Begun, the Format Wars, Have

A great deal has happened in our favorite sport over the last couple of days: Kevin Pietersen retired from international limited overs cricket, the ICC’s cricket committee made some rather sweeping changes to the ODI format, Sri Lanka positively THRASHED Pakistan in a T20I, there were rumors of the Champions League T20 moving to South Africa, Edgbaston was announced as the host of the 2013 Champions Trophy Final, and the details regarding England’s 2013 international summer were announced: the two most imporant parts of that last bit where that the New Zealand series is going to conflict with the IPL (or vice versa) and the Ashes are going to open at Trent Bridge.

Those were all of the major news stories regarding cricket (with one exception, which I will get to a minute), and all of the them save for the last item revolved around the one day format.

Now, that is just coincidence, of course, but I think it makes for an interesting backdrop for a discussion on KP’s decision to quit international limited overs cricket in order to focus on test cricket and, presumably, the Indian Premiere League. He is choosing the two most diametrically opposed formats in the sport; and he is doing so supposedly out of physical necessity: there is just too much cricket to play, his 32 year old body is starting to break down, and he needed to make a choice: retire from international limited-overs cricket, become a T20 mercenary in order to make big, quick cash, play some tests here and there, and then retire before it all goes south – or get hurt playing a meaningless T20I against New Zealand and die penniless.

He chose the former, and I personally don’t blame him in the slightest; just as I didn’t blame Malinga when he quit the test format; as it all comes back down to the fact that there is too much bloody cricket. Limited overs cricket has taken over the entire sport to the point where the ECB can’t find room for a fourth test against South Africa this summer, but they can find room for 13 (!!) one day internationals.  The national boards are squeezing the life out of their players, and the sport in general. The onus is no longer squarely on the IPL, nor was it ever, really – it belongs on the shoulders of every cricket board across the globe.

Now, however, the players are starting to revolt, and I think it’s great. And not just any players, but two of the most exciting players in the game. I am not an England supporter, but I was heartbroken to learn KP will not feature in this fall’s Twenty20 World Cup.

Now, we fans just need to join in on the revolution, and maybe the boards will start to listen.


The one news story I left out concerned discussions regarding the resumption of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, which I think it is just fantastic news.

In order to thrive and grow, cricket needs a lot of things: to list all of them is a post for another day, but a strong West Indies side is one such thing, and India playing Pakistan on a regular basis is another.

And so let’s hope the two nations can figure out a way to peacefully co-exist, on the cricket pitch at the very least.

Until next time.

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