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Sight Screen

Thursday, June 02, 2005

In passing...

...what do you guys make of Twenty20 cricket in India? It's catching on around the world; Australia is in fact slated to play its first official game in the abridged style this season; Pakistan tried it out on an experimental basis, and found more crowds streaming in than the designated grounds could handle; it's reportedly working very well in England...
Meanwhile, the BCCI has been hedging, as hedge it will when confronted with anything new. There was, some time back, a neat piece in the Indian Express on the question. So what do you guys think -- should we, shouldn't we?


  • I think that 20/20 will catch up in India but I personally don't like it. I like an even contest between bat and ball. I am beginning to hate the current one day games where the bat dominates the ball. I miss those around 250 target games, which are a thing of the past. 20/20 cricket will be another blow to the sagging morale of a bowler !!
    On the +ve side, 20/20 will provide for quick results akin to a baseball game.

    By Anonymous Prashant, at 21:01  

  • I hate the format. Now with the proposed changes to the ODI format, everything is going to be so clinical that it will need a captain to have a laptop with him to figure out the strategy. Its a clear sign that the game is on a decline that the ICC is compelled to create artificial excitement. The 20-20 format is another example of injecting steorids into a dying format. Maybe I am in the minority, but I love the excitement and unpredictability of Test cricket. Simon Hughes wrote a great article on the subject in the Guardian that I wanted to reproduce below

    "The changes to the format of one-day internationals, announced this week by the International Cricket Council to enhance the appeal of one dayers, will actually turn out to be a boon for Test cricket.

    The already intricate restrictions on field settings in one-day cricket have been further complicated. And substitutes playing a full part in the game are to be allowed. Bearing in mind these innovations are likely to seriously tax the fielding captain's comprehension, what price the spectator will understand what's going on? Factoring in the interminable delays while the captain fathoms everything out, you wouldn't blame the paying public bolting headlong for the nearest Test match.

    One-day cricket's framework will ensure it continues to thrive, but it has an inherent problem: it is formulaic. Length of innings, number of a bowler's overs, bowlers' direction, and field settings are restricted. There is a blueprint for playing this form of the game - attack the first 15 overs, milk the next 25, plunder the last 10 - that makes the whole thing rather predictable. Due also to the sheer volume of one-day games they are obliged to turn out for, players tend to go through many of these matches on autopilot.

    If one-day cricket is sport on a calculator, Test cricket is sport on a canvas. There is no restriction on how long a team bats, or how long a bowler bowls, or where you put the fielders. Drama can therefore happen at any time, rather than in pre-defined slots. It is therefore unpredictable.
    The enduring attraction of Test cricket is its glorious simplicity.

    The ICC seem to be trying to superimpose a level of unpredictability into one-day cricket. Now, after compulsory close fields for only the first 10 overs of the innings, there will be two further spells of five overs when they are obliged to keep the field in, but when these spells are employed is at the team's discretion.

    Unfortunately one-day cricket faces the same problem as 'reality'
    television. The more artificial the situation, the more extreme you have to make the conditions to keep it interesting. In the end it becomes superficial and boring. Celebrity Love Island must be the most intensely dull TV programme ever conceived. It is 'unreality' TV.

    The success of Twenty20 cricket has forced the more established one-day format into a corner. The ramifications of these latest developments are depressing. Captains, whose main responsibility, apart from setting the field, was to keep count of individual bowler's overs, are now faced with a whole gamut of possibilities: when to introduce these five-over field-restrictions, who should bowl in them, which player to substitute and at what point. Where to put the fielders will be the least of his worries.
    It will require a science degree to reconcile it all. And I haven't even mentioned Duckworth-Lewis.

    There will be delays - the antithesis of the one-day concept - as fields are altered, substitutes brought on and captains nip off for a lie down in a darkened room. The spectators will be bamboozled. It's just as well the ICC have abandoned their American dream (to stage World Cup matches in Florida).
    The Yanks wouldn't have a bat-in-hell's chance of understanding what's going on.

    There are some fine men on the ICC Cricket Committee making these decisions.
    And they make some good ones. For instance, announcing that bats must be made of 'a single piece of solid wood' in the light of Ricky Ponting, and others, bending the laws by using one with carbon graphite elements.

    But in the rearrangements for one-day cricket they're misguided. Maybe it was necessary to tinker with the playing conditions. But it would have been better to have kept it simple. Why not marry the concerns about increasing bat power with a new scoring value? Six has been the maximum runs attainable with one hit since 1910. Maybe in one day internationals it is the time to increase that to eight if the ball lands in the crowd or 10 if it goes out of the ground. Makes the possibility of a Flintoff or an Afridi taking 40 off an over, and the possible rejuvenation of a dead game, very real.
    One-day internationals are cricket's cash cows, and the format is a work in progress. It lends itself to experimentation. And the good thing is, its existence deters anyone from tampering with human nature taking its course in Test cricket."

    By Anonymous Rajan, at 23:16  

  • Twenty 20 is pathetic. If at all they are doing it in India, the mainstream players shouldnt be playing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 00:37  

  • Twent20 is not that big a leap from ODI as ODI themselves were from Test cricket. I think Twenty20 would be popular, would bring in more spectators even in India (well...not to the stadiums as those are full even in test matches :-) and has every chances of bringing forward more positive (and also negative) aspects of cricket which we may not conceive right now. Like the way ODI cricket livened up test matches.

