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Former New Zealand batsman and captain

How T20 is hurting Australia

The pressure of needing to populate three international teams with players from only six first-class ones is beginning to tell on them

Martin Crowe

July 4, 2013

Comments: 117 | Text size: A | A

Xavier Doherty and George Bailey discuss their plans, Australia v West Indies, 2nd semi-final, World Twenty20 2012, Colombo, October 5, 2012
What if Australia gave up Twenty20s internationally? © ICC/Getty
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In the saturated landscape of multiple cricket formats and intense scheduling Australia have fallen the most. As arguably the most successful cricket nation of all time, going back 136 years, the country has taken a hit that it will probably never recover from.

When two formats, Tests and ODIs, were the focus, from the Packer days on, Australia had the ideal nursery to ensure they were preparing for global domination, and to be ready for it when the opportunity arose. When the mighty West Indies ran out of gas in the mid '90s, after more than a decade and a half of complete rule, Australia pounced and took the crown. And they did not let it go for another decade and a half, until a greedy little sod turned up.

That little sod was Twenty20. When T20 became an addiction the world over, Australia had no choice but to run with the hounds. Consequently the need for three teams to represent themselves successfully in each of the international formats has left Australia short on supply and confidence.

Their previous strength, the Sheffield Shield, and its high-quality six-team first-class competition has in truth now become its weakness. Six teams from which to choose three different teams doesn't wash anymore. New Zealand are in the same predicament.

England, on the other hand, have 18 teams to choose three international teams from, and they do it fairly well. They are ranked respectably in all three formats: second in Tests, second in ODIs, and fifth in T20. Australia are fourth in Tests, third in ODIs, and seventh in T20. It might not seem much grounds for comparison but when you look at the last two Ashes, each team's last tour of India, and the recent Champions Trophy result and Australia's off- field disintegration during it, England are way out in front and looking strong for the future.

India and South Africa also have large pools of domestic sides and competitions to choose their three teams from. They are strutting along nicely, with India third in Tests, first in ODIs, and third in T20. South Africa are first in Tests, fourth in ODIs, and sixth in T20. India have recovered somewhat from a difficult year in Tests, entering a transition with a new batting line-up.

If you can select teams with minimal overlap between them, with individuals specialising in each format, you will maximise the opportunity of winning. But if you have to play individuals across all three teams, then body and mind will be compromised.

Michael Clarke has settled on playing the two longer formats due to his injury woes, and he is better suited to doing so anyway, while Shane Watson, also vulnerable to injury, needs to settle on a game plan for Tests. He must make up his mind about where he might properly perform in two forms, as it would appear unlikely he can cut it in three - as has been the case lately. As for David Warner, the highly resourceful yet hugely ill-disciplined rogue, the more T20 he plays, the less effective he will be in Tests. Already he has lost his place to his erratic form in the long game. By and large Tests and T20 don't go together.

That players get injured due to the brutal demands of the international calendar, and can't play regularly only exposes those who aren't properly prepared at domestic level, and so Australia have suffered significantly in confidence across the board. They simply don't have the numbers to compete across all forms.

Not enough cream will rise to the top when you have only a limited number of cows producing quality milk. In the good old days of the roaring eighties, a settled squad of 16 or so could comfortably cover both Tests and the one-day game over the course of a year or two. However, times have changed drastically and for ever.

 
 
The nations with larger player bases will ultimately win out, now that the format numbers have increased permanently. England, India and South Arica will from here on always have the edge over Australia, and certainly over the rest
 

Of those playing Sheffield Shield cricket at present, Australia have selected 56 players out of the six state teams to play in an international fixture at some stage. The number itself isn't unusually high, but for Australia it represents a large percentage of those playing domestic cricket. That is not sustainable when you're looking to win across all forms.

As a fantasy, if Australasia were selecting from both New Zealand and Australia's 12 domestic teams combined, then you might have an even playing field against England and Co.

In short, the vast majority of the cream of Australia's players are trying to play all forms at once. The same model for the national team is being applied to the six state sides: we must pick our best players at all times in all formats. The burnout effect on that 80% is one thing, but the lack of fierce focus on a given job is becoming catastrophic for them. England and India are able to dig deep into their reserves and can comfortably find enough players who are specialising competently to do a job in any of the three formats.

The very finest players, of course, will transfer their skills to more than one format. For example, Clarke, Warner and Watson; Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen; Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers; Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels; Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum; Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, all feature among their country's most important top batsmen in the two longer formats.

Where it gets tougher is when they have to play in all three. India manage it the best, with about half the team featuring in all forms currently, but Australia, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka do it out of compulsion: they have no choice but to play their best men in all three. Does it bring the best out in them in all three? No, and it starts to affect their cricket when they are most needed. In essence, T20 should not be a priority against the other two.

Most of the higher-ranked countries are consistently selecting players for two formats, with rare exceptions who play all three. MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin and AB de Villiers come to mind, but even they struggle to pull it off day after day, and they must be careful their Test form doesn't drop. How long can Dhoni keep it up?

England played a completely new T20 team against New Zealand recently, and while losing a close match they protected certain individuals for the more important formats, as well as preparing the new blood to play better T20 in the future. Overall and long-term, England are investing well. India need to work on their Test team, but by and large they have the numbers and will always stay in the top bracket.

Australia have tried rotating their best players. Alas, that only upsets the fans and broadcasters big time. England don't get that criticism, because they have a greater pool of competent cricketers. They have also clearly stated their intention, so there are very few last-minute changes to upset the marketing and promotion of the contest. Criticism is kept at bay.

It's simple mathematics. The nations with larger player bases will ultimately win out, now that the format numbers have increased permanently. England, India and South Arica will from here on always have the edge over Australia, and certainly over the rest.

The only way Australia will bounce back is if T20 is dropped from the international schedule completely, and rightfully sent back to the domestic scene. Going back to just Tests and ODIs in the international schedule will also assist the weaker nations and will allow world cricket to find a proper balance of power, enabling the game to grow globally and sustain its integrity.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

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Posted by Meety on (July 6, 2013, 1:28 GMT)

@dunger.bob on (July 4, 2013, 8:42 GMT) - there hasn't been 6 Shield teams for 100 years. So whilst the Shield has been played over 100yrs - it was originally only SA, Vic & NSw that competed. Tassie has not been in it for 40yrs yet, QLD about 80yrs, - WA about 60yrs (can't remember the exact entry dates & can't be bothered looking them up). I was keen about 3yrs ago to have an extra Shield side, with an emphasis on playing on spinning decks out of Canberra or NT (even with the monsoon) - but IMO now, I just think that will spread the talent pool too thinly. SA & Tasmania are net importers of talent, until they have cricketing nurseries that almost completely homegrown (meaning nowhere for 2nd XI NSW players to go) - then we will have hit saturation point. You say NSW can definately support 2 teams - yet the Sydney Thunder has won 2 matches in 2 yrs despite imports. If we are worried about lack of exposure, beef up the Futures League & play it thru the BBL!

Posted by rick333 on (July 6, 2013, 0:15 GMT)

Good insightful article!......

