Friday, May 2, 2008

Too Much Cricket?

I am back to writing on the blog after some absence where life/work had just gotten too hectic for me and believe it or not cricket had taken a back seat:-)

I guess you are over the shock and disbelief of my statement if you are reading on. During this absence from the blog I began to wonder if there really is too much cricket played. I also decided to ask people here in California who come from cricket playing nations.

The unanimous feedback I got from everybody was that yes there is too much cricket played in the world and that they have lost interest in the sport. Why would somebody lose interest in this beautiful sport? Would it really be because of it being over played?

My conclusion is that even though I do feel that cricket needs to have more seasons - 9 months in the year cricket should be played and the other 3 months players should be given the chance to train, work on their fitness, etc. Much like the NBA, NFL, MLB work. However, I do not think this contributes to the general perception that interest in cricket is going down.

I do think the game needs to have a better committee that looks at rule changes. Every game needs to continue to evolve and in some other professional sports we have seen excellent rule changes that have improved the game. We have not seen the same in cricket and in fact in cricket we have seen some bizarre rule changes!

Just some food for thought - we all know that all of us are not the ones in trouble of losing interest in this beautiful sport.

Make your pitch on this post...

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21 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...

    The interest will perk up once the International matches start.

  2. Q said...

    I don't think there's such a thing as "too much cricket"... honestly I hate days when there's no cricket happening... If it were up to me I would have an international match every day of the year. Or now either an international or an IPL / ICL game.

    I don't think rules have to change much for interest in cricket to remain. Test cricket can stay the way it is for the next 100 years, I'd still watch it.

    I will admit though that I have gotten bored of the ODI format of late but even then I do watch the matches or follow them one way or another.

    ODIs need some changes. I'm not sure what, but new things have to be tried to make them more exciting. Or rather, they should be scrapped and 20-20 should take over.

  3. SledgeHammer said...

    Cricket is at a crucial juncture right now, the most significant period since the Kerry Packer days. There will be both gains and losses. Twenty20 is obviously here to stay. Tests will never go away due to tradition and true skill (even though crowd attendance is pitiful outside of Eng, Aus, and India). ODIs may suffer. Domestic leagues are increasing their prominence.

    This is a time for experimentation and so yes, there is "too much cricket" so to speak. Let the experiments succeed or fail. Over the course of 2-3 years, everything will pan out itself. The wishes of players, fans, and tradition will eventually align.

    Since the Kerry Packer days till about 2000, people were generally satisfied with the amount of cricket being played. Much has changed in technology, media, formats, $$$, players expectations, crowd demographics, etc. since 2000, and cricket is now facing that challenge.

    Cricket will survive, but it won't look the same.

  4. SledgeHammer said...

    Q - in regards to your thoughts about ODIs. How about a two-innings Twenty20, in which wickets are shared across both innings? If you lose all your wickets in your first innings - tough!

    Going a bit off topic here, I love Twenty20 and I like IPL, but the following changes need to be made to give bowlers a fair chance as well:

    - push the boundaries back to normal
    - get rid of the fielding restrictions in the first 7 overs, it's quite pointless
    - get rid of the gimmicky free hit
    - allow a max of 5 overs for at least two bowlers

  5. David Barry said...

    Sledgehammer, what you're proposing is a 40-over match split into quarters. This has been proposed in various places, but I can't for the life of me see what the attraction is in splitting it into quarters. It'll be just like 50-over cricket, with a shorter boring bit in the middle, and two needless changes of "innings".

    It'd change strategies slightly - after 20 overs you'll know how the opposition's doing - but one-sided contests will look one-sided just as early as they would anyway.

    If we want 40-over cricket, just play 40-over cricket.

  6. Q said...

    Agree with your thoughts sledge.

    I believe Australia tried out the 2 innings ODIs during one of their domestic seasons. I quite like the idea - it will be a refreshing change to the 50 over single innings a side.

    There will be new strategies and something different to watch.

    I'm not too sure what the result of the experimentation in Australia was.

    As for the bowlers case. Well I agree that the boundaries need to be pushed back. It doesnt make sense to have smaller ones. I dont have any problem with the restrictions and the free hit. I like the idea of 5 overs for 2 bowlers.

    BUT I also feel that bowlers need to pick their game up. They can't continue complaining. The likes of McGrath, Warne, Asif, Kumble have shown that good bowling doesn't get hit for runs. They have been quite economical as have Afridi and Vettori. So if these can, why can't the others?

  7. SledgeHammer said...

    @david: True, I can see how this format is not great. However, there are additional changes in strategies, such as not always sending your best batsmen in the Top 5 or 6. You may need to save a batsman for the next innings, so you send out a "nightwatchman" to see out the innings. etc.

    Still, maybe 50-over ODI is fine as it is. It will though take a backseat to Twenty20 with the way things are going.

  8. David Barry said...

    Having gone on a Google, I found one useful thing that would come out of 4x25 or 4x20, namely reducing the impact of the toss. Both sides would have up to 25 overs in similar conditions, which would eliminate the usual bias towards the team batting first in day-night matches.

