April 21, 2010

So what if there's 40-over cricket?

An abbreviated format may not provide enough of a canvas for greatness to be displayed, but cricket is about entertainment foremost
27

A lot of nonsense is talked about lengths of matches. It does not make much difference. A cricketer is a cricketer. If he is any good, he will quickly learn to adapt his game to meet any challenge. Timeless Tests and ten-over matches, it's all the same. Old dogs might not be able to lean new tricks but any cricketer worth tuppence will rapidly adjust. In any case the basics of the game remain immutable. Batting and bowling do not change half as much as each generation supposes. Fashions come and go - slower balls, reverse sweeps, reverse swing, googlies, mystery balls and the rest of the malarkey - but eventually the response arrives and the game returns to the centre.

Over the centuries, the only significant alterations in cricket involve the move from underarm to round-arm and on to overarm. The other telling innovation was the introduction of helmets. Everything else exists at the margins. In most cases it is still 11 against 11, attack against defence, bat against ball.

It's the same in other sports. Hockey has improved immeasurably since the advent of artificial pitches. Soccer has been uplifted by several factors: better surfaces, lighter balls, the rise of the game in Africa, referees prepared to protect skilful players from the savagery witnessed a few decades ago. Rugby has been refreshed by awarding five points for a try, and rules designed to discourage the sort of trench warfare often seen at the Recreation Ground in Bath in the 1960s.

Certainly professionalism has made these games fitter and faster. Diets, fielding drills, preparation and the rest combine to put a premium on pace. Cricketers unable to field or run between wickets stand out precisely because of the company they nowadays keep. Strong soccer teams play a quick-passing game beyond the capacity of even the greatest sides of yesteryear. From my vantage point, Barcelona is the best club team seen in 40 years.

But mankind has not changed that much in the interim. It takes an athlete of the stature of Usain Bolt to raise the bar and the roof. No one growing up in the era of Michael Johnson, with his high-stepping action, expected to see his feats matched in their lifetime. Incredibly, a man as fast, and even a fraction faster, emerged a decade later. Bolt is the most extraordinary athlete of the last 50 years, surpassing even Carl Lewis, a man whose career was hamstrung by drug cheats.

That records are claimed only by the most exceptional performers these days means that the battle against drugs is not as forlorn as had been supposed, and confirms that man does not change much physically in a short period. Of course, he does not change much mentally either.

Since man does not change much and sport does not change much, it's hardly surprising that the top players of any age keep proving their worth. Take a look at this season's IPL. Jacques Kallis and Sachin Tendulkar scored stacks of runs. Nor is Rahul Dravid any longer a liability. Before long, Kevin Pietersen will master the genre. Meanwhile yesterday's heroes slowly and predictably fade and lightweights are exposed. Even the importance of captaincy has been underlined.

Accordingly all the palaver about England deciding to play 40- as opposed to 50-over cricket in its domestic competition is misplaced. It will take about 10 minutes for the local players to return to slightly longer versions. After all, the same fellows may take part in a Twenty20 and four-day match in the same fortnight. A quarter of a century ago Somerset played, successively, 40-over, three-day, 55- and 60-over matches. If the ECB concludes that 40-over games can fill grounds, then so be it. They only take an afternoon. Cricket cannot ignore its audience. Indeed, that has been the primary lesson of the last few seasons. Twenty20 caters for its market. Test cricket has taken its spectators for granted.

Perhaps the borderline exists somewhere between 60 and 40 overs. Arguably 60 and 55, just, are long enough to pit a man against himself and the world, to take him to his limits

Moreover English spectators are used to the 40-over game and enjoy it. Because the English game has mostly always been professional, it has been more innovative than any other dispensation. Far from being dominated by stuffed shirts, English cricket has been adaptable. But then, it is as much an industry as a recreation.

With the county game putrefying in the era of the Beatles and Carnaby Street, and following in the footsteps of the International Cavaliers, a collection of the brightest and best brought together to entertain crowds with 40-over matches against county players on Sunday afternoons, the authorities decided to introduce their own inter-county afternoon league.

