Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel Nine's cricket coverage

South Africa in England 2012

Make 50 overs special again

England's awful display at Trent Bridge was partly down to the skewed priorities of the cricket schedule and, instead of the current fixture cram, short one-day series should be played before the Tests

Mark Nicholas

September 6, 2012

Comments: 67 | Text size: A | A

James Tredwell was bowled playing across the line, England v South Africa, 5th NatWest ODI, Trent Bridge, September, 5, 2012
England's batsmen played a series of horrid shots in their last one-day international of the year © Getty Images
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There was something oddly relevant about England's abject cricket at Trent Bridge on Wednesday evening. Greed forced the game into the schedule - the summer's 14th of 17 limited-overs internationals; there are still three T20s to come - and that greed cost the public the occasion they deserved for their unwavering support.

Everything was in place, even the weather for goodness' sake, but sunshine was the only bang the good folk of Nottingham got for their buck. The England batting was dreadful and the match, bar a brief period by James Anderson with the new ball, a non-event. Too much of a good thing never did anyone any good, and boy, do we get too much of one-day cricket. So there is relevance in this defeat.

The greed in the schedule is the preference of one-day cricket over Test matches. The corridors of power keep telling us that the primacy of Test cricket is of overriding import, but the evidence does not support the claim. Eight short-form games against South Africa, only three Tests. Four against West Indies to go with three Tests - that's better. But five one-dayers against Australia - what were they about, what did they mean? Where is the logic in this planning? The performance of the players, though indefensible in itself, seemed to be saying enough now, enough.

Alastair Cook's face was a picture when the tenth wicket fell. A picture of confusion. We did not see Andy Flower's face because he was elsewhere, exhausted of mind and feet up far away. It has been a demanding three months. First Kevin Pietersen's show-stopping retirement from the 50-over game, then the aggro over resting James Anderson from the Edgbaston Test against West Indies, then humiliation at The Oval by the South Africans.

We are warming up now. Next came the post-Headingley Pietersen outburst, followed by the texts about the captain and the sender's axing, then defeat at Lord's and the loss of the top dog world ranking. Wait, there is more. Next came goodbye Andrew Strauss, hello Alastair Cook; then another tranche of Pietersen (they met on Saturday, we are told); before the false light of 50-over victories at The Oval and Lord's. And now this thumping. Just hope that Flower did not watch the Trent Bridge game, because if he did we might find him in the Thames with lead boots on.

Make the 50-over game special again by making it less accessible and interest will return for both spectator and player. Cricket can and should sustain three formats

In some ways, then, it has been a wretched year. Perhaps we should have spotted the loosening of the wheels in the Middle East, where the newly anointed Champions of the World were hammered in all three Tests by Pakistan. Then again, England have won 12 of 14 completed 50-over matches this year. Having watched last night's shambles, explaining how is tricky. Pietersen kicked it off with a couple of hundreds in the UAE; West Indies were pretty ordinary earlier this summer, and Australia were out of season in July. That helped.

Arguably England are four players short of the best team. Stuart Broad is on sabbatical, Matt Prior is ignored, Jonny Bairstow is keen to the point of bursting, KP is in SW3 en famille. It was commendable to outplay South Africa in two matches and much thought went into doing so. It is equally commendable to finish the year at the top of the ICC rankings. But there is a lot of unravelling left. England's cricket has gone mediocre of late. Some common sense is required to bring it back to scratch.

Moving on. Tweet tweet goes the country after these humdrum contests that finished without a winner. Fifty-over cricket is the frenzied theme of Twitter exchanges across the land. We're over it, they are shouting. Bring on the global phenomenon that is T20 and leave it at that. Test cricket survives and T20 will thrive.

I do not buy it. The quality of the cricket makes the format worthwhile or otherwise. Too many games and not enough importance attached to them is the reason for the limited interest in the 50-over game. Even the players have tired of the process and thus pay it less attention. It is no coincidence that many a team that wins the Test series goes on to lose the one-day games.

A challenge over the best of three matches is ample and should be played as the warm-up to a Test series, the main event. These shorter, sharper series should count towards World Cup qualification and seeding, and therefore be played with meaning. Ideally, 50-over cricket should be the first flower of spring, the return of the game into a summer's consciousness or the first format back after time away for such diversions as the Olympic Games or football championships. Offering a taste of both the longest and shortest form of the game, the 50-over game is the one to whet appetites.

