February 22nd 2017: T20I Australia vs Sri Lanka at the Adelaide Oval, Australia.
February 23rd 2017: Test match India vs Australia at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, India.
This is simple enough even for an intern to decipher that Australia will field two entirely different squads including support staff for these two fixtures.
ESPNCricinfo run a poll where 21778 readers responded to:
Australia to play a Test in India a day after the Adelaide T20. The scheduling is
- The way of the future. Different squads for different formats – 33 per cent
- Poor, they are short-changing the fans – 67 per cent
The above 67 per cent are purists. They’ve conceded that T20 is part of cricket, the moneymaker! However they still want to see the best players on the field at all times. These are the people who (reluctantly) want have cake and eat it too.
“Don’t undermine Test cricket for the sake of T20, the best players should be playing at all times,” Purist no. 1.
“T20 is great, it opens up cricket to a whole new generation! T20 is just the intro but they need to see the best play all formats,” Purist no.2.
“I only watch Tests and sometimes ODIs, what is T20?” Purist no. 3.
There has been a lot said for scheduling and player burnout. AB de Villiers, arguably the most dynamic batsman in all formats fielded the idea of retiring from Test cricket to “keep fresh and enjoying the game.”
The aforementioned 67 per cent will say scrap T20 (or better yet ODIs) even though they’ve conceded short formats are here to stay.
I’m here to bat for the 33 per cent, the forward thinkers.
They know they can either have cake or eat it but not both. Cricketers burnout and need rest(even mid-series)!
When was the last time your favourite international cricketer had an off-season? They realise it’s not entirely possible for every cricketer to play all three formats at peak ability.
Cricket should go down the same path as Rugby Sevens.
Much like rugby and rugby sevens, all three formats of cricket; Tests, ODIs and T20 are different but the basics are the same.
See ball, hit ball! Bowl with a straight-ish arm (within 15 degrees), score a run by running between the stumps, hitting to boundary or over it etc.
I am a fan of having different squads for different formats because each format requires a completely different set of skills in an array of conditions.
“Tests, ODIs and T20s are the same but need a different set of skills from one player to the next,” Forward thinker 1.
“Not all players want to play all formats, some guys just want to be T20 guns for hire! That shouldn’t stop them from representing their country,” Forward thinker 2.
“The scheduling issue is because we want the same players available for all three formats! Break it up! Have different international tournaments with different teams,” Forward thinker 3.
At one point or another, the Australian selectors have attempted a horses for courses policy in their selections. It has been talked about debuting one or both of Peter Handscomb and Travis Head into the aforementioned India series as they are good players of spin.
It should be simple enough to apply this same idea into squad selections. Then it becomes easier to schedule a Test championship in amongst ODI/T20 World Cups, those pesky global T20 competitions and an Olympics.
No one gets short-changed as the best players are available for their chosen format. It also gives first-class, list A and T20 competitions around the world a lot more context and meaning.
Most pathways to Test cricket are to play a few ODIs prior to debut in the ultimate format. It’s a little silly to assume that a good long format player will make a good ODI/T20 player and vice versa. Exceptions exists a la Warner, de Villiers but they are exceptions not the norm.
Take Australian Joe Mennie, a debutant in the 5-0 South Africa ODI series . He took 51 wickets in the 2015-16 Shield Shield season. He took his wickets with nagging accuracy and consistency, not sheer pace or with the constant variations required of a short format bowler.
The ICC needs to take a leaf out of World Rugby and manage cricket’s three formats as separate entities. Each format has its individual drawcards and by segregating each format, the ICC can maximise each format rather than spreading its resources thin.