In an exclusive interview in the latest edition of Wisden Cricket Monthly, England white-ball coach Matthew Mott, fresh off winning the T20 World Cup, argues that in order to keep ODI cricket relevant, the format must be shortened to 40 overs.
The only blemish on England’s tour of Australia was the ODI series against the hosts that began just four days after Jos Buttler lifted the trophy at the MCG. Buttler was clearly not enthused to be playing the series and Moeen Ali described it as “horrible”. It was hardly surprising, then, that England were thumped in the three matches that were ill-timed, poorly attended and lacking in context.
“As a coach, you turn up in the morning and you’ve got a fair idea how everyone’s going and there’s only so much you can do,” Mott said, speaking to Melinda Farrell. “There are certain times you can push and prod, maybe stir a couple up to get a bit of energy about, but you could see in their eyes that they were just exhausted. They’d put so much into it. Aside from the fact that it was a World Cup, the two months’ lead in Pakistan, which took a huge physical toll as well.
“The bilateral series, the timing of them is everything. And obviously after the Bangladesh series we don’t play another one until after the England summer against New Zealand and Ireland. That’s not ideal, but unfortunately, that’s what it is. We’ve got to make the best of what we have got and then make some really smart decisions in and around that domestic season. How are we going to manage the players and keep them fresh and ready for that World Cup?”
But Mott believes that making ODIs relevant and timely is not just a question of scheduling. He would like to see the middle format reduced to 40 overs per side.
“We need to have a view of what’s going to be relevant in 10 years’ time and what are people going to gravitate to?” said Mott. “I think Test cricket and particularly Ashes and icon series are always going to have relevance, so that is still quite strong. But we need to evolve the different formats. T20 is obviously still incredibly relevant but there’s a lot of franchise cricket around it. What does it look like in between World Cups and how do we get the best balance between the franchises and bilateral series?
“After this next World Cup, I think the 50-over game does need some really strong conversations around what it’s going to look like going forward. I was campaigning for it a lot in women’s cricket but I still think now, having been back in men’s as well, it’s trying to bring it down to 40 overs. I was coaching Glamorgan when we had 40-over cricket and it was a great product.
“It’s long enough to still maintain the integrity of the game, you can still score a good hundred, still take a five-for, but it just cuts out that little bit of extra fat in the one-day game. It can get a little bit tedious at times. I think that’d be a great way to inject some life into that format.”