Tickets should be hard to find in countries other than England, where the small grounds and relatively large populations tend to guarantee full houses. World Cups must be pre-eminent, not overshadowed by bi-annual T20 tournaments. There is good reason for the theory of supply and demand. Make the 50-over game special again by making it less accessible and interest will return for both spectator and player. Cricket can and should sustain three formats. Working out what goes where, when and how often, is the key to its diverse appeal in the future.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by   on (September 8, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

Similar voice was raised by Dravid in Bradman oration Saying " 5 matches or 7 matches long bilateral one day series are meaningless. Series involving more than 2 countries(like triangular series) will be interesting for the spectators".

Posted by Moppa on (September 8, 2012, 4:47 GMT)

Also, I think the ODI format is a bit stale, as evidenced by the ICC's need to tinker with it with powerplays, supersubs (thank god they're gone!) etc. My main problem with it are the accumulation overs from 20-35 when everyone knocks the ball around for 5-6 singles an over and there are 5 men back. There is no value for high quality cricket strokes - a beautiful cover drive gets the same 1 run as a thick edge onto the thigh pad. I would have the fielding restrictions go to: overs 1-15: 2 men out; 16-25: 3 men out; 26-35: 4 men out; 36-50: 5 men out. Then at least we might see boundaries and attacking batting all through the innings. It would also increase the value of bowling for wickets vs for containment. To give the bowlers some chance, maybe stick with the new ball from either end as done in England.

Posted by Moppa on (September 8, 2012, 4:30 GMT)

@Busie1979, I like where you're going... but annual? Do you mean ODI one year, T20 the next and so on? I think the World Cup is what will keep ODI alive, and to keep it special it probably should only be every 4 years. I do agree broadly with you that making other matches have a 'qualifying' role will give them relevance. I also agree that the minnows should fight amongst themselves for the right to make the big show - so maybe Ireland and Afghanistan win through but the others miss out. Personally I find triangular series incredibly tiresome - if one team is a bit off its game, there are lots of dead rubbers just to get to an anti-climactic finals series. My hope is for an orderly set of home and away 3 match ODI series for some form of qualification/seeding for the World Cup, ideally giving teams like Ireland, Afghanistan etc a chance to earn qualification to compete in the big show against the major teams.

Posted by robbied74 on (September 7, 2012, 20:46 GMT)

Mark - very much agreed. The old style format used to work perfectly; the aperitif before the main course. Even as recently as 2005, think how hard fought the one dayers were between Aus and Eng before the tests - gives players an opportunity to size each other up before the real battle begins. This summer's SAF-ENG ODIs were more a case of 'after the lord mayor's show'.

Posted by   on (September 7, 2012, 20:41 GMT)

Agree Mark - should be the aperitif to the main course. Even as recently as 2005 Australia tour of England, think of how hard fought and intense the one day series was before the tests. Absolutely set things up perfectly.

Having the ODIs following the tests is clearly a case of after the Lord Mayor's show.

Posted by FredJ000 on (September 7, 2012, 13:59 GMT)

Why dont the ICC listen to the fans about this. Everyone agrees we should;ve had 4 or 5 tests against South Africa and not played the aussies - it also ever so slightly devalued the ashes next summer to have them hear anyway. Had they done this then a 5th ODI against South Africa may have been more entertaining than it was and the players (and coach) may have had the energy for it.

I love 50 over cricket - and you can't scrap it because for real cricket fans it is the only decent short form of the game. They should try it though - prelude, main event, encore sounds like a good description really.

For me the perfect length of series would be 3 or 5 ODIs followed by 4 or 5 tests and 2 or 3 T20's (for the money - i probably wont bother with them)

and yes the fact that the world T20 is every 2 years makes a joke of the 50 over world cup. Why not scrap t 20's as part of a tour and have an int t20 cup every FOUR years 2 years away from the Olympics where it would also be an Olympic event!

Posted by Meety on (September 7, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

@Busie1979 - good idea, but I think eventually it would cheapen the event if it was played annually in either format. I think for cricket to survive amongst the minnows, they need to have the "potential" to reach the W/Cup, even if they get flogged. I agree re: context, that being said I thought there was context to the Tri-series in Oz, there is some context in the Asia Cup, but there was little context between Oz & pak in UAE & Oz & Eng in England. I think if ODIs were limited to 3 matches in a bilateral (prefer to ban bilaterals), to be ONLY played during a Test tour (before or after a test I don't mind, but I do think they are better before). I would look to have 3 or 4 -sided contests involving at least ONE minnow. Over time this would boost sides like Zim, Bang, Ireland & Afghan, even Netherlands, Scotland & Namibia.

Posted by Selassie-I on (September 7, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

I do agree Mark, however all the counties are screaming out for international cricket games, after they have spent all the SKY money on new stands, grounds, pavilions etc. I think we should have one tri series ODI tourney in the middle of the summer with both the visiting teams, maybe even include the Irish and make it a 4-way? Each team plays each other twice, then semis and a final. That way we'd help Ireland to develop as they would always have test playing nations to play each year, there would be 20 ODIs to hold around the country in the summer, keeping the counties happy, but England would only play a maximum of 8, everyone happy! It would also give a bit more competitiveness to the affair and tournament like experience to all those involved.

