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

If not 50 or 20, what about 35?

There may be merit in exploring a format midway between the ODI and the T20

Mark Nicholas

January 24, 2013

Comments: 75 | Text size: A | A

Phillip Hughes pushes one through the off side, Australia v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Hobart, January 23, 2013
Phil Hughes has been enjoying a second wind. Now for India and England © Getty Images

Cricket is not perfect, neither would we want it to be. Match-ups are as likely to be exasperating as exhilarating. Fifty-over cricket has taken it in the neck for being out of date. "You're obsolete my baby / My poor old-fashioned baby / I said baby, baby, baby you're out of time" wrote Jagger and Richards, and T20 is the flared trouser of the day.

But T20 is not cricket in the true sense. T20 has escape clauses that allow mediocre talent to survive. Worse still, the best talent is in the wash with everyone else, restricted by overs and playing regulations that dumb down a greater game.

The series between Australia and Sri Lanka that was completed yesterday had little suspense but much interest. On occasions the ball swung - yes the cricket ball was swinging! - and batsmen were rooted in amazement. We're not talking Bob Massie or Wasim Akram here, we're talking Nuwan Kulasekara with his tidy medium-paced induckers, and Lasith Malinga with quirky round-arm outswingers. Australia were clueless in Brisbane and not much better in Adelaide or Sydney. Sri Lanka were hardly masters of their moment either. Thus, catches were taken at slip and lbws came from deliveries pitched on a good length. For a couple of the games, yorkers and slower balls were redundant. The balance between bat and ball was about right. It was the form of cricket in which bowlers go after wickets rather than claim them from the batsmen's obligation to score at eight an over.

Each game had an appeal. The first, in Melbourne, from Australia's batting onslaught and specifically from Phil Hughes' debut hundred in sweltering heat. The second, in Adelaide, from Sri Lanka's ongoing ability to fight back every time you write them off. The third from Australia's abject total of 74, on a lively but far from impossible Brisbane pitch, which was followed by a hash of a run chase that threatened humiliation for the Sri Lankans until the new face, Kushal Perera, dragged them over the line.

In Sydney we watched Australia stutter to 222 and then we watched a thick drizzle of rain for an hour or so. After that we thought we would watch the chase that Sri Lanka had briefly started, but incredibly the umpires abandoned the match. Apparently conditions were unsafe and unfair for the fielding side.

What nonsense. The outfield was damp, not waterlogged. A film of water covered the grass while the players warmed up but this same film of water was too dangerous to finish the match. Almost 30,000 people had paid to be there and they were treated disgracefully. Is cricket so precious that the crowds who support must suffer? Of course not. It's a game, for goodness' sake. If the ball gets wet, replace it with a dry one. What matters is that the people leave happy and are inclined to come again. It couldn't matter less that one team or another is at a minor disadvantage.

All international matches should be in the hands of the referee. Umpires have a vested interest in the players, though they cannot admit to it. They are part of the family, like discarded siblings hoping to find their way back to the bosom. They step on eggshells with powerful captains and take the more general decisions of ground, weather and light with a crutch at their side - whether it be a light meter, a colleague or a consensus. Match referees are former players of note, mostly. Ground, weather and light should be their baby.

All of which left Australia having to win in Hobart to square the series, an unlikely finale given the drubbing they handed out in the first match.

The big story in Australia right now is the rotation of players. Critics called the team that won in Melbourne the B team. The captain, George Bailey, defended his men and the policy with remarkable vigour, given it was nothing to do with him. Michael Clarke, who is a selector, was resting, rotated, or injured, depending on your take, but was not around to answer for the selectors. The administrators have turned to the phrase "informed player management" because the "r"-bomb is off limits.

All international matches should be in the hands of the referee. Umpires have a vested interest in the players, though they cannot admit to it. They are part of the family, like discarded siblings hoping to find their way back to the bosom

The problem is that everyone has to explain themselves these days. Consequently we have brackets and clauses, and collective nouns such as "Team England" and "Cricket Australia"; they talk of the "group" not of the team. They precede answers with "probably" and follow them up with "so". Increasingly we have a new language of avoidance. Just tell it how it is. Say: "This is our team, the captain is injured, the fast bowler is knackered, we hope to have them back imminently." Explaining the detail never works. It is where the devil hides. If in doubt, say nowt.