From the outset it was a success. Families so inclined could attend church, enjoy their traditional Sunday roast and then go to the cricket. Freewheeling types could sleep late on the Sabbath, go to a pub at noon and wander down to the ground, ready to cheer on their champions, by 2pm. For a few hours, usually dormant cricket grounds came to life, with songs and cheers and gasps and the other accoutrements of dramatic activity. Not that these days theatre-goers are allowed to respond. Part of the beauty of sport is that the end cannot be foretold. Every story is unique.

Moreover the action was fast and furious. Teams were given 130 minutes to bowl and the penalty was severe. Sides failing to comply were obliged to complete their task but then faced only the overs completed by 16.10pm. Short run-ups were compulsory and fast over rates commonplace.

Players took easily and happily to these short contests. Sixty-over cricket had been introduced in 1963. At first, players had been bemused by the change in tempo. Typically, Ted Dexter was ahead of the pack, and under his leadership Sussex dominated the first few seasons of the competition. Until the emergence of the recently retired captains Atherton, Vaughan and Hussain, all impressive in their own ways, Dexter has had the best mind in English cricket. His only weakness was a tendency to appear eccentric, in which regard he may not be alone.

As it happens, Somerset developed a team superbly suited to the format, and in the 1970s and early 1980s the team regularly challenged for the title, without often winning it. Abandoning previous customs, spectators arrived early and by noon the grounds were packed to the rafters. They relished the cut and thrust of the 40-over contest. Probably 50 overs would have stretched their patience. Most of them were enjoying a day off work and wanted to relax.

In almost every respect it was a healthy and productive period in English cricket. Only one reservation could be felt about it. In 18 years of almost constant participation I cannot remember a truly great spell of bowling or great innings played in the 40-over format. The closest was an extraordinary chasing knock played by Steve Waugh in an otherwise unremarkable match against Northampton at Taunton. In his early years Waugh was a match-winner, the best I have seen, and his innings was as brilliant as it was defiant of defeat.

Most likely even that was not a great innings. Admittedly greatness is hard to define. Can it exist in comedy? Music hall? Cartoons? The Simpsons? PG Wodehouse? Or does it require a canvas to match? Where is the borderline? Although Twenty20 may confirm greatness, it cannot produce it or unleash it. I think the same applies to 40-over cricket. On the other hand I have seen great innings played in 55- and 60-over cricket, in Lord's finals, in World Cups - truly glorious exhibitions of batsmanship against high-class bowlers striving with every power at their disposal. I can remember Viv Richards several times, Sunil Gavaskar at Taunton once, Clive Lloyd at Lord's, and many others.

It's harder for the bowlers because their work is restricted. Often they are withdrawn after making the first incision. Even so Joel Garner often saved his best for the shorter matches, and he counts amongst the giants of the game. Now and then Wasim Akram and Shane Warne dazzled.

Perhaps the borderline exists somewhere between 60 and 40 overs. Arguably 60 and 55, just, are long enough to pit a man against himself and the world, to take him to his limits. Forty-over cricket makes the decisions but the longer version gives players a lot of rope. As regards 50-over matches, suffice it to say, for these purposes 50 seems closer to 40 than 60. Frankly, even 55 a side appeared marginal.

But then, the capacity to extract greatness is not the only test of a contest. Sometimes it is enough to amuse. Cricket is not a religion nor yet a culture. It is a skill, a profession and an entertainment. Indeed, cricket's saving grace has been precisely that it has learned not to take itself too seriously. Notwithstanding its reputation, it is the most audacious of games. Of late, too, it has realised that solemnity does not pay the bills or attract youngsters. The trick has been to combine enchantment and excitement. Without greatness, a game shrivels. Without an audience, it dies.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Viru-yuvi-rox on April 24, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    This is stupid talk, why do you peoples talk about other format when 20-20 is there. it is wrong to say it do not provide great innings and performance. Isnt Yuvis 6 sixes against England great performance? It came in T20. Also how well players play in IPL?even shane warne says best innings he saw was from pathan. All are great performances, This is jealousy by England because they cannot master Shorter format of game.

