For cricket to prosper, it is frequently suggested that more former star players need to be involved in its running. This is worth remembering when examining the radical proposals for one-day cricket to be introduced in Australia this winter. In a revolutionary departure justified by the statement "The Public told us to act and we have", the competition is unrecognisable from anything seen before. It will be played over 45 overs, instead of the international standard of 50. But that is barely the half of it. Each side will have two innings of 20 and 25 overs but with 10 wickets spread across them. They can field 12 players but only 11 can bat and field. There will be no power plays but there will be fielding restrictions at the start of each innings. Bowlers may bowl up to 12 overs (for the first time in one-day cricket, sides can use a minimum of four bowlers, not five). A point will be awarded for a lead on first innings and four points for a win. All this and yet in Test cricket, if a bowler breaks down in the first over there is still no scope for a replacement. Of six voting members of the playing conditions panel four are former internationals – Mark Taylor, Matthew Hayden, Greg Chappell and Shane Warne. It may or may not work. Presumably it depends on whether anyone can work out what on earth is going off out there. The whole ethos of one-day cricket should lie in its simplicity.
Swann in Laker's footsteps
Graeme Swann's first six-wicket haul in Tests puts him closer to being among the top 20 England bowlers of all time. In the ICC ratings he has 796 points (behind Dale Steyn and Mohammad Asif). This new high total puts him in 22nd place among England bowlers, one point behind fellow off-spinner Fred Titmus. Only one other off-break bowler, Jim Laker, has achieved a higher rating, though since that was 897, Swann has a little way to go before being judged England's best in the category.
Sky's in for the long haul
The Test between England and Pakistan at The Oval will be the 150th screened by Sky (those who want cricket back on the hopelessly unbothered BBC may like to know). That's 298,384 deliveries, covering a distance of 6.5 million yards if each ball is measured from stump to stump. That converts to 3,730 miles, or the distance from London to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
Opening the record books
One of the most treasured of all English Test batting records seems about to be toppled at The Oval. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook have now put on 3,183 runs for the first wicket, only 66 behind the total of the immortal Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe from 1924-30. It will have taken Strauss and Cook nearly 40 innings more. Good luck to them, records are made to be broken and all that. But when they pass 3,249 a little bit of history will sadly be changed forever.