The fact is, Australia are going through a funny period. Batsmen are thin on the ground and bowlers are injured daily. The search to identify the best cricketers for the demanding challenges ahead is complicated. In short, the selectors are having a look around but there are sensitivities, notably to the public, who want the best players for their buck, and the broadcasters who pay through the nose for an unpredictable product. Take account of these and pick the team to win the match. Nothing ever doused the fires of criticism like winning.

Clarke was injured again in Hobart - ankle this time not hamstring - thus Bailey was back in charge. Hughes made another hundred, this one a gem of an innings in its construction and pace. Australia held off a late Angelo Mathews charge and levelled the series 2-2. The improved Hughes is having a good summer. He has the happy knack of making runs come what may and understands that 50-over batting is an art in itself. During the coming months, Indian pitches and English swing bowlers will tell just how much he has improved.

A friend of mine, a pro golfer who has had a lifelong affair with cricket, sent a text during Sri Lanka's pursuit of 247. It was the period in the middle when singles tick over, the period that is the eye of the 50-over storm. It read: "50 overs… first 10 dash, next 30 cook dinner, last 10 sit tight for a result. Bit like basketball." I replied that I liked 50-over cricket because it had a natural ebb and flow and that it had more appeal than the one-paced 20-over game. He came back: "Wouldn't know, never watched a T20 in my life. 3 forms of the game can't survive. 35 overs seems about right to me."

If - and I say if because I'm not convinced yet - cricket is indeed cannibalising itself, 35 overs is a way to go. There is just enough time to be bowled out, which is crucial to the fabric of the sport, and not quite enough time to throttle back during the predictable middle overs. Maybe you play with two new balls and have a first 15-over period where, say, three fielders have to be in an attacking position and only three can be outside the 30-yard ring. After that you resort to the regulations of T20 as we know them. Urgency but not disrespect: the best of both worlds perhaps?

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 Masud_BITK on (January 28, 2013, 0:01 GMT)

Please make cricket an easy game. It is too complicated..and don't make it further..general people want it as a simple one..just simple.

Posted by kharidra on (January 27, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

In order to make the middle overs attractive there is need to reduce that period and the 40 overs a side ODI precisely provides that opportunity. Furthermore a study of the first power-play and extending it by another 2 overs provides another opportunity to reduce the rather monotonous middle over period when combined with the fact that there only 40 overs to a side. Also by introducing NO-Power-Play option in the P1 for a 3 over period which needs to be compensated for in the middle over period.

Posted by Divinetouch on (January 27, 2013, 5:16 GMT)

Mark u are too bias a commentator for your thoughts to be counted.

Posted by drpramit on (January 26, 2013, 20:38 GMT)

We r already fed up with 3 formats n here comes d fourth one, let it be a 3 format for sometime, yes we can reduce ODI to 40 or 45 overs & there is no need of so many power plays, 1 power play of 10 over would be enough in that case....

Posted by LuJaMe on (January 26, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

I feel a 35 over game is where the future lies. I like many people here find the middle overs of an ODI to be tedious and certainly detracts from the game. The Twenty20 is too short but has the action and suspense that is required these days to keep people interested.

I would set it out as such:

35 overs per team. First 10 overs as powerplay. Overs 11-25 have no fielding restrictions. Overs 26-35 only 5 fielders outside the circle and only one behind square.

Each bowler gets 7 overs each with the Captain entitled to enforce 2 power overs extra from one of the bowlers.

12 players named with the option to 'sub' at any stage of the innings. 1 sub per innings per team.

Sorry to say it but cricket as a spectator sport is all about the batsmen. Fans want to see big hits and risk taking. If bowlers are good enough then the wickets will come. And bowlers out there are good enough. Mix that with highly skilled fielding and I think you have a very interesting game. More emphasis on skill.

Posted by Gloucsfan on (January 26, 2013, 2:07 GMT)

Limited overs cricket is boring. Get rid of all of it at international level and just play tests

Posted by Punit.Acharya on (January 25, 2013, 17:47 GMT)

I believe 40 overs is the way to go.Either play 40 overs outright or in split innings 20-20 format.But split innings has its own complications which would completely overhaul the ODI format and would bring about drastic changes.

40 overs (single innings)is the ideal way ahead...keep first 10 overs mandatory powerplay...with the batting powerplay to be chosen between 15-30 overs that would make middle overs phase bit exciting.

Allow one bowler to bowl 10 overs..remaining a max of 8 overs.

Posted by spas on (January 25, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

How about having a four match series after a test series? four matches, 50, 40, 30 and 20 overs each.

