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Perth centuries show value of the 50-over format

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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75 Have your say

    The great Mark Twain misquote reads, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” and I reckon one-day cricket must feel this way too, sometimes.

    Twenty20 cricket was invented in England and first played at a first-class level in the northern summer of 2003.

    Roughly three minutes after the completion of the first ever game, the first report of 50-over cricket’s demise was penned. Perhaps.

    For a format on its death bed, one-day cricket has proved remarkably resilient to be still going 13 years later!

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    Tuesday’s first ODI in Perth between Australia and India was intriguing for several reasons. For one, more than 90 overs had been bowled before we saw a sixth wicket fall. Australia lost two more in the last seven overs of the match, by the end of which cricket fans in the west were exiting the WACA having seen 8-619 for the day.

    It’s no wonder India batted first.

    Secondly, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s second-wicket partnership of 207 in a losing game had me thinking it had to be a record. Turns out it wasn’t even close.

    Kohli and Sharma’s stand was actually the 12th double century partnership in a losing game and comes in at number nine on the list. And for whatever it’s worth, nine of the 12 losing double hundred partnerships have come since 2000.

    But it wasn’t even the highest partnership for the day, in the end. George Bailey and Steven Smith’s third-wicket partnership of 242 was narrowly pipped by Bailey’s ‘Floppy Gold’ as the highlight of the day.

    Like Kohli and Sharma, Smith and Bailey came together very early in the innings. And all four batsmen were able to do something that would be very rare in limited-overs cricket if – as many believe is inevitable – the 50-over game went the way of the Thylacine of the Dodo.

    They all built an innings.

    Now if you’re thinking this is a familiar theme from me, you’d be right. And you need to blame Will Sinclair for its re-emergence. After the Smith-Bailey stand came to an end, Will made a poignant point on Twitter:

    “That was masterful. Can’t believe people are complaining it was boring. Great stuff Smith and Bailey. Masterful,” he said.

    “Considering they were two for rock-all, it’s an outstanding partnership of innings-building. What more could you want!” I returned.

    Will: “It’s why ODIs remain superior to T20 at an international level – time to recover and build an innings.”

    Me: “Might be time to revisit an article on this very topic I wrote a few seasons back…”

    And so here we are.

    Three years ago – nearly to the day – I made similar observations after Phillip Hughes made his second ODI century in just his fifth match, against Sri Lanka in Hobart. Less than a fortnight earlier, he’d made a century on ODI debut in Melbourne.

    Of the Hobart innings, I wrote:

    “Hughes’ own innings could neatly be broken up into three blocks. His first fifty was raised in 82 balls, the second fifty came at a neat run-a-ball as the confidence started coming back, and the last unbeaten 38 from just 22 deliveries.

    “As far as one-day innings go, Hughes’ 138*… might even be as well compiled an Australian one-day innings in the last 12 months or so.”

    And later: “Cricket Australia could do a lot worse than to put Hughes’ innings onto DVD and send it to every junior coach in the country. This innings, kids, is what you should be looking to emulate when you need to bat for any length of time.”

    The Perth innings of Sharma, Kohli, Smith, and Bailey could all be viewed similarly. All four of them took their time to get set and steadily accelerated as the innings went on.

    Sharma finished 171* from 163 balls, but his fifty came in 63 balls, and his century in 122. Kohli’s 97-ball 91 included a 61-ball fifty and a strike rate that hovered either side of 90 throughout. Smith and Bailey took 55 and 60 balls respectively to bring up their fifties, and Smith would be the only one of the four to raise a ton in less than 100 balls.

    All four were just about the ideal one-day innings, and Sharma’s and Kohli’s certainly didn’t deserve a five-wicket loss.

    Think about those four innings, and consider how those same scores would be made in a Twenty20 game.

    Travis Head’s New Year’s Eve hundred was outstanding, but it was hardly subtle. He went at a run-a-ball to 24* and then just started picking balls to hit. On 45* from 38 balls, he went 4-6-4-6-6-1 to jump to 72* from 44.

    From 83* from 50 balls he went 6-6-6 to win the game and raise his hundred in style from 53 balls. It was a well-clubbed innings, don’t get me wrong. And it certainly got the job done.