Posted by dariuscorny on (September 7, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

@Saqib Siddiqi mate can you tell me when was the last time Pak won a series outside Pak or UAE recently?India did win in Eng in Pak has also a lot to prove outside their den....

Posted by   on (September 7, 2012, 11:01 GMT)

What Mark Nicholas is advocating sounds like a return to the old Texaco Trophy format. He's right: It was a prelude to the tests, a chance to put a marker down at the start of a series and the opportunity to let bright, early starters in first class cricket be blooded into the full side. So how does this sound? A 3 match 50 overs series, then a test series and finally a T20 series to round a series out. Prelude, main event, encore.

Posted by Sandman5five on (September 7, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

This is how the powers that be should plan it: 1. When it involves two teams from the top 5 - Have 5 Test Matches and 3 T20s in a 'visit', with a return visit planned for next year 2. When it involves two teams from the bottom 5 - Have 3 Test Matches and 3 T20s in a 'visit', with a return visit planned for next year ODIs should strictly be tri-nation, bi-annual Champions Trophy and World Cup affairs. (Bilateral Series have lost their charm honestly.)

Posted by Busie1979 on (September 7, 2012, 5:39 GMT)

The solution: Annual world cups in ODI / T20 - only 6 teams qualify for finals and play a round robin against each other, with 2 semi finals and a final. Reduce bilateral series (in soccer these are called "freindlies") and replace them with world cup qualifiers. Involve high performing minnows who have to qualify for the top 4 just like everyone else. This will give meaning to each game, give minnows some genuine competition between world cups and no excuses if they are not involved, make it less likely that the best players are "saved" for tests, and make the world cup finals much shorter and more watchable. Bilateral series are killing the game. By the end of a test series, people are sick of watching the same teams over and over again. The problem is not simply volume of cricket. The problem is context.

Posted by cricketfannik on (September 7, 2012, 2:41 GMT)

he is totally rite but the point is where the hell tringular series gone. these pathetic 7 and 5 match boring series allow most important players to take it easy and take rest and then most series goes like 5-0 or 4-1 or 6-1 or 5-2 none of the bi literal series has done good for 50 over format. Plz ICC stop these nonsense series. Tringular is far beeter WI was in ENG , so was SA and AUS why cant you introduce any 3 teams of 4 of them together where even players and spectators will enjoy. These point less series are anyways having more matches than tringular series Jeez plz use some brains and logics its like u know something is going wrong still u continue to do it shameful. Imagine Aus bowler bowiling to Kallis and co in seaming Eng conditions and vice versa even WI AUS ENG could have been mouthwatering series more renevue , enjoyment and excitement as well. We want permutations and combinations doesnt matter if it is 2 round-robin triangular plz save this 50over and stop non-sense

Posted by John-Orford on (September 7, 2012, 1:56 GMT)

Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game; it must never fall away or vanish. Despite the feeling that the idea and presentation of T20 is based on attitudes to sport copied from the United States, the shorter forms have an important role, because one day cricket is the original cricket. The three great cradles of cricketers were the Public Schools, the Northern Leagues and the village green and all played one-day matches.

Posted by NWorsn on (September 7, 2012, 0:43 GMT)

I very much agree with Mark here. ODIs should be treated as the "tour games" of yesteryear before the Test series starts. It'd be a great way of easing the players into it, plus it'd build up a great sense of atmosphere before the Tests begin. Most Test-playing nations use their ODI team as a form of developmental squad for the Test team, so having the ODIs before the Tests seems much more logical.

Posted by   on (September 7, 2012, 0:35 GMT)

Yeah ODI is best as an Hors d'oeuvre not a dessert. The 2005 ashes was set up fantastically by the preceeding ODI series. Imagime the anti climax if it had come after. All the best ODI series I've seen have come first, and that goes back to the 70's. 4 day tests are also a decent idea. 96 overs per day minimum 32 per session worked out strictly at the end of each inning (4 overs lost for change) so max 12 lost in the match to that.

Posted by TriniTraveller on (September 6, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

I disagree completely. ODIs were invited to bring money into the game. Evolution of the game now has 2020 cricket as the money maker. Put 'Pajama Cricket' out of it's misery and make it extinct. This frees up enough time in the calender to give players a rest, create a test championship and play enough 2020 games to still bring the money in. A four year test chamionship and a bi-annual 2020 World Cup. With ranking in the World Cup dependent on the previous two years of 2020 games to make them more worth while. ODIs are cricketers least favourite format. Why be nostalgic?