Posted by Ralf12 on (January 25, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

I think a compromise between 50 overs and T20 is a brilliant idea. I never watch the middle 20 overs of a 50 over game as nothing happens. Batsman just push for singles to a widespread field and wait for the last 10 to 15 overs to take risks. In the future there will be tests and only one ODI format. 3 formats are too much. There is too much cricket and people are switching off. Test cricket is the format the players respect the most, so it will always survive.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (January 25, 2013, 13:15 GMT)

No tinkering with no. of overs. Just allow Two out of the 5 bowlers to bowl 15 overs each. This will make the contest between bat and ball more even. This will also eliminate from the ODIs, useless half-baked allrounders like Samit Patel, James Franklin, Glenn Maxwell who are neither specialist batsmen or bowlers. Importantly MSD will love it. He can play 7 batsmen without worrying to find a bowler from among them. An idea worth trying out.

Posted by KK_Cricket on (January 25, 2013, 11:30 GMT)

Please everyone... 50 overs, 20 overs and Tests.. 3 formats.. Good formats and do not need any tinkering what so ever.. And Cricket should not change its prime forms to attract a lot of other countries and audiences and spoil the entire setup.. If you think rationally, all these formats are and have been co-existing and if you bring in another one, it would be really confusing for any follower.. And 50 overs allows to test a batsman's patience and technique at the same time provides him to score big. It provides bowlers with 60 balls to test batsmen and also the Captain to apply his mind and tactics.. Cricket already has T20, which is fast paced and can appeal at global level. I am sure if you ask purists and genuine cricket fans, they would not want any change to existing formats.. they are good as they are...Only addition which I feel can be made is 3-day game with only 1 innings and not 2 like 5 day Tests with 100 overs each day..

Posted by ansram on (January 25, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

I would personally like to go back to the 60 over a side cricket played in the 70s and 80s.

Posted by downundermick on (January 25, 2013, 8:24 GMT)

To me the 50 over game is a long version of T20. Test cricket is a 500 over game so it is logical to me. I also think that it would more entertaining if we had a batting eleven and a fielding eleven in the short forms. More opportunities for players and better value for us punters.

Posted by ReverseSwingMaster on (January 25, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

I'm already not in the favor of either 50 or 20 over cricket. Thinking over now 35 over will be another step of destroying test cricket. Real cricket is test cricket which checks how good the player is.

Posted by BeingCricketFan on (January 25, 2013, 6:54 GMT)

Since birth of t20, fans intrest in longer forms of game looks to be vanishing. Yeh its true 50 overs look too long but think 35 overs look short to match One-day status. Why not try and experiment 40 over game with 2 innings each side. Giveing 1 batsmen chance to bat twice and 1 bowler permited to bowl 12 overs. Thats what i think.

Posted by guptahitesh4u on (January 25, 2013, 5:56 GMT)

35 overs will kill the game further as not all country/teams will accept it directly so we will have 4 formats than..I would rather say scrap ODIs and concentrate on building on popularity for T20...T20 is a perfect advertiser of the game

Posted by RogerWaite on (January 25, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

If ODI's were 40 overs like all domestic one day games in England you could easily have double-headers at the same ground - 10.30-4pm and 5-10.30pm. If Australia played the night game workers wouldn't get annoyed that they had missed Australia batting. A four team tournament inc Australia, NZ and 2 touring teams would be completed much faster. This would also help with the World Cup that drags on for far too long. With double-headers it could be shorter and allow for more teams to compete.

Posted by coachieballgames on (January 25, 2013, 2:25 GMT)

Whether 50, 35, or 20 overs what about injecting some back-and-forth into the limited overs format? In a 50-over ODI, for example, have the batting and bowling sides switch after either 5 wickets or 25 overs, whichever comes first. Having two innings in an ODI would make it more interesting than just having an accumulation followed by a chase.

Posted by 07sanjeewakaru on (January 25, 2013, 1:25 GMT)

Leave flat decks for T20. 50 over cricket will survive if it can increase preciousness of the every run score. 240 should be formidable target in every track.Then we will experience thrill of 50 over.If not it will be another dashers game and will not be survive for sure.

Posted by dananjay on (January 25, 2013, 1:18 GMT)

I think that Sachin's idea some time back is good. I would tweak it a little. A 50 over game broken into 4 innings of 2 times 25 overs per each team. The change I would make is after the 1st 25 over innings for each side, the teams will have to toss again for the 2nd innings. options possible 1) 10 wickets for each innings or 10 wickets fothe number r both innings 2) No limitations on the number of overs for a bowler 3) 13 players per team with the extra 2 playing only when batting and being replaced by the other 2 when bowling or fielding. 4) With reference to point 1 - have 13 wickets for both innings, which means that 3 chosen batsmen can replay in the 2nd innings.

