Cricket: Game of constant change

HARARE - Cricket has undergone many transformations over the last 20 years, with the introduction of the third umpire back in November 1992, as well as the use of technology when having