  • PrinceofPortofSpain on April 22, 2010, 14:39 GMT

    Make Test Cricket more exciting the Old School way. Have a Test championship every 4 years between 50/50 World Cups involving the top 4 countries based on PWC ratings. One of them will host the tournment and each team will play one test each against the other three. All matches will be played to a finish with groundsmen instructed to prepare wickets with results in 5 days. The final `Timeless Test` will be played on the fourth week to roud out a 4 week contest. The top four teams will change every 4 years depending on team form etc. No adjustments to the Laws of the game are required-Draws will be elliminated!

  • Allan716 on April 22, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Great article Mr Roebuck! I am concerned about the editing of this piece though. There are too many errors in spellings, punctuations and grammar. For an established writer as you are, I think you should definitely take this up with the editorial team.

  • Pramod75 on April 22, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Any format will be alive and create interest if there is level playing field for bowlers. Allow more than 2 bouncers an over in all formats, reduce fielding restrictions in ODI's and you will have more keenly contested matches in all formats. Even 20-20 will be boring in long term if it is all bang bang and nothing for bowlers. These days almost all teams have all batsmen with an average of more than 40 in ODI's and Tests. Even in 20-20, I saw that some batsmen have average of 35+. That is plain ridiculous.

  • on April 22, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    England have a strong domestic structure and one of the oldest but even though they haven't managed to win even 1 ODI tournament (World Cup or Champions Trophy). They have reached the finals on numerous occasions. Not only that, they are the pioneers of T20 and started it in 2003 but yet failed to make it to semis despite hosting the 2009 edition.

  • on April 22, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    it's great idea for ODI format and interesting with 20 over powerplay

  • BillyCC on April 22, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    Excellent article Peter. Yes, people have short memories and focus too much on the recent past. Test cricket has really not changed much in over 130 years. In terms of stats, batsmen are maybe 5 runs on average better off, and bowlers are about 5 runs worse off, and there are more matches played.

  • __PK on April 22, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    "Although Twenty20 may confirm greatness, it cannot produce it or unleash it." This is an unfounded assertion, for the simple reason that T20 hasn't been around long enough to produce anything. Wait for another 10 years and see if a young genius who's played almost exclusively T20 arrives to impress us all. Also, if players like David Warner have made almost no impact outside the T20 arena, surely they've been unleashed by T20. As usual, Mr Roebuck has made unsupported assertions and then bent the facts to suit them.

  • jackiethepen on April 22, 2010, 2:09 GMT

    Timeless Tests and 10-over matches, it is all the same? No it isn't. It is like saying a motto in a Christmas cracker is the same as Milton's Paradise Lost. What they have in common is the English language. What timeless Tests and 10-over matches have in common is bat and ball. Twenty-20 isn't the most popular form of the game in England. It is Test cricket. So what is your point about Test cricket taking its spectators for granted? League cricket might suit 40 overs but County cricket might be too good for it. You might only get two or three batsmen actually batting unless they approach it Twenty-20 style and start throwing their bat at the ball and their wickets away. And what good will that do as learning curve for ODIs? A lot of cricket fans don't find Twenty-20 as entertaining as a good hard fought and well crafted game. At least the 50 overs give a chance of that. If you are so appreciative of outstanding performances then don't bury that chance of seeing them again.

  • eminem on April 22, 2010, 1:08 GMT

    everything is right and fine what you said Peter, but MU is the best club team in the world period

  • Viru-yuvi-rox on April 24, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    This is stupid talk, why do you peoples talk about other format when 20-20 is there. it is wrong to say it do not provide great innings and performance. Isnt Yuvis 6 sixes against England great performance? It came in T20. Also how well players play in IPL?even shane warne says best innings he saw was from pathan. All are great performances, This is jealousy by England because they cannot master Shorter format of game.