Posted by Thandiwe on (July 5, 2013, 23:16 GMT)

Crowe's perspectives makes interesting reading but is way short of any logical bases. When you are winning all is well but once your are losing all is wrong. Right now Australia's first-class cricket is short on runs. If their domestic players can't score runs at that level, they are not going to become greta test players. That will apply to a six or sixty team format. The nest fallacy is selection. If you have a lot of mediocre players, mostly falling at the international level, then selectors then to play lots of these individuals hoping that one will come off. That has happened in all countries. Finally, cricketers play the format mostly that would do two things: Maximise earnings and optimise success. Once the money is at T20, the player will gravitate towards it unless then are not successful in that format. Mediocre players can go "unnoticed" a lot longer in the T20 format, than in OD's and FC cricket. Afterall, a "good" 20 is still 20 but suffices in T20. MDC take another guard.

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (July 5, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

Anyone mentioned the fact that australia actually have 8 teams in their premier t20 league as it is different teams to the Shield teams that compete - same as India

Posted by   on (July 5, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

Just because one team cannot find resources doesnt mean that you have to drop one format completely. It is all a question of adaptability. You need to have a pool of maximum 90 players for three formats together. Should we beleive that the six domstic teams combined dont have that much players?. I hope all test playing nations have much more than 90 quality players in their pool. Australia's issues are similar to that of England's in 1990s when legends like Graham Gooch and Ian Botham retired all together and they were left in wilderness with a pack of youngsters. . This is a natural cycle that every team goes through and it will take time to rebuild .

Posted by analyseabhishek on (July 5, 2013, 10:44 GMT)

I somehow believe that Australia dominated the cricket scene so much and for so long that the next generation of youngsters simply did not pay their attention to cricket or just did not have enough fire in the belly. Having said that, having more team could encourage more players but could also dilute the standards of Australian domestic cricket. In any case, a correct balance must be sought.

Posted by guptahitesh4u on (July 5, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

Rather than relying on ICC to remove T20 from the international calendar, Australia should think on improving the domestic structure. While six teams worked good for them so far, I think they should increase the number of teams to eight and gradually can take it to somewhere close to 12. Anyways, its just matter of the time. India and England had high number of domestic teams in the past too but they never were as successful teams as they are right now. So the analysis is not completely correct too.

Posted by MariusRoodt on (July 5, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

@Romanticstud The second tier of provincial cricket is glorified club cricket, the vast majority of guys playing at that level will never sniff international cricket. It's pointless and we should get rid of it.

Posted by Romanticstud on (July 5, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

Just a point raised by a South Africa ... We have The Titans, The Cobras, The Lions, The Eagles, The Dolphins and The Warriors in our premier league ... but we also have a Provincial base of 14 teams and a healthy club base to draw from for each of the franchises ... Some of these players like Kevin Pietersen found he was not breaking through so he made the best of his opportunity and went to England ...

Posted by MariusRoodt on (July 5, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

South Africa has six franchise sides - same as Australia.

Australia's decline is because of a number of reasons. They are at the bottom end of a 'success cycle' as they were in the mid-80s, nothing strange about that, its the natural order of things. Their selection is also muddled, and this is probably because of the slump the team is going through. Six sides is more than enough. Australia will be a powerful side in world cricket again soon (hopefully not too soon though...)

Posted by   on (July 5, 2013, 7:39 GMT)

Dear Martin I enjoy every single one of you articles but must admit that I did not expect more from you based on what you have said in the recent interviews. I hope this means that you have found inner peace with cricket as well :) and this is great news. All the best and good health to you.

Posted by   on (July 5, 2013, 5:56 GMT)

I thought you had walked away from cricket Martin? I just read your great book. I am glad you have walked back! Can you help to sort NZ out too?! Thanks for the memories. I'll always remember your century at Lord in '94.

Posted by tickcric on (July 5, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

Wish more people in power listened to Crowe & Ian Chappell. But anyways well this seems so obvious now that Crowe has said it. Truly from 6 domestic teams if you need to make 3 international teams you are going to be in trouble. Unless you are going through a golden era or something. I fully agree with MDC T20 should be dropped from international schedule. The T20 game is concentrated excitement, brings in new crowds, in a nutshell the format is a hit. But all these can and actually is effectively done by the franchise base domestic tournaments - IPL, Big Bash & others. So why do we need international T20s?

Posted by McGorium on (July 5, 2013, 3:54 GMT)

Correlation is not causation: just because countries with more domestic teams appear better with 3 formats doesn't mean they are so because they have more domestic teams. SAF doesn't have nearly as many domestic sides as Ind or England, and they are doing just fine. SAF is not nearly as populous as Ind, Pak, or BD, and cricket is still an elite sport there. Further, intl T20 is still not the most frequent format, be it bilaterally or in a multilaterally (like WC). A typical bilateral tour has 1-3 T20's (if at all), 3-5 ODI's, and 3-5 tests. Also recall that throughout the 90's and 00's, Australia's strength relative to Eng and Ind was attributed to the fact that they had only 6 teams, making it a highly competitive league;that players who came out of that crucible were battle-hardened. I can't imagine how adding one more (extremely short) format flips that equation. The Aussie problem is a temporary drought of talent & mismanagement, similar to the hughes/border era.This too shall pass

Posted by Batmanian on (July 5, 2013, 3:05 GMT)

@RodStark makes some sound points about old pros and internationals; Ponting at Tas, Katich at NSW have been great; even Botha at SA. Not a lot of room for this, though.

Posted by Batmanian on (July 5, 2013, 3:02 GMT)

Six teams seems pretty good to me... then there's the Big Bash franchises, and a few limited overs specialists in each state. What Australia has over everywhere else - including England - is continuity of history. It's true we have little FC batting class in the pipeline; Khawaja is considered young, just because he's about the youngest classical talent we have, and he's no Greg Chappell or Victor Trumper, or even Dean Jones or Mark Waugh. I don't know what you can do... ban under 25s from T20? I'm really pleased to see India (with some hiccups) having oodles of batting talent across all formats.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (July 5, 2013, 3:00 GMT)

don't forget that England select their players from South Africa,Ireland and sometimes also from England

Posted by KingOwl on (July 5, 2013, 1:22 GMT)

This is one of the most illogical articles I have read. It is just plain absurd to say that T20 caused Aussie decline. Then how come WI declined after the golden era? Was that also because of T20? T20 was not even around when the WI decline started. The emergence of T20 and the decline of Australia are merely a coincidence. They have got nothing to do with each other. I am not saying that T20 is a great benefit for cricket. Far from it. But finding absurd causal relationships is not helpful. I expected a bit more intelligent remarks from Martin Crowe.

Posted by Sanj747 on (July 5, 2013, 1:14 GMT)

Spot on. Brilliant article. Not sure if CA would understand what Martin Crowe is on about.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 22:54 GMT)

Martin Crowe has hit the nail in the head. The pool of professional players in Australia in too swallow and there isn't enough 4 day cricket being played. English players play twice as many 4 day games as their Australian counterparts so is it any surprise that their English counterparts are maturing more quickly. Australia used to rely on amateur grade club cricket to produce their talent but with the change in people's lifestyles club cricket is no longer of a hunger enough standard. It no longer produces "first class" ready players in the way it once did. Australia needs to scrap the Big Bash and expand its 4 day programme. A team from ACT and an NSW Country side from based in Newcastle should join the Sheffield Shield to widen the player base. 4 day cricket is the nursery where international players can be developed for all 3 formats. From a development point of view T20 is a dangerous distraction.