Look forward to hearing your views.

Posted by RogerWaite on (January 25, 2013, 0:52 GMT)

English domestic cricket has had a 40 over competition for decades now. They used to have both 40 and 50 over comps. When forced to cut one or other due to the rise of T20 cricket they cut the 50 over and kept 40 overs. This length is just about right as it cuts out some of the "boring" middle overs but gives a full day out and still encourages traditional stroke play compared to the meaningless slogging of T20. I'd like to see 40 overs become standard for international ODI's. The main resistance will be from broadcasters as this cuts down the amount of advertising time. This is the main reason why there are still far more ODI's than international T20 games even though the T20 internationals pull much bigger crowds now.

Posted by AayKay007 on (January 24, 2013, 23:49 GMT)

Overs is not the problem. The problem is with the game being too batsman friendly. A good batsman can play all 20 overs, but a good bowler can bowl only 4 overs. 2 in the beginning and 2 at the end. Haha.. makes u feel like bowlers are some kind of slaves with no / limited rights. If you want to make things interesting, increase the overs to 25 and let a bowler ball 8 - 10 overs. 3 good bowlers can finish a game. Imagine someone like Styne bowl 8 overs in a 25 over game. That would be interesting!

Posted by Ibra95 on (January 24, 2013, 23:36 GMT)

yes..and then 15 , 60, 40 over cricket...!? no wonder cricket is not that inernational... ¬¬''

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 23:35 GMT)

One-day, one-innings cricket has already seen almost every format since the inception of the 60-over Gillette Cup fifty years ago - 55, 40 and now T20. The next, logical step is a two-innings T20 affair with an innings each in daylight and another under floodlights. Why not try a red ball, then white ball innings? The best with this scheme is that the paying spectator would get 80 overs of truly exciting cricket which would retain far more of the tactical elements of the real game.

Posted by ygkd on (January 24, 2013, 23:09 GMT)

I've long wondered why an innings fulfilled in 20 overs or less should require 10 wickets being available. The seven suggested by @Cynic is pretty-well spot-on. We should be seeing the best batting and the best bowling.

Posted by Cricket_theBestGame on (January 24, 2013, 22:52 GMT)

Mark Nicolas, your friend is dead right ! i've had this idea for some time and when i told my brother the other day he laughed at me. my idea is the same except i'd have 36 overs not 35! why you may ask, well for marketing!!! reduce from 50 overs to 36 and call it "36ers". a bit like basketball team. but with this catchy name you have product of its own. Test matches, 36ers ODI and T20 bash and dash.

reducing 28 overs overall will bring down time considerbally and still gives enough time for batsman to construct an innings and go for that 100. then getting to an 100 will be more challenging task and will be appealing to watch. i sincerly hope you start to lobby this idea while commentating, talking to people in crick circles becasue i tells ya baby, this will work and rock!!

who knows with time 36ers will take over T20 and we'll have two formats only of tests and 36ers.

Posted by x-sl-boy on (January 24, 2013, 22:40 GMT)

it is so disappointing if 50/50 dies, its been there for years and years. no values for those cricketers who set records over the past.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 21:12 GMT)

T20 is the best format of limited overs cricket, we don't need anything like 35 over cricket, the problems lie in the fact that we restrict bowlers too much, if we let bowlers bowl as many overs as they can and bowl say 3 bouncers in an over it would change the dimension of the game as bowlers that are bowling well on that day would be able to bowl more overs meaning the batsmen have to find a way to combat those bowlers. Test and T20 is the way to go in the future of cricket, tests because as the name suggests it tests the resolve of players over 5 days (and in my opinion is the greatest format we have) and T20s because it is the way we can expand the game to other countries as it gives any team the chance to win a match, pretty much any team can beat any team on any given day, it gives the unpredictability that is needed in sport.

Posted by Sri_chicago on (January 24, 2013, 19:54 GMT)

I'm not convinced. Sorry. When 20-over cricket first came into existence folks expected it to be non-stop excitement. Well, that isnt necessarily the case. We have seen when teams are 3/40 or 4/50 after the powerplay, they revert to one-day accumulation mode for the next 9-10 overs. It is only from overs 15 or 16 that they again go full tilt. Similarly, if a team gets off to a really good start, say 1/55 or 2/60 after the poweplay, they still tend to cut out the risks and move along at a healthy run rate. So, it is also about the tactics and rules that employed, than just the number of overs. We need innovations such as being allowed to name 12 players and substitute one during the game, allow one bowler more overs than the rest and allowing three bouncers per over, to name a few. Then captains will be forced to think out of the box more.