Posted by prfluffendust on (September 6, 2012, 23:18 GMT)

I still don't understand why limited overs series are not best-of. Why bother with drawn series? Neither team could really have felt this result was crucial, and the rankings are pretty pointless in this format. Even though a series result was allegedly on the line it felt like a dead rubber.

Posted by pommyadders on (September 6, 2012, 22:54 GMT)

Agree, reduce the No of games and move the ODI fixtures to before the test series. Last ODI series I can remember that I really got into and was fiercely contested was before the 2005 Ashes. Every time since the ODI's have ended up being a consolation price for the losing Ashes team. Tests are the main event and interest in a ODI series afterwards will always be limited........especially for the players.

Posted by pommyadders on (September 6, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

@Swapnil Gharat "last time india lost 4-0 in england so india is still no 4 in tests. But last year england lost 5-0 in India in ODI's but they are no 1 ????? ridiculous." I really don't believe this needs to be explained, but there is a very good reason for this situation.....Neither the ODI or Test rankings are based solely around series against India mate!!!! There is the small matter you are overlooking of India then going onto losing a test series 4-0 to Australia and England going onto to a 10 ODI wining streak. The rankings are calculated over a period of time, you can't just pick 2 series out of the period....Sheeeesh!!

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 21:25 GMT)

prepare bowling wickets....that way it becomes more challenging to bat and small totals become competitive...thats what kept cricket alive in the 70s,80s,90s..further it places more emhasis on strenghtening teams it wud distinguish gud batsmen from the rest....i remember chasing 220s, 240s was such a value back in those days..unlike today where every 5,6 in 10 odis are 300 plus...It will make the game more interesting..

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 21:23 GMT)

make the game 8 ball overs again, with all the time wasted switching ends, 2 balls aint going to matter, and reduce it to 40 overs 40 X 8= 320 balls, infact do the same for test with less fluffing around between overs the games would be much better with more cricket

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 21:16 GMT)

@swapnil gharat: plz be mindful of the fact that it was INDIA that got 4-0 hammering in england and australia and PAK beat england i'd swap india for PAK in the elite four group if fairly presented....India need to prove itself in overseas instead of building success in their backyard on dull pitches...

Posted by Evilpengwinz on (September 6, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

Agree with some parts - However, I don't think it's as simple as moving ODIs to the beginning of a tour. There were several things which meant I wasn't interested in the England v SA ODIs.

Firstly, the teams are playing their 2nd XI. Tsotsobe, R Peterson, Parnell, Ontong, Elgar, du Plessis, Dernbach, Tredwell, Patel, Kieswetter, and Bopara are NOT the best 5/6 batsmen, best 4/5 bowlers, or the best wicketkeeper available. Until the top international teams stop "resting" players in ODIs, I don't think there'll be as much interest.

Also, the format is robotic. There's very little license for captains to do anything interesting because of the powerplay restrictions, fielding restrictions, etc. Get rid of the rules about how many people you can have in the 30 yard circle, and all that nonsense.

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 18:29 GMT)

last time india lost 4-0 in england so india is still no 4 in tests. But last year england lost 5-0 in India in ODI's but they are no 1 ????? ridiculous.

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

All the test series between aus,eng,,india be of minimum four tests.If t hese teams plays other teams( Srilanka,pak) it should be three test. otherwise 2 test are more tahn enough against bangla,w.i,nz...Dont understand why s.a board only plays 3 test series home or away

Posted by abbas_mumbai on (September 6, 2012, 17:30 GMT)

I do not agree with Mark. 50 overs was and is the best format. It does not need any kind of change. Test Cricket has become boring with 5 days and no guarantee of a result. Should be changed to 4 days and 4 innings of 90 overs each. 20 overs is a lottery as we all know. 50 overs makes the batsman look to score on every ball with the correct cricket shot, in Test cricket he can just leave the ball alone (boring), and in T20 he just looks to hit every ball for a boundary (not cricket). 50 overs tests 11 players in all aspects - batting, running, fielding, and bowling. For me it is the best game still :).

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (September 6, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

Don't Play the best ODI batsman in the world and you will see results like that. I am talking about KP. England missed KP a lot. KP is not even a good player but entertainer and crowd loves that type of player. I can watch Viv Richards, KP, Klusner whole day. Only entertainer left in today's cricket is Umer Akmal but Pakistan don't know how to use him that's sad too.

If you don't utilize your best entertainer then you will see articles like this every week. Wake up england where is KP. Burn you ego and get him back.