Posted by portman on (July 4, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

Well thought out article, with many valid points. Three formats is too many for most teams to be competitive across all formats, unless there is a large pool of players to go to, its obvious. Quality comes from quantity, if you have 18 teams to choose from you'll get more quality than a country with 6, when 3 formats are involved. Also for most of the 136 years mentioned Australia only had 1 or 2 teams to play against. These days there are a lot more teams playing internationally and they're competitive.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 21:42 GMT)

Excellent article by Martin Crowe. It's sad to see what Australia have become considering what they were only six or seven years ago. He mentioned that players like Ashwin and Kohli are playing all three formats. They haven't done well in tests, though. Most of their successes have come in the shorter formats. I also don't see India's future as positively as Crowe sees it. They have excellent players for T20s and ODIs but I am not too sure about the abilities of players like Pujara, Kohli, and Dhawan in Test Cricket. Their pace attack also looks pretty ordinary and the spinners haven't proven themselves outside of Asia.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 20:20 GMT)

In south Africa we also only have 6 teams, I wonder why the author left that detail out???

Posted by RodStark on (July 4, 2013, 19:16 GMT)

One of the benefits of having 18 teams in England is that there is room for talented overseas players and for "old pros" to remain in the game (Trescothick, Glen Chapple, etc.). Even though these players are not part of the England pool, they raise the quality of the domestic game so that the younger players get decent experienced team-mates and opposition even though England's own test team are rarely available to play for their counties. If you only have six teams, there isn't room for these players.

Posted by Nickoshot on (July 4, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

Its a theory but I think this is effect dictating cause, as others said Englands 18 counties were always weakness when the international side couldn't buy a win. Australia's issue at the moment is identify their best players then giving them the backing they need to succeed.

They have picked so many batmen who haven't quite shown enough to become established. Maybe they will click in the Ashes? It seems to be the opposite with the bowlers

Posted by crikkfan on (July 4, 2013, 16:51 GMT)

It's a theory certainly - but not something I agree with. Like NRC1979 points out, WI did fabulously well with a smaller pool of players. Granted there was no third format then, but that can't be the primary reason if players like Clarke, Watson have their priorities straight, why wouldn't there be some specialist T20 crickets who may just want to play that format (by gaining experience from the IPLs around the world). I think this is a very simplistic theory by Mr Crowe which does not give a chance from teams like Aus, WI, SL to rise to the top.

Posted by zoot364 on (July 4, 2013, 16:41 GMT)

So double the number of first class sides in Australia and everything's suddenly OK? I'd have to disagree. Where are the quality players to come from? It's far too simple an argument. 18 English counties has recently be seen as a weakness of the domestic structure - and it is the growth of central contracts, taking international players away from the country treadmill, that has a played a central role in England's improved international form over the last decade.

Posted by Allan716 on (July 4, 2013, 16:28 GMT)

Not so long ago, the Australian third team was good enough to beat most countrys' first teams. It is just that they had a golden period of cricketers in the 90's and early 00's. Players like Stuart Law, Brad Hodge and Michael Slater to an extent never got that look in. Cricketers like Michael Bevan, Matthew Elliot were good enough for only one format. Remember the time when they fielded an Australia 'A' side in thier yearly one-day tournament. Even today someone like David Hussey is not considered good enough for Test Matches even though he has so much experience. Marcus North has lost favour as has Tim Paine. Australia are doing what England and India did in the late 90's and 00's. So many players blooded just no greta return.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 4, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

Martin makes some competant points, 20 years ago English cricket was looking to reduce the number of FC teams to try and get the cream to the top, they stopped short and introduced the 2 Tier system, relieving some pressure and allowing teams to be demoted and promoted.

With 6 teams you have a pool of 150-180 players depending on squad size to select from for the highest levels, this gets reduced by around 30% depending on the number of 'older' players and 'green' players. so you have 100-120 players to select from.

Picking 3 squads of 25 players means you will need around 40 players, as not everyone plays every format. thats around 35-40% of players at the top level in the Australian system.

Compared to the English system that has a base pool of 400 players, with say 280 eligable for all formats, this way the counties beed only provide 2-3 players to the international pool, while an Aussie FC team need to provide 5-6 players to support all 3 formats.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 15:13 GMT)

The 3 formats is definitely ripping Aust in different directions and this is seen in our overcrowded summer scheduling. But there is a larger issue for Aust sports in general here. Aust's sporting culture demands that we are strong in every sport we play - cricket, rugby union, rugby league, afl and now football with the World Cup and A league. All these codes are aggressively expanding at a junior and a professional level. We also want to win every Olympic Gold available. When Ian Chappell said that Aust lacked quality batsmen at the Under 19 WC that is when i wondered how CA is developing it's junior talent compared to these other sports. For all the passion Aust has to sports, the cold hard reality is that we have less the 25 million people living here and only so many of them are going to have sporting ability. The question is, is cricket appealing to these talents as it once did?

Posted by Oz_Sap on (July 4, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

Totally agree with NRC1979 - Is it just about numbers Martin? I don't think so, quality & talent decide the outcomes and not the quantity!

Posted by ARad on (July 4, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

David Warner, for example, has played 44 T20Is in the 4 1/2 years since he made his T20I debut. That is about 10 games / year. I hardly think 10 games a year makes a difference especially since a number of the shorter form players do not play Tests. We also have 'Informed Player Management' unlike in the past when a fit player always played. Further, if you look at Australia's tour to England in the 80s, Aussies played about 15 First class matches and a number of ODIs as well as exhibition matches against select XIs in addition the the Tests! OTOH, Australian players will be on the field for fewer number of days during this year's tour even if you count the ICC ODI tournament in June.

Posted by IPSY on (July 4, 2013, 13:25 GMT)

Martin, This is a very good article except when you made the sweeping statement, "the country [Australia] has taken a hit that it will probably never recover from"! You don't bet against Australia when you are talking about cricket. They are excellent at fixing their problems. It may not be very quickly, but rest and assured that they will fix it. I think all your other points are moot and and interesting. When this article is read by Cricket Australia, you would be giving them the impetus to work more hastily make sure that you eat your words!

Posted by NRC1979 on (July 4, 2013, 13:11 GMT)

The first thing I thought on reading this was how, when English Cricket was in the doldrums in the 1990s and early 2000s, we were consistently told that the reason for this was the 18 first class counties and the talent being diluted to such an extent that the quality was insufficient to prepare players for international cricket. Now English cricket is relatively healthy, suddenly the number of first class players in those 18 counties is being praised as a good thing. All in all, it suggests to me that international quality is not dependant on the number of first class teams and is dependant on the quality of players coming through the system. Australia peaked for 20 years, now others have their chance in an altogether more open international stage.

Posted by lazytrini on (July 4, 2013, 13:07 GMT)

Poor Aus,only 6 first class teams? But wait, that's the same number the WI had. Not many international commentators took time to internalize that fact about the WI during their slide. (WI have, by the way, created a 7th team - Combined Campuses & Colleges, made up primarily of youth players with some old heads for experience. It may have actually bentfitted the regional game a bit)

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

I disagree with MARTIN's comments....with due respect to him...its not a huge difference to choose the teams for two formats and three formats..and moreover..the team playing 50 overs cricket should be able to play 20 overs cricket..both are short formats....and in todays era...that kinda modification can be made by a player ....now..as far as australia is concerned....the thing is..that there is dearth of real batting talent....and that is true...and it has nothing to do..with the rise of t20...the real reason behind this lack of talent..is still unknown....but as far as im concerned this...condition of australian is due..to lack of true...class batsmen...and dont forget they lost the whole side....in a span of 2-3 years..if the retirements were planned better..you would not have seen such a sorry state..they lost...hayden,gilchrist...martyn..symonds...mcgrath..lee..gillespie..kasprowicz.....even the reserves in the era of these players..were far better than todays interntaonal stars

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

Totally agree with GRhinPorts. I think its too early to predict Australia's permanent downfall

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

Great article, 20/20 the cricket has created A generation of lazy cricketers with a sense of intitlemen.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 12:08 GMT)

T20 is actually benefiting cricket overall, just how ODIs helped test cricket by improving scoring rates and getting more results. I think tests are much more interesting than before with almost no dull draws.