    Usman Khawaja’s Big Bash League opening weekend ton for the Sydney Thunder will remain one of the knocks of the summer, and is actually one of the few ‘built’ T20 innings I can recall.

    It featured a gradual acceleration, rather than sudden hyperspeed: 25* in 18 balls, 50* from 37, 77* from 51, to finish 103* from 66 balls. I’m sure the way he built that innings was a significant factor in him winning his ODI recall.

    But would it happen if the 50-over format disappeared? I’d have extreme doubts.

    Being able to bat for hours and building innings and partnerships – and indeed, bowling in partnerships to build pressure – is one of the great reasons the full one-day game is so enjoyable to watch. It’s an art that would become extinct without the great benefit of time that the 50-over format provides.

    Twenty20 can be the cash cow and the place for the entertainers. But the one-day game will always remain the home of the craftsmen.

    (And thanks, Will!)

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (75)

    • January 15th 2016 @ 6:27am
      Hawkeye said | January 15th 2016 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      The way for ODI cricket to not only survive but improve is to cut down on the number of them and to give them some context!
      All the talk is about changing playing conditions when it should be all about making each game matter. Teams play between 20-40 ODIs each year.. To what end? Apart from tv revenue there is no reward or loss. Even international football would see lost interest if their teams played 30 friendly games a year!
      Why are they playing? Why are we watching? People talk about the BBL as just there for entertainment but at least it’s a competition with meaningful games!
      ODIs have always been managed as entertainment first and real cricket second, they’re just not as entertaining as 20/20.
      How else do we explain the endless meaningless friendlies?
      I like ODIs, but I’m not going to sit through 5 seven hour games of a series that literally means nothing…
      The ICC needs to essentially start from scratch and make sure all three formats have structure and context to thrive. A difficult task obviously, but impossible when you consider how incompetent the ICC are.

      • January 15th 2016 @ 7:55am
        CG2430 said | January 15th 2016 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        Good points.

        Bringing back the triangular series might help to make matches a bit more meaningful, but I dare say scheduling gets in the way.

        • January 15th 2016 @ 1:16pm
          spruce moose said | January 15th 2016 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          The problem with the triangular series was that few ever turned up to the non Australian games.

          One eyed supporters and all….

      • Columnist

        January 15th 2016 @ 8:32am
        Brett McKay said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        Yeah, I certainly can’t disagree with this point Hawkeye. Rankings points and revenue are about the only meaningful things coming our of this series..

      • January 15th 2016 @ 8:54am
        JohnD said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Great Comment.

      • Roar Guru

        January 15th 2016 @ 9:12am
        The Bush said | January 15th 2016 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Strongly agree and I discussed this with a few posters on another thread a few days ago.

        Even the old Triangular series had more meaning as at least you were qualifying for something.

      • Roar Guru

        January 15th 2016 @ 9:13am
        Will Sinclair said | January 15th 2016 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Yeah this is all fair enough.

        International rugby has a similar issue, I reckon.

      • January 15th 2016 @ 11:49am
        Freycinet1803 said | January 15th 2016 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Could there be some way of setting up a league? The problem may be that it could take over a year for it to be completed (which will lose our interest).

      • January 15th 2016 @ 12:24pm
        Haradasun said | January 15th 2016 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Great comment. Agree wholehartedly. Anyone remember Sharjah?

        Why can’t we have more one day tournaments?

        • January 15th 2016 @ 1:17pm
          spruce moose said | January 15th 2016 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Cause if they don’t have India, they won’t generate enough revenue (or ratings) to bother.

          And India can’t be in every tournament.

      • January 15th 2016 @ 5:47pm
        b said | January 15th 2016 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

        The BBL is even more meaningless, because of the volume not only of T20 internationals, but also the BBL style comps that are everywhere, and don’t even have national pride to play for. That’s why T20 bores me to tears, there is always another game just around the corner, and they are all the same, and the players are only playing for paychecks, it’s as meaningless as sport can get.
        ODI’s have plenty of that meaningless “entertainment”, but they also have skill. Also, players are playing for more than money.

        For those who think the current series has no meaning, beating India always has meaning. Beating a bunch of people who are on the same side this week, and different sides next week, has no meaning.

