22 September 2009

FAR TOO MUCH CRICKET, NOT ENOUGH QUALITY CRICKET

"I've always been against seven-match series," Ponting said after Australia's loss in the last game. "Every other team is in South Africa playing practice matches while we're finishing off this series. We know the reasons for it, but seven games head to head is a bit too many." (source: Cricinfo.com)

Punter stating the above like it is, which is something we can all agree with.
Maybe the 7 matches is to give the English crowds a fair share of the entertainment, maybe is to increase the revenue to the associated grounds or the ECB? Maybe it is there too give some leverage to 50 over cricket?
But it is still clear that 7 back to back ODI's is too much cricket, especially after an Ashes series.
Being so close to the Champions Trophy, as Punter stated, the ODI series hasn't given the players much time to re-energise their batteries and get in some warm-up games like the other six teams have been able to do! While not a serious issue it can be concerning for the players. But it wasn't too long ago the team was in South Africa so it shouldn't be too tricky, not to mention there was a rotation policy amongst the squad during the recent One Day series.
5 ODI's is with little doubt the correct setup for teams, worthy teams to combat, to battle for a result that can be bashed in away in a little more than a week of cricket, not exhausting players and likely to keep viewers' interest levels up.
England were already 5-0 down by the 5th ODI and the motivation was rather dull for them with two games to have to go out and try see it till the end.
Furthermore while I do believe in backing your team till the end, even if victory is not in sight, it can't be easy for English fans to keep showing up to all the games when the series was not only dominated by Aussie, but more so to see England constantly getting washed to shore time and time again. While I am proud the boys cleaned them out in the series, it is something to seriously consider shortening despite the mentioned possibilities for the 7 matches.

The ICC has to make a serious plan to adjust the tournaments that occur in a calendar year. For example, after the Champions Trophy, which I really believe to be a very effective tournament, Australia head over the India for 7 ODI's!
Another series of overkill cricket, in what can be at the best of times very intense conditions to play in and for what purpose really?
5 ODI's is still highly adequate.
Also bear in mind some these guys in the team have been on the road since the South African tour started! If that doesn't wipe you out?
Sure they get to do what they love, some people envy them and wish they could have their paycheck and the experience in traveling and playing cricket in so many wonderful places etc. But when you seriously slow down and think of the different variables that build pressure around a high-profile International cricketer along with the very real fact that they too have a personal life outside the game, it is bound to hammer a players energy levels! I reckon we get much better cricket if players weren't so heavily worn out, which means player rotation policies often result in the best team not playing and results in some younger fans of the game not seeing their heroes.
If you can, just empathise for a minute on this point from a players perspective.

The above mentioned also ties together what I intend to articulate by the title of this article.
It is not intended to give the impression that I personally believe there is not quality cricket played. Far from true, in fact we have seen some unbelievable cricket in the past 2 years and with some changes in the International scene it has made it an exciting landscape. But with the amount of cricket and the notable impact too much cricket can have on the games enthusiasm levels including the players, this can be the impact upon QUALITY within cricket due to TOO MUCH cricket.

I can understand developing Nations in cricket getting their run against the top teams, but 3 Test matches is too much cricket in such an event, and even 5 ODI's is one too many.
One proposal would be to have a format for the bigger teams where 3 Test matches are played (The Ashes must not change as I believe history has a strong place in cricket) as we have seen against The Proteas and the Windies, and then only a maximum of 5 ODI's are played. Two Twenty20's is fantastic, and perhaps if an ODI series is shortened to perhaps 3 games, then 3 T20's would give sufficient entertainment? Twenty20 is seen as its own format, but it really can hype 50 over cricket!
The 50 over game will be given such a benefical boost if a structure is in place that will not only increase the viewership and interest in the format, but there may be better possibility for Marketing to take effect to give the game stronger leverage, which ultimately promotes the World Cup.
Fresher cricketers with better motivation levels, alongside stronger performances will ensure the concerned organisations see their beloved Return on Investment or free-flowing revenue. This is something the Windies could use really urgently.

