Swann’s song for 50-over cricket?

The Pavilion End, by Alvin Reeves

ENGLISH spinner Graeme Swann will have raised a few eyebrows at the weekend after his call to scrap 50-over international cricket.

 “I think one-day cricket will have to give at some point, hopefully for everyone,” Swann said on Saturday. “I don’t think that game should carry on for much longer. For me it’s not as enjoyable to play in. I think test cricket and Twenty20 are the way forward for cricket.”

Swann may cop some flak but he certainly will not be alone in his thinking. A poll in the UK’s Telegraph at the weekend revealed almost 60% of readers wanted 50-over cricket scrapped.

One can understand Swann’s thinking when you look at the scheduling of international matches across the three formats and various 20/20 franchise competitions around the world.

And worst of all, test cricket is suffering because of over- scheduling and the days of five-test series are something of the past.

Also the postponing of the world test series by the ICC until 2017 is an indication of how apathetic the world governing body is about the longest form of the game.

 Their decision to cave in to pressure from a television broadcaster – ESPN Star Sports – and delay the championship, due to be staged in England in 2013, in favour of the more lucrative 50-over Champions Trophy has been widely criticised.

The problem facing critics of 50-over international cricket is it still attracts decent enough crowds.

Not so though, at domestic level in South Africa. The limited overs game here has come full circle and been revamped a few times but it is not quite the same enticing package it was when Benson and Hedges cricket filled stadiums across SA on braaismoke-filled summer nights.

People have become spoilt for choice and there is so much out there for them to do these days they now think twice about spending an entire Sunday watching franchise cricket.

And it is not just at Axxess St George’s – crowds have been desperately poor for the revamped and renamed Franchise 1-Day Cup around the country. Apart from one match at Newlands when they freakishly had 6000 in the ground, the other games have battled to attract 1000 people.

With a deluge of 20/20 cricket being played globally, it would not surprise if Swann got his wish in a few years’ time. Tests and 20/20 cricket look to be the way to go. The thing is, where will we stop . . . at 10 overs per side? Or, perhaps a one-over bash?

One thing I am confident about though is that test cricket will stand the test of time. I hope I am right.

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