  • PrinceofPortofSpain on April 22, 2010, 14:39 GMT

    Make Test Cricket more exciting the Old School way. Have a Test championship every 4 years between 50/50 World Cups involving the top 4 countries based on PWC ratings. One of them will host the tournment and each team will play one test each against the other three. All matches will be played to a finish with groundsmen instructed to prepare wickets with results in 5 days. The final `Timeless Test` will be played on the fourth week to roud out a 4 week contest. The top four teams will change every 4 years depending on team form etc. No adjustments to the Laws of the game are required-Draws will be elliminated!

  • Allan716 on April 22, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Great article Mr Roebuck! I am concerned about the editing of this piece though. There are too many errors in spellings, punctuations and grammar. For an established writer as you are, I think you should definitely take this up with the editorial team.

  • Pramod75 on April 22, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Any format will be alive and create interest if there is level playing field for bowlers. Allow more than 2 bouncers an over in all formats, reduce fielding restrictions in ODI's and you will have more keenly contested matches in all formats. Even 20-20 will be boring in long term if it is all bang bang and nothing for bowlers. These days almost all teams have all batsmen with an average of more than 40 in ODI's and Tests. Even in 20-20, I saw that some batsmen have average of 35+. That is plain ridiculous.

  • on April 22, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    England have a strong domestic structure and one of the oldest but even though they haven't managed to win even 1 ODI tournament (World Cup or Champions Trophy). They have reached the finals on numerous occasions. Not only that, they are the pioneers of T20 and started it in 2003 but yet failed to make it to semis despite hosting the 2009 edition.

  • on April 22, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    it's great idea for ODI format and interesting with 20 over powerplay

  • BillyCC on April 22, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    Excellent article Peter. Yes, people have short memories and focus too much on the recent past. Test cricket has really not changed much in over 130 years. In terms of stats, batsmen are maybe 5 runs on average better off, and bowlers are about 5 runs worse off, and there are more matches played.

  • __PK on April 22, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    "Although Twenty20 may confirm greatness, it cannot produce it or unleash it." This is an unfounded assertion, for the simple reason that T20 hasn't been around long enough to produce anything. Wait for another 10 years and see if a young genius who's played almost exclusively T20 arrives to impress us all. Also, if players like David Warner have made almost no impact outside the T20 arena, surely they've been unleashed by T20. As usual, Mr Roebuck has made unsupported assertions and then bent the facts to suit them.

  • jackiethepen on April 22, 2010, 2:09 GMT

    Timeless Tests and 10-over matches, it is all the same? No it isn't. It is like saying a motto in a Christmas cracker is the same as Milton's Paradise Lost. What they have in common is the English language. What timeless Tests and 10-over matches have in common is bat and ball. Twenty-20 isn't the most popular form of the game in England. It is Test cricket. So what is your point about Test cricket taking its spectators for granted? League cricket might suit 40 overs but County cricket might be too good for it. You might only get two or three batsmen actually batting unless they approach it Twenty-20 style and start throwing their bat at the ball and their wickets away. And what good will that do as learning curve for ODIs? A lot of cricket fans don't find Twenty-20 as entertaining as a good hard fought and well crafted game. At least the 50 overs give a chance of that. If you are so appreciative of outstanding performances then don't bury that chance of seeing them again.

  • eminem on April 22, 2010, 1:08 GMT

    everything is right and fine what you said Peter, but MU is the best club team in the world period

  • jblades on April 22, 2010, 1:05 GMT

    Well in fact Akram dazzled more than occassionally in ODIs. Probably as good in that form as Andy Roberts and Garner.

    As usual, some good points here, Peter. I still think the 50-over format has as many thrillers as the T20 format. The good thing with T20 in comparison, I suppose, is that if a game is a flop, it is over quicker for the viewer and that is some consolation.

  • kingofspain on April 21, 2010, 22:07 GMT

    Test cricket is real cricket.

  • Prasanna_XI on April 21, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    Yes, You're right. A 40 over cricket with 20 overs of Power play would definitely suite the ODI Cricket , keeping in mind the growing popularity of T-20. That would be an ideal contest for both bowlers and batsmen, thus keeping the spectators engaged to the match all the time!!!