But it's essential the supporters and cricket enthusiasts are taken into consideration with the future programs, as are the International cricketing bodies of the major teams.
It's about time the supporters are given what they deserve and that the logic of passion for the game should overpower the worthless barrage of glamour, cash, glitz and desperation that has placed every cricketing format under serious rethinking.
If the ICC, along with the Marketer's and the creative minds could just consider what would be best for the game of cricket, and what has worked, we may see a turnaround not only for the game itself and supporters, but the players too who go out there game by game to ensure they can entertain us.

13 comments:

Jawad said...

Australia did a decent job this series, although I feel they weren't tested enough. As Punter mentioned, practice matches in SA would've helped a great deal.

7 or even a 5 ODI match series seems lame and a drag after a 5 match TEST series. ICC is killing ODIs. I am actually quite glad to see ICC champions Trophy to be a short tournament between 8 teams.

I don't hold Australia as favorites but I wouldn't underestimate them either.They seem confident after 6 - 1 match series but inconsistency is their main problem. Mitch might need to tighten up and that middle order, especially, Hussey has to get his act together because that middle order is quite inexperienced. If he doesn't do well, i hope they kick him out. It's time for fresh blood.

Sidthegnomenator said...

I agree about Hussey, he needs to sort himself out. There looks to be quite a few replacements waiting in the wings, but it is still nice to have a bit of experience out there.

I reckon the Aussie team must be knackered at the moment, especially players like Johnson, Hauritz and Clarke who have been in the UK playing with only short rests since May.

I hope they can do well in the champion's trophy, their confidence is certainly high at the moment when it comes to the 50 over game, but - as Jawad said - they weren't really tested in the series against England, so who knows?

jawad said...

Although, I do prefer less cricket myself or should I say more "controlled" cricket. Maybe,having IPL every two years and having T20 WC every three years wouldn't be such a bad thing. It might just give it a bit more value.

At the same time, it is very funny to see how the attitude of cricketers have changed over the past couple of years, more specifically, since the IPL has taken its spot over the top. Most of the captains have come out and complained about "too much cricket" but at the same time you see these players belting it out in the IPL. Money certainly talks. I think "too much cricket" has also become an excuse for players now. India went off early in WT20 and Dhoni's main excuse was that they were "too tired." It's amazing to see how cricket in general has changed over the past two years. It almost seems like you really can't "call" on who is going to win. Yes, back in the day, there were big upsets here and there but you can atleast predict some of the strong sides to go through to the next rounds. Whether it is IPL or too much cricket, it has certainly started playing tricks on players mentality.

Although I don't think it will happen but I wouldn't be surprised if Cricket's main formats (Test and ODI) become instinct in the next 10 to 15 years. There has been alot of talk about "freelance" cricket. Symo was in the talks with a few teams around the world and Flintoff has recently refused the ECB contract. Personally, I don't think "freelance" cricket is for EVERYONE. It seems like teams prefer players who are a bit popular and are a bit outside the "norm" or should I say "unorthodox." I think players like Afridi, McCullum, Symo, Yuvraj and Gibbs would do much much better then more traditional players like Ponting or Rahul dravid. Mitchel Johnson who has the ability to bowl fast and bat at a fast pace have a good chance to make a ton of money as a freelance cricketer.

Marc said...

I think there are some fair comments made here and it is something world cricket has to consider seriously.

Did anyone have a look at how empty the Wanderers stadium was last night when Pakistan and the West Indies clashed?

Yeah I appreciate that it was a West Indies C side vs Pakistan - but maybe the point is that the fixture should never have happened in the first place. At some point it becomes expensive to keep a venue like the Wanderers open when the revenue is not being generated.

Personally I think that the ICC and South African cricket boards would have done better to have brought Bangladesh in if the West Indies could only field a mediocre side.

The point is that cricket fans are spoilt for choice in terms of the amount of cricket they can watch and if you are off the sub-continent, the number of fans doesn't justify the amount of cricket being played.

We are seeing the problems of too much cricket coming through now and there has to be some focus on quality over quantity.

Marc said...

Sorry I just wanted to add something to what you were saying about Australian players having been on the road since January when they toured South Africa.