Posted by jb633 on (September 6, 2012, 17:28 GMT)

ODI cricket has become so boring in recent times. Personally I think each tour should be a minimum of 3 tests and a maximum of 5 ODI's. I would like all tours to the sub con to be 5 tests and 3 ODI's. It was a disgrace this summer that Eng vs SA was only 3 tests and we played 4 meaningless ODI's against Oz.

Posted by sidzy on (September 6, 2012, 17:12 GMT)

I cant understand why people want to have one dayers before tets it would be well served if best players play test cricket without injuries....

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

I love 50 over Cricket probably my favourite mainly because its a balance game and results are within a day. Batsman have more time to settle in and so on basically its good competition. The only reason 50 over Cricket gets a lot of stiff is because too many meaningless series are played and this needs to be cut back on and instead, more triangular/quadrangular series needs to be played. Also scrap 7 matches in an ODI series which is another reason why ODI games can get boring and only upto 5 ODI should be played in a given series.

Posted by bigdhonifan on (September 6, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

5 Best ODI teams 1) India, 2) South Africa 3) Australia 4) Pakistan 5) Sri Lanka

Posted by Robster1 on (September 6, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

Yes, three ODIs does make sense. Less = more etc, not that David Collier ever seems to have realised this...And crucially all international matches must now have a direct consequence i.e. no more pointless series between countries just to make $. These fixtures tend to encourage match fixing too.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (September 6, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

how on earth is matt prior considered a part of eng's best odi team

Posted by subbass on (September 6, 2012, 15:52 GMT)

Yeah wasn't much of a fortress when we beat the Aussies 4-0 hey Randy ? Now if it had have been 5-0 yeah fortress would be right, your a clever chap. :p

Posted by just_Test_lover on (September 6, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

The ideal approach for cricket is to place a tri ODI Series between two home tours. eg 2 T20's 3 tests, tri ODI Series, 2T20's and 3 Tests. I miss the old Tri series SA,Aus and NZ or SA, India and Pakistan etc. I know the Ind vs Pak in SA were not sell outs but created a good competition.

Posted by Romanticstud on (September 6, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

Unfortunately, ODI cricket had been overshadowed by T20 cricket as of late ... but ODI cricket is what most of the current generation grew up watching ... Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Lance Klusener, Chris Gayle ... I reckon that the powerplay initiative should be re-thought ... the first 10 overs definitely ... how about the bowling powerplay taken any time from 25-40 overs and the batting powerplay any time from 20-35 overs ... and what about supersubs ... especially for these powerplays ... ie. the side will have 13 ... one extra batsman and one extra bowler ... to be used only in the powerplay ... so when the powerplay is finished the supersub must leave the field ...

Posted by klempie on (September 6, 2012, 13:44 GMT)

I absolutely DETEST what T20 has done to the ODI.ODI is by far the better test in the limited overs format. T20 is a lottery. One batsman coming off on either side determines the winner. Bowling is one-dimensional (spin, and pace off the ball) and boring. Pacing an innings and protecting your wicket becomes irrelevant because you are only required to score as fast as you can, and it's practically impossible to get bowled out. 50-over cricket requires circumspection. It allows for some ebb and flow through out the innings. If you have a bad few overs batting or fielding, you can still recover. The two new balls have made it even more interesting. Essentially, T20 is what the last 10 overs of an ODI USED to be. What makes ODIs intriguing is the build-up of suspense going INTO those last 10. Unfortunately, the money in T20 entertaining the moronic masses has taken focus away from the ODIs.

Posted by martonimp on (September 6, 2012, 13:42 GMT)

I have to agree that 3 match ODI series would be ideal in England. 2 touring sides per year = 6 ODIs which could be played at venues that have missed out on tests. T20? no thanks!

Posted by voice_of_reason on (September 6, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

Have a look at the ICC rankings tables and you will see that over the last two years every country other than Sri Lanka has played more ODIs than Tests. Perhaps the reason people prefer T20 to both these formats is because it is not seen as often. Perhaps overkill is the problem with Test match cricket, as much as we perceive it to be with 50 over cricket. International cricket used to be much less frequent and a much anticipated highlight in the sporting calender. Now it's becoming "just another game", the outcome of which means little although it is an opportunity to see the best players perform. And what is the IPL? An opportunity to see the best players perform without worrying too much about the outcome.

Posted by Noman_Yousuf_Dandore on (September 6, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

Spot on Mark! I've always believed that with the invent of T20 cricket, we need to scale down the no of ODIs; we cannot expect the people to have some amount of interest in the format in ODIs and accommodate some more time/interest for T20s. Like buying an extra car in the family with same no of people should reduce the mileage of previous run-of-the-mill car. ODIs can still offer a lot to world cricket, and they should be retained if we don't want the demise of test cricket. Cheers!