Posted by Omarrz on (January 24, 2013, 19:28 GMT)

Making powerplay mandatory is a problem here. The team takes a lot of pressure in using it and no batting team has ever cashed it in. It is more of a curse than a blessing. Revert to the old format of first 15 overs of power play and that's it!

Posted by SyedAreYouDumb on (January 24, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

As much as it sounds like a decent idea, i want cricket having just 3 forms. T20,ODI,Test are enjoyed by different people……

Posted by Cynic on (January 24, 2013, 18:38 GMT)

I'll throw another idea into the hat - 20 overs, 11 players a side, but innings is over when 7 are out.

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (January 24, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

What is the obsession with 'strict time limits'? Making the bowling team rush thier overs without giving the captain sufficient thinking time between each ball to read the batsmen, adjust the field properly, decide which bowlers to warm up, and let his bowler know where he wants him to bowl it, is just biasing the game even further in favour of the batsmen. One day internationals are called that for a reason - they last a full DAY and give the spectator a full days cricket to watch. T20, or as I prefer to call it evening league cricket, is there to provide an evening's entertainment. Where does 35/35 fit into this? The simple fact is 99.995% of all cricketers, ie almost all non-professionals, play only one format of the game - that is the ODI format, between 40 and 50 overs (and the lower over limit is purely because lower standards mean most teams arnt skilled enough to last any longer - generally the over limit raises as a team is promoted), so they get a full days cricket in.

Posted by Kentheavenonearth on (January 24, 2013, 17:49 GMT)

30 overs will keep kids of cyber generation interested. 35 too long. Then, when they get into their teens they'll want to emulate the legends. Let's scrap 20/20, it was good while it lasted but is now just a joke, an ugly beerfest.

Posted by NAZMO-CRICKFANN on (January 24, 2013, 16:19 GMT)

no no no 35 noy good try 33

Posted by feast113 on (January 24, 2013, 16:02 GMT)

Why not 19 or 49? we have a lot of numbers here and multiple possibilities, trying out every option is going to diminish the games repute. And while we are at it why not also change the balls per over to be 4. And have batters from each team change after 25 overs so that each team bats 2 times. These experimentations will destroy the games repute

Posted by Tal_Botvinnik on (January 24, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

Yes.. Soon 5 over,10 over, 25 over and all sorts of unnessary formats will come and the true beauty of cricket will vanish.Each of the three formats are unique and are made for different people's interests.When you mix em you lose that "uniqueness" or taste.imagine watching 50over,20over,test cricket in a series and the difference of watching 5over,35 over, 20over, 50over,5 day test,2 day ODI.... .

Posted by Robster1 on (January 24, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

35 over cricket is a very good idea indeed. It allows enough time for the game to ebb and flow + an innings can rebuild while in addition it cuts out the dull middle overs of an ODI. Nicholas is quite right that only one form of the game outside of test cricket can really survive and thrive. 20/20 matches are too short and one dimensional yet 50 over games often have a dull, predictable hour in the middle if an innings. 35 overs seems ideal.

Posted by bvnathan on (January 24, 2013, 15:07 GMT)

it would be interesting to have 30-over game as an option, which can finish in a strict time of 2hrs+15mins duration, given the vagaries adjustments the players need during playing time. Absolutely no time wasting tactics. It may consist of 2 power-plays of 5-over each taken during the 2-15 overs sessions. Field restrictions of 5 players (not including WK+Bowler) during power plays inside 30 yards line and 3 players (not including WK+Bowler) at other time times. Two bowlers allowed a max of 7 overs. Worth a try at the club level to start with.

Posted by xylofon on (January 24, 2013, 14:05 GMT)

20 overs isnt enough but time has to be shortened even below 3 hours to compete with Football! How? What is needed is new ideas to reform the game completely wth one format ONLY - no matter what. 35 overs will not do, I cant stand to watch a sport that will go on around 6 hours and I truly love cricket. I dont think it needs to be played over a long time, just that the game is reformed. 35 over solution is the american level of intelligence - temporary solutions with no sense of history or future.

FACE IT: Test cricket is an abomination to watch, ODI not much better.

The other solutions to not let fielders outside the ring is silly too, powerplay yes, but not the ODI´s in which the non powerplay overs only 4 fielders were allowed outside the ring (India Pakistan series in december). Ridiculous.