    You'd be left with the natural advantage for the team batting second (they know what the target is), but that advantage would be reduced, since they won't know the final target until after they've batted 25 overs.

  9. David Barry said...

    Nightwatchmen are bad.

  10. SledgeHammer said...

    @Q: Afridi and Asif have not been very economical at all (both above 8). Neither has Warne really (close to 8).

    Definitely bowlers need to pick things up. But the more rules that are pitted against them, the more difficult it is.

    Plus, my fear is that over time it may not really make a difference who is bowling. Since wicket taking is not as important anymore, and the econ rates may not differ that much. So you will end up with teams with just a couple of specialist bowlers at most, and several part-timers.

    Free hit is ridiculous. I agree that it has worked (in reducing the number of overstepping noballs). Maybe add another run to the punishment for an overstep if you want (i.e. total of 2 runs, plus an extra ball). But this "I can't get out on the free hit" thing is weird, especially in a game of just twenty overs, where batsmen have more than enough opportunity to take risks.

    And also, there is no old ball magic anymore. It seems like they want bowlers to just be there to throw the ball, rather than to make an impact (there are exceptions of course, but they are too few in number).

  11. Q said...

    DB, thats actually quite a significant change. It will solve all the problems associated with dew, changing the white ball, etc etc.

    Im not a fan of nightwatchmen but if we had 2 innings ODIs it will be interesting to think whether an Adam Gilchrist should bat in first 25 or next 25.

    most teams would probably divide their batting line up into 2 with 3 top order batsmen to bat in each 25 or 20 over inning. An allrounder in each, a tailender in the 1st and 2 tailenders in the 2nd.. It could be exciting.

  12. Q said...

    Oh and that would change team combinations as well. For example playing with 4 openers - 2 for each innings..

  13. David Barry said...

    Sledgehammer, with IPL stats we're going to all have to start thinking relative to an average run rate of about 8.5 (that was the overall average rate a couple of days ago). Bowlers who concede less than that are doing better than average. So "almost 8" is quite good.

    I quite like the free hit, and though I'm too traditionalist to want it in Test cricket, it does return in spirit to the old back-foot no-ball. Umpires can call back-foot no-balls early enough so that the batsman knowingly gets a free hit. This has been denied to players post-1967, but now it's back, albeit on the following ball.

  14. David Barry said...

    Q, I really couldn't see batting orders changing in 4x25. If you throw tail-enders into the first 25, then the batsmen you've got left for the second 25 are going to risk running out of partners really quickly.

  15. SledgeHammer said...

    @david: I know that the average score is higher, but the likes of Asif, Afridi, and Warne are well below the median mark. Whereas Mohammad Hafeez is at the top.

    My point is that bowling quality will not matter that much anymore. Good bowlers will basically get spanked as much as a part-timer. If I had $100 million and owned an IPL team, I would only keep 1 or 2 (max) specialist bowlers.

  16. David Barry said...

    Sledgehammer, you may be right that bowlers are over-valued in T20, but I'm not convinced. I wouldn't read anything into Hafeez and Dinda having better economy rates than McGrath and Warne, etc. Dinda's bowled 17 overs - it's like drawing conclusions from two ODI's. In T20, it's going to take a large number of games before the random noise in the stats evens itself out and we start seeing the stats tables agreeing with what we expect to see (possibly only over multiple seasons).

    I really don't see part-timers doing as well as McGrath or Murali, say.

    I did a regression on economy rate against overs per match for the IPL so far. The trend is roughly that for every extra over per match, the economy rate goes down by 1.5. So the specialists are clearly doing better than the part-timers.

    If you're going to pick a team with three or four bowlers who would usually only be good enough to bowl one or two overs, then you're conceding roughly 35 to 50 runs a game. In other words, oppositions will be scoring up around 210 to 220 on average. I'm not sure that a team stacked with batsmen is going to be able to score totals like that regularly, especially if they're up against McGraths and Muralis who concede around 7 per over.

  17. Anonymous said...

    Nazhar, how much is too much that's the question. Now that cricket played in any corner of the globe is available in our idiot box and that makes it quite a quantum. The only positive out of it is that everyone is free to take his pick.

  18. Q said...

    DB what I meant by the batting orders was that you could have 3 top order batsman to play out the first 25 overs and the same for the next 25 overs.. so in a way the teams go in with 4 opening batsmen.

  19. Q said...

    Sledge, u can't win an arguement with DB. He's a statistical NINJA! See his blog here:

    Its quite impressive.

  20. NAzhar said...

    sledgehammer - i agree with your rule changes - the field restrictions, boundary size, etc definitely need to be re-evaluated. I agree with DB on there being no point of 2 innings of 20 overs each.

    I do agree with the comments of this being a period where there are a lot of experiments going on - what I do hope for is that the committee evaluating the rule changes is a sensible one :-)

  21. NAzhar said...

    som - i do not think there is too much cricket - i agree with ottayan in wanting more intl. cricket - the point of the blog was to start an interesting discussion like we got going on

    Q can never have too much cricket - that much i know for a fact!!!!

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