While your guys were playing 7 meaningless ODI fixtures - c'mon they were pointless and the English didn't look like they were taking them seriously after the Ashes series - the South African players have sat with their feet up for nearly 3 months.

With due respect, which players are going to be fresher?

There are quite a few comments about the form of Mike Hussey - the guy is probably sick to death of cricket balls being bowled at him and guys like Johnson and Punter must be like dead men walking at the moment. The guys need a proper break and Australia has the depth to be able to call on some decent reserve players - maybe there just needs to be better use of the resources on hand?

Ian said...

Well I do know that is has been an issue for some of the players how their ambition gets a bit knocked with so much cricket, more so so much pointless cricket at times, although the 'pointless' part wasn't stated. I can honestly understand Huss' struggles at times. Not only do these guys have personal lives on the side but it has been non stop cricket for some of them.

The T20 champions Trophy must be every 2 years, closely in conjunction with the Champions Trophy, and the IPL should have a window gap issued by the ICC with QUALITY cricketing programs in place that fans can look forward too.
As Jawad I think mentioned it makes the events "fresher" and this will always peak interest levls at the right time.

Cricket is a big passion in my life but I even feel there is WAY TOO MUCH cricket now. I just think the upcoming 7 ODI's against India in India is going a perfect example of overkill cricket.

As for the Windies, they still have two games to go to perform, but what I think Marc mentioned was very legit.
If they cannot make a proper proposal and come to an agreement (Windies board and players association), it is unfair that a B/C team is expected to play in a major ICC contest. Not only can it affect those player's confidence but it could jeapardise the diminishing reputation of Windies cricket even more.
As a result, as Marc said, it would have been more viable to give Bangladesh a chance, especially after they cleaned up the Windies recently.

I think the solutions are obvious to sort is these problems but when you have a bunch of big-cheeses only interested in bottom line, the consumer side of the game gets neglected, and we end up being left here as a few blokes who love the game waffling on solution, but whether it gets rectified...who bloody well knows!

Thanks guys, really refreshing views.
2 days time it's back to Australian evangelism for me against the Windies.

Marc said...

You do realise of course what is going to happen. We're all going to slate the West Indies on the blog and they are going to have one flash in a pan moment and beat the Australians by a country mile leaving us with egg on our faces...

Jawad said...

ahah Marc, I'm not sure how thrilled the australians fans will be about loosing to WI. Ponting has been complaining about sending over WI B team, and well, if WI beats them on the 26th. It will be very interesting.

Sidthegnomenator said...

Jesus, Marc, if you're right I will be devastated. I can't put it any plainer, I tell you. It will be almost as bad as losing the Ashes in 2005 (I am not ashamed to say that I cried when that happened.)

Marc said...

@sid and Jawad.... Fate is a funny thing...

Ask Dale Steyn who yapped on about us being unbeatable and the best side around before we promptly lost to Sri Lanka!

Ian said...

Hence why in my last article I stated, "Judging by their performance against Pakistan, the Windies shouldn't cause us too many hassles, although I immediatly think of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe when it comes to looking at the 'weaker' teams in big-event contests and come Saturday I hope the boys are well alert and prepared to battle hard, no matter if it's a Windies B or C team."

I never underestimate the under-dogs. And in all truth Dale Steyns media statements have never gone down to well, but yeah it's true that over-confidence and trash talk can smack you in the face when you least expect it.
So I really hope the boys will remember some of the not to distant memories and not fall into that trap.

And Sid, the 2005 Ashes NEVER HAPPENED, just like England have decided 2006-07 5-0 never happened.
In honesty though that was numbing, really numbing.
We need a bit of tenacity out there and some payback victories...it's actually nice to be out for the victory kill in these tournaments

Sidthegnomenator said...

Sadly, Ian, I live in the UK - I will enver be allowed to believe that 2005 never happened.

Until I move home, of course.

My main worry now is that England will make it through to the semis of the champions' trophy and Australia won't. How can I bear that?

A one way plane ticket might sooth the pain ...

Ian said...

Don't fret Sid! We're peaking nicely in this tournament.

England have become a schitzophrenic side over night!