Secret ingredient needed to spice up 50-over game

Among the hot topics of the summer is the future of 50-over cricket. In some quarters indeed, wherein reside the deepest thinkers of how the game should evolve, it is the hottest topic.

The trouble with the 50-over format is that it has become predictable. No less a figure than Sachin Tendulkar said the other day that the outcome of 75 per cent of matches is known at the toss. Tendulkar has played in 425 of them – only Sanath Jayasuriya has appeared in more – and scored 16,684 runs, 3,682 more than anybody else, so he might have a teensy-weensy idea of what is going on out there.

Tendulkar's preferred amendment is that the total of 100 overs allocated should be divided into four so that team A has 25 overs, team B has 25, team A finishes off and is followed by team B. He rightly thinks this would go some way to negating the advantage of the toss in day-night matches, which are now the majority.

But it would add a further complication to a game that is supposed to be straightforward. It would not be a two innings match but a one innings match divided by two. Batsmen would not know whether they were coming or going, there would be an unnatural flow to the game, like forcing a river to alter course.

But it is not merely toss and effect, of course. It is the manner in which the players approach the game. Between roughly the 20th over and the 40th in most innings of one-day internationals the game is put in a kind of suspended animation in which the bowlers bowl and the batsmen bat, but only way, as if by unspoken agreement.

Defensive fields are set, runs are nurdled and squeezed rather than struck, it is risk-free on both sides. Anything beyond is a bonus. Things start to happen again in the 40th over. It was like that at Lord's again yesterday. Australia, having reach 75 for three off 20 overs, were 169 for six from 40 and then added 80 in the final 10. Perfectly innocent Sunday afternoon slumbers were disturbed all round the ground.

It is formulaic cricket, which the introduction of power plays has not fully addressed, and its torpid effect has been aggravated by the advent of Twenty20 which is not perpetually exciting but is short. And at least in 20-over cricket, somebody is always trying something.

Of course, it is probably worth saying that to those who do not watch much 50-over cricket, this is not especially noticeable yet but it is only a matter of time and then it will be too late.

Nothing official has been said or done but talks are already being conducted in the corridors of cricketing power. The England and Wales Cricket Board has nailed its colours to the mast so firmly that it would need the services of at least a jemmy and possibly some mild explosive to loosen them.

From next summer there will be no 50-over competition as part of the domestic structure. Whatever the ECB declares about the insignificance of this decision, it should not be swallowed. Twenty-over cricket and 40-over cricket, which the counties will play instead cannot be a proper preparation for 50-over international cricket.

Either the ECB knows something or it is flexing its muscles to seek a change after the 2011 World Cup. The television companies, who do not run cricket but do make it commercially viable, may have something to say yet on two grounds: first 50-over cricket may still appeal to large audiences and second it can include a heck of a lot more advertising than T20.

Ultimately, however, one-day cricket is meant to excite, entertain and be unpredictable and if it is not doing that now, it will move from withering to perishing.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor