40 over cricket. This is the a topic that hasn't just been brought to attention over night. In fact it is a debate that has exploded as a result of the continual concerns Officials have expressed with regards to the looming demise of limited overs cricket, generally known as One Day International cricket, consisting of 50 overs a side.
As a cricket tradtionalist I am fond of One Day cricket as it's the form of the game I was first exposed to growing up. I believe it still sets a massive challenge for the modern day cricketer and that these games still have alot to offer the viewing public. But, there is no doubt that the format is losing popularity. What follows is an analysis of the 40 over vs 50 over debate.
40 over cricket could work very well. Simply strip off 10 overs per innings to make the 100 over game 80 overs in total. This would easily reduce well over an hour's worth of cricket while also ensuring a cricket battle that still has the essence of 50 over cricket, but by being reduced it will just add to the intensity and urgency within the match.
If anything it is a time saver with games probably producing a more difficult outlook for the result, having fewer overs may even level the playing field to keep interest-levels peaked.
The format has been tested and implemented in both the South African and English domestic circuits with successful results. Both these domestic circuits are competitive so having seen positive results emerge is great for the elite level of the game. If games also start at the usual time with shorter lunch/supper intervals, teams batting second may be at less of an advantage come night cricket where dew factors may not be as big an influence. At grounds where dew is an issue, come the Toss in an ODI, the team batting second will often feel discouraged immediately with the knowledge that if their opponents get away with the bat, their chances are minimised.
There are benefits with the 20 over total reduction for time, interest levels and the players energy levels.
I'd be happy to see 40 over cricket introduced as it still has the framework of the One Day game as we currently know it.
Traditional ODI cricketers will still be able to perform as they have done in the Domestic circuits following through the elite level and the Twenty20 specialist can have a blast as well, very much how we see it in 50 over cricket!
The latest innovative idea has been the concept of two innings each, consisting of 20 or 25 overs per side doubled up. So it's the batting structure of Test cricket, only tailored for the limited overs game. Even more analytically, it is two Twenty20 matches in one game.
Sure, it's an interesting enough concept Cricket Australia has come up with, but I do see potential damage with such a format.
Firstly, this wouldn't work at 25 overs per side. The time from switching after each innings, teams still needing decent time out after a total of 50 overs will be needed for their energy levels and the game will still be lengthy.
Secondly, it seems it will still be tailored to the Twenty20 specialists, where elements of the shortest form of the game become predominant in the tactical approach. I think many existing ODI cricketers would find this difficult, assuming teams would start again from scratch come their second innings.
Statistically it won't offer a cricketer the satisfaction they strive for from a performance perspective in reaching that classy century with a blend of aggression and patience or a bowler having sufficient time to work the batsman over.
A bowler has some advantage in the ODI format, where come Twenty20 it's the batsman's zones, generally speaking.
Thirdly, I think the momentum can be lost for both the viewer and the players. It will be testing on a players fitness and I think this is an innovation that would need to be seriously considered from these perspectives. It could even have drastic affects on the current playing field of ODI contenders as we know it.
The positives are there though. The disadvatages regarding conditions get evened out with the dual innings approach. It would give the supporter a chance to see their best players performing twice in a match with their respective strength and it would make for interesting debate during the matches from a tactical perspective as well as seeing how teams strategise. I think it would be safe to consider the realistic fact that we would not be seeing a revamp of ODI cricket but instead a whole new format!
With a new format it concerns me that we would maybe see the demise of ODI cricket for certain as this innovation would destroy every record, every achievement and every memorable game we have seen in ODI cricket. They were brought about within the framwork of ODI cricket. This innovation wouldn't be comparable, it would be unique.
Ultimately all the ODI history would be erased and any achievements that would follow on would be of a different nature and cricketing approach presented by the players.
That is a huge risk and threat to a form of the game the cricket traditionalists are passionate about.
And even if the idea of a dual innings was adopted, it would be in the best interests of everyone to make sure it was only implemented after the 2011 World Cup as this is still the test of 50 over Cricket.
What would happen to World Cup cricket? With 40 over cricket it would still be able to exist but with the innovation once again with Cricket Australia's suggestion, all the history will be tossed away and trampled on.
Killing the legacy and brilliance of a game driven by tradition and intriguing results just shows respect is being disregarded and it angers me to think the 'McDonalds mentality' will be the approach embraced in cricket, where it's about how much you can take as quickly as you can with no care of the consequence
It will be a sad day for Cricket.
The direct reason I hinted at in the introduction that has not helped the defence of ODI cricket is 'Overkill Cricket'.
There is too much Cricket played and ODI cricket tops this chart! Look how many players are injured in the modern game. That should be an indicator that player fatigue isn't a major consideration anymore when it comes to cramming fixtures anywhere and everywhere. With exhausted players playing series after series, where the results don't mean that much at times, the quality deteriorates and we have to suffer through it.
7 ODIs? Why 7? It's because bottom-line is more important to the Cricketing Bodies.
5 ODIs? Surely that's adequate so that people won't get sick of 50 over Cricket?
Having all these ODI games isn't doing any favors to protect this form of the game.
3 ODIs would be the best way to go as a general rule and then depending on the nature of the matches competition it could be pushed to 5 games. I can assure you we wouldn't have to worry about games being poorly attended such as the MCG dealt with last summer! That's just a solution that hopefully the big cheeses of cricket will realise.
Ricky Ponting has also expressed his concerns regarding 'overkill cricket' and how he strongly believes it's affected both the ODI format and the fans interest to show up game after game. In a Cricinfo.com source after the MCG recorded a low showing of supporters for the Australia's final ODI game against the West Indies last summer Ponting stated, "I'm not sure if the lack of contest had anything to do with it all, I just think we've played a whole lot. You look at all the days of cricket that the public have had to pay and go and watch through the summer, I think that's probably the reason why the numbers have dwindled off in the last week." With a problem like this being present, a cause and solution need to be considered quickly especially coming from a Maestro of the modern day game! Ponting himself is a tradionalist and I generally agree with the majority of his statements and take him very seriously on topics such as these.
I do have to laugh though when I see who the majority of these people are that bring forward these ideas or calling for the 50 over game to be put to rest.
It's not the supporters of the teams or the cricket fanatics who pay good money to go and watch games, the ones who leave their beds and forgo sleep in the early morning hours, with dedication to watch their side wanting only the reward of quality cricket.
It's become clear that the fans don't matter as much anymore. The majority of these people we hear from are in fact generally Retired Cricketers or Cricketing Officials who probably don't pay a cent to get into a game or because their time is up they don't care a great deal about the finer details.
I think the supporters, who actually keep the game alive, should be the ones who get considered with these potential changes and what they think. Proper research and a solid strategy from the ICC will be the key to seeing which way the Limited Overs cricket should go, and then see how the Domestic circuits respond globally to see if there is an International prospect.
So, 40 over cricket? I don't think it would be a concern and I'm sure it would work. But this dual over proposal? I wouldn't touch it and I would be gutted if we saw it get introduced for what damage it would do on a qualitative and historical level. I just hope that with these debates, where panic is apparent, that the right choice will be made with the best interests of the supporters, the players and the game of cricket being seriously considered.
Now as for night Test Cricket? Don't even get me started on this daft idea!