Unorthodox, misunderstood… or just the future?

Unorthodox, misunderstood... or just the future?

Cricket 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.
My Zimbio
KudoSurf Me!


A thought provoking article! And so soon after your first.

Now, a mate and I were arguing the other day at work as to the impact of 20:20 and whether the lure of money from tournaments such as the IPL and ICL will ultimately see players turning down the opportunity to play for their country to play for an IPL team instead.

So, if an ICL team came knocking with a substantial offer which would mean that you would have to forsake playing for the BlackCaps again, how would you react?

Comment by Heef | 12:00am GMT 28 February 2009

Interesting article! I completely agree with your sentiments regarding players being unfairly criticised for playing the reverse sweep. In my opinion it’s part of a wider issue in cricket that bothers me about the game- the widely-held conception that it’s somehow better to get out playing a defensive shot than an aggressive one. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Comment by Quinners | 12:00am GMT 28 February 2009

Can’t say i’m a fan of T20 myself. I think it takes the best aspects of cricket away from the game itself, such as a bowler working over a batsman in an over, or even a spell to get his wicket, the fantastic skill and concentration it takes to score a test match ton, the way a bowler earns every wicket in test cricket.

Obviously you have had your greatest success in the shorter formats of the game, and I imagine being a wicket keeper it is far easier on the body also. Which do you prefer playing, T20, OD or FC games? And which of the 3 formats do you prefer watching?

Cheers Pete, another good read. Hope you are here to stay!

Comment by Mark | 12:00am GMT 28 February 2009

Excellent read Pete!
although a very straight forward article, which all cricketers, and especially minnow cricketers(like myself) can relate to(such as explaining cricket)

Cheers! keep ‘m coming

Comment by Taz | 12:00am GMT 28 February 2009

The idea of bowlers being ambidextrous and varying their bowling in a manner similar to those of American ‘switch’ pitchers is an intriguing one. Yet it raises a larger question, is T20 Americanizing cricket? Cheerleaders, dugouts and as much bang for your buck as possible. In a game born out of a battle of wits over long periods of time, could not a hyper-short version of the game remove cricket from its roots? Do you think both T20 and the longer forms of the game can co-exist, or will they strangle each other to death.

(Your articles are a top read mate, glad to have you here on CW)

Comment by Athlai | 12:00am GMT 28 February 2009

I share Heef’s concerns, and it does seem to me that we are already going down that road with the Sri Lankans having been ordered by their Government to put the IPL ahead of the country\’s obligation to tour England before the Ashes series. No doubt the Indians leant on the Sri Lankans pretty heavily.

I admit to being something of a traditionalist, but I applaud KP’s switch hit and other new ideas, but Twenty20 simply is not cricket – I think Beefy referred to it as whackit once! And it just does not have the drama that a Test Match can provide. The last day in the Antigua Test was proof enough of that.

Also, I applaud Ricky Ponting’s decision not to take part in the IPL so that he can be fresh for the Ashes. At least he has his priorities in the right order.

Comment by Peter Head | 12:00am GMT 1 March 2009

Good article Pete!

While I will watch Twenty20 cricket if it is on T.V., it is far from my favourite format. The plusses are obviously the interest it gains from outside the ‘usual’ cricketing spectators, therefore introducing new people to the game can only be a positive thing.

It will certainly prompt unorthodoxy, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as you alluded to Pete, and can serve to enhance a cricketers armoury in terms of developing new skills to take to the Test or ODI arena, two forms I personally deem more important than Twenty20 cricket.

The danger is obviously too many Twenty20 competitions, the ECB are supposedly in advanced talks to have another Twenty20 County tournament over in the Caribbean, which would make 3 T20 competitions for English counties, alongside the T20 Cup and the proposed P20 tournament.

Overkill? I think so, ECB are thinking purely about money, in my opinion. With less cricket and more time spent doing quality training working on specific technical deficiencies, and rest, it will inevitably lead to higher standard competitions, and enable the spectators to see the players performing at their physical best.

