The thing that didn’t happen

Watching glimpses of the India vs Australia and Sri Lanka vs England ODI series, I’ve been struck by just how conventional these ODI games have been. We were told last month that the arrival of the Twenty20 game would revolutionise tactics and game-plans in the 50 over game.

But it hasn’t happened. The Sri Lanka vs England games were especially low-scoring, attritional affairs, and that played right into England’s hands. No doubt the slow and difficult batting conditions contributed to that. But even in relatively free-scoring Indian venues, the same old rhymes and rythyms of the 50 over game have continued.

It is early days, of course, but what this might point to is that there is little real impact that the two games can have on each other. Those extra thirty overs are clearly making a difference to the way that teams go about their business. I cheerfully confess to being surprised by this turn of events.

Rest in peace, 50-over cricket?

Today’s match, the final of the World Twenty20, was a real cracker; a low-scoring thriller decided in the final over. A fitting finale (if not tribute) to the tournament, some are saying. And I dread to think of India’s reaction to it all. “The greatest day in Indian cricket history!” will be a penned as a headline, somewhere, on a newspaper, website, blog or city wall shortly I’m sure.

But hang on a minute. Is this tournament a viable replacement, as many advocate it should be, to 50-over cricket, a format that has been in place for 45 years? Are we not shortening the games for shortening’s sake?

One-dayers began as 65 overs. Then they were reduced to 60; cut to 50; snipped to 40; bolstered to 45 before levelling off at 50. Until the ECB, panicking at a decline in gate receipts, thought they’d try something new and they cut the whole thing in half again.

Twenty20 appears to have re-energised an ageing format (and game), and so it has. But how long before this too becomes stale and we watch hour-long Ten10 games?

My hunch is that we’re a few years away from Twenty20 becoming the dominant one-day format, but I’m sure it’ll happen. It’s fun, it’s new and different but it’s still one-day cricket and, thus, it sucks rather a lot. As long as they leave Tests well alone; in fact I think Inzamam-ul-Haq wants them extended to six days! Much, much more like it.

Your thoughts please.