  • Tiptop32 on April 21, 2010, 19:25 GMT

    I would say 35 overs match will be apt one. It will have all the elements of 50/20 overs match. 40 overs is little longer. We have seen some interesting encounters when the match were affected by rains and both the teams played a 35 overs match. Hope ICC makes changes to ODI and makes it more interesting.

  • long_handle9 on April 21, 2010, 19:12 GMT

    I agree with Knowledge Eater for once, this is easily the best article I've read by Roebuck.

  • Hiteshdevilliers on April 21, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    Your right, if 40 over cricket is going to save the ODI version of the game, then so be it. Where as we see slog hitting start from over 40, now it will be from over 30. As dsachit said, there are plenty of people (at times including myself) who kind of tune out during the middle overs, this in spite of me being a huge advocate for odi cricket. Friends I speak to in cricketing circles tend to agree that 50 overs is too long, considering the rapid rise of T20 cricket,and the prospect of undertaking so many more "fun" things to do in an 8 hour period. 40 over cricket can consist of 12 over fielding restrictions and slog hitting from over 30 on. This will leave around 18 overs, lesser than the current 25 overs of "boring" partnership building part of the innings (overs 15-40 as of now). Domestic cricket in England and South Africa already consists of 40 over games and expect more to follow. Last season, 50 over cricket didn't really catch on in England, so why go back to it?

  • EVH316 on April 21, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    It`s quite an amusing scenario - the counties are often criticised for not doing enough for the England team, in a biting-of-the-feeding-hand kind of way, regarding youth development vs. Kolpaks and so on - whilst this time they are being told to play formats that are essentially irrelevant to those played internationally! I normally pop into the garden or prepare dinner whilst the spinners are firing in their darts between overs 25-37 or so...also, removing the usually rather unwatchable middle overs is fine, but have they thought of the struggling vendors based around the county ground boundaries? Surely this is when the majority of ice creams and merchandise are sold! Is no one looking at the bigger picture?

  • knowledge_eater on April 21, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Greatly Written article ever by Peter Roebuck. First and last paragraph, worth reading more than once. Agreed. Peace

  • rohitsaxena5 on April 21, 2010, 10:09 GMT

    I think that cricket ODI should be of 50-over length. This is because hundreds of records are made in this version of the game and if furthur changes are carried out by reducing the overs,etc. then new records will be made which should not be mixed with 50-over matches. So, I think that cricket is the game of records and it should go the same way it is going on. Otherwise its quality will get diminished.

  • scritty on April 21, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    I grew up with 40 over "sunday league" cricket back in the 70's and 80's It was the perfect length then. 2 and a half hours per innings, just enough time for batters to get in. Start at 1:00pm finish at 6:30pm (including the break)

    The dull part of 50 overs is the middle 20, in effect we are halving that. There will still be the biff bash of the first 15-20, and more often the same for the last 10 or so. It's not "new". Like so many misconceptions about the past - 40 over cricket is as old as the hills. Back in the 70's and 80's 40 overs was always the most popular. The 50 over games (played on working Wednesdays, to empty grouds, at least until the semi final stages) were never as popular as 40 over Sunday league - televised on BBC2. We have come full circle. It's taken the best part of 30 or so years, but so what. This is a good thing

  • bunner on April 21, 2010, 9:08 GMT

    I thought 60 over cricket was great (but understand why it has been reduced to 50 overs) , and 40 over cricket too.

    What messed up the 40 over game was the administrators moving it from sundays, and it disappearing from tv. Everyone new sunday was for the sunday league.

    In the 40 over game I have seen many fine batting and bowling perfomances, but then again I am a Hampshire fan. Barry Richards on song, going for the fastest 50, Malcolm Marshall getting a hat-trick, to name a few. I recall watching Wayne Larkins on tv and many others playing well in difficult circumstances.