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 12:47 GMT)

I thought that the triangular tournaments we used to have in the English summer, between Test series, provided some great matches with a proper context and a great precursor to the second Test series (2005 springs to mind!). I would love to see triangular or, even better, quadrangular tournaments in both ODIs and T20s to be played in between Test series. Such tournaments would include both of the touring Test sides and, for quadrangular series, one of the minnow teams. I believe that this would provide matches with some context, while at the same time giving a minnow team some experience and providing a great precursor to what should be the main cricket event of the English summer, a 4- or 5-Test series against one of the best teams!

Posted by rrishav on (September 6, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

The only way 50 over cricket can survive is by creating a separate identity for it.Currently the game is loaded too much in favour of batsmen.As a result of the assumption by cricket administrators and the broadcasters that the spectators love the sight of bowlers getting smashed ,ball sailing over the ropes they are reluctant to modify rules in favour of bowlers.Recently this year ICC cricket committee rejected the idea of allocating 12 overs to bowlers,increasing number of bouncers per over.Instead they reduced the number of players outside the 30 yard circle during non powerplay overs and introduced two balls to be used in the same match.Hence unless and until 50 over cricket is made distinct from tests and T20s it's survival is difficult.

Posted by Narbavi on (September 6, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

50 over cricket is the one for me, the world champion is decided in this format, its a mix of both caution and aggression, that is, mix of both t20 and tests!! bilateral series can be made 3match series which will be exciting!!

Posted by Noball_Specialist on (September 6, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

There should also be a restriction of how many times you can play the same nation in a given period to stop countries like Sri Lanka and India inflating their revenues and player stats on inconsequential and uninteresting tournaments. Equally Pakistan and Bangladesh/Zimbabwe. A schedule should be drawn up over a 4 year period. Where teams HAVE to tour each other and wins/loses count towards a championship table. Each team will host a series and play away at each of the other nation's countries. So Sri Lanka and India will play India only twice in 4 years. Once at home and once, away. This will guarantee a deserving championed team and the table will be reset after 4 years too. Consequential and easy to understand cricket system. Not some weighted point system Joe Bloggs doesn't understand.

Posted by RandyOZ on (September 6, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

This article actually makes sense. Well done Mark you seem to have recovered from 'Fortress England' finally.

Posted by 512fm on (September 6, 2012, 11:54 GMT)

Good points Mark. ODIs used to be my favourite format right up there with tests a few years ago (especially after those enthralling Chappell-Hadlee Series, being a blackcaps fan) but now I just don't want to watch it anymore. The bilateral series are a complete bore, especially when India and Sri Lanka play each other every 6 months for example. More short tri series are needed (what happened to the Sharjah tournament?). The perfect tour format was the one when SA came here to NZ last summer. 3 T20s, 3 ODIs and 3 tests. The ODIs were over really quickly (which was good seeing as we lost 3-0 so there was only one dead rubber unlike 5 match series) and didn't drag on so long they were boring.

Posted by jackiethepen on (September 6, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

All this rubbishing of cricket every time there is a collapse or uneven game is just undermining support and raising false expectations. Take a look at the County Championship - teams underplay or overplay their particular hands every year. And so do international sides. Didn't Australia get 47 all out against South Africa recently? The history of the game tells us that has always been the case! That is how the Ashes started - after England had a drubbing from Australia. Then the situation was dealt with by wit and rivalry. Instead of that approach we have this long dirge from Nicholas because moaning seems the popular response today. England have had a great ODI year - one of the best in their history. The article also sidesteps the popularity of the game - every ground was sold out all summer for the ODIs. England will fail sometimes. There were reasons for it - not malaise. Poor selection for 3, too many senior player rested and the topsy turvey nature of cricket itself.

Posted by Jazman on (September 6, 2012, 11:20 GMT)

Weird, but I don't think it is only me who feel that it is T20 that hold little relevance. Here in SA test cricket and ODI's are the only formats that really matter. T20's are just teasers, nothing more - there's no substance to it. I'll watch it if it's on telly, but I just can't bring myself to care for it much. I understand the need for a quicker version of the game - for those who like their cricket fix after work on a weekday. Great fun. I know... for teenagers and twenty somethings.

Posted by JacksDad on (September 6, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

I love cricket, all forms of cricket. I prefer Test cricket and we should realise that in terms of numbers of days of cricket, Test cricket has surpassed one-day cricket substantially this 'summer'. Six Test matches means 30 days of international cricket. One-day games against all opponents total only 17 days of international cricket. Test cricket should offer, and has provided the superior contests and the greater amount of cricket. We still, in England at least, love Test cricket.

