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Future of one day cricket

Category: Cricket. Published: 21 Sep 2009

Following the success of 20/20 cricket in recent years there has been a lot of talk in the media about possible changes to one day cricket. The changes suggested are to reduce the number of overs and/or play the game over four innings.

England will no longer have a domestic 50-over a match competition -- from next season (2010) they will be replaced by a 40-over competition, as well as the 20 over variety. South Africa currently only have a 45-over competition.

The middle overs of a 50-over match are usually dull and boring. These overs in particular encourage poor players -- those bowlers who can bowl over after over without being hit around, but never likely to get a good batsman out; and those batsmen who can score a single off every ball but never look like scoring a boundary.

I'd be happy to see those overs removed, reducing the game to 40 overs each, but I'd go further with the changes.

Why should there be a limit on the number of overs that a bowler is allowed to bowl? There's no limit on the number of balls a batsman can face so why should a bowler be limited? Everyone wants to see the best batsmen batting and the best bowlers bowling. If the game is reduced to 40 overs there would be the opportunity for a bowler to bowl 20 overs, although that would be unlikely -- most teams would still have four specialist bowlers, but it means that if one or two are bowling particularly well, or one or two particularly poorly, the captain can keep the good ones on and keep the poor ones off.

Commentators generally agree that the power play changes are a good thing, so why not have the same fielding restrictions for the whole game? Keeping the fielders in would encourage bowlers to take wickets, meaning more attacking bowlers would be selected, making for more interesting cricket. Attacking batsmen would also be rewarded, because there would be more opportunity to score boundaries with good, proper cricket shots.

The current fielding restrictions and defensive bowling mean that bad cricket shots, like an outside edge usually runs away to the boundary, whereas a text-book cover drive is likely to only score a single. Changing the restrictions on bowling and forcing a more attacking field will result in proper games of cricket with better cricket being rewarded and poorer cricket being punished.

I don't like the current rule of changing the ball after 34 overs -- yet another rule designed to help batsmen. There used to be a new ball used from each end, but this was changed to help batsmen, then it was found that a white ball gets dirty, making it difficult for the batsmen to pick up in later overs. The white ball should be able to last 40 overs.

I'm not convinced that playing the game over four innings is a good idea. This would mean that the game would essentially become two 20/20 games. It seems to me that 20/20 is the game that 50-over cricket thought it was. Playing a 40 or 50-over match over two innings per team would be a compromise to replace the two forms of the game, but if both forms are to be continued it would be better to make them as different as possible. The 20/20 format is not real cricket -- it's more about entertainment -- but it's popular and brings new spectators to the game so keep it as is. To differentiate the two formats, the longer form of the limited over game should become more like real cricket.

Commentators have stated that viewers must be happy with the current format as the grounds are full -- but as there is a limited number of international games on each ground per season then it's likely that people would turn up to an international match on their home ground no matter what format of game was played.

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