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Unorthodox, misunderstood... or just the future?

Peter McGlashan | 10:29am gmt 28 Feb 2009
Peter McGlashan BlogCricket is a game steeped in tradition and rightly so, with the sports origins dating back to the 1500s, but the reality is the game is entering a new era.

Twenty 20 cricket is changing not just the structure of the game, but the skills involved, the money generated and the spectators that attend the game. It is opening our noble game to the masses and, while some people see it as a blight on the tapestry that protects crickets traditions, it is creating a skill set and athlete that will revolutionise the game. Sections of the cricketing public would have felt the same resentment about Kerry Packers' World Series in 1979 and this revolution will probably have a similar effect.

Cricket for centuries was a simple game, despite public belief. The complexity of different modes of dismissal, and the jargon that went with it, meant it remained a pastime most followers were born into rather than fell in love with.

When overseas I'm often asked by foreigners more about the sport. The usual reply of "You have two sides- one out in the field and one in. Each man that is in the side that is in goes out and when he is out he comes in and the next man goes out" is usually met with a perplexed look and they feel none the wiser as to how the game is played.

The modern game however, is evolving and its players are displaying new skills not often seen twenty years ago. Shots like the reverse sweep, switch hit and ramp were regarded as "just not cricket" and extravagant. Now they are applauded and admired. A few years ago players were lambasted for merely attempting a reverse sweep. While some commentators still regard the shot as 'unorthodox', I can see it not being long before a miss-hit reverse sweep is treated with the same regard as a miss-hit cover drive.

Players and coaches like Mushtaq and Hanif Mohammad, Bob Woolmer, Andy Flower and Javed Miandad were all exponents of the reverse sweep and would have been labeled unorthodox at one time during their careers. Soon they will be seen as the pioneers that inspired Kevin Pietersen to turn and bat left handed.

People who think outside the square are always thought of as unorthodox until their ideas cross over from on the fringe into the mainstream. Einstein had learning disabilities and clashed with authorities at school. Edison was home schooled due to being easily distracted. Da Vinci drew creations before he had the means to build them.

Twenty 20 cricket will produce cricketers the likes of which we haven?t seen before. It won't be long before players are ambidexterous. Soon Einsteins of the cricketing world will be bowling both left arm and right arm, spin and seam in an over, before throwing down the stumps with either hand. They'll follow that up with switch hitting sixes on both the on and off sides.

The reason I'm fairly confident of this is numbers? big numbers. Probability would say that if enough people are playing cricket then more and more of these unorthodox trendsetters will be unearthed, and with the game as popular as ever in India, and China's interest in being at the 2019 world cup, who knows where the worlds best cricketers will come from in the future.

Other big numbers that will contribute to an increase in talented young athletes choosing cricket over other sports, will be transfer fees and bank balances. Twenty 20 cricket is attracting a new audience, therefore new consumers, therefore new investors. This new revenue stream has meant most of the world's international cricketers are on salaries comparable to footballers. For many young kids playing in the streets of these developing countries, cricket may become a way out, much like how football and basketball offers hope and inspiration to much of the worlds young, and on a smaller scale, rugby does to kiwi kids.

So next time you see a kid with a strange bowling action, who is batting both left and right handed, or you think is too tall to be a keeper, think again.

While they may be unorthodox, you may have got a glimpse into the future of the game we all love.
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McG, please share your experience on the Dramatic Napier Test.

Peter McGlashanHi Gilly, glad you enjoyed Hamilton, I did too :-)
The mask I wear now is specific for cricket wicketkeeping (though it probably has other applications which we're yet to discover ie, Baseball, softball, Fast bowlers in T20!!) It is the AERO KPR Face and I intend telling the story about it soon. I actually designed it from scratch myself so am very proud of it!
My sister has just returned from Aussie where they unfortunately lost the final to a very good English side.
And personally I do enjoy the shorter formats, I see the opportunity for my innovative game working best there and it is where I have had the most success.
Dave- I totally agree, the quicker we can get the Americans understanding the game the better. If the can sit and watch two teams of 50 bang into each other for 3 seconds at a time over a 3 hour period then they can definitely learn cricket. The potential to improve the marketing of cricket is astronomical and the increased revenue could be used to improve stadiums and coaching programs, benefiting spectators and future generations alike.
I'll tell the story some time of when my German University Professor, Snowboarding mate and I presented to Nike in the Tiger Woods complex at their Global Headquarters in Portland, when we worked on the cricket shoes. Very, very funny trying to explain cricket to an auditorium of Japanese, German, American, Canadian and Dutch Sports Science researchers and product developers. :-)

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Peter McGlashan will be regularly contributing blog pieces for Cricket Web readers to enjoy on topics ranging from his time with the Black Caps and Northern Districts along with various happenings in the cricket world.
Recent Comments
really Great blog, "Peter" congratulations on the win! I think you're a better keeper than Hopkins.
very nice & enjoyable video.hunting,fishing thanks
jazzi be
I think if they went on Leno it would be free. They get to advertise themselves. If it was another s
"You've got gloves on because you can't catch." :laugh:
Blaze 18
Great article :)
Quality stuff.
Good read Peter, thanks :)
Son Of Coco
You obviously haven't been watching the current Ashes series Peter ;)