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (September 6, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

Yep - too much cricket all of the time takes away from the sport. Manage the amount of cricket and put meaning behind it and you will find that all 3 forms will survive. Only problem is that these meaningless series still bring in money and to cut the amount of cricket will mean that someone will earn less and those people usually have a big influence in how the game is run. Makes me worry about the long term stability of the game.

Posted by India_boy on (September 6, 2012, 10:27 GMT)

To be honest, all bilateral series should be scrapped. multination tournaments are so much more meaningful. they should only have tournaments with 3 or more countries. For eg. last CB series were so much more fun than any of the bilateral tournaments. also bring champions trophy back!

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

i think ODIs and T20s shud be only in multi team competitions such as world cup or champions trophy, rest shud be test cricket.. or atleast make some tri team cup .. the bilateral series are not thta important

Posted by hyclass on (September 6, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

ODI cricket contains enough of the elements of Test cricket to make it a worthy support act.On ESPN Cricinfo,if a match is underway,the live averages of batsmen and bowlers are visible in the ball by ball coverage,representing a good guide to the value of a player. Results over time are the only valuable measure of a player as they are most likely to represent the full range of opponents and conditions. Short runs of form can be highly misleading. In T20,no such averages are shown in the typed ball by ball online coverage. These are instead replaced with strike and economy rates which have as little charm as end of year accounts and make comparisons and measuring success or failure extremely arbitrary.We live in an age where the accountant and specious reasoner of arbitrary statistics have struck an international vogue. In many ways,it opposes the entire purpose of cricket,that seeks to infuse and espouse the virtues of integrity,honour,courage,endurance,observation and self knowledge

Posted by allblue on (September 6, 2012, 8:42 GMT)

The meme that England play too much cricket is matched by the number of articles that say England play too much cricket. Well ok, but any serious analysis has to consider the whole picture, not just half of it. If England were to reduce their schedule by 10%, it's reasonable to assume that the ECB's income would also reduce by 10%. How would that shortfall be managed? Reduce the value of a central contract? Reduce the number of central contracts? Reduce the Lions programmes or development squads? Reduce the grant to the counties whose academies are producing the next generation? Reduce grants to grassroots club cricket? Axe women's cricket? The ECB has its faults, but they have put in place an excellent support and development package for English cricket as a whole, and this is funded primarily by the England team. Any article which fails to address the financial consequences of a reduced international programme is ducking the issue and adds little to the debate.

Posted by hyclass on (September 6, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

This article echoes the theme of scarcity and quality equals demand and value that I have unfashionably championed for the last 5 years.Cricket has always represented values that exceed the sum of its parts.Its capacity to capture national ethics and communicate them to the youth of tomorrow represent an invaluable educational tool.Test cricket is thus named because it is the ultimate expression of those values.One would not think so to observe the casual manner in which various boards have rested players and handed out new caps-often on the flimsiest pretexts and theories. There has been a wilful devaluing of the Test match and ODI brand as the change in ownership of cricket from an on location to an in lounge room model tries desperately to espouse the values of made for media T20.In my estimation,it has none and is the ultimate dumbing down of a once fabulous game.Prior to the Argus Review which has accomplished little of value,CA fought desperately to undermine traditional cricket

Posted by Ayush_Chauhan on (September 6, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

T20 while enjoyable, cannot replace ODIs as the benchmark for deciding Champions, just like Tests. ODI are still the format of choice, where a team can prove dominance. I really enjoy the idea of seeding and qualification put up by Nicholas, that would make the ODIs relevant while still validating the T20s played during the series.

Posted by   on (September 6, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

i would like to add that first of all..boards around the world need to sit together and much of cricket is good for the audience...50 over cricket is a non starer even in a cricket crazy country like india.why? too many matches are being played between India and Srilanka..India played 4 tests 10 onedayers and 3 T20 matches with england last year, they are going to play again 4 test matches with them this year too..will the spectators not get bored watching the same teams compete time and again..minnows like kenya, zimwawe, bangladesh would used to make ODIs interesting in 90's. the concept of triseries has to see revival, if ODIs need to be saved. T20 worldcup should be held after 4 years.

Posted by IanJF on (September 6, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

Your last para is important Mark !! ICC must think out of the box: Dont let World Cups rain down in abundance.. I hope this Champions Trophy never comes back after 2013 unless they make the ODI Ranking count and make the Champions Trophy a 5 Team tournament, so in a sense you need to fight to get there and it could sit at the middle of the 4 Year WC period having its "own identity". WorldT20 should be once in 3 Years (not 2, its too soon and no gloss..) I mean c'mon 4 World T20 championships for the past 5 Years ?? Who does this planning ? As for Tests - leave it alone.. let the fight remain to be the No 1 and everyone can plan long-term that way. Another thing, where have all the Triangulars gone ??? No Sharjah cup and Aus has the VB Series once in like 2 years or something.. cant ICC see the potential that "Triangulars" have ? You also need to brand these things, like the Tri-Nations of Rugby or even the 6 Nations. ICC needs to look at the whole Marketing Mix to get it right !

