Trust Shane Warne to go radical — as part of a six point plan to improve cricket, he suggests that the one-day format [which till just the other day was being hailed as cricket’s lifeblood] has passed its sell-by date.
This is a big call, but cricket evolves and the 50-over game has passed its sell-by date. It’s amazing to think that after the Ashes series England and Australia play seven one-day games, which take about a month. Sorry, but that’s just greed on the part of administrators. From now on, we should be playing Tests and Twenty20 internationals, with a Twenty20 World Cup every two years.
What that could mean in England is a 16-match championship, which produces good, tough cricket at the moment, and the same for Twenty20. And, so that players and spectators know where they stand, let’s have a regular schedule — four-day games from Tuesday to Friday and the Twenty20 on Sunday with a double header each week for TV, games starting at 4pm and 7pm.
Four-day matches should start two hours later than they do at present, at 1pm finishing at 7.30pm. The best time to play in the UK is 5.30 to 7.30, so people could come down after work for the final session. I would introduce a Championship final, played over five days, between the top side in the first division and the winner of a play-off between the counties in second and third spots.
By also eliminating one-day cricket the players would be freed up to spend more time at domestic level, grass-roots cricket and time at home with families. Test cricket is just that — a test of every part of your game. Twenty20 is the entertainment and fun side of the game and also will bring in the big revenue. Under my plan a tour would last roughly five weeks: three Tests with a warm-up game and five Twenty20s in a ten-day period. The Ashes would stay as a five-match series.
In isolation, this might seem like an extreme call — but considered in context of Warne’s other five points, all aimed at a clearly identified goal, it begins to make sense. That said — the whole thing is just so much of a waste of newsprint, since there doesn’t seem to be the remotest chance that the ICC will go with such initiatives — what, give up on its World Cup and its Champions’ Trophy and, more importantly, create a situation where the IPL becomes the annual showpiece on the cricket calendar? Nice try, Shane, but no cigar.