Look at the fielding standards, running between the wickets, and hitting skills of the new players cas of t20 - its way better and this will be carried off to tests...

Posted by GRHinPorts on (July 4, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

Martin Crowe should be careful to remember that correlation does not alway match up with cause...i.e. in this case that the rise of Twenty20 at the same time as the decline for Australian cricket has been what has caused that decline. It might be but I am not so sure. What I do know is that in 135 years Aus cricket has pretty much ebbed and flowed in strength on around 30 year cycles, reaching zeniths (in the 2000s, the 1970s, the late 1940s, the early 1920s) that were then followed by slumps (the 2010s, the 1980s, the 1950s, the late 1920s). If you dig a little deeper I suspect that this point about 6 domestic team not being enough was made at the time of all these slumps. I certainly remember this point being made in my youth in the 1980s and I have subsequently seen it written about the 1950s. Lets wait another decade or so to see if Crowe has got this right. Or maybe if he is still with us in 2040 he will have another chance at writing this article again.

Posted by fatier on (July 4, 2013, 11:46 GMT)

Great article,precisely explaining the problems faced by Australia today and I totally agree with it.T-20 has really hurt most of the teams.

Posted by ScottStevo on (July 4, 2013, 11:39 GMT)

I disagree, as you stated, the best players will be more than capable of adapting to all formats of the game. Give or take a few rotations for specialists in the limited overs games (and the blooding in of young hopefuls for the test side - especially in ODIs), the core of the test side should play ODI and T20. The biggest problem is that players are making a name for themselves in T20 and being progressed up the chain, rather than making a name in longer formats and displaying the highest calibre of skill and progressing down the chain. For some reason, belting 45 off 18 looks flashy and gives a false reading on a players actual abilites.

Posted by Yevghenny on (July 4, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

and yes, I echo sentiments here - international players need to start playing a lot more first class and much less internationals. 7 game ODI series, 3 game t20 series - POINTLESS. Get tthem back in domestic cricket, you'll get bigger numbers turning up, the 1st class players play better opposition. It's so much more healthier for the long term

Posted by Yevghenny on (July 4, 2013, 11:23 GMT)

personally I think it's just expectation over a generation. Expectation to get in an all time great side is practically none, stretch that out over 15 years, and you'll just get less and less expectancy to have an international career. Suddenly, 7 of the legends are gone, and you're in. But have they trained harder to get there than they might have been 10-15 years ago when all these legends were emerging?

Posted by Yevghenny on (July 4, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

south africa's rankings on 3 formats hardly suggest this is the reason, it's not that spectacular.

Posted by Leggie on (July 4, 2013, 11:17 GMT)

I don't agree with Martin Crowe's point of view. Its not required for weaker teams to stop playing T20 at the international level. Rather, they should weed out T20s from their "domestic" systems. For representing international matches let them form a team out of their ODI pool who they seem fit for T20s. Going back to 2007, India did not focus on T20 and the team that won the T20 world cup was carved out of the ODI team! India's problems recently is also due to too much of T20s at the domestic level. I don't think India's problems are over yet and in my view India *will* contiue to suffer in ODIs and Test matches in the long run - unless there is better focus on these two formats. Australia would do well to get rid of the Big Bash League.

Posted by GermanPlayer on (July 4, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

When Australia were on top of world cricket...they should have seen this coming and invested for the future. T20 had clearly made an impact around 2005. It was there to stay. If Australia had only 6 domestic teams, and theyhad to select 3 international teams out of those, they should have realized that 6 teams were not enough.

Secondly, Australia seldom needed a reserve player during the 10 years of dominance they had. This meant that the 6 domestic teams that were playing never had to worry about sending a palyer to the national team because there was no place. When their test stars retired and T20 came in, all of a sudden they had to worry about making 3 teams and thats where the bubble burst!

Posted by Romanticstud on (July 4, 2013, 10:34 GMT)

T20 is still a baby on the scene ... All the teams at some stage have had their fair share of problems at this form of the game. Normally T20 is not what is on paper, but how the team is on the day ... All the teams have had days where they could score 200 in 20 overs and on other days see a major batting collapse. The fact that a team wins or loses depends on a batsman or bowler hitting the right spot. Even the best batsmen or bowlers can get out or knocked around the park.Also there is more pressure to perform in 20 overs as there is no time to gets one's eye in. The best T20 bowlers are those who adapt the best to change. The best batsmen however are those who can hit the ball or place the ball the best ... Another case in point is the fact that countries like Australia and South Africa have been exporting cricketers into the County Cricket scene for years, which has made guys like Pieterson, Trott, Prior and Co play international cricket where there was no space for them at home.

Posted by Jagger on (July 4, 2013, 10:33 GMT)

What a brilliant and defining article. I am Australian, and for the first time I totally agree with Martin Crowe. Administrators should act now before its too late. Do not be fooled into thinking T20 is a repeat of the ODI cash cow. T20 is killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (July 4, 2013, 10:32 GMT)

How about adding a few teams? ACT, Country Vic, Country NSW and North Qld. Certainly the first argument would be the cost, and whether we could afford it. But we should look for a way.

Posted by hhillbumper on (July 4, 2013, 10:32 GMT)

It is an irony that the county system is always derided for the dilution of talent yet Sheffield shield was always held up as concentrating talent. The loss of the players that Australia had was always going to be difficult. They have lost that aura and with that some of the myths surrounding the Baggy Green have been demolished. County Cricket has developed younger talent by the payments for players under 25. This has helped promote younger players. Having said that there is not much young English spinning talent coming through and it will be interesting to see what happens post Swann. Having said that 6 years ago you would have been laughed off these pages if you had suggested he would be such a world class spinner

Posted by AshwathSampath on (July 4, 2013, 10:30 GMT)

Very good article, as usual! And I agree that T20 should be stopped at the international level, but of course it will never happen.

Posted by py0alb on (July 4, 2013, 9:47 GMT)

I do think that international players are more and more having to choose between specialising in Tests or T20s. The ODI squad is then made up from a mixture of the two. This is particularly apparent with batsmen, interestingly, as bowlers abilities seem to tranfer better between the three formats.

Posted by HansonKoch on (July 4, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

One of the formats needs to go. Most would say the ODI's. But the brutal reality is it's Test Cricket that's most in strife. Who really wants to stand in the hot tropical sun for days on end?

