Pushed to the limit
Bumble says a heavy schedule is damaging one-day cricket and calls for a limited-overs league.
Last Updated: 07/02/11 11:14am
It's last man standing out there. The players are falling like nine-pins.
Seven matches in the searing Australian heat is simply too much and both teams are grinding to a halt. I feel sorry for them, I really do.
England were down to the bare bones in Sydney when Paul Collingwood went off with a bad back and things became even more farcical as Steven Smith came on with a runner.
People will say some of these players have only been involved in the one-day series, which is true, but these matches come thick and fast. The players are being asked to play in day-night games and then fly across time zones to play again a couple of days later.
For example, the game in Sydney finished at 10.30pm and I was back at my hotel by 11.20pm when the players would have still been at the ground warming down and such like. And yet when I got on the 8.10am flight from Sydney to Perth the next morning, there were a number of Australian players on it.
So within a few hours of the match finishing, they were on a five-hour flight taking in a three-hour time difference - and this was supposed to be their rest day! The other days between matches are spent practising, so they're just flogging these players.
Forget the scoreline, this series had been instantly forgettable until Wednesday's game which was a really great match and the players deserve great credit for that. But let's be honest, we've had some very poor games in this series.
To use a racing analogy, it's like asking a racehorse to run every day. It is capable of doing it, but it won't win very often. Similarly, cricketers need to be primed, rested and prepared.
Instead, they're out on their feet. Of course, every player out there is trying his heart out, but I can see in their eyes that they're not ready to perform at the top of their game.
I'll be home for a week before going out to India, but the players will get just three days back in England before they have to go and practice in Indian conditions ahead of the World Cup. They'll barely have time to do their washing!
As a result of all of this, I am absolutely certain that major players from around the world will retire from one-day cricket after the World Cup. In fact, I know they will. They will still be available for Test matches, but they'll cash in by playing in the IPL instead of slogging their guts out in all of these one-day games. It's too much for them.
Mark my words, I can see it coming a mile off.
Seven matches is a cash cow, in my opinion. It's absolute madness to play so many games.
These matches should be an event and spectators should get high-quality performances, but instead they're just turning up, playing and then moving to the next venue.
That's not of interest to the public. On Wednesday, we only had 10,000 people at the start of play in a 46,000 capacity stadium and it rose to 19,000 when Australia started winning. It was less than half full and that needs to be addressed.
I love coming up with little ideas to improve things and my theory is that we should bring in a soccer-style league for international one-day and Twenty20 cricket.
Forget the word "series", let's have two separate leagues for 50-over and Twenty20 games. It can be arranged that all the big countries play the same number of games over a two-year period and you'd get two points for a win. At the end of two years, the team with the most points would be crowned the winners.
That format would get rid of the dead rubbers like we're going to see on Sunday because teams would still be trying to accumulate points. Michael Clarke and Shane Watson are being rested for this game, but maybe under my format that wouldn't happen.
After two years we could see who the top team is and that could sit alongside the World Cup, which is a knock-out competition. That's the bare bones of a plan and it obviously needs fine tuning, but I think we need to forget about the word "series" in one-day cricket.
Perhaps a league system could also be applied to Test cricket as well in place of the Test match rankings. I'm sure you can pick holes in the idea, but I think it's got legs.
Let me know what you think.