England win a one-day series

Even I, an insufferable cynic of one-day cricket, had to be impressed by England today. In fact, they have been the better team all series. Athletic in the field, imaginative and flexible with the ball, generally industrious with the bat and captained sensibly by Paul Collingwood.

Your thoughts on the match and series? Is this the turning point or were Sri Lanka caught napping in light of being Muraliless?

A necessary evil

I have to disagree with what Will’s written below, if only indirectly.

By this I mean that I too wish that there were less cricket, and fewer meaningless one-day nothings. But the reality is that international cricket must turn a hefty profit, seeing as domestic cricket everywhere in the world – and Test cricket in some countries – does not. To fuel the intense growth the sport needs in order to survive, it has to reach as many people as possible. And if you’re not sure that’s a good thing to be aiming for, consider this: a generation ago, the only way of following overseas tours was in the paper the next morning or in a 30-second report on the news. TV and the web have made cricket global, and it’s benefited all of us.

And thus the pointless but necessary one-day treadmill. But it’s not like all this extra cricket is being shoved down our throats against our will. If real cricket fans weren’t prepared to watch and pay for it, it wouldn’t happen. The cricket boards, the ICC and the executives are only meeting demand.

Of course we’re worried about standards, and we’re right to rail at the greed of those in charge. But we shouldn’t discard a formula that has given fans greater access to cricket than ever before. Besides, the only people who could realistically do something about it if they wanted to are the players themselves, and apart from the odd muttered protest, they’ve been strangely inactive on the issue.

A final thought. This time last year England were in exactly the same position – thrown into an Ashes series straight after a major tournament. Back then the criticism was not that England were playing too much cricket, but not enough. We have to strike a balance somewhere.

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.

Lord’s moves out of the Dark Ages

In the beginning was Lord’s. And all around was a formless void, swathed in darkness. And the MCC said: “Let there be light,” and light appeared. And 5,000 fans saw that the light was good, even though it was only temporary. And the local residents didn’t kick up too much of a fuss. And thus Lord’s took a bold step into the 21st century.

From the distinct lack of glitz on display on Monday night, It’s immediately clear that night cricket at Lord’s will never enjoy the same raucous atmosphere it does at The Oval. But then again, nor should it. The long overdue experiment will hopefully transform the Lord’s experience into something more thrilling and inclusive whilst retaining its respectful eloquence. Day-night games at Lord’s will feel rather like a garden party to which the whole family is invited. There really is no reason why floodlights should automatically be synonymous with furry mascots and Gwen Stefani.

Live chat: England v India, 5th ODI, Headingley

So, the fifth of seven one-dayers is upon us and England are sensing a series win. Can they do it or will India bite back? Keep an eye on Cricinfo and leave your musings and observations below.

What a difference a year makes

Have a look at this. It’s Cricinfo from today, September 1 2007.

A screenshot of Cricinfo

Now then. When you manage a site as popular as Cricinfo, it’s especially important we keep our headlines fresh, sharp – and above all, accurate. So when I noticed a colleague had altered the clusters and changed the top headline to “Ruthless,” it struck a chord. Ruthless? This England? Really?

But, in this series at least, they are and they have been. And who’d have thought it after the utter shambles of last year? What a difference a year can make.

Bopara and Broad enthrall Manchester

Why am I writing a piece for The Corridor when I’ve got a site of my own? Because I’m still ridiculously overexcited about England’s run-chase yesterday, that’s why.

I went to the fourth one-day international at Old Trafford yesterday and having been pretty comprehensively wowed by Stuart Broad’s and Ravi Bopara’s fightback, I made a point of watching the highlights on Channel 5. As is so often the case, the truncated version didn’t give the full effect. England were down and out. Wickets had fallen fairly regularly all day and with even more haste during England’s run chase. England had scored 114 when the seventh wicket fell, but that seventh wicket had been Paul Collingwood who’d scored the bulk of England’s total. The crowd knew that the game was up, so they did what they always do at times like this: Mexican waves, beer snakes and general merriment. In short, anything but watching the cricket.

So having lost seven wickets inside 24 overs, England then lost none in the next 24. The performance of Broad and Bopara was so impressive that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.

I’ve never seen a crowd do that before.

Live chat: England v India, 2nd ODI, Bristol

After a near-to-perfect one-dayer as England have played in a long while, it’s a rare sunny day at Bristol for today’s game. India have won the toss again, and there was no hesitation from Rahul Dravid this time in putting England in the field. A couple of changes for both sides: India’s flu bug has forced Zaheer Khan out for Munaf Patel, and India’s tail looks long compared to England’s middle-order of allrounders. The hosts have only one change – Tremlett replacing Panesar.

It’s turnaround, and it will be interesting to see how England’s inexperienced bowling attack cope without runs in the bank. Follow the action on cricinfo and leave your comments and predictions below.

India to unleash the Powar

It seems Ramesh Powar might be given a chance in today’s second one-day between England and India at Bristol, and three cheers for that. Powar is not your average svelte cricketer. In fact, he makes Inzamam look decidedly anorexic. There really are far too few rotund players in the world. The fatter the better, I say.

By all accounts, Powar’s really rather good too – probably better than the merely ‘useful’ tag he has earned. And Michael Vaughan is a little worried about the impact Powar could have, saying he “is a clever, clever bowler who will be a big threat to us in the middle period”.

Tonight’s match is a day-nighter, which is an utter pain in the derriere as it won’t start before 5pm in India, and I also happen to be staying in a place which doesn’t serve alcohol. I’ve tried doubling the dose of lime in my Fresh Lime Soda, but the results are not good for my stomach or my fellow patrons.

Excusing India’s defeat

I’m in India, hence the total lack of any posts here (bar Ian’s – thanks), but while I was wolfing my breakfast this morning I read a curious sub-header in today’s Hindu. I don’t have it in front of me now, so forgive me if it’s not entirely accurate, but it said of Dravid’s decision to field first: “Probably due to extensive cloud cover”. The partisanship here is like no other country. Face it; England outplayed you.

The channel I watched it on contained commentators who shared a mixture of English and Hindu. But when Sachin was scratching around, as is his modern wont, any drive which pinged off his bat was met with “What a shot! What a shot there from Sachin Tendulkar…and it’s fielded in the covers preventing the single”.

Anyway, it’s a topic for another day. Here’s the brilliant contraption in which I was pushed up 46kms of India’s “Blue Mountains,” the Nilgiris. It really is spectacular here.

A steam train, the Nilgiri Express, pushed us up the mountain