Posted by jb633 on (July 4, 2013, 9:07 GMT)

I think people ridiculing Australian cricket are way off the mark and this coming from an English fan. The Aussies are not that bad and it wouldn't suprise me too much if they win one of the Ashes series. The Aussies do have some issues but they are not a hopeless side. I think they have a decent pace battery and some talented batsmen. I spent a few years in some spin academies in Australia and I must confess that I thought the way youngsters were coached was poor. Essentially if you bowled leg spin, if your action did not exactly replicate that if Shane Warne you were hopeless and if you bowled finger spin you didn't belong in the game. I think in the spin department the Aussies are suffering for their naievity in their coaching methods and the way youngsters in the 2000's were taught. In terms of batting I think that the Aus FC pitches are more to blame than T20. The desire to make seaming tops has taken away the art of scoring big 100's and now a 70 can win a game of FC cricket.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (July 4, 2013, 9:07 GMT)

A thought-provoking article & it's clear that internat. cricket has reached a cross-roads. It's no good any country deciding that all three forms are of equal merit; that's the fastest way to fall between three stools, as it would seem Aust has done. Then there's the unavoidable commercial aspect in which the shorter versions have a considerable advantage, Ashes not withstanding. I think it's clear enough to most people that the greedy little sod is the odd one out. Bowlers need to learn to bowl wide of off-stump; batsmen need to hit across the line & frequently haven't any time to play themselves in. There's excitement; games are often won luckily & in certain parts of the world corruption flourishes in it. In short, T20 needs to go the full hog: take nations out of it & have city-based franchises instead. A group of itinerant players can then choose aT20 career & leave proper cricket to its own discriminating demographic. In the end, quality will out & T20 will be a passing phase.

Posted by Sameer-hbk on (July 4, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

Crowe is spot on when he says T20 needs to be sent back to domestic cricket. Whenever someone says this, the immediate tendency is to draw lines and brand people as 'old-fashioned purists' or 'betrayers of test cricket'. Realistically though, the question is, why would you want two international quality sides to merely contest in a 20-over a side contest? Does it really throw out a clear winner or give teams a run of dominance? Most would agree that T20 is just entertainment and all about gate money. Why tear apart existing cricket structure for this? Let T20 World Cups be contested by 10/12 associate nations every 4 years and give the winner a provisional test match status for next 4. If T20 is all about 'spreading the game globally', this helps much more. For Test nations keep T20 down to only domestic level- IPL or Big Bash or whatever else. There are just too may meaningless T20/ODI matches going on.

Posted by dunger.bob on (July 4, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

I'm a fan of at least 2 extra shield teams as well. .. the system was set up 100 or so years ago when Aus was less than 10 million strong ! .. NSW & Vic can definitely support 2 teams. Perhaps a city origin/country origin division would be a good starting point. Qld could maybe do it as well but 2 would be enough to start with. .. That would give us another 30 or so spots in F/c cricket and if we can't find a Test team out of a total of 150 players then we shouldn't be playing the game. .. There is a danger of "diluting" the shield but I reckon that's not likely to happen. .. From what I've seen in grade cricket in Sydney, there's a ton of talent just waiting for a chance.

Posted by Vimalwa on (July 4, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

Its an interesting piece but South Africa also has same number of teams in First class cricket and hence no different from Australia!

Posted by nzcricket174 on (July 4, 2013, 8:17 GMT)

Australia should expand their FC teams like they have done with the Big Bash League. It is especially important in NSW, where there are something like 7.5 million people to fill only one team. Most of their players end up elsewhere as they cannot get opportunities at home.

Posted by nickvegas on (July 4, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

Nonsense. When Australia's top Shield cricketer is a 'way past retirement age' Ricky Ponting, and no other batsman within coo-ee of him there is a serious lack of talent in the country. T20 cricket or not

Posted by Lightsaber on (July 4, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Hope selectors and boards are reading and learning from the article.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

I totally agree with Martin , excellent article , only one thing that T20 should only be played internationally once in 4 years in the world t20

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 7:42 GMT)

Martin what would be the answer for Australia considering T20 is highly unlikely to be dropped from the international calendar? Is there a realistic way Australia can bounce back given the status quo of formats?

Posted by AltafPatel on (July 4, 2013, 7:31 GMT)

@ Aswin Srivatsa Sankaran He meant about potential that Warner has. Only 19 tests, 39 ODIs doesnt judge the player but the innings he played either big score or in crucial situation shows how long he can go.

Posted by AltafPatel on (July 4, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

When Ponting, Hussey were in the team, they developed players like David Hussey, White, Shaun Marsh. Now they suddenly disappeared with their exit. Bollinger, Harris must be in the team being experienced. Hanrique, Miechel Marsh, Steven Smith...they never seemed to be even in ODIs.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

I don't agree with the point Martin crowe had put on scrapping T20 from international arena and maintaining only ODI's and Test to develop Cricket globally.

I see T20 is the game which doesn't need much skill as ODI and Test demands and will be easy for new nations to compete with Bigger nations. Moreover Cricket faces the time duration of each game as bigger challenge to compete with other games globally in the case of ODI or Test for which T20 will be good option too... T20 is the game through which we can develop game in many countries.

At the same time ODI and Test has to be between the stronger nations(Probably the top 8-10) and it can induced in countries which is growing well in future...

Posted by venkatesh018 on (July 4, 2013, 7:06 GMT)

The answer for everybody who have attributed the demise of Aussie cricket to the retirement of their superstars is simple. The Aussie domestic cricket set up as it exists now with players forced to juggle between Shield cricket and the lucrative Big Bash would have never produced players like Langer, Martyn or Lehmann leave alone Warne, McGrath or the Waughs. It is the greed of the administrators to milk T20 and replicate the IPL success, that is killing Australian cricket. The problem for Australia is (along with England) it has got to safeguard Test cricket for future generations unlike India(read BCCI)which will not shed a tear if Test cricket dies.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 7:05 GMT)

Continuing on... In an expanded system a bloke like Jackson Bird, 26 years of age would have perhaps 40-50 FC games under his belt by now, instead of being caught up behind the likes of Bracken, Bollinger, Cameron, Lee, Clark and co. That NSW can now boast of Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc, Sandhu, Copeland and Bollinger is fantastic, but there is only space for half of them, really. Peter Nevill spent the season without the gloves, where was Kurtis Patterson? There's no room for them all! Dave Warner played for Australia before he played for N.S.W! A bloke like Steve Smith is two years older than a Joe Root but only comes with the same FC experience. Make some space for these blokes CA, its only common sense!

Posted by ABRULES on (July 4, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

The article says England have greater pool to select players for all format. Their greater pool also consists players from South Africa, Ireland, Netherland.

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (July 4, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

Crowe raises some good points, but he needs to back his ideas up with more data that the ICC rankings.

While I can see how England and India have the largest player bases, I'd like to see some proof that South Africa has such a large one. And Bangladesh has plenty of players to go around, so too do Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If this was on Wikipedia there would be a lot of [citation needed].

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 6:52 GMT)

i cannot believe that a legendary cricketer like martin crowe termed warner as one of the finest batsmen

Posted by venkatesh018 on (July 4, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

Wonderfully analytic article as usual from Martin. Australia are trying to excel in all formats with a relatively small base as Crowe rightly argues. The need of the hour for Australia is to reset their priorities like England have done admirably. If it means dumbing down their T20 ambitions, so be it.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

Poor player management is certainly costing us, where we might have been with a Mike Hussey in our team in India? Having guys like Warner, Wade and Starc playing across all 3 formats before they'd mastered any of them. I don't want to see any of our guys playing more than two formats each anymore, it would be great if they could, but it's getting greedy, trying to everything, you can't.

In any case I think we are coming around to this idea slowly, we play very little T20 outside of the world cups and our ranking shows that it is little more than hit and giggle for us. That said I think our ranking of 7th is somewhat erroneous, we are usually there when the semi finals come!

