The origins of one-day cricket? (and World Cup blog)

Robert Allen found this article in a 1938 Sporting Globe:


One Innings Each Instead of Two

Maiden Over Penalties


Arising from the unsatisfactory results of the test matches this year, there is talk on every hand of what could be done to improve the position, and bring about more definite results. Extensions of the time for the games is the chief thing advocated, but other means have been suggested.


One of the most interesting contributions to the discussions came from an old international cricketer with whom I talked this week. While not definitely advocating the change yet, he suggested that it might be found desirable to limit games to one innings for each side. He also expressed the view that the batsman should be penalised for every maiden that he permitted the bowler to bowl.


This old international expressed the view that the game is not now play in the right spirit. Many will agree with him in this. The players are largely to blame, especially the batsmen. Their canny methods have led to a lack of brightness in the play, and consequent loss of interest by the public, except when men like Bradman or McCabe are at the wickets.


The bowling is treated with too much respect, and batsmen will not attempt strokes except from the ball that is absolutely safe to hit. The result is that far too many maiden overs are bowled. His remedy for this is not a new one, but it is a revolutionary one all the same.


“I would penalise the batsman for every maiden over that he permitted the bowler to bowl to him” he said, “If we took one run off his score for a maiden we would see more effort on his part to get runs and the game would become brighter.”


There is no doubt that many batsmen are far too timid against bowlers who by no stretch of imagination can be regarded as great, measured by the greatness of bowlers of the past. Too often we see batsmen play at a short-pitched ball with a straight-bat defensive stroke as the it were full of menace—balls which would have been shot to the boundary by men like Trumper, Duff, Hill and other great batsmen.


The old international holds the view that the bowler who bowls a maiden by really good bowling is deserving of some recognition, which he does not get now, but too many maidens are solely the result of timid or bad batting.


Grace’s Example


He quoted a story of an Australian bowler who once sent down a maiden over to the great W. G. Grace. He was feeling rather pleased with himself, but from the first ball of the next over Grace cracked a four, remarking, “I can’t allow you to bowl another maiden to me.”


This is the spirit that ought to animate the batsman always.


Long-drawn-out games are another problem. They do not suit many people and there seems no reason why some of them should last so long. If batsmen would show less timidity, and take more advantage of the opportunities offered them, these games, even though they may last over several days, would retain their attractiveness because of the brighter play. It is in this connection that the old international made his other revolutionary suggestion:


“It might be a good thing to limit a game to one innings for each side,” he said, “I don’t say I would advocate that just now, but it might be worth considering. In other sports teams do not have a second chance to retrieve themselves, and it might be asked why they should have it in cricket.”


This is a change that would affect the financial side of the games, however, and one cannot imagine that the administrators would favor it. Therefore, there seems little chance that it would be adopted.


Wickets Are Doped


Doping of the wickets is another thing that was discussed. Nottingham is a notable example of the effect of this. There the doping takes all the sting out of the pitch, and bowlers are greatly handicapped. The M.C.C. some years ago issued an instruction against the practice but except at Lord’s and a few other grounds it still goes on.


The old international considers that it would be far better to have naturally-prepared wickets. Bowlers would have a better chance then, and batsmen would have to fight harder for their runs. We would see shorter games and probably bright play, for something would always be happening.


As for the duration of the Tests, he agrees that more time is required under present conditions. He thinks five days would see the finish of almost all the games in England, and six days certainly would, except when we have the Manchester experiences over again. He cannot understand the contention that six days would interfere more with the county games than the present four-day games do.


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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. A bit of chirp going out of the Aussies for the moment.

  2. Interested in the origins of Josh Hazlewood’s #38. Theories?

  3. No idea about Hazlewood’s #38.
    But I was 38 once.
    That’s probably not much help.
    He was born in New South Wales so it’s a fair bet he isn’t paying homage to an AFL footballer who wore #38.

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