    • January 15th 2016 @ 6:58am
      Mike from Tari said | January 15th 2016 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      The 50 over games are not meaningless, the ICC has their world rankings & every series of 50 over games is taken into account when played, the 20/20 games are ranked as well as the Test match series, this means that the BBL & the IPL & the other similar series in other countries are purely money making ventures & are therefore meaningless especially now that the championship that the 1st & 2nd place teams in the various countries would play in has been binned.

      • January 15th 2016 @ 7:25am
        hawkeye said | January 15th 2016 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        Yea and I remember the wild celebrations when Australia floated from 2nd to 1st after winning some random 7 game series against whoever…
        The rankings whilst helpful are still essentially meaningless to followers of the game
        How is the BBL just a money making venture? It has dramatically increased crickets profile with new demographics and most importantly has reversed a declining participation rate with kids.
        It is a club based comp just like the A-league, NRL, NFL… its just newer. Remember the A league is only about 8yrs older..
        We finally have franchise based competitions around the world that are popular – the most successful model for pro team sports
        We should embrace it and find a way to find a way for the three formats to co exist

        • January 15th 2016 @ 5:57pm
          b said | January 15th 2016 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          The BBL is just a money making venture because teammates this week are opponents next week in the next H&G comp being played, wherever. While players do move around in other comps, I’ve never seen the movement H&G has in any other sport. There is nothing to play for but the paycheck.

      • January 15th 2016 @ 8:38am
        onside said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        To be considered Mike, in the past some Test cricketers who could have played ODI’s, deliberately sat them out. One who comes to mind is Michael Clarke, who because of his high profile,(earning over $4M PA in 2014) was co opted back into ODI service for the recent world cup. My point is whereas some Test players may not have found ODI’s completely meaningless, they certainty did not embrace the format if it could be avoided.

    • January 15th 2016 @ 8:07am
      bigbaz said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Too much cricket is not enough as far as I’m concerned but just a couple of things. I agree that the triangular series gives more gratis to the ODIs and scheduling of all cricket could be better, especially for tests and shield. As far as I’m concerned the BBL has exposed players we would probably never see. Love it all.

    • January 15th 2016 @ 8:43am
      Peter Z said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      I’d like to see the ODI’s just kept to a three match series in January, and all wrapped up in a week. This will get the internationals playing Big Bash, which is now taking root and developing a soul. Brett Lee’s burst in last years final, Travis Head and Lehmanns feats this year, Hogg’s folk hero magnetism … all these things have done wonders for T20’s substance. T20 is blowing 50 over cricket out of the water. And best of all, I love that we have 8 evenly matched teams vying for a title. That makes for a far better narrative than Australia crushing visiting teams year after year after year (and I believe we won that tri series thing we use to have more than 90% of the time … BORING.)

      • January 15th 2016 @ 12:22pm
        Chop said | January 15th 2016 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Big Bash should not and should never be prioritised over international ODI’s.

        Even with the popularity of T20 international cricket at any level deserves to be the priority.

        • January 15th 2016 @ 8:15pm
          Bakkies said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:15pm | ! Report

          Particularly when CA issue central contracts to players in the one day squad

    • January 15th 2016 @ 8:51am
      VivGilchrist said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      I love ODIs. To me going to the cricket is a DAY at the cricket, not a passing few hours. It’s summer. Innings are built, spells are bowled. It’s beautiful. I agree that it’s best played in tournament form. Relevance is the key. The World Cup was fantastic because of these things. The BBL is a success because it’s a TOURNAMENT not just a few random matches. Give it context and watch it flourish.

      • January 15th 2016 @ 8:58am
        JohnD said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Agree 100%.

        Also: ODIs will never die because the World Cup is the premier Cricketing Tournament in the World. I think the ICC Test Championship is more important it lacks any real drama due to being played in many different places by many different teams over a much longer period of time.

    • January 15th 2016 @ 8:54am
      Bruce Reed said | January 15th 2016 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Obviously the cricket landscape is crowded enough as is, but whatever happened to the proposal for T20, or some form of limited overs, with each team batting twice? I think that actually had a bit of merit, at the very least would be interesting to see a trial of.

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