Ideally I wouldn't mind seeing another team or two, the Gold Coast, Canberra or Newcastle are all capable of hosting significant sporting teams with their population bases and existing facilities. Our population has grown substantially since the last time the shield comp expanded.... tbc

Posted by S.Jagernath on (July 4, 2013, 6:49 GMT)

Brilliant Article.T20 cricket eats away at the bedrock of this games ethics & competencies.Australia's struggles can never be attributed to a lack of talent,that would just be an easy excuse.Players like Mitchell Starc,Pat Cummins,James Pattinson,Steve Smith,Shane Watson,Michael Clarke & Moises Henriques are among the most talented players in the world.

Posted by Webba84 on (July 4, 2013, 6:37 GMT)

The best solution is for smaller countries to merge their domestic scenes together. Australia and New Zealand should share all domestic tournaments in all the formats, it would raise the standard of domestic cricket and give both countries a bigger pool to choose from.

Posted by Shane75 on (July 4, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

What an outstanding article, really quite brilliant - however it hasn't address the far more pertinent problem of Test and ODI cricket quality being eroded as players chase money and fame. But it is all our fault - as it seems everyone supports 20/20, despite it being none other than a blatant cash grab. So all the sponsors and cricket boards will shamefully continue to throw money at it - simple supply & demand. What's next - one hour cricket? 10 overs each? Why not 5 overs each, you can watch an entire game on your smartphone while waiting for the bus.

Posted by Meety on (July 4, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

@zenboomerang on (July 4, 2013, 3:48 GMT) - I think you will find that Crowe was NOT joking AND he was not advocating "... to remove T20 ..." - he was talking about removing International 20/20s, which has been mooted from the very beginning of 20/20s until now. He states "...if T20 is dropped from the international schedule completely, and rightfully sent back to the domestic scene."

20/20 should only be franchised based, with a window for the Champ League & riding on the back of the Olympics.

@landl47 on (July 4, 2013, 5:05 GMT) - the skill set is a bigger problem than numbers of teams (for Oz). A big reason why SA & Eng are doing well in Tests is they have the most players who debuted in FC BEFORE the IPL. The "new" breed of batsmen is more entertaining than ever before, but is unreliable at lasting 100 balls in Tests, (picture Trott v Bairstow). This is due to the lure of the big money in Franchise 20/20 cricket & the diminishing value of a batsmen's wicket!

Posted by KPWij on (July 4, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

A highly interesting outlook on the present state of international cricket as well as a warning for the future. I feel that Australia's current batting problems lie with inexperience resulting from poor selection decisions made during the last 3 to 5 years. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey along with Michael Clarke have been the most important members of the international scene for Australia since 2009. With both Ponting and Hussey retiring in a short space of time, all the work has been left on the shoulders of Clarke. There are no other batsmen within the side with enough experience (30 to 40 tests) to distribute the responsibility which would have improved Australia's performances across the last six months. Selectors knew this was going to happen for a few years but they destroyed any hope of success by not blooding youngsters like Usman Khwaja or Callum Ferguson and preventing players like Philip Hughes from an extended run. Australia has depth its just poor management.

Posted by seawolf on (July 4, 2013, 6:27 GMT)

one more common solution is to keep age as a barrier to play T20. As all current and past senior players got an opportunity play this format and make some money, now leave this to youngsters. Under 25 can play T20. A fair idea to keep the game alive.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

Cancel T20 from australian cricket? You want Aussie cricketers to die poor? Your suggestions may make sense cricketing- wise but if you have warner making more money then he can ever get in Australia in the IPL what do you expect them to want? Dhoni, Ashwin,Kohli, Jadeja, M Vijay, And so many other indian players cut it across all three formats the simple fact is Aussie's do not have the batting talent and need to stop worrying about their system and support unconventional players who have their own style instead of treating them like school kids. Big deal if they fight, discipline them at that level and do not make an issue out of it. Indian players get into trouble all the time but it is handled way better. IF watson was in india he would have been loved and adored and been playing excellently

Posted by Meety on (July 4, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

@CoverDrive888 on (July 4, 2013, 5:11 GMT) - I agree with the point you made about Internationals & the amount of Shield matches they DON'T play - but Border & Chappell didn't play "...all the state games..." - they were (up untill about 83) available for the Shield Final. The busy schedule has meant that Oz tour in March/April now that most Internationals are not in the country when the Shield Final rolls around. CA has made a half attempt adressing this issue by starting the Shield early (compensating for the encroachment of the BBL), but then they agree to tour India for an 8-game limited over series that runs into November (basically within 4 weeks of the 1st Ashes Test). A lot of Oz's problems can be fixed by a more intelligent working of the domestic calendar. The BBL MUST be condensed, ideally (not in terms of profit), be played in Sep/Oct or March. The Shield could run right thru - uninterrupted.

Posted by Meety on (July 4, 2013, 6:05 GMT)

Interesting thoughts, however I disagree. We have trolled thru the domestic players significantly of late (as we did in the mid 80s), but Oz do have the depth to compete across 3 formats. Bearing in mind that the BBL has EIGHT teams as opposed to Shield & List A's SIX. The use of rankings in 20/20 is not a great way to prove a point, the volume of games are too low & it is frought with inconsistancies - for Eg - Oz were in the semi finals of the last 20/20 w/cup. The other point to make is that Sth Africa do NOT have a bigger pool of players - their premier FC comp has SIX teams - the same Oz. A flippant dismissal to Crowe's thoughts is that when he named England's player who perform across formats he said "...Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen..." - two of which are NOT really products of England's, system. T20 is to blame for Oz demise, but it is not for the reasons Crowe mentioned. It is for having the BBL bang in the middle of the Shield!

Posted by seawolf on (July 4, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

From my very respected player and a great article. As i always believe T20s should be alive only for money and entertainment but should be the last priority for all nations to protect the original form of game alive means keeping the sport it self existing. I agree on what ever he told about ENG/SA but surly not for India. They are still not able to win test series in SA/AUS/ENG. Only they are able to do it in home. After few senior players have gone, very soon their bating will suffer, talking about bowlers, they never had one single fast bowler who could win matches regularly for them in world cricket with respect and in the top 5. Australia has still the best youngsters in line as MC said too many injuries kept the team could keep the momentum in the last 4 or 5 years. And T20 is a factor for it.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 5:49 GMT)

This article allows us to see the world from a great batsman's view. An world class player himself only curtailed by some injuries. However I believe there is this balance of power. The nature does not allow a single country/person to dominate all the time. Sometimes it is Westindies or Australia.Now it is Ind(limited overs), SA and co. However I genuinely believe that Australia have a strong sporting culture. They will rise again. They have found some real quality bowlers in Starch,Cummins etc. All they need now is some young talented batsmen who can carry forward the legacy of Waugh brothers, Pontings , Borders.

Posted by asillypoint on (July 4, 2013, 5:46 GMT)

A very thoughtful and interesting piece. Whether one agrees is immaterial, Martin Crowe is as much entitled to his opinion as anyone else. Anyway, who's to judge? What I' not sure about is the size of the talent pool available to the England selectors given the number of overseas players in country cricket who are not eligible for national cricket selection. This contraint seems less of an issue in Australia, NZ etc.