    And of yes, I would not personally rate it higher than test matches or ODIs. But would still watch it since its still cricket. And once its taken up at international level, there are chances that it may be made less favourable to batsmen through more rules.

    By Blogger worma, at 02:00  

  • Though 20/20 is inevitable, I am not in favour of 20/20 cricket totally. It shouldn't be introduced at all in the under-21 or under-19 age groups as it won't teach them how to build an innings and test their temparament.

    I yearn the days of old when more than 250 runs was a winning target rather than teams scoring more than 300 every other day. With the new rules in place, it won't be too long when 400 runs would be in sight.

    If the ICC doesn't step in and do something for the bowlers, the art of bowling might just die a slow death. They might as well just run and lob the ball for the batsman to hit it wherever he pleases.

    By Blogger Blabber Guy, at 02:12  

  • I hate it I hate it I hate it!!!! It's the stupidest thing ever and should be completely banned. Just 'coz audiences are stupid enough to watch this crap doesn't mean the game should be debased and degraded like this. As it is, in pretty much every game, test or ODI, bowlers were getting it up the you-know-what - unless it was a minefield of a pitch. Now you want to create even more of a disadvantage, even more of a one-sided contest between bat and ball? I don't have a problem with teams scoring 300+ in ODI's - but at least let it be in the face of really good bowling and because of really good batting, instead of a dry placid pitch. This is friggin' ridiculous!!

    I'm out...


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03:48  

  • For a large number of spectators, I think, it's more about the players than the game. I believe 20/20 will catch on only if the biggies play.

    They did, in Pakistan, and it did seem to work.

    Even conventional domestic tournaments would do much better if the 'stars' gave it more time.

    Personally, I don't think I can ever be passionate about 20/20. It's entertainment, yes, but how long can that work?

    By Blogger Nikhil Pahwa, at 04:12  

  • Cricket's powers that be are missing out on the significant potential of getting the game into the most obvious of places for 20/20 - the US. Before everyone and their uncle jumps on me for wanting to market a format purely to sell it in a particular country, hear me out.
    The reason why there is so much competition for sports in the US is because of the incredible amount of money to be made. Ticket sales, concession stands, and, of course, sponsors. This is why the ICC keeps making attempts - however inane - to introduce cricket to the general American public. The problem is that so far, no American I know worth his/her salt could possibly sit through an entire One Day game. The closest I got was when I had a friend sit through one inning of an ODI. He was amazed when I told him that there was another session of equal length, and called it a day and got out when he could. He was even more amazed when I told him the next day that there is a concept of a 5 day game as well. Which could end in draw!
    So, getting back to my original point, 20/20 is perfect for the American audience. The game would last around as long as one of the major American sports (Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey), and would contain a lot of big hitting. While no one will be able to sway the die-hard baseball enthusiasts, there would be a good section of people who would find it more entertaining than the once-in-15-ball hits that you get in baseball. Especially if someone like ESPN decides to telecast it/show the sport on SportsCenter. The over concept is a broadcaster's dream - which other sport has an inbuilt ability in it's rules to cut to advertisements after every 10 minutes or so?! The only thing that would have to be worked out would be the timing of the season. Would you want to go head-to-head against baseball, and risk the comparisons (could be good or bad), or go up against basketball/hockey - the weaker of the major american sports - and risk getting crowded out? Or potentially have games during football season, when you can squeeze in games during the week, and thus provide the sports-mad public something to watch while they chew over their fantasy stats for the previous weeks football game.
    In terms of players and autonomy, thre are a couple of options.
    Option 1 - don't try to merge the 20/20 season in the US with the international cricket calendar. Hand over the reins to an American sports marketing organization, and let them run the show with minimal interference from the ICC. You can allow the American League (oops.. baseball analogy) to have their own "World Championship" and be happy as a stand-alone entity. Just get a (sizeable) percentage of the revenue and be happy that it is fuelling growth over the rest of the world.
    Option 2 - Structure the international cricket calendar so that there is a certain set of months where there is no international cricket and so cricketers are free to be drafted by clubs in the US (this could initially be from the Senior/A/B teams of each country). This would provide the nascent organization with players of high enough quality that the games would be interesting.


    By Anonymous Senthil, at 04:32  

  • What has twenty20 got to do with game favouring batsmen ?? Change the rules, make it more even. Its not the 20 overs' fault :-)
    As I said, I may not be passionate about it, but it still has a place in cricket. And we don't yet know how adversely would it affect normal cricket. A lot of presumptions going around !

    By Blogger worma, at 09:38  

  • I really liked senthil's suggestion- market the game in the US, make it complementary with the ICC cricket calender and given backing from sponsors, a reasonably large diaspora that is interested in cricket, this might just work very well. As for players, not every big player has to come, or would be good at it (i would not like seeing Laxman play this form of cricket but Sehwag would revel in it).
    It does help the popularization of the game (some purists would call it unmitigated basterdization but thats what everyone said about one day cricket too- remember?), and would allow more players to play. Some 'pinch hitters' who would never make it in either form of cricket might be good here. We could then have three teams- one for one day, one for 20-20 and one for tests- the overlap between the first two is likely to be more. Most importantly, it would make the game more international in its appeal and reach.
    In the long run, I think it would lead to a greater appreciation for the nuances of cricket. Isnt that better than not exposing people to it at all?

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