New ideas please. If people are paid they have a responsibility.

Posted by Gordo85 on (January 24, 2013, 13:55 GMT)

I would only say do it if ODI cricket was no more. You can't have four formats of Cricket because players complain about burn out very often now and I guess that is why players are getting rested more these days.

Posted by Romieo on (January 24, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

One day cricket is fine India ,pakistan ,srilanka and in bangladesh people watch one day cricket more than test.Nepal and afganistan is also improving so it means in 10 years time you will have 6 good teams from asia with very good following for one day cricket .who cares for the rest of the world.we constitute around two-sixth of human population :P and any way in general cricket dont have much following in england,south africa and australia ,specially in england .Total number of people who follows cricket in england will be less than a half of total number of people follow it in mumbai :0 and i am telling this by my personal experience i have been to england and australia.

Posted by khanc on (January 24, 2013, 12:52 GMT)

I fruitlessly searched for a better rationale for 35 over matches than the one-sentence opinion of a friend who hasnt seen T20s.

Posted by py0alb on (January 24, 2013, 12:51 GMT)

If you want to get rid of the meaningless consolidating, make it a one day declaration game. A much better idea!

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (January 24, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

I agree. 20 overs is not enough, I can't watch it. Yet 50 is getting predictable especially in those middle overs. No amount of tickling with power plays and fielding restrictions seems to make those middle overs interesting. Maybe give 35 a try with some exhibition games. Keep 20/20 for domestic competitions.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

For us club Cricketers 35-40 overs is of course the norm. When my club plays league fixtures it is 40 overs and for friendlies depending on conditions we might go anywhere between 30 and 40. Starting usually around 12:30 if all overs are completed we are usually done by 6:30 ish. I know club is a different standard but it works at this level, is manageable still allows for ebb and flow and proper Cricketing skills. If there must be a limited overs form of the game then yes maybe ditch 50 and 20 overs and go with 35 or 40.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 11:39 GMT)

There should be a tier system where everyone plays 20/20 and the top 7 sides at t20s get to play ODIs and the top 3 sides at ODIs play tests. Countries should be promoted and relegated on a per annul basis. Would put the ax to one side competitions

Posted by righthandbat on (January 24, 2013, 11:05 GMT)

I would be happy with dropping ODIs and T20s for a single format of somewhere between 30-40 overs. One world cup for the one short form of the game, focus on trilateral series which can follow test series.

Posted by 4cricketluv on (January 24, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

I agree with Mark's observation that" T20 is not cricket in the true sense" and have a harsher description of it.There is nothing graceful about it and seem to be played on instinct. I have lost interest in ODI's in the last few years and do not sit up for it through the night like I used to. However, that is exactly what I do for test cricket around the world.. sit up and watch as much of it as I can! When I saw T20 cricket for the first time played internationally, I thought it was some exhibition game to entertain the crowds before the main event (test cricket) and was very disappointed when it became part of tours. It should be scrapped in favour of at least one more test per tour. T20 should be reserved for non-cricket playing countries where the ICC want to introduce and develop the game - you need to start somewhere! IF their needs to be a shorter format, then the 50 over game is just fine. Some countries are obsessed with ODI's where others could really not be bothered.

Posted by Selassie-I on (January 24, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

What about having a 40 over game split over 2 innings but with only 10 wickets per side over the 2 innings? 2 new balls per 40 overs.

Teams then would perhaps try to survive the first 20 and work out the pitch, then see what they could bash for in the last 20? maybe with some kind of follow on rule being able to be implemented? Then we essentially have t20 and odi merged into one game.

Posted by Boooowled on (January 24, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

There is nothing wrong with 50 over matches, and 35 overs for me the same as 20/20. It's just not cricket, old man.

Posted by Selassie-I on (January 24, 2013, 10:33 GMT)

I think 35 would be worth trying, 3 forms is too much so something has to go and I would hate it to be t20 and tests as they really are too far apart in terms of skills needed and most players say they find it difficult to adjust, which only costs us the quality of the games played.

The IPL and domestic can keep on with T20, it's popular at that level and is a good fan puller into grounds to get people into cricket.

People are sying that t20 brings in all the money, but not always, in the UK or Australia every ground wants an Ashes test, it's the one match you know will always be a sellout, probably within a week of tickets becoming available.

