As a fan of cricket and a player, I have fallen in love with all formats of the game.
The patience of Tests, the temperament of an ODI innings and the raw strength, power and innovation of T20. Many of the BBL games I watched this year were very entertaining. Matt Wade and D’Arcy Short were on fire almost every game and the Heat vs Stars game where they chased 158 in ten overs was amazing to watch live.
It’s an exciting program to watch, but how does it affect young talent?
The BBL has changed the way Australian teams are chosen and how young talent can be discovered. Many hope to use the BBL like David Warner did, starting off as a specialist short format player to make a name in all three internationally recognised formats.
In recent times, D’Arcy Short has done just this to leapfrog others into the national T20 and ODI teams. Short has been extremely consistent and entertaining in his last three seasons with the Hurricanes and broke into the national T20 team on the back of some very solid performances.
Since then he has found success in many other forms of cricket including being brought in the 2018 IPL auction, ODI team and a massive knock of 257 in shield cricket. Shane Warne has been a great advocate of his and has promoted the suggestion for him to be playing Test for Australia on TV many times.
For instance, when he said “For me, D’Arcy Short’s the one. If you’re going to change, something, I think D’Arcy Short could be the new David Warner” on FOX Cricket’s Test coverage.
While I love watching D’Arcy bat and I wish him all the best, I don’t think he’s what the Test team needs right now. The Test team has been up and down this summer after losing convincingly to India and not being able to score a hundred to save their lives to scoring four against Sri Lanka.
While it was evident that Sri Lanka were not at their best against us, they are still a competitive Test team only ranked one below Australia.
Although the Test team could still be competitive with the best teams in the world with the help of Steve Smith and Warner, I think Australia won’t peak for another couple of years at least. The young Australians coming through the ranks are very decent with the likes of Will Pucovski and Matt Renshaw.
However, with competitions like the IPL and BBL becoming more popular, some players are having to choose between becoming specialist short format cricketers and Test cricketers.
While I think it’s okay for people to realise that they’re more suited to one format than another that they enjoy one more than the other, they shouldn’t have to make that decision at a young age before they’ve truly experienced all of the options, especially since it limits your options down the track.
This is a threat to the future of Test cricket as many young talents are pursuing careers in T20 cricket. This doesn’t happen very often as almost every cricketer would jump at the chance to play for the Test but when it does happen, Test cricket weakens as an enjoyable format to watch cricket.
Three years ago, this was a problem for the West Indies as many of their Test worthy players instead chose to play T20 cricket. And I don’t think anyone can blame them. There is a lot more money in T20 cricket at the moment, especially if you hop around from one competition to the next.
The attitude of players is shifting and while many see the Test team as the top prize, there are many others who are content to go around playing T20 cricket for a handsome price.
The direct impact competitions like the BBL has on young talent isn’t that bad as it actually promotes cricket to those who aren’t into the length of Test matches. This, in turn, creates more interest in the game which is good for the economic side of the game. However, it certainly impacts the decisions players make about their careers.
There have been instances where the player has benefitted from this, like Nathan Coulter-Nile, where the short format is a way for him to keep playing at the highest level in the wake of his many injuries.
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
This may advantage select individuals such as those in the same position as Coulter-Nile, nevertheless, I don’t believe that people should be targeted and forced into one format, especially if they don’t want to.
This has happened to players like Glenn Maxwell, who has been identified as a phenomenal short format player. While most would see this as a good thing, it has just about killed his hopes of playing the Test team, as he hasn’t been able to prove himself in Shield cricket because of his commitments to the T20 and ODI national teams.
I’m sure he would choose to play for Australia in these short format games rather than play shield cricket for Melbourne however, I am also sure that he’d love the opportunity to prove himself to the Australian selectors. Although I am not Maxwell’s biggest fan however I do believe that he has warranted at least an opportunity to prove himself as a player in the Test side. That is an entirely different matter though.
While the short formats themselves are not the problem, the indirect effects of the leagues have to be taken into consideration especially for the development of the youth of cricket.
T20 cricket is very entertaining to watch but Cricket Australia should be wary when promoting it to youngsters. Attitudes towards cricket are changing and if they want Test cricket to survive another generation, they should tread carefully.
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