poisoning it. They want this circus. And the foolish ones, who do not know the game but for fours and sixes take it. Chris Gayle, he's not test cricketer class. So he's no cricketer for me.

    After RD, SRT and VVS, real Indian cricket will die. Surely. Eng and Aus have enough guts left to play cricket and the real fans would follow. Forget Lalit modi and Allen Stanford.

  • atuljain1969 on November 17, 2009, 13:50 GMT

    This talk of Test cricket death or one day cricket future or dominance of 20 cricket should be put to dustbin. In this age of market economy,it is the market which decides the product.So much for capitalism (20-20) and nothing for socialism (test cricket) !.Well one can't do much about these things, everything costs and there are no free meals. Every type of cricket has to survive on its merits, even olympics the biggest sporting event on earth is surviving and flourishing though it costs huge. So even there it is a marketing thing involved, so it is time for cricket administrator to market there products in a better way then to have sleepless nights.

  • BeeArr on November 17, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    apyboutit and anush222: I am sorry, you've no idea what cricket is. It's just that 20-20 circus generation and its noise.

    Nice article. Test cricket is cricket. To the real cricket fan(the one who knows the game), West Indies were the best in the late 70's, 80's and early 90's not because of the fact that they won world cups, but because of the fact that they were head and shoulders above all test teams. Their team was the most competent and dreaded test team. 90's and 2000's belong to aussies not because they won 3 world cups in a row. They were literally the best test team and arguably the best ever. And Martin Crowe's suggestion to make all test matches count and to have an annual or biennial test championship sounds worthy. Aus, Eng and SA would surely agree to such a plan. And I am of the opinion that the Aus era is far from over because SA is not competent enough to prolong the test domination. And sport is not played for viewers and advertisers and show ponys.

  • lahorijerry on November 17, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    i would go along with what tfjones has said.series between countries should be packaged and points be awarded on weighted basis. tests will have to be less though cos of time constraints and tv rights etc...who ever has more points at the end of yr will be the leading team..world cups every four yrs for both 20/20 and 50/50 could still be held as they provide a financial bonanza for ICC and host countries.points for respective positions could be awarded as well...

  • apyboutit on November 17, 2009, 13:14 GMT

    Short is beautiful. It will be appreciated when its merit demands elongation - once in a while. For example, the epic matches between Roger and Nadal and Roger and Andy (Roddick) at Wimbley are classics only because it takes real talent and class to do that. Imagine, on the contrary, if all tennis matches were that long!! Tennis will cease to be among the most popular sport in the world. Football was mentioned - FB has reduced the championships involving national identities to only world cups or continental cups - even though it is still the same 1.5 h game. Point - It is what the public can bear to see - competition on an equal platform. It is boring to see an athletic team continue to dominate the less-athletic ones. BTW You could have shown Broad's last wicket / the Ashes last moment in the main article. That would have been more apt for this piece. Why does the article show Symonds and Bajji (I presume) in the inset picture? Honestly, that is what got me into reading it!

  • John-Price on November 17, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    "As Abraham Lincoln famously warned, a house divided against itself cannot stand."

    Actually, Lincoln was quoting from the Gospel of Matthew (12.25).

  • tejas.v.pradhan on November 17, 2009, 12:57 GMT

    I completely agree with "Fahadist". By the way its absolutely ridiculous that india is just playing 3-5 tests in the next year. One way is to boycott the IPL and champions league. T20 is a rubbish format and should be abolished. It is pure luck. ODI's allow a team atleast some chance to recover and are much more fun to watch. Batsmen can score hundreds and bowlers can change the game in ODI none of which happen in T20. I am amazed why people find T20 that interesting. The sheer monotony of batsmen clobbering bowlers is more boring than some of the tests.

  • apyboutit on November 17, 2009, 12:50 GMT

    What is the difference between test match and T20? Sentiments vs Public demand; "what-to-do-with-all-the-old-records" vs newer records; empty stands vs over flowing roof top audience; vertical growth vs horizontal; another bowler vs more innovative bowlers; backward vs forward; too much time in hand vs "I had some time 5 minutes ago"; another new fellow copy(ing) the book (style of batting) vs a new style of batting; more result-oriented games vs results in every game; 12 month Soap opera vs a 2 h movie; Sonnets vs "quotable quotes"; timeless/7day/6day/5day cricket vs twice a day cricket; playing for 20 yrs along with the same team vs 20 yrs with the whole world; my idea vs yours; complete control vs near zero control. In tests there are a few good shots in a day, that punctuate dozens or hundreds of boring defenses. T20 is about removing all the boring defenses. Name one person (rhetorical) that watches the complete replay of a 5-day match vs its highlights.