Posted by arkkrish on (September 6, 2012, 7:58 GMT)

There should be 5 ODIs, 3 Tests and 3 T20s in a tour. And the most important thing is to have only one tour by a country in every four year. This way one country will get to play against all other countries both at home and away every four year.

Posted by KP_84 on (September 6, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

Ideally, we would like to have all three forms of cricket, but we need to be realistic. As Nicholas says in the first part of this article, the national cricket boards aren't getting the trade-off between quantity and quality right. The ICC can guide them in the right direction by banning one-dayers at international level, and either removing or increasing the limit on the number of bilateral T20Is that can be played. Based on supply and demand, it's very hard to justify the continued existence of the ODI. After all, how many one-day cricket fans are there? The vast majority of cricket watchers are either Test cricket fans or limited-overs cricket fans, and most in the latter category prefer T20 cricket. The ICC has indicated that it intends to use the 2020 ICC World Cup to re-vamp ODI cricket. I say it should be a farewell tournament, after which the format should be retired from international level.

Posted by bobagorof on (September 6, 2012, 7:04 GMT)

I've often said that 50-over cricket is in oversupply. Various boards around the world have added more and more ODIs to the schedule in an attempt to squeeze out every last dollar from the public. This has the unintended, but hardly surprising, consequence of putting the fan off - too much. Cricket is no longer restricted just to the matches being played in the same country - pay television and internet means access to all international matches (and some domestic ones) from around the world. With extra rest days being mandated between matches, a 5 match series takes a full 2 weeks to complete. With the South African tour already lasting 2 months, and tours by West Indies and Australia beforehand, it's no wonder fatigue has set in - fatigue for spectators as well as players.

Posted by edgie on (September 6, 2012, 7:02 GMT)

I aggree with Mark that there should really only be thre ODI's, and it should be used as the perfect "Warm Up" before a test series. And to use the ODI's as seeding for the world cup, genius. In fact for me the perfect series should comprised of three's, Three ODI's, Three Tests, and Three T20's, that way an entire tour can be completed within a month and a half, if not sooner! Perhaps add an additional test between competative nations. But these 7 ODI series that use to be contested between Eng and Aus, ridiculous!!! For me the volume of cricket is not so much an issue as it is the relevance of these that is. The last series between SA and England will be forgotten as soon as the T20's start on Saturday, if not sooner. Yet the test series between SA and Eng is still being talked about. That is what cricket needs, series and tours that are still talked about weeks and months later, not forgotten about two days later.

Posted by Meety on (September 6, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

Well said. Even though we have a W/Cup in the T20 format looming, the only W/Cup that matters (in the cricket world) is the 50 over ODI. It is the only format that can crown a champion team. I say that because whilst I hold Tests to be the supreme format, it is unwieldy to implement a large contestant based W/Cup (it would take several months to complete)! T20s, whilst full of innovative skills, really is so far removed from the virtues that make Test cricket so good. ODIs have the right balance of entertainment & grit. With the FTP so crammed, surely one easy way to reduce player burden, would be to eliminate bilateral series with no Test context. I would go one step further & do away with ALL bilateral ODI series, & require tri-series to replace, involving minnows (Bang, Zim, Ire & Afghans). A tri-series can be completed in 7 games. During the 80s & early 90s, the tri-series in Oz, went along way to boosting the fortunes of NZ & SL, & could do the same for today's minnows!

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (September 6, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

Here, Here MN.

Far too many pointless ODIs devaluing the spectacle. I think T20 has been good for the game and should stay but there needs to be more balance. Bring back more Test Cricket, the quality and intensity is so much higher.

Posted by Patchmaster on (September 6, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

There should have been zero ODI's and five tests. Only the ECB could conjour up that nonsense........

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (September 6, 2012, 4:56 GMT)

The key is multiple short tournaments. People aren't tired of ODIs, Tests, and T20s, people are tired of seeing the same countries face each other year after year. India and Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan, Australia and England, West Indies and India, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Lets mix it up a little so we have shorter tournaments but the schedule is packed. If each country has 3 series in a year (3 Tests, 5 ODIs, and 2 T20s) in 3 years all 9 Test Playing Countries will have played each other AT least once and it would be all different teams playing. Would be very interesing indeed and would definitely make the ICC Rankings more worthy

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Mark NicholasClose
Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel Nine in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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