On the Front Foot: One-dayers happened by accident but the appeal is still unlimited

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The Independent Online

It is 40 years since the first one-day international, between England and Australia, was played.

The official anniversary was on 5 January and yesterday, on the eve of another one-day series between the countries, the occasion was marked with an official reception at Government House. In attendance were the entire Australia team from 1971 and the man of the match, an Englishman.

Although England lost by five wickets, the award went to John Edrich, who scored 82 from 119 balls, the first half-century in one-day internationals. Andrew Strauss, chronologically the 26th of England's 29 captains, said yesterday: "The one-day form of the game has proved to be very resilient and highly entertaining. In this day and age people look at Twenty20 and talk about how successful and what a big impact it's made on the game of cricket. But 50-overs has been the mainstay over the last 20 to 30 years. It's been a great addition to the game of cricket and for us to be here 40 years on and playing the game with a massive World Cup around the corner is pretty exciting."

Well said, and a pertinent rejoinder to the fuddy-duddy brigade who think that man can live on Test cricket alone. He cannot – the balance is the key. One-day cricket was born accidentally because the first four days of the Melbourne Test were washed out.

Another Test was hurriedly arranged (without consulting the players) as was the one-day match. Superb idea though it may have been, there was not another for 19 months, when Australia came to England.

It was slow to take off, and in the early days there was no uniform length: 55 overs in England, 50 in Australia, often 40 on the subcontinent, and 60 in the first three World Cups before 50 became the norm. And that accidental inaugural match consisted of 40 eight-ball overs. Four of the Australians, including their captain, Bill Lawry, never played another one-dayer.

It makes a world of difference

Two trophies vied for attention at the MCG yesterday: the Commonwealth Bank Trophy and the World Cup, on a tour of duty in Australia. Everybody was much too polite to say so but both captains would happily concede this series' CB if they could only get their hands on the other gong.

Bowl short of a length

Apart from being perhaps the fastest opening attack of all time, the pair who shared the new ball in the Twenty20 games may have another distinction. Has any opening pair ever had so few letters in their surnames as Shaun Tait and Brett Lee?

And only four syllables among them. OTFF is willing to be proved wrong.

Old head on young shoulders

Rightly, much was made of the youth of Chris Woakes when he batted England to victory in the first Twenty20.

Surprisingly, at 21 years and 314 days he was only the fifth youngest to play T20 for England after: Stuart Broad (20 years 165 days), Liam Plunkett (21 years 20 days), Tim Bresnan (21 years 107 days) and Adil Rashid (21 years 108 days).