6 June 2010

"Oh you're so special!" Curse or compliment?

Chief Executive of Cricket Australia James Sutherland, on the future of the Australian T20 side:

"While hosting Tests here, Australia could have its Twenty20 team touring somewhere else. It is difficult not to see a generation of players coming through with an eye to becoming Twenty20 specialists. As more Twenty20 cricket is played there are clearly opportunities for players to choose to be specialists. Taking it through to its natural extension, if you have a specialist team then why can't you have a specialist Twenty20 team and a specialist Test team [playing] at the same time? In rugby union, for example, the ARU has a sevens team and a Wallabies team."

This statement has sparked a fiery discussion among the Australian cricket fans. Here's what I think about it:

More Australian players could play for their country, the domestic cricket is stuffed with goodness but the vast majority of the players will never get to play in the national side.

Players who are currently playing all three formats would have a lighter schedule. Alternatively: more fixtures could be arranged. I do not support parallel fixtures of both teams, but you could close the gaps in the schedule that are usually needed for periods of rest. The T20 side could provide the money, while the Test side plays cricket more often.

Clarke wouldn't have to bother with his strikerate.

Skills, talent, brain, experience, leadership, coolness - Tests? About time!
Cameron White and the MOTM he bagged after his state captain's innings
against Sri Lanka during the World T20  (c) Getty Images
Players are stuck in T20 mode, as they will increasingly get groomed, or groom themselves, for that sort of playing style. Guys like Warner, who are labelled as T20 specialists, but are desperately trying to get a foot in the door of the longer formats, would be destined to slog. The result is that, unlike now, none of the players in the T20 side would still be considered cricketers, as they will never get the chance to prove their value in the classical formats. The T20 side would more or less become a group of burlesque dancers. Nothing wrong with that, but people don't come to see them dance...

Another consequence could be that the total separation might also widen the gap within the audience. It becomes more unlikely that a T20 audience, who worships their own heroes, will ever show interest in the longer formats.

The quality of the cricket played in T20 matches will deteriorate. Look at the T20 World Cup, the most outstanding batsmen were those that originate from the old school: Hussey, Pietersen; Morgan has just dipped his toe into Test waters as the selectors are excited about his range of shots, cool and patience; White, also Salman; and Kamran plays tests as well. Kallis, AB deVilliers, Jayawardene belong in the same category. Yes White would play Tests if the pipe to the Australian Test team wasn't that hopelessly clogged up. I expect to see him once Hussey/Punter/North retire. These are just some examples, imagine the T20 teams without them! And India had arrived without their long-format-greats....

The quoted source also mentions the possibility of the T20 side becoming a retirement home for old players that still want to make money but can't play cricket anymore. Envisage a team comprising Gilchrist, Warne, Ponting, McGrath and Lee, complemented by T20 specialists like Warner and Tait. I just threw up a little.

What's gonna happen to the ODIs?
Sutherland doesn't mention them, which probably means he will just let them fizzle out. Until then the ODI sides will most likely be made up of Test players plus a handful of Vogeses/Hopesies thrown in to plug any remaining holes, i.e. guys that will neither make it into the Test side nor into the T20 one, thus the team will function as a sideshow for rotating Test players and keeping unused potentials active while also checking out new guys.

There are surely a lot more arguments pro and contra Sutherland's idea, what's your take on the matter? How will T20 teams look two or three years from now? I think in order to milk the cow a separate T20 team is inevitable. Thus, it will happen.



GreenJJ said...

What I wouldn't give for a player of White's talent and attitude to be next cab off the rank for England. I would expect to see increasing divergence between test and T20 teams. Look at how T20 and ODI teams have changes - Vaughan and Strauss (the old slower-coach Strauss!) were in England's first T20 team, now a player in that mould wouldn't get near unless they completely reinvented themselves. There will be those players, KP, De Villiers, Sehwag, Dilshan etc. whose skills apply across the board, but that's mainly a mental thing I suppose. I'm rambling.

Ingo Flamingo said...

I started replying to this, but the reply got too long, so I posted it here.


Wes said...

Jay, these players you mention are not without reason among the most popular, all of them have the skills to maintain a rather aggressive approach also in Tests, which is an effective and attractive to watch combination.

Frau, thank you very much for popping in, reading, replying, and putting the link in your post!

Shaen said...

My reply won't be too long.
We got to get Sutherland out of here....the mans a fucking cricket assassin!