I saw an interesting segment on TV last night featuring a panel discussion led by Brendan Julian, and featuring Allan Border, Mark Waugh, Greg Blewett and former Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg. Now, Hogg is known for his forthright views, and generally tells like it is, he certainly has an Australian bias, but yet he is very willing to criticise tactics or particular players in the team, which other so called experts are not willing to do.
The most interesting part of the discussion was when the panel questioned Hogg on his thoughts about the effect of T20 on ODI’s. Hogg was true to form, and immediately offered his opinion that the 50 over format is dead in the water. The others on the panel didn’t really support him on this, but they do have vested interests, as they are all employed by Fox Sports, which covers domestic 50 over cricket. However, they did acknowledge that the game was at the crossroads.
However, the most interesting part of Hogg’s argument was his view that test cricket has the most to lose from the rise of T20. In sum, Hogg’s view, as a former fast bowler, is that without good fast bowlers, any form of the game is in trouble. So, when fast bowlers come to the realisation (and many may have already) that they can make much more money for much less work, then they will abandon test cricket.
Hogg gave what I consider to be a very astute example. He positioned himself as Peter Siddle’s manager, who has on one hand, the option of his player bowling 50-80 overs in every test match, which of course has a large risk of injury. On the other hand, his player could bowl four overs a game in various T20 comps around the world, such as the IPL or Big Bash, and make far more money. Furthermore, the long term proposition also supports the T20 option, as it is much more likely that Siddle’s career would last much longer was he to bowl much less overs in T20 cricket.
Hogg questioned the panel about what they considered the right choice as a player’s manager who is looking for their client to have a long and rich career, and they had to admit that T20 looked more attractive. Now, they also threw up the ‘honour’ argument, which is that it is much more special for a player to play for their country than a franchise, but the argument felt feeble. Hogg’s argument had certainly hit home, and they all agreed that no far-fetched ideas such as Day-Night Test Cricket would make any difference.
I think that all three forms of the game can survive, but changes do need to be made. Mark Waugh brought up the fact that test pitches must be made to be more attractive to bowlers, and I completely agree. An idea for ODI cricket would be to make the chosen power-plays as mandatory during the middle overs of the game. These are but two examples, I’m sure we can work together to figure out more. As Hogg pointed out, cricket is at a cross-roads, but is actually a positive cross-road. There is more money than ever in the game, and a lot of interest, a little tweak here and there can make all forms more attractive, and successful in the long-term future.
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