Change For Change’s Sake

Posted on January 15, 2011 by

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The Sheffield Shield, courtesy of BackPageLead

Australia is a helpful nation, whenever there is a tragedy we’re first out with the chequebooks and the same goes for cricket, when the ICC wanted to trial a pink cricket ball for day-night tests piggybacking on the popularity of one day cricket in the 1990s but that was a failure, that didn’t deter Australia. They found a new innovation for their domestic one day competition, in 2009, they trialled having two white balls at each end, this was supposed to help the bowlers in a game where it’s increasingly being directed to the batsmen, this wasn’t very effective, lowering scores for the opening portion of the season before everything returned to normal.

At this point I’ll give Cricket Australia their due, they never give up, on anything.. This year, right after the failure of a new ball at each end, they decided to follow in the footsteps of the English who are playing 40 over one day cricket in their domestic circuit. CA in their infinite wisdom decided, that there needs to be changes to our domestic structure, even though Australia have featured in the finals of the World Cup four times and winning the actual cup three times, all away from home.

These changes split one day domestic cricket into a 45 over game, where it was like test cricket, one team would bat 20 overs then their opposition would do the same, whoever had the higher score would earn a singular bonus point. From there, the first team would bat their second lot of 25 overs taking them to their full 45 overs then giving their opposition 25 overs to chase down their target.

Cricket Australia chiefs spouted that these changes would increase the ever dwindling crowds in domestic cricket, which they didn’t, I attended one day games before and after these changes in domestic one day cricket and the amount of people at the game, hadn’t changed one iota. It was the same people who had to been going to games for the last few seasons, a fail in that regard.

Other false assertions sprouted by CA was that it would bring more competitive contests, much like their two new balls plan and again it failed miserably, there was still the teams who could only compete until their glass ceiling, I.e. Queensland still struggled to make substantial totals with their lacklustre batting line-up, Victoria who have dominated domestic cricket for the last few seasons have racked up some 300+ scorelines still in the 45 overs.

Basically blowing away opponents, so the status quo has continued in the domestic circuit and CA is dreaming if they think any other countries will adopt these modifications to one day cricket especially when they give another cap to what is only a specialist fielder where all players should have to bat, field and if necessary bowl, not just stroll on to field for a few overs.

It hasn’t only been one day domestic cricket that CA have decided to tinker with the shortest and currently most popular form of cricket, that being T20 and in the three seasons that the Big Bash, Australia’s own twenty20 league has been a success thus far, the crowds are out in force, teams while they may not have the money of the IPL have history and surroundings. Using this history to lure in some international superstars like Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo also some not so good like Dwayne Smith, Sajid Mahmood and Brendan McCullum but this has all been mixed into the melting pot of twenty20 in Australia.

They decided that having the usual state lines where players played for their normal states was too vanilla and rigid in the new world of cricketing franchises and that all the state sides would be done away with for twenty20 only replaced by city based franchises allowing Victorian players to mix with Tasmanian or New South Wales players. From everyone I’ve talked to about this, they are against this and prefer the traditional lines because it has inbuilt rivalry (NSW v Victoria, South Australia v Victoria) which helps to boost attendances, who wants to watch the Ballarat Dingoes take on the Hobart Devils.

It reeks of CA wanting to cash in on the recent explosion in popularity of twenty20 from the IPL and all the other competitions sprouting up, the charm of the big bash was being played by traditional teams in traditional venues but now they want to uproot that, for a blatant cash grab to regain money from the failings of the other forms of the game. Sadly this is where CA have lost touch with their audience, while we all enjoy cricket but having too much is overkill, Australia used to have quite a few breaks in their year but now with the IPL and separate ODI and test tours, they basically play year round and have created overkill.

This overkill has also deprived cricketing fans in Australia of seeing their national heroes at their local grounds helping to develop the next generation of cricketer like Nic Maddinson or Mitchell Marsh who would gain endless insight from the years of cricketing experience built up facing international attacks or bowling to the best batsmen around the world. Year round touring and fatigue has put an end to this idea and this has contributed to Australia’s downfall as a test nation, there is too much coloured clothing cricket is played and our test batsmen are suffering for it.

Cricket Australia needs to forget all this chopping and changing, chasing the next thing which can generate some money and create a focused view for the future which hopefully has more test cricket being played or having our international stars playing against the other states to improve their mentality and technique preparing for international tours partnering this with less focus on twenty20s and maybe Australia would start making a climb up the international rankings, I know a lot of us fans are hoping for that to happen.

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Article by Justin Davies