Posted by kentjones on (July 4, 2013, 5:42 GMT)

Martin your article is certainly an eye opener and raises the important question: can cricketing nations survive or indeed prosper with the three formats. And leads to even a much more crucial one, can cricket survive without T20. There is no doubting the fact that T20 is the cash cow of cricket and is the main reason for a plethora of cricketing millionaires, sprinkled all over the globe and has dawned the day of the T20 specialist and put needed money into international boards' coffers. Also it has renewed interest and brought back the waning crowds to the game. However it has also changed the outlook of the game to a bash bang and wallop affair and forced the subtleties of the game, the twists and turns to the sidelines. And therein lies cricket's greatest dilemma. Cricketing minds the world over must come together and craft a solution or else: not that T20 should be dropped but sheer econmics and T20's popularity: test match cricket would vanish off the face of the earth

Posted by dunger.bob on (July 4, 2013, 5:35 GMT)

It's easy to see Martins point about the numbers, but I think it's a pretty pessimistic conclusion he draws. Australia will never again be on top of the pile because we haven't got the numbers he reckons. But Martin, we've never had the numbers!. People say that it was an advantage at one time for Aust. to only have 6 F/C teams but a small pool of players is still a small pool of players no matter which way you look at it. ... @CptMeanster is right. .. the current players are simply not as good as their predecessors. I think that's an indistputable fact. .. it doesn't necessarily follow that we will NEVER have another outstanding group of players though. We've done it before and we will do it again. ...... I think the T20 issue is an organisational thing. .. Who says we have to pick T20 players out of F/C cricket for instance. There are plenty of grade players who play T20 just as well as the F/C blokes. .. we haven't really embraced T20 yet. .. maybe one day we will really get serious

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

Brilliant article from a very intelligent man! Indeed the pressure is high. I'm sure even the Aussies of the 2000s would have struggled to keep up their domination if they had to account for T20s in their time. Let's not forget that many Aussie greats had injury woes. Brett Lee was hounded by injuries throughout his career and Gillespie, Mcgrath weren't far behind either. They managed to play most matches simply because having only two formats - ODIs and Tests - left enough room for rest and recovery. Cramming in T20s (both domestic and international) puts unrelenting pressure on players. Which means when top players are injured, it's hard to find replacements. They managed to for a while, because of the accommodating schedules. Australia's core squad of 20 players was unchanged for decades and was the envy of the world.

However, today's core squad is a mess - almost all of them carrying niggles ready to break down any moment. Their rotation policy isn't helping either.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

good thoughts by Crowe ... the Aussies have struggled in tests ever since their whitewash of India in early 2012... they haven't been helped by an injury prone bowling attack and their batting is literally walking on thin ice!

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

Stupid article. T20 is not the problem, Australia just ended a golden era and are now trying to recapture those days. They should instead just focus on being good, and then start winning. Do the basics right.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 5:13 GMT)

South Africa is in the same position and have less players than Australia. There is the 6 top teams and then 2 minor teams.

Posted by Itachi_san on (July 4, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

I respecfully but completely disagree with the idea this article suggests! Twenty20 is a format which excites and makes money the world over. I honestly don't care as much when 2 clubs are playing in this format, as compared to 2 countries. Plus the ICC does little enough the world over to promote the game in countries where it isnt played (we only have 10 test paying nations, and maybe 12 ODI playing ones - T20 is THE way to promote to other non-cricketing nations). As for the pool conundrum, the reason Australia don't have enough awesome test level players is because they have just come into the downward slope of a talent pool of their cycle. No country (barring maybe India with their population, and cricket craze) can produce talents like Mcgrath, Warne, Waughes, Gilly, Haydos, Punter all the time. Give it time the next gen will develop, and there will be players who can and will manage all 3 forms. It takes planning from the Board, the Leagues(Big bash etc.) to manage the players.

Posted by landl47 on (July 4, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

The other problem with T20 is that a new set of skills is needed to play it at top level. Scoring runs at 8 an over for 20 overs requires totally different skills from batting for 3 sessions in a test. Likewise, bowling 4 overs with no close fielders and the goal of keeping runs down bears no relation to bowling with a new ball and an umbrella field, or bowling 20 overs a day to a plan designed to put pressure on the batsman.

We are already seeing a steady divergence in T20 from longer-format cricket and that will increase over time. Different skills = different players much of the time. England has Morgan, great T20 bat, can't cut it in tests, and Tredwell, who has played 15 international matches in the shorter formats in 2013, but hasn't taken a first-class wicket.

T20 in England hasn't taken off the way it has in India. I was watching a T20 between Warks. and Glam. today and the ground was almost empty. I think that's a foretaste of the future, once the novelty wears off.

Posted by fullawareness on (July 4, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

India will be best served if they have a completely separate team for T20s. right now almost the entire team(best XI) with the exception of maybe couple of changes is same across all formats. looking at the sides, probably only Rohit sharma and raina may not cut it in all the formats. Given the huge pool and the IPL, india must follow the England example and include players like Ambatti Rayudu, Naman Ojha (WK), Manan Vohra, Mandeep singh, Vinay Kumar, Unmukt Chand etc into their international T20s and rest some of the other players.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:57 GMT)

The problem is acute because of India's 'power' or 'clout' in ICC. If we look at international T20 matches, some may be surprised that India has not played fewer than some other nations. It is simpler to select T20 players into IPL than to 'guestimate' based on ODI or Test records. IPL has become the 'reference' or 'guiding force' - whether we like it or not.

Posted by bobagorof on (July 4, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

The problem that Australia faces is not that they do not have enough players to choose from, it is that the selectors are reluctant to pick them. Thankfully some were tried in the One Day series earlier this year; it was, however, poorly managed with three big stars (Warner, Clarke and Watson) rested or injured at the same time rather than in tranches. But with Aaron Finch, David Hussey, George Bailey, Glen Maxwell, Xavier Doherty and Clint McKay all being short-form specialists I don't see how one can say that Australia are always picking the same players in each form of the game. Australia's bench also includes Marsh, White and Johnson, who are world-class when in form. Rogers has just been selected to play Tests, and Faulkner is breaking into the squad. Henriques made a Test debut in India. Ferguson and O'Keefe have international experience but have fallen out of favour. Haddin and Wade are playing musical chairs in the Wicketkeeper position. How many more did you want?

Posted by heathrf1974 on (July 4, 2013, 4:45 GMT)

I disagree and I don't think a lot of thought was put into this article. Australia has 6 first class, six List A and about 10 T20D teams, which is ideal. The six Sheffield shield teams aren't a nursery for all three formats. The problem is the talent pool that is all and a lack of discipline in batting. What changed with England wasn't talent but discipline in both batting and bowling and good tutelage.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

Aus should have a dedicated T20 team, keeping their first choice players for Test and ODI, while drawing from the rest for T20. While T20 is a big money spinner, that comes more from the franchise system. This franchise system has more than enough young guys who want to play that format that Aus should not need to draw from the 'cream'. If we dont get quite as good a result by not using the best of the best players, so what? Tests are more important. Mind you, having a settled T20 team who are focused on that format, may find themselves winning, even if they are not considered the best cricketers in the country...

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:40 GMT)

I have to disagree with this argument that poor little Australia, with it's smaller population and less domestic cricket teams are at a disadvantage. If that is so them answer this: Why does England need to constantly poach players from other countries? Pieterson and Morgan, for example. The England T20 team that played New Zealand recently (referenced in the article) was made up of almost 50 percent foreign born players! Without these foreigners on the England teams, they would fail miserable again ALL of the other top teams. West Indies, on the other hand, have only their own small population to draw from, yet were able to dominate for 15 years. And recently the West Indies have beaten India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and played a tie game with South Africa. So it clearly is not about the pool; it is about the talent and commitment. England has the same problem with tennis at Wimbledon every year also.