    I do believe abolishing the limit on the number of overs a person can bowl, would add a new dimension to limited over cricket, and is definitely worth trialling. It is a natural aspect of the game, and far better than the artificial Power Plays we have now.

  • on April 21, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    Whatever ECB does to the ODI matter they still haven't yet won an ODI Trophy (World Cup or Champions Trophy) even though reaching the semis so many times. They didn't qualify for semis in either of 2003 or 2007 World Cups, and the closest they've got is a runners-up in the ICC Champions Trophy 2006.

    Not only that, England are the pioneers of T20 cricket, yet they are yet to reach semis of a T20 World Cup despite hosting the 2009 edition

  • hrmalladi on April 21, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    We should soon be going for ONE DAY TESTS - 40 overs each 1st innings during the day followed by 20 overs each 2nd innings during the Night. This will be more exciting than the current One days and 20-20 put together.

  • on April 21, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    I believe the best option is to make a 50 over match into a 35 over match. It is neither too short like T20 or too long like 50 over match. It will be an ideal contest between ball and bat without leaving the spectator bored.

    Satya

  • 9ST9 on April 21, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    It is true that 40 over or 20 over cricket may not be the stage for cricketing greatness. The longer the game the more testing it is,and the best performances have been produced in test cricket. But having said that, evolution is something that should not be taken for granted. Humans have evolved and cricket needs to evolve too. If I was not a cricket fan I'd definitely wonder the sanity of playing a game that lasts 30 hrs.

    In the case of 50- overs it is a bit too long. There are lots of people who doze off in the middle overs. If the game is to survive changes are inevitable. After all authorities cant Force people to watch cricket. If the masses find cricket unappealing they have hundreds of other things to do.

  • tfjones1978 on April 21, 2010, 3:49 GMT

    I agree to ODI cricket needs to change, but it needs to become multi-session cricket instead Dual-session cricket. My recommendation is 50 overs but split between 2 sessions, so Team A bats 25 overs, then Team B bats 25 overs, then Team A continues its innings for remaining 25 overs, then Team B has another 25 overs to finish off its innings. The best way to improve test cricket is to make each test part of a test championship (excluding Friendlies between two boards). This could be using a multi-tier approach (eg: tiers of 6 or 8) or a world cup style approach (12 team group, 8 team Super Eights, Semi & Finals), either over 2 or 4 years (prefer 2 years) playing either 1 or 2 test home & away series or 3 test home / away series (theres a lot of different models for both as long as teams have to compete to get to the top). Also, test cricket should be multi-session with each session teams switching and continuing their innings (20 small sessions, 4 innings matches).

  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on April 21, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    Well yes 40 over cricket will certainly decrease the time and also one thing can be done to give some liberty to the bowlers that the ball change should not be done as itself the powerplays are of 20 overs and also the team who has worked hard one the ball on a dry flat placid track to get some reverse swing and also the boundaries should be lengthened thats where all australian grounds are so good the real power player or the sweet striker or timer of the ball can only clear the ropes and the mishits can be caught seriously guys its indeed a gangrape of bowlers ICC plz plz plz plz do something

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  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on April 21, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    Well yes 40 over cricket will certainly decrease the time and also one thing can be done to give some liberty to the bowlers that the ball change should not be done as itself the powerplays are of 20 overs and also the team who has worked hard one the ball on a dry flat placid track to get some reverse swing and also the boundaries should be lengthened thats where all australian grounds are so good the real power player or the sweet striker or timer of the ball can only clear the ropes and the mishits can be caught seriously guys its indeed a gangrape of bowlers ICC plz plz plz plz do something

  • tfjones1978 on April 21, 2010, 3:49 GMT

    I agree to ODI cricket needs to change, but it needs to become multi-session cricket instead Dual-session cricket. My recommendation is 50 overs but split between 2 sessions, so Team A bats 25 overs, then Team B bats 25 overs, then Team A continues its innings for remaining 25 overs, then Team B has another 25 overs to finish off its innings. The best way to improve test cricket is to make each test part of a test championship (excluding Friendlies between two boards). This could be using a multi-tier approach (eg: tiers of 6 or 8) or a world cup style approach (12 team group, 8 team Super Eights, Semi & Finals), either over 2 or 4 years (prefer 2 years) playing either 1 or 2 test home & away series or 3 test home / away series (theres a lot of different models for both as long as teams have to compete to get to the top). Also, test cricket should be multi-session with each session teams switching and continuing their innings (20 small sessions, 4 innings matches).