Comment by Woodster | 12:00am GMT 1 March 2009

Interesting article!
I still haven’t seen any ambidextrous fielders in the international arena. I belive it’s nearly impossible to have the same accuracy and power I both arms, but still it would make fielding quicker and more aggresive.

Comment by Leandro (Italy) | 12:00am GMT 1 March 2009

Thanks for the comments, some great questions and probably not enough room to answer them all here.

Briefly, personally I do enjoy the limited overs form more, both formats present different challenges. I enjoy the music, the crowds, the atmosphere and the chance to entertain. If ICL came knocking would I consider it, It would depend how big the cheque is unfortunately. I have a limited amount of time left in my career, domestic cricket in NZ does not offer job security with 6 month contracts and no control over constantly changing remuneration, and I have had the honour of playing for my country, all be it briefly.
Quinners- great point that has bugged me since youth cricket.:-)
I hope the three formats can survive. They each require different skill sets. I can see the possibility of a similar scenario to found in Rugby where Twenty20 would fit the Rugby 7s format of a world circuit, with 3-4day spectacles around the globe.
Keep the questions coming!

Comment by Peter McGlashan | 12:00am GMT 3 March 2009

Great article, Pete. I’ve been living in the States now for over 10 years, so the advent of Twenty20 was after I became an ex-pat. It seems that it more closely resembles baseball in terms of time and hyperbole, which at least if that makes it palatable to Americans, I might get to see some live international cricket here!

Comment by Dave Wilson | 12:00am GMT 3 March 2009

Mcg!, will you be the side’s permanent keeper while mcc is in the squad?

I like to ask you this question – Right from the time I watched you, I noticed your wicket-keeping helmet, is that a baseball helmet? Or is it the Aero wicket keeping helmet?

I liked the knock of your maiden ODI 50, congratulations!. Are you in the Test Squad?

Good Luck for your sister. NZ has entered the semis. Hope they reach the final too.

T20 is known for entertainment alone. I don’t find it interesting. You always have a single motive of slogging each and every delivery. We can’t find any orthodox Text Book shots. T20 got more fame throughout the world. IPL and Stanford were the riseupers of it. I am really worried about the impact it is gonna have on the longest format of the game. Which format do you like the most?

Comment by Gilly_da_gr8 | 12:00am GMT 17 March 2009

Hi 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. 🙂

Comment by Peter McGlashan | 12:00am GMT 25 March 2009

I regret that your sister’s side lost the finals to the mighty England side in the final.

Did you prepare that mask from a broken helmet? i.e the top area is of the real helmet, while the gauze is from the baseball keepers helmet.
Am I right?

McG! are you going to be the successor of McC? Is it gonna be you or Garath Hopkins?

Well, your side is doing well in the 2nd Test match with India.

I like to say this. When I watch Jessie Ryder playing, he makes me remember Inzamam-ul-Haq and Roger Twose. Do you team-mates thought on him like that? Please reply.

Comment by Gilly_da_gr8 | 12:00am GMT 28 March 2009

McG, please share your experience on the Dramatic Napier Test.

Comment by Gilly_da_gr8 | 12:00am BST 30 March 2009

Hi Gilly,
As you can see in the Designing your Destiny blog the mask was designed from scratch and doesn’t include any parts from any other products.
Unfortunately who the successor to Baz is is not up to me, will just have to wait and see what the selectors think.
Jesse is a great character and I’ve known him since he was about 12 years old. He has a huge amount of talent and I think the cricketing world are just starting to see what he can achieve.
I’ve been playing a first class game for the Northern Knights over the last 4 days so unfortunately haven’t seen much of the test but we’ve been getting updates throughout. The Kiwis batted well but the wicket just proved too flat to pick up the 20 wickets required. Was always going to be a difficult task knocking over one of the worlds best batting line ups on such a flat track.
The boys will be hoping for a bit more pace in the Wellington wicket to try and even up the series.

Comment by Peter McGlashan | 12:00am BST 30 March 2009

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