Posted by S.h.a.d.a.b on (January 24, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

Hello Mark, If you can recall, in Pakistan, international teams had played 35 overs game in early 80s. Miandad's highest score was 119* which was scored in a 35-over match. I, as a club cricketer, had played a lot of 35 overs matches. This is identical format for hot weather or shorter day lights parts of the world but sponsor will feel like being robbed. And, its good for players fitness and spectators as well. Let's think about starting a match at 10AM and finish at 5PM. wow. Thanks for writing about it.

Posted by handyandy on (January 24, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

The short form of the game needs to be completely reinvented. Traditional cricket does not necessarily translate well when you simply restrict the number of overs to be bowled.

For example why does it need to be 11 players in a team?

If you want really aggressive cricket make it 8 ... or even 6 players per side. Every player should bat. Each team bats for 20 overs ... or 30 ... regardless of how many wickets are lost.

In fact lets change things completely. A team comprises of two players and several teams play each other at the same time.

One team bats while the other teams field and bowl. The team that scores the most runs in their time at the crease wins.

Posted by ooper_cut on (January 24, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

ODI with 50 overs is just fine, has all the ingredients to make a great batsman and a great bowler do well.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (January 24, 2013, 9:11 GMT)

Don't really care which they drop, T20s or ODIs, I don't watch many of either. As long as test cricket keeps going they can play how ever many over they like in limited over stuff.

Posted by teabreak on (January 24, 2013, 9:02 GMT)

I am not for the 35 over format. Especially seeing some of the comments here. Asking for 15/20 overs of Powerplay is just too much! I think the current format is really good. 50 Overs, 15 overs powerplay, 35 overs with 4 fielders outside. Most of the matches are proving to be evenly contested between bat and ball, with teams averaging less than 250. Good batting will get you close to 300! That is how it should be.

Posted by TrueLankan on (January 24, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

Disagree completely. 20-20 should not be played at International level for more than one match a series. Also, a 20-20 WC every 2 years is just ridiculous unless many more Associate teams get to play. 50 over cricket is an art in itself just as he says. If 35 overs is introduced it would be a very sad day for all cricket lovers.50 over cricket has bits of everything. The build up of an innings similar to a Test and the smash hitting like a 20-20. Cricket will die if young players prefer to play and do well in 20-20 than Tests and ODI.

Posted by Harlequin. on (January 24, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

50, 40, 35 overs for ODI's - I am not too fussed, but Mark's friend is correct; 3 formats can not survive. Drop T20s from the international calendar and keep them to the franchise leagues where aging heroes can collect a retirement packet.

Posted by Simoc on (January 24, 2013, 8:19 GMT)

Obviously didn't see the World T20 final where the bowlers were in complete control until Samuels cut loose. I reckon go big on T20 and get a new set of of commentators like Ponting, Hussey, Glen McGrath who are smarter and more relevant than the slow bunnies we have at present in commentary. T20 is the right length of game to make cricket relevant in the future.

Posted by Slunk on (January 24, 2013, 7:57 GMT)

I'm sure we all agree First class cricket IS cricket. And as others have said in the past 20/20 and ODI's bring the money and allow us the indulgence of the longer format.

It's difficult because at present we have 20/20 - the ultimate 'spectacle' for the impatient - with great innovations - commentators talking to players as they play, fireworks, live bands, etc etc. It's a spectacle - not traditional cricket, but a great spectacle.

On the other hand we have ODI's which are still taken very seriously. We have had what - 60 overs and 40 overs in the past (correct me if I'm wrong).

I don't have the answers, but if two short-format games became one, it would need to embrace both the spectacle and the seriousness of the long form of the game. IMHO.

Another thought - 45 over ODI's (better chance of getting a full game in also if inclement weather, and keep those one off spectacle 20/20s. But replacing both with something else also sounds good.... A lot of thought needs to be put in thi

Posted by ravi_hari on (January 24, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

If we look back, the first 3 World Cups were played in England on a 60 overs format. We had the extremes of Sunny scoring only 37 in 60 overs. Then we saw it reduced to 50 overs to ensure it is played more in the sub-continent where the days are shorter and we saw over 400 runs being scored in 50 overs. Owing to demans for more entertainment T20 ws introduced and the Premier leagues started. If the idea is to make the game more popular then any format will work for a shor while. Like tests, ODIs also sttod the test for a very long time. Excepting tests, the other formats are popular only if it is batting friendly. So having a 35 or 40 over match will only help if the rules are more abtting friendly otherwise crowds start thinning even for T20s. But will you kill the bowler for want of entertainment? Let T20 settle down and then think of ODIs. It would not be a bad idea to abondon ODIs and have TDIs with 45 over innings played over 2 days and result assured. So you have tests, T20, TDI.