  • 9ST9 on April 21, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    It is true that 40 over or 20 over cricket may not be the stage for cricketing greatness. The longer the game the more testing it is,and the best performances have been produced in test cricket. But having said that, evolution is something that should not be taken for granted. Humans have evolved and cricket needs to evolve too. If I was not a cricket fan I'd definitely wonder the sanity of playing a game that lasts 30 hrs.

    In the case of 50- overs it is a bit too long. There are lots of people who doze off in the middle overs. If the game is to survive changes are inevitable. After all authorities cant Force people to watch cricket. If the masses find cricket unappealing they have hundreds of other things to do.

  • on April 21, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    I believe the best option is to make a 50 over match into a 35 over match. It is neither too short like T20 or too long like 50 over match. It will be an ideal contest between ball and bat without leaving the spectator bored.

    Satya

  • hrmalladi on April 21, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    We should soon be going for ONE DAY TESTS - 40 overs each 1st innings during the day followed by 20 overs each 2nd innings during the Night. This will be more exciting than the current One days and 20-20 put together.

  • on April 21, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    Whatever ECB does to the ODI matter they still haven't yet won an ODI Trophy (World Cup or Champions Trophy) even though reaching the semis so many times. They didn't qualify for semis in either of 2003 or 2007 World Cups, and the closest they've got is a runners-up in the ICC Champions Trophy 2006.

    Not only that, England are the pioneers of T20 cricket, yet they are yet to reach semis of a T20 World Cup despite hosting the 2009 edition

  • bunner on April 21, 2010, 9:08 GMT

    I thought 60 over cricket was great (but understand why it has been reduced to 50 overs) , and 40 over cricket too.

    What messed up the 40 over game was the administrators moving it from sundays, and it disappearing from tv. Everyone new sunday was for the sunday league.

    In the 40 over game I have seen many fine batting and bowling perfomances, but then again I am a Hampshire fan. Barry Richards on song, going for the fastest 50, Malcolm Marshall getting a hat-trick, to name a few. I recall watching Wayne Larkins on tv and many others playing well in difficult circumstances.

    I do believe abolishing the limit on the number of overs a person can bowl, would add a new dimension to limited over cricket, and is definitely worth trialling. It is a natural aspect of the game, and far better than the artificial Power Plays we have now.

  • scritty on April 21, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    I grew up with 40 over "sunday league" cricket back in the 70's and 80's It was the perfect length then. 2 and a half hours per innings, just enough time for batters to get in. Start at 1:00pm finish at 6:30pm (including the break)

    The dull part of 50 overs is the middle 20, in effect we are halving that. There will still be the biff bash of the first 15-20, and more often the same for the last 10 or so. It's not "new". Like so many misconceptions about the past - 40 over cricket is as old as the hills. Back in the 70's and 80's 40 overs was always the most popular. The 50 over games (played on working Wednesdays, to empty grouds, at least until the semi final stages) were never as popular as 40 over Sunday league - televised on BBC2. We have come full circle. It's taken the best part of 30 or so years, but so what. This is a good thing

  • rohitsaxena5 on April 21, 2010, 10:09 GMT

    I think that cricket ODI should be of 50-over length. This is because hundreds of records are made in this version of the game and if furthur changes are carried out by reducing the overs,etc. then new records will be made which should not be mixed with 50-over matches. So, I think that cricket is the game of records and it should go the same way it is going on. Otherwise its quality will get diminished.

  • knowledge_eater on April 21, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Greatly Written article ever by Peter Roebuck. First and last paragraph, worth reading more than once. Agreed. Peace