  • apyboutit on November 17, 2009, 12:17 GMT

    Having said that, I think the good part about the current developments is that eventually more than 12 players of international standard will be identified from each country. Otherwise, i have always struggled to understand why only 12 classy players are born in every era in each country?? no matter its size?! what if Warne and muralitharan and kumble had all been born in India or Lanka or Oz - on the same day?!!! who would have gained? who would have lost? how many of them have we already lost??? So, what I see is wonderful possibilities. But like all good things, it comes only to those that can wait! Imagine - a specialist set of teams for each format of the game! three different champions! and then ...... a non-country based champion! wow! This will redefine the very essence of class and talent in a team sport. The best way to accommodate and appreciate any idea in ones mind is by thinking that "it was your idea" to start with! Try it, you can see the "right" side of it soon.

  • apyboutit on November 17, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    Gee! Who is the best tennis player of the year? You can immediately say - Roger Federer. You will not say - he lost the Oz open which is best of five-and 7 round, and lost the SF at Doha, and won at Madrid, which are best of 3 setters and 5 rounds, but won at RG and Wimbley which are grand slams and then lost at several other places and is yet to win the year end masters this year, which carries 1000 points for the winner! Point to note - If you are worried that you do not know how to explain to a layman - who the champion is, or what the game of cricket is all about, I suggest you learn to do so from others who know so, or work towards creating a ranking system that accommodates the growth in it. Do not shunt growth. More than a couple of billion people love the current developments. More than 90 % of the players (Gayle always included) support it! So, find a way to appreciate it!

  • jlw74 on November 17, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    Structure people, our all powering grand master has points and ranking systems all over the place. One major point is, as far as rankings for full member nations goes in the ODI and T20 format unless you win the world cup every four years who cares? Who cares. The ICC are most likely not going to alter the FTP from what we have all grown to love anyway. All three formats of the game have a safe future in television, different formats appeal to different broadcasters and their demographics both free to air and pay television. Cricket clubs and grounds need T20 cricket to survive to develop the nurseries to keep their nations at the forefront of test cricket. Test cricket 5 days at the most of the highest level in a handful of cities during the year. Test cricket needs more purpose as well as being promoted further in the next ten years with Ireland at least included and Zimbabwe returned. Aus v SA this year was the world championship of cricket the ICC butchered their show piece again.

  • Drew12 on November 17, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    @ anush222 'India, certainly, is contemptibly marginalising Test cricket, hosting its first five-day match of 2009 in November'. The key word is 'hosting'. NZ hosted that series. No five day international match has been played in India until now.

    In response to the article, I love test matches, like ODI's and despise 20/20 but I watch as much of each as I can. In that sense there is a harmony as they are all cricket but each with different imperatives. Tests it is wickets over runs, ODI is a balance, 2020 runs over wickets.

    I don't see the concern here. It is certainly less convoluted than boxing. I also don't agree with Saim93 that RSA are #1. The ICC rankings don't tell much - they were only introduced recently. They are on a year to year basis. In test cricket, given its epic nature, and the inevitability of injuries, luck of the toss, weather, etc etc longevity is the true test. I agree with Haigh in so far as no one has yet taken the baton from Aus.

  • leggetinoz on November 17, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    I agree with what you say. it is so objective that it will never be agreed on. One way we can get close however is to have a combined ladder and as each team wins a game they get points and well everyone knows how a points table works. Each form of the game will be weighted, tests get the most points, then ODI and T20 get the least. I think this suits the importance of each version of the game.

  • bingohaley on November 17, 2009, 7:53 GMT

    Excellent piece! Test cricket should and will stay the holy grail for all parties, players and spectators, where strategy and technique in cricket will be on display. ODIs distill some aspects of test cricket but are more for instant entertainment value, which is of course fine. The circus act that 20-20 cricket is, will hopefully fade away, with its cheerleaders and rabid crowds.

