Re-organising the cricket schedule

I have just sat here and watched the final game of the International Summer in Australia. A one-off Twenty20 match between Australia and the West Indies at the Gabba. A match that meant nothing and was played simultaneously with an Australian XI playing in India. Was that the climax of the Summer? Or was it the 5 match ODI series against the Windies played immediately before the T20 match? What were they playing for there? No I can’t remember either. The scheduling of International cricket in Australia (and in all other cricket nations) needs a major overhaul. Now. Sure next Summer the Poms will be here, the Ashes will be huge. The 5 match one-day series that follows will be well attended but like most ODI cricket will lack context.

I will get to ODI cricket but first to Test cricket. According to everyone (Cricket Australia included) it is the premium form of the game. So it should be given the premium place in the cricket calender. The Tests should start in mid December and end in early February, just before the Super Rugby and AFL Nab Cup begin. The last Test should be the end of the International Summer. Six tests should be played every Summer, all at the same venue at the same time every summer. So the first Test would always be at the Gabba in mid December. The Perth Test would always be in mid January (and on in prime time in school holidays). I would set out the Test summer like this:

Brisbane   – Mid December

Melbourne – Boxing Day

Sydney    – New Years Test

Perth      – Mid January

Adelaide – Australia Day Test

Hobart   – Early February

If two teams tour the first team would play in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. The second team would play in Perth, Adelaide and Hobart. For Ashes series it would be great to get England to play all six tests like we used to when we toured England. India normally play 4 Tests here, they would play the first 4 with the Adelaide and Hobart Tests against the other team eg. New Zealand, Sri Lanka. Test cricket would be where it belongs.

One-day cricket is still a great game. But it’s has no context at all in it’s scheduling. The World Cup means something. No other matches do. Cricket administrators have tried to make ODI’s like Test cricket with it’s 3 or 5 match series. It need’s a point of difference. I would have all one-day cricket played in a multi team tournament. Triangular, Quadrangular or whatever. All countries would play 2 series per year. One home, one away. There would be 5 tournaments a year divided the following way:

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand + 2 other teams. Play each other twice, plus a final.

Asia: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan + 2 other teams. Play each other once, plus a final.

Europe: England, Ireland + 2 other teams. Play each other twice, plus a final.

Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe + 2 other teams. Play each other twice, plus a final.

Americas: West Indies, Canada  + 2 other teams. Play each other twice, plus a final.

So Australia would play the Australasian tournament every year and the other four once in a four year rotation. This would be the only ODI cricket outside the World Cup. It would mean that every ODI is played in a multi team tournament for a major trophy.

The Australasian Cup (World Series Cup, Chappell-Hadlee Cup, whatever you want to call it) would see Australia play 5 games in Australia and one in NZ every season. One Aussie game for each mainland major venue. There would be just two neutral games in the tournament, one in Australia (Hobart or Canberra) and one in NZ. These could be sold to Fox Sports along with the NZ home games not involving Australia. The final would be hosted by whichever team out of Australia or NZ finishes higher, or a rotating venue if the two neutrals qualify. The tournament would be played throughout November and would finish in time to see all Australian cricketers play a Sheffield Shield game before the first Test. This format would see that Australia would play less ODI’s but all games would be part of a major tournament that all players would be available for.  I personally want to see the best available Australian team play every time an Aussie team takes the field in any format.

For Twenty20 cricket I would like to see all matches be part of qualifying or for rankings for the Twenty20 World Cup, or better still if Twenty20 was included as part of the Olympics. (If this happened I would scrap the T20 World Cup and have it all about the Olympics to make it really relevant). Two series a year, one home and one away, 3 match series against the same opponent. 6 matches a year plus a four yearly championship (World Cup or Olympic) is more than enough at International level. Keep it fresh and interesting, don’t overdo it. In Australia our Twenty20 matches should be held in late October/early November just prior to the one day series. Play some big bash games in October then finish the BBL over the Xmas, New Year period. It is a Domestic competition, not the main show. Test cricket is the main show. Let’s run it right up to when the Football codes start.

To illustrate my point, under what I have set out this is how this Summer’s home international schedule would have looked-

OCTOBER- Early Rounds BBL

3 x Twenty20 Internationals (Late October, early November)

NOVEMBER- Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa Quadrangular Series

Ryobi Cup & Sheffield Shield

DECEMBER- 14th-18th 1st Test Australia v Sri Lanka, Gabba

26th-30th 2nd Test Australia v Sri Lanka, MCG

Ryobi Cup & Sheffield Shield

BBL to resume evening of 26th

JANUARY-3rd-7th 3rd Test  Australia v Sri Lanka, SCG

11th-15th 1st Test Australia v South Africa, WACA

25th-29th  2nd Test Australia v South Africa, Adelaide Oval

BBL to conclude with final on Saturday January 12th

Ryobi Cup and Sheffield Shield to resume 2nd half of January

FEBRUARY- 1st-5th 3rd Test Australia v South Africa at Bellerive Oval

Allan Border Medal to be held shortly after Hobart Test. Australia then fly to India for Test series.

Ryobi Cup & Sheffield Shield continue until their conclusion in mid March.

Bring it on Cricket Australia. Make Test cricket the main show. I don’t want  to see a one-off Twenty20 International be the climax to an Australian International Summer ever again.

 

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Luke, you appear to have given the organisation of the summer considerably more thought than elements of Cricket Australia have. I admire the effort.

    For mine, I think the BBL should move to the latter part of the season. This would allow the possibility of the test players to participate meaningfully. This presupposes CA will continue to want test cricket finished in January (though I wish it were other).

  2. Thanks John. I had considered the BBL starting on the night of Boxing Day, continuing until Mid January then resuming after the 6th Test for it’s conclusion. Also a good option in my opinion, just thought the October start for the BBL would kick-start the season well.

