Greg Hawke | 12:28am gmt 24 Mar 2008
Am I the only one yawning during fifty over One Day Internationals these days? I don't think so; the game is losing its appeal.
How often do we see a close finish to an ODI these days? Even with the introduction of the bonus point system, and the "power plays", most games I've watched in past two or three years have been dull, un-eventful and even boring, with most results pretty much decided before the lights are even turned on.
Maybe it's the gap between India, Australia and the rest? Or maybe cricket fans are a bit tired of this form of the game, and need something new to be injected into the sport?
Twenty/20 is gaining momentum and popularity without doubt, but I'm still not convinced that this form (alone) is the answer either.
How about this? Twenty20 - but two Innings!
There is no doubt that Twenty/20 cricket is fast and exciting, with the big hits and the electrifying atmosphere which is usually not the norm for cricket fans to soak up. But with every Twenty20 match up, comes the real risk that one team will fall over very cheaply, or that people are finding themselves walking out the gates just as they are warming up to the excitement.
So, with the introduction of another innings, we can add another dimension to the game. And if a team is not having the best of luck while trying to belt the ball into the stands, and find they are defending something fewer than one hundred, then all is not lost. They can re-group and have another crack in the second innings and get back into the game.
By including a second innings, we will still have a game short enough to attract and maintain interest from the less seasoned cricket follower, still see the ball sailing into the spectator areas frequently, but most importantly allow this version of the game something like a lifeline or an insurance policy of sorts to give it every chance of producing a close and exciting finish - with maybe an added twist or two during the process.
Some might be thinking, what about Test cricket then? five long days cricket that can often end without a result. If we're going to scrap fifty over cricket, what hope will Test cricket have of surviving? But in my opinion, Test cricket will, and should rightly always have its place as this the ultimate test of skill, mental toughness and endurance in playing this magnificent game.
Back in 1996 former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe, invented a similar concept that he called "Cricket Max". Cricket Max was played in New Zealand by the first class cricketers and it involved two innings of 10 overs each. So even some 12 years back, Crowe was thinking the 50 over game was starting to get stale.
In February 1996 after creating the concept of Cricket Max, Crowe was quoted as saying "I Invented and designed Cricket Max because I felt it was time to provide to our spectators and TV viewers a game of cricket that was short in duration, very colourful, kept some old traditions and highlighted the best skills in the game."
"After 15 years of one-day cricket I could see a need for a new visual appeal in terms of the field lay-out, and the rules. This will provide great entertainment and an exciting result in 3 hours of cricket. There is far more scoring than ever before and also the potential for electric defensive work in the field. Cricket Max can be played and watched by anyone but nothing can beat seeing the best in the world display their skills in a whole match in just 3 hours."
It seems Crowe's vision way back then can be directly related to the era of Twenty20 cricket we are about to head into, but with one big difference. I think Crowe got it spot on with including two innings of the game.
I believe Twenty20 cricket is here to stay, and even though a Test Cricket enthusiast, I say it's very welcome. But let's see it being played over two innings. The game will still be over in less time than a dull 50 over format clash, plus it will give the game every chance to deliver double the excitement and a very real chance of a close finish to most fixtures.