Thursday 5 July 2007

How much is too much?

Amidst the excitement over India’s fine series win over South Africa, the disappointment over the washout of India Vs Pakistan tie and the sad demise of Dilip ‘Sardee man’ Sardesai, one news seems to have quietly escaped everyone’s attention.

Given the low key reaction to it, I can’t say for certain that this news is not a part of speculative reporting. I only hope it is not.

The International Cricket Council has finally put a cap on the number of tests, ODIs and Twenty20 matches that can be played in a series. It has also decided that the maximum number of Twenty20 matches in a year be capped to seven per team.

ICC has in past, tried out several things to reduce the stalemate that seemed to afflict the game. Super subs, power plays etc were intended to make cricket - ODIs in particular - more exciting. Some of these steps met with moderate success while a few were discarded altogether.

But in terms of sheer impact on the game – in a positive way - I cannot think of any other decision in the recent past, which comes even close to the one currently proposed by the ICC.

It is no coincidence that the decision to limit the number of matches comes against the back drop of India playing seven ODI matches against England this summer and an Englishman, David Morgan, assuming the charge as ICC president. There is an ‘English feel’ to it. And if I may add, also a distinctly ‘unIndian’ one. But even at the risk of sounding like an apologist to the ‘Raj’, I welcome it whole heartedly.

So, how much cricket is too much cricket?

Quantifying the number of matches, would lead to a raging debate. Nonetheless, I am willing to stick my neck out. I believe the number of Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s must be limited to 12, 25 and 10 respectively (give and take a couple), per team per annum.

Not only would it leave enough time to arrange first class matches on an overseas tour, it would also allow players time to recuperate from their injuries. A positive spin off would be the incentive it provides to test players to hone their skills in domestic cricket, thereby making it (the domestic cricket) exciting and competitive.

Having said that, I am not oblivious to the fact that money is integral to the development and sustenance of the game. I believe even with a cap on the number of games, money can still be kept in a ‘free flowing’ mode.

A mere glance at the cricketing calendar of test playing nations suggests that the game can be played 365 days a year, even with the embargo on. February- April in West Indies, May to August in England, Sept - Dec in Sri Lanka and Sept – March in India, Pakistan, Australia, SA and New Zealand. With some more innovation, imagination and a generous sprinkling of common sense, ICC can arrive at a much better schedule than it does at the moment.

Noted New York Times columnist and author, Thomas Friedman, mentions Dov Seidman’s book titled ‘How’ in his recent column. It delves on how the ‘Hows’ matter more than the ‘Whats’ in today’s rapidly changing world, whether corporate or everyday life.

With a cap on the number of matches, ICC has got it’s ‘Whats’ right. Can it summon some more common sense and get its ‘Hows’ right too?

I would dearly hope so.

13 comments:

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Homer said...

good luck trying to convince Lalit Modi that less is more..

The ICC will stumble on the How - the reason being that individual boards will strongly resent being told how they should or shouldn't run their schedules ( outside of the FTP).

straight point said...

i feel with so much of commercialism and money involved it will be near impossible to reverse the tempo. the more quickly we understands this will be better.

i don't know about the report but ICC has not official confirmed this. and even if they will do it will merely be hogwash.

i too agree with homer that individual boards will strongly oppose the idea.

the only escape on this issue is to create a pool of 20-25 players who will be rotated to ease burn out issue.

Cricket Guru said...

I agree the only way is to have a pool of 25 cricketers, so that the question of burn out can be addressed. But tell me, how many teams other than Australia have the required infrastructure/talent pool to select from? Most of the test nations struggle to put together even 11 quality players.

I don't know how I missed referring to it in my main post, but here is an interesting post - Managing for Growth - by Golandaaz on www.thegameofcricket.blogspot.com

http://thegameofcricket.blogspot.com/2007/06/managing-for-growth.html

granderBharata said...

well

i feel its ok.

You should rotate your squad a bit more

instead of having a 15 member tour party , why not have hmm 18 members.

Fitness levels have increased a lot since cricket first bagan.

If we want cricket to compete with football (lets face it they play a lot more than cricket) ODIs are needed to fund the bill.

More money has brought better and new stadiums to india.People need to get out of this socialist attitude and let the money be poured into the infrastructure.

Also may i add India play less test matches than england and aus. If ya add the total number of day played together its probably less than england or aus.

Homer said...

cricket guru,

I disagree strongly that no country outside of Australia have the talent pool/infrastructure to choose a pool of 25 players to choose from.

In fact, even Australia will be hard pressed to bring about a squad of 25 quality players together.

Because Dan Cullen and Nathan Hauritz and Cameron White combined are not a patch on Shane Warne.

Now, Australian infrastructure did not come about overnight. Cricket Australia made the necessary investment and continues to do so today. What we see today are the fruits of the investments 20-25 years ago.

BCCI has the money, not the will, to constructively invest in India's cricketing infrastructure.

As regards the talent pool, we are better placed than many in the cricketing world.

Cheers

Soulberry said...

It sure is, CG. One of the better decisions by ICC. What remains to be seen is how far the signpost stands by the highwayside.

Some boards are mad-max truckers.

Cricket Guru said...

@ GB,
I am not saying money ain't good. My point is that ICC can make enough money even with limited number of matches. May be they can encourage domestic cricket and other like tournaments to keep the players and fans interested.

@Homer,
If there is any team capable of selecting 25 players good enough to play test cricket, it is Australia. Cullen and Hauritz may not be even half as good as Warne et al, but the fact remains that they are way ahead of anyone from the second string team that other nations would stitch together.

@SB,
I knew you would concur with me on the cap on matches.

Pankaj said...

It is time more than one league of competitive cricket was allowed internationally, all leagues being assigned the same international level. I strongly believe, India could easily have 2-3 good sides to play with each other and the other playing nations as well, provided the game was planned and promoted properly.

IndianBuddy

Soulberry said...

The argument put forth by some members of a few cricket boards (mainly the murmurings of boards with heavy television investment) who don't like it, is that cricket must grow, the player pool has to expand, it's inevitable..etc.

Now, we could have quantity instead of quality. Like CG pointed out, perhaps only Australia is the one team that can have competitive teams in both forms of the game with their reserves. In test cricket, maybe England can have a team that stands up. Even SA isn't comfortable any longer as regards player-pool with the exodus of talented players through the KOLPAK route to England.

Closer home, we saw what can happen by expanding the senior pool without strong fundamentals feeding the team. In a sense, the India team was as good as India A team for a while, used for checking out players. The two teams were fused into one. That wasn't the way, as well saw.

Clearly, the feeding base has to be fertile and verdant. Effort must be made there. The best of domestic structure must be played in future tours (as A tours are called now) against good countries like Lanka and England have(not Zim and Kenya). From there the pool can be expanded so that we can have undiluted quality among the quantity.

Till other countries pull their infrastructure up to at least the current Australian level, the caps would be welcome.

I'm not sure I'll enjoy seeing a game every day on the telly (maybe two) with average players.

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