Colombo: There was a time when cricket had a timeless Test – the match lasted for 10 days and only ended because the English team had to leave the ground to catch the boat back home. South Africa batting first scored 530, England replied with 316. In the second innings, South Africa put on another 481 – setting a victory target of 696 runs. England replied with an astounding 654 for 5 before they had to run off to catch the boat. Over 680 8-ball overs were bowled during the match which was played in 1938-39.
The ‘Timeless Tests’ were scrapped because they were dull, boring and threatened to destroy the sport. Neville Cardus, the legendary cricket writer, called it “This Durban monstrosity” but then again, in July last year, Haroon Lorgat, the then chief executive of the ICC, announced that, they could be reintroduced for the final of the inaugural World Test Championship in 2013. Read more.
Well that’s how crazy the ICC can get. But yesterday, things just got a little crazier.
A match between Sri Lanka and South Africa was reduced to just seven overs in each innings due to rain. South Africa batted splendidly to put on 78 runs on the scoreboard. Sri Lanka kept losing wickets to reach 46 for 5 in an innings that lasted just 38 minutes.
Yes, we had a victor and a loser but at the end of the day, the entire match seemed like a bit of a farce. Seven overs a side is the kind of cricket that is played in the gullies. And while Twenty20 is a bit of lottery, Super Sevens is just a mess.
The minimum number of overs that need to be bowled in a match is even lower – just five and that moment, you wonder whether the ICC could/should have figured out a way to maybe extend the playing time or play the match on the next day. T20 is short enough as it is but this is just stretching or should we say compressing it a tad too much.
After the West Indies lost out to Australia by 17 runs in the rain-affected match at Colombo – they would definitely want to avoid the kind of scenario that was Sri Lanka and South Africa found themselves in.
When Darren Sammy was asked what he thought about the seven overs an innings game, he held his head in his hands and then just shook his head.
"All I know is that crowd comes there looking for a T20 match and that is what they should get," said the West Indies skipper.
In the back, Australia’s Shane Watson was laughing his head off at the prospect of that happening. It’s not even a match. It's not even cricket.
Indeed, in a Super Seven – that’s what we are calling it – there is just too much left to chance. A few quick wickets and you could be down on the mat and it would be a shame to see the pre-tournament favourites of many people go out like that.
Note: On a slightly different tangent, it might well be worth to have a look at the Duckworth/Lewis method for rain interrupted T20 matches.
When play was brought to a halt – Australia were 100 for 1 and the par score was 83. But they would have won the match even if they were 99 for 5 according the charts handed out. And that is just ludicrous. If you’ve lost your top 5 batsmen for 99 in a T20 match, your chances of making 191 are pretty slim. Aren’t they?