  • usman_a on November 17, 2009, 6:53 GMT

    I think there should be a test champion ship and who wins the tournament called WORLD CHAMS...And these leauge should be stop...even pakistan is champoin write now and i m pakisani..i dont like t20...real cricket is test cricket ICC should give each country 10 test matchs each yr.

  • anush222 on November 17, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    > India, certainly, is contemptibly marginalising Test cricket, hosting its first five-day > match of 2009 in November

    Not true! India played NZ in March 2009.

    "contemptibly marginalising Test cricket" -- What is wrong in that? I have not seen a full 5 day match in years. India is at the moment playing a test match with Sri lanka before near empty stadiums. Administrators are simply serving the demands of the public.

    Sport is a form of entertainment. In this fast paced world, test matches will die out once the new generation steps in.

    T20 will mature to a point where the players will start developing unique skills that will be a pleasure to watch (Dilshan's dilscoop, Peitersen's reverse sweep, etc).

    The real issue is with flat pitches and aiding batsmen hit sixes every over. I remember T20 world cup in South Africa. Competitive pitches produced excellent cricket.

  • fahadist on November 17, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    I am in Pakistan and though Pakistan is notorious for having empty stadiums during test matches but all my colleagues find test cricket as the real thing. We find that it is the good salesmanship of media which is trying to convince us that test cricket is dead and 20-20 is all you will get in future.

    I think it is a fallacy that fans only like sixes. Instead I think good bowlers bring more following to cricket than hard hitting batsmen. England had good enough batsmen in the 90s but only when their balling picked up did we see packed houses for Ashes.

    When Pakistan toured India with Wasim, Saqlain and Shoaib we saw full houses (or close to full houses) in India but when the balling line up was not that great the fans also chose to be discrete.

    It is the admins which portray the fans as idiots who only like sixes because amount of money per hour is more for 20-20.

    I think a survey of fans at cricinfo should be conducted really know what fans want. What say you cricinfo staf?

  • Saim93 on November 17, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    To me the overall champions of the world are the test champions, even if RSA lost their last series, they are the 1st at the moment. The 50 over format comes 2nd and the T20 Championship is more like a secondary honour

  • tfjones1978 on November 17, 2009, 4:15 GMT

    I believe the solution is to create a multi-tier relegation competition (6 teams per tier) that includes all 3 formats of the game. Over 2 years each tier plays home & away with final at end, where the result of the series is determined by all 3 formats and not each individually. In 1 series I would allocate 60% points to test matches (eg: 20% per Test), 30% points to ODI (eg: 10% per ODI) and 10% points to T20I (eg: 5% per T20I). Could even have each home & away series put together (like Aust vs SA series recently should have been a 6 test, 10 ODI & 4 T20I series, instead of 2 series). I would keep ODI World Cup, make T20 World Cup every 4 years and scrap Champions Trophy. For Associates replace ICC WCL with the above and make first stage of World Cups regional including full members. Champions League (Domestic comp) make 1 team per full member and 1 team from each region (decided via knockout of top Assoc & Affs). CL alternate between 20over, 50over & 4day with 4th year off.

  • manish.jha on November 17, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    awesum write!! couldn't have got any better about the holistic picture of cricket in the era.

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  • manish.jha on November 17, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    awesum write!! couldn't have got any better about the holistic picture of cricket in the era.

  • tfjones1978 on November 17, 2009, 4:15 GMT

    I believe the solution is to create a multi-tier relegation competition (6 teams per tier) that includes all 3 formats of the game. Over 2 years each tier plays home & away with final at end, where the result of the series is determined by all 3 formats and not each individually. In 1 series I would allocate 60% points to test matches (eg: 20% per Test), 30% points to ODI (eg: 10% per ODI) and 10% points to T20I (eg: 5% per T20I). Could even have each home & away series put together (like Aust vs SA series recently should have been a 6 test, 10 ODI & 4 T20I series, instead of 2 series). I would keep ODI World Cup, make T20 World Cup every 4 years and scrap Champions Trophy. For Associates replace ICC WCL with the above and make first stage of World Cups regional including full members. Champions League (Domestic comp) make 1 team per full member and 1 team from each region (decided via knockout of top Assoc & Affs). CL alternate between 20over, 50over & 4day with 4th year off.

