I enjoyed my day at the Oval last Friday, and I enjoyed listening to the second game from Lord's on Sunday. But I didn't enjoy them because the cricket was great. I enjoyed the first because a kind man from Natwest insisted on buying me a beer every twenty minutes. I enjoyed the second because how can you not when Henry Blofeld is commentating with Angus Fraser?
Stephen Brenkley got it spot on in yesterday's Independent - 'between roughly the 20th over and the 40th in most innings of one-day internationals the game is put in a kind of suspended animation in which the bowlers bowl and the batsmen bat ... as if by unspoken agreement.'
I have come up with a plan to liven up these middle overs. First, leave one slip (at least) in place for the entire innings. Surely a 50-over match has yet to be played without a catchable edge flying through the vacant slip cordon. Retaining a slip would also persuade batsmen out of the 'run down to third man', forcing them into something less comfortable.
Secondly, something must be done about those mind-numbing singles to longs-on and -off. 96.5% of all runs scored in the middle 20 overs (roughly) are scored in singles straight down the ground. The bowler is happy to concede them, the batsmen happy to score them. That's not what sport should be about. Why not retain a mid-on and a mid-off, but also have a long-on and long-off to save the boundary?
All we need is an adventurous captain to take the lead and maybe, just maybe, we will have a revolution on our hands. Oh yeah, and get rid of the ridiculous 'power play' (a misnomer if ever there was one - shouldn't the word power conjure up images of excitement and ... well, power?).