Posted by MoeMatthews on (January 24, 2013, 7:20 GMT)

Mark Nicholas, i take my hat off to you for living up to your caricature as a man who likes to deploy grossly overstated adjectives/superlatives at every opportunity.. 'Exasperating' and 'exhilirating' before the second sentence has passed..Well done!

In all seriousness, i agree with your feelings on 20-20 Mark..It just doesn't do justice to the game of cricket I know, and its various nuances. Particularly as someone who was predominately a's almost as if it doesn't matter whether you're present or not. I wasn't even warmed up until i'd bowled how are you supposed to go.. bowling just 4 overs on flat tracks the world over to batsmen who just want to bludgeon you around the postage stamp grounds every ball ??

20-20 is great for marketing, but it kills what I understand the game of cricket to be. If 20-20 were a tool to bring in new fans for the traditional forms of the game i might be a bit more sympathetic...but it isn't. Dont like the 35 over alternative either.

Posted by _Australian_ on (January 24, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

I totally agree this is the perfect shorter format. Before going to grade cricket in Sydney I remember playing 35 over a side one dayers and the concept really works well. A mix of both shorter formats is required because currently 3 formats is too much and if 50 over games dropped off, 20 over games would be too short.

Posted by Leggie on (January 24, 2013, 6:58 GMT)

When 50 overs of cricket was thought out, the team composition was likely to be 5 batsmen, 5 bowlers and 1 wicket keeper. Each bowler would bowl 10 overs. Over a period of time though, to accommodate an extra batsman, teams chose 6 batsmen, 4 bowlers and 1 keeper. The 4 bowler theory has stuck around for quite sometime now. It is the 5th bowler phase that really brings in boredom to the otherwise balanced 50 over ODI format. if so, why not let 4 bowlers bowl 10 overs each and make ODIs a 40 over format??? Also, looking purely from a timing perspective of say 13 overs per hr and a prime time of say 6 hours, 40 overs per side may be the way to go,

Posted by 12th_man on (January 24, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

How about a game played in one day where each team gets two innings with a maximum of 10 wickets and each batsman can only be dismissed once and points are given for most wickets, innings leads etc. We need a way to allow batsman to constuct an innings without boring the 'non passionate cricket fan' and without creating a slog fest.

Posted by bobagorof on (January 24, 2013, 5:00 GMT)

I'm not for or against 35 over cricket, yet, as I've only just considered it. But I do find it coincidental that the discolouration of the ball, which originally prompted the move to 2 new balls in 50 over games, became noticeable at the 35 over mark. In fact, for a while it was mandated to have a compulsory 'ball change' at 35 overs, as the white ball frequently had become a dirty brown and was very difficult for the batsmen to see. So perhaps a 35 over match has a kind of logic.

Posted by Firenze317 on (January 24, 2013, 4:54 GMT)

Do away with 50 overs and T20; make 35 overs the ONLY limited overs game! I'd be 100% behind this!

Posted by torsha on (January 24, 2013, 4:17 GMT)

I disagree totally........

Posted by china_vanilla_bear on (January 24, 2013, 4:01 GMT)

Yes Mark, I agree. Anywhere between 35/40 overs seem to be the way. 35 overs would definitely pull in a good mid-week crowd too. Many people could simply leave work a little earlier and still make it for a good chunk of the first innings (especially since it would start at around 3:20).

However, the 50 over game can still be viable if properly organised to suit crowd and player expectations. l believe that the current 50 over game needs field restrictions for the first 15 overs, and then two mandatory powerplays of 5 overs each in the 20-30 and 30-40 over section. The captain who loses the toss to bowl/bat has the right to choose which segment he wants to enforce a powerplay.

A toss-losing captain could for example, pick to make his selections anywhere between the 20-30 over section and thus the other captain is obliged to make a choice in the 30-40 over section. It makes the game fair

Posted by Sidd079 on (January 24, 2013, 3:56 GMT)

Since T20 took birth,I am always having an opinion that ODIs must be reduced to 40 overs per side. 20 overs with power play and 20 without it. Fielding captain must have right to decide blocks of 5 overs of power play. Let us make ODIs simple to keep it alive. :)

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (January 24, 2013, 3:54 GMT)

I disagree wholeheartedly. Rather, we need a format between ODI and tests, a 2 day format, where each team plays 1 innings each - 1 day per side, get as many as you can but if you are all out then it is over. This is readily played at club level and could happily turn into a viable international format.

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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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