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Three formats, three teams

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When T20 first burst into our collective imagination, it was almost taken for granted that each country will field almost three entirely different teams, one for each format, given the wide diversity in skill sets required. Interestingly enough, teams still need to field three different outfits, but for entirely different reasons altogether.

Contrary to popular thought three to four years ago, most teams today field at least 7 to 8 players who fit in easily into each of the three formats (and a player or two who fit into none). The way the new T20 format has been approached over the last 6 months, specially after being exposed to not-so-easy batting pitches outside of the Indian subcontinent, shows clear signs of a little evolution in play with batting drifting just a little more towards 'innings building' and just a little bit away from 'wild thrashing'. Tests matches, in the meantime, have seen a steady increase in the rate of scoring. In the modern Test cricketing life full of care the batsman seldom stands and stare(s).

What we seem to be seeing then is a broad standardization in the way of play between all three formats, though large areas of differentiations obviously remain. However, the need for separate teams for each format has become stronger than ever, this time on account of the volume of cricket being played.

Economic and financial demands (a polite way to say greed) mean a reduction in the amount of cricket being played is unlikely in the near future, despite the fact that it is the major threat the game faces today. Basic physical and mental limitations mean it is impossible for players to keep performing at their peak for sustained periods of time under such conditions. The only short term solution then seems to go back to the policies of rotation and having a pool of about 25 players to pick from.


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