Posted by bobagorof on (July 4, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

This article is factually incorrect. Warner has not 'lost his place to his erratic form in the long game' - he was dropped for off-field ill-discipline. His form in general has been poor of late, but that happens to all players during their career and Warner is still in contention to play in the first Test of the Ashes series (though I hope he doesn't).

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

Having to choose from smaller pool of players is a valid point.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:37 GMT)

This article is a farce in my honest opinion, it's blaming T20 for killing a team which actually has much wider issues.

First and foremost, the Aussie do or die attitude is clearly missing, the only player who exhibits that, despite getting much flak, is George Bailey. Whether the chips are down or they are winning Bailey always pushes the opposition to his utmost ability and fights rather hard.

The rest of them seem content to throw wickets and leak runs when things are looking south.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:37 GMT)

I wish 20/20 games could be eradicated, as of immediately. But it'll never happen. It's all about money now. Pretty boys, fast cars, tattoos -- who cares about sovereign loyalty anymore? Players dont even do their HOMEWORK now for heaven's sake, they earn too much money for that! Nah, its all changed, and I wish as Mr Crowe suggests, Australia goes back and focusses once again on Tests and ODI's. But that is never, ever, ever going to happen. PLayers will go where the big bucks are. And it will always be that way.

Posted by   on (July 4, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

Good article, totally agree.

Posted by yoogi on (July 4, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

I think its a lame argument to say that having only six teams is a draw-back. It actually means having six good teams compared to 18 or 27 ordinary teams, or as in India's case the Elite group. having six good teams is lot better than having too many teams. The reason being Indian teams face only 6-9 other teams while they play Ranji despite having 27 teams. May be invite Ireland or Afghan (even A team is good enough) to join a league match of one-dayers with province teams so that you can make sure there is more variety. Having one more team improves the variety by 20 percent.

Posted by Rally_Windies on (July 4, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

well ,,,

the WI only have 6 teams as well ... and 1 extra developmental team made up of young emerging players who cannot break into the 6, and some old experienced players who are still good enough for the level but were dropped from their respective teams to "blood" youngsters. .....

and WI has SERIOUS selection troubles .... like 4 spinners to swap in and out, 3 keepers and 4-6 pacers always knocking to get in ....

Batting is weak in the WI .... no one is really knocking down the doors ..

Austrailia just does not have good players.....

and the REAL reason is NEPOTISM and POLITICAL selection, weakening their 1st class cricket ...... WI has the SAME problem and INDIA HAD that problem.... they dealth with it, just a LITTLE, and WHOOP... world number 1 in ODI just like that ... BAM ....

I'm sure there are 20-30 young guys from the wrong families, who are better than the guys playing 1st class cricket in Australia .....

Posted by sarangsrk on (July 4, 2013, 4:00 GMT)

@ Cpt.Meanster.. Could not have agreed more with you. Absolutely right. Aus is suffering not because of T20 but because of the huge legacy that they have with those genius and the public and media not accepting a period of transition when these retired. T20 was taken way too lightly by aussie team till 2009 and they were still losing Ashes and tests in India. Its not as if India has a pool of 40 players to choose 3 different teams. There will be few constants in all 3 formats Ind team - Dhoni, Kohli, Ashwin, Ishant, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and even M Vijay/S Dhawan. This is a worrying sign for India too as these players will eventually burn out like Dhoni is right now from Tri-series. I agree T20 should be limited to only franchises. They can also include associate teams like Ireland, Holland etc but top 8 national teams should only play tests and ODIs.

Posted by Moppa on (July 4, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

I think Crowe is drawing a very long bow here. For starters, does South Africa really have a larger playing pool than Australia? But, more directly, it would be interesting to see whether overlap between Australia's teams in all three formats is higher than England's or other countries', as is argued by Crowe. My sense is actually that Australia splits the load a lot, partly reflecting the different skills of different players (e.g. McKay in ODI/T20, Pattinson and Siddle in Tests, Clarke not playing T20, Bailey playing short form only), and that the weakness is that the load is spread too thinly - i.e. the T20 team doesn't have enough experienced, internationally-hardened cricketers. As an Australian fan I am biased, but I think Crowe's prediction of a permanent decline in Australian cricket simply due to a new format is highly speculative, bordering on foolish. We are experiencing a cyclical downturn, but I don't think it is a West Indies-style permanent slide.

Posted by zenboomerang on (July 4, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

That Crowes answer is to remove T20 is surely a joke, what with the huge crowd appeal, money generated (BBL $100 million TV contract) & the fact is that the smaller nations find it easier to accommodate T20 - i.e. the T20 rankings are SL, WI, Ind, Pak - & that they are playing more short form cricket is reflected by the rising costs of putting on Test cricket with diminishing crowds in their home countries. Already the ICC says that countries now only need to play 16 Tests over 4 years which traditionally would have been played over 18 mths to 2 years.

Posted by zenboomerang on (July 4, 2013, 3:45 GMT)

Half agree with Martin Crowe, with the obvious answer to the problem is to have least 2 teams in Vic, NSW, Qld & have 1 team in the ACT where over 85% of the population lives. Oz has 4 1/2 times the population of NZ but the same number of FC teams. The problem is that NSW & Vic are so jealous of losing their tradition of just one team - get over it - & CA should be adding new FC teams to build up their supporter bases, like AFL did with the extra teams in all the mainland States.

The comps should also be run in a logical sequence, with SS being played up until Dec, then BBL, then the Ryobi Cup. That way players are ready for Test duty, fans can follow each comp seperately & the hotter summer period can be played by shorter formats which suit families.

Posted by jr1972 on (July 4, 2013, 3:26 GMT)

Disagree with MC and not for the first time. Australia were always going to struggle post Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Ponting, Hayden et al. This is what happens when you have a truely great side that is relatively stable for a decade. The introduction of T20 (cricket for those who don't like cricket!) and the "demise" of Australia is coincidence and not the causative factor. Australia will come good/great.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (July 4, 2013, 3:25 GMT)

With the third international format now entrenched it may be fair to draw some conclusions from rankings and recent performance, but I think you've drawn a curious relationship that doesn't really hold up in the main, Martin. To say that Australia's performance woes can be attributed to spreading six shield sides worth of players thru 3 formats, when compared to England, India and South Africa. South Africas' Sunfoil Series only consists of half a dozen sides too, so their player pool isn't hugely different to Australia. If this discussion was held 4-5 years ago, Australia was in the top two of all three rankings, like SA are now. The IPL has assisted India transition from the loss of a dozen 10 year veterans, by providing hardened international cricket for its young players. Aus is guilty of not planning properly, NZ has been a basket case for a decade and if SA allow the continual drain to England, they'll be in the same place in a decade.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (July 4, 2013, 3:05 GMT)

I don't think there are separate rules for the Aussies. Which means, they CANNOT give up on T20s internationally. The ICC runs the show here and according to them, every international team has to play a quota of T20s. Even though I am a proud T20 fan, I have always opposed the format at the international level. T20s should be restricted to clubs/franchises/domestic sides etc. The world T20 is a joke and so is the format played on the world scale. Only tests, and ODIs should be part of international cricket. Having said all that, I don't think the Australians are poor because of T20. They are simply poor because they don't have world beaters like their recent ancestors. Nobody can duplicate Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Hayden, McGrath, Warne, Ponting, Gilchrist, Mike Hussey, Symonds, and Damien Martyn any time soon.

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