  • Saim93 on November 17, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    To me the overall champions of the world are the test champions, even if RSA lost their last series, they are the 1st at the moment. The 50 over format comes 2nd and the T20 Championship is more like a secondary honour

  • fahadist on November 17, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    I am in Pakistan and though Pakistan is notorious for having empty stadiums during test matches but all my colleagues find test cricket as the real thing. We find that it is the good salesmanship of media which is trying to convince us that test cricket is dead and 20-20 is all you will get in future.

    I think it is a fallacy that fans only like sixes. Instead I think good bowlers bring more following to cricket than hard hitting batsmen. England had good enough batsmen in the 90s but only when their balling picked up did we see packed houses for Ashes.

    When Pakistan toured India with Wasim, Saqlain and Shoaib we saw full houses (or close to full houses) in India but when the balling line up was not that great the fans also chose to be discrete.

    It is the admins which portray the fans as idiots who only like sixes because amount of money per hour is more for 20-20.

    I think a survey of fans at cricinfo should be conducted really know what fans want. What say you cricinfo staf?

  • anush222 on November 17, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    > India, certainly, is contemptibly marginalising Test cricket, hosting its first five-day > match of 2009 in November

    Not true! India played NZ in March 2009.

    "contemptibly marginalising Test cricket" -- What is wrong in that? I have not seen a full 5 day match in years. India is at the moment playing a test match with Sri lanka before near empty stadiums. Administrators are simply serving the demands of the public.

    Sport is a form of entertainment. In this fast paced world, test matches will die out once the new generation steps in.

    T20 will mature to a point where the players will start developing unique skills that will be a pleasure to watch (Dilshan's dilscoop, Peitersen's reverse sweep, etc).

    The real issue is with flat pitches and aiding batsmen hit sixes every over. I remember T20 world cup in South Africa. Competitive pitches produced excellent cricket.

  • usman_a on November 17, 2009, 6:53 GMT

    I think there should be a test champion ship and who wins the tournament called WORLD CHAMS...And these leauge should be stop...even pakistan is champoin write now and i m pakisani..i dont like t20...real cricket is test cricket ICC should give each country 10 test matchs each yr.

  • bingohaley on November 17, 2009, 7:53 GMT

    Excellent piece! Test cricket should and will stay the holy grail for all parties, players and spectators, where strategy and technique in cricket will be on display. ODIs distill some aspects of test cricket but are more for instant entertainment value, which is of course fine. The circus act that 20-20 cricket is, will hopefully fade away, with its cheerleaders and rabid crowds.

  • leggetinoz on November 17, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    I agree with what you say. it is so objective that it will never be agreed on. One way we can get close however is to have a combined ladder and as each team wins a game they get points and well everyone knows how a points table works. Each form of the game will be weighted, tests get the most points, then ODI and T20 get the least. I think this suits the importance of each version of the game.

  • Drew12 on November 17, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    @ anush222 'India, certainly, is contemptibly marginalising Test cricket, hosting its first five-day match of 2009 in November'. The key word is 'hosting'. NZ hosted that series. No five day international match has been played in India until now.

    In response to the article, I love test matches, like ODI's and despise 20/20 but I watch as much of each as I can. In that sense there is a harmony as they are all cricket but each with different imperatives. Tests it is wickets over runs, ODI is a balance, 2020 runs over wickets.

    I don't see the concern here. It is certainly less convoluted than boxing. I also don't agree with Saim93 that RSA are #1. The ICC rankings don't tell much - they were only introduced recently. They are on a year to year basis. In test cricket, given its epic nature, and the inevitability of injuries, luck of the toss, weather, etc etc longevity is the true test. I agree with Haigh in so far as no one has yet taken the baton from Aus.

  • jlw74 on November 17, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    Structure people, our all powering grand master has points and ranking systems all over the place. One major point is, as far as rankings for full member nations goes in the ODI and T20 format unless you win the world cup every four years who cares? Who cares. The ICC are most likely not going to alter the FTP from what we have all grown to love anyway. All three formats of the game have a safe future in television, different formats appeal to different broadcasters and their demographics both free to air and pay television. Cricket clubs and grounds need T20 cricket to survive to develop the nurseries to keep their nations at the forefront of test cricket. Test cricket 5 days at the most of the highest level in a handful of cities during the year. Test cricket needs more purpose as well as being promoted further in the next ten years with Ireland at least included and Zimbabwe returned. Aus v SA this year was the world championship of cricket the ICC butchered their show piece again.