    Would just be happy if the International Summer ended with a Test match and the Australia Day weekend had the Adelaide Test like it should, this Summer all that long weekend had was a T20 game on the Friday and Sunday night, nowhere near enough cricket for a long weekend.

  3. DBalassone says:

    Luke, I think you’re 100% right that CA need to get this right and need to get it right quickly. It feels like the cricket summer ended after the Sydney test – what followed was 5 weeks of garbage, made worse by the selectors rotation of about 30 Australian players. I believe the summer should be scheduled as follows:

    5 or 6 tests between November and early Jan, concluding with the Sydney test Jan 2-6. The stables should remain i.e. Boxing day test Dec 26-30 and the pre-Christmas Perth test, which I feel has the potential to be huge as the greater Aust. population is “winding down” at this time of the year, and knowing that test cricket will by on TV till 9pm (because of the delay) is something to look forward to for ravenous Eastern states. It would also help if great sides such as SAF were given 5 test matches, instead of 3.

    What should follow after the final test finishing on Jan 6 (and hear me out on this) is a domestic T20 extravaganza from say Jan 9-31 with ALL Australian players available, and as many international players as possible. Every night you should be guaranteed to watch a game on either GEM or GO channels with a 7:15 start (no later), with the odd double header on weekends. Now before the T20 sceptics shoot this down, I should state that I’m not a massive T20 fan – but we have to understand why T20 was created – because the 50 over game is an interminable bore between overs 15 to 45 (e.g. single to long-on, single to deep cover, etc.). I believe the Big Bash done properly would generate a lot of interest, not only in Aust, but overseas. At the moment, it is quite strange that by the time we reach the Big Bash finals (as John Butler alludes to above) all the Aust. players are suddenly yanked out for meaningless national duty).

    What should follow this in February is not as easy to schedule – because Australia’s overseas commitments vary from year to year. Perhaps a 3 match-series of international T20 and, if possible, a test or two against another test nation (say a NZ or Pakistan) would round it off nicely.

  4. Damien.

    T20, for all its shortcomings, is a better short form game than 50 over circket. The way overs 15 to 40 pan out in 50 over cricket have proved a fatal flaw in its construct. Its time to dispense with 50 over cricket once and for all (but we won’t coz the world cups coming.) T20, no matter what you think of it, is a phenomenom. It is the only form of cricket that has worked at a domestic level. I reckon leaving all of Jan for the Big Bash with no interantionals is a bloody good idea. The rivalry of the big bash is way more compelling than the boring short form internationals we’ve had recently, So in short, I like where your going. Test cricket to the New Year sydney test, then a month of big bash and then some exhibition interantionals in Feb is a better fit for me.

  5. DBalassone says:

    T-Bone we are on a wavelength. I too would have no issue killing off the 50 over format for good – but you are correct, we have a World Cup coming up and also networks / cricket boards don’t want to dispense with the full day’s advertising revenue which is derived from the 50 over game. They are milking the cow dry – to the detriment of world cricket which seems lost & confused. 3 formats is too many. I also feel dispensing of the 50 over format, and getting back down to 2 formats, will bring more focus back to Test cricket (which we all love & know is REAL cricket).

    On a side note, sometimes I wonder if the amazing exploits of Gilchrist at Test and one day level somehow paved the way for T20. Fans were awestruck by such big, clean and pure hitting that they had to have more. We are now used to someone scoring 50 off 30 balls, and don’t even blink when we hear of such, but Gilly used to do it all the time and could swing the momentum of a Test match in less than our hour. I think he changed cricket in more ways than we’ll ever know.

  6. Damien & T-Bone, you both make good points and I think a January without International matches after the Sydney Test, and a BBL with all players available, is where Cricket Australia is looking to get to. Sadly I think my hopes for a return of the Australia Day Test at Adelaide won’t be realised. It just doesn’t feel right finishing the big cricket of the Summer before the footy codes kick in with limited over cricket of the 50 or 20 over variety.

    Damien, Gilly changed cricket in many ways and is as much of a once-in-a-lifetime cricketer as Warney. While he played many great limited over innings, he most remembered innings are probably his 149* in his second Test in the great run chase in Hobart, his 122 v India in Mumbai in 2001, his ton off 57 balls v England at the WACA and his double ton off 212 balls in South Africa. All Test match innings. The premium form of the game needs to be played in the premium slots, as that is what everyone remembers. We were lucky to be able to watch the likes of Gilchrist in our time.

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    TOTALLY Agree Luke , this summer has been a disgrace rush thru 5 ashes tests before you can blink , how much more enjoyable would it have been to make the pomms grovel and be here another month while they were getting annihilated . Seriously tho we lost a lot of the build up and theatre which is a , ASHES TEST MATCH each is special in there own right and should be given the appropriate respect . The treatment and lack of repect given to what is meant to be the premier domestic comp in the world the Sheffield shield has been mind blowing and incompetent
    In a nutshell cricket admin around the world have a lot to answer for yes money is imp but it is not the be all and end all the best interests of cricket overall must be number 1 sadly it is not Thanks Luke

  8. Spot on Luke

  9. Troy Hancox says:

    Agree with a lot of the comments made by ALL!!
    I don’t think much will change, because the crowds were up this tour (rightly so) and CA would be rolling in the coin!!

    So they’re mentality would be “it’s not broke, so dont fix it”.

    This isn’t my view, just sitting on the fence (Like Mark Rusciuttio does on drive time LOL)

  10. Luke Reynolds says:

    Thanks Malcolm, Raj and Troy. Couldn’t agree more Malcolm. Back-to-back Tests, apart from the Boxing Day/Sydney Test double are terrible. Every Test should be an event. They tend to blend in together when scheduled so close. Remember tour games??

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