Twenty20s should be format hit for six

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 05:00 17/02/2013

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OPINION: The future of international one-day cricket is a hot topic with some questioning its future after the 2015 World Cup which New Zealand co-hosts with Australia.

Twenty20's rapid emergence has put a cloud over the 50-over format but I think critics are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to cricket's condensed games at the very top level.

Personally, I'd be dropping T20s at international level other than in a World Cup format.

I think T20s have the ability to breathe life into the domestic scene and that's where their focus should be - exclusively.

They should be used to draw the crowds to local games and be a pathway for our young talent, in terms of experience and wages.

They were set up that way - with blossoming rich domestic leagues bringing in overseas talent - and their elevation to the international level was nothing more than the national bodies and the International Cricket Council cashing in on their remarkable and almost instant popularity.

In these modern times where it seems the focus on everything in life - from technology to pastimes - is about faster and smaller, what's next for cricket, a 10-over format as we eventually grow bored with T20s?

So, I still see a place for the 50-over game. As far as tours go, I'd have international teams playing series of three ODIs and three test matches.

The ODIs have a rich history, providing the start of the "pyjama games" and the tinkering with the rules have certainly added to their appeal: One new ball used at each end; two bouncers an over allowed for bowlers; no bowling power play; the batting power play must be completed before the 40th over; and no more than four fielders allowed outside the 30m circle.

The fickle nature of T20s has probably never been better exemplified than in the Black Caps' just completed 2-1 series loss to England.

It's a game where you can go from hero to zero at a ridiculously rapid rate. All three matches proved that, with the results providing a roller-coaster of commanding victories to England, then to New Zealand, and then to England.

I've mentioned before that just one or two individual performances can win a T20, and we saw that repeatedly over the last week.

I think we'll get a far better measure of these two teams in the ODI series which starts in Hamilton today.

Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum has stated that he believes the one-day format best suits his squad at the moment and it's hard to argue against that, especially coming off their historic series win in South Africa.

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It will be a tough assignment against the English who are ranked No 2, compared to New Zealand's No 8. The English squad for the ODIs has been bolstered by the arrival of skipper Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and James Anderson. That's five world-class performers.

New Zealand welcomes back B J Watling, Kane Williamson and Kyle Mills. These guys proved their worth again in the series win over the Proteas but you'd have to say it's advantage England on new personnel and firepower.

I expect this to be another competitive series though. I fancy a 2-1 result to England again but the Black Caps will back themselves and their best chance might be to strike early today in Hamilton where they have a liking for the Seddon Park ground.

One of the most pleasing aspects from New Zealand's T20 campaign was the return to form of opener Martin Guptill.

He had a torrid time in the tests and ODIs in South Africa so it was really encouraging for him to get three good scores against England over the last week.

He was a little slow in the opening loss in Auckland but he was brilliant in Hamilton and Wellington.

If Guptill can get the Black Caps away to good starts in the ODIs, the team has an even better balance to it to cash in on that.

- Simon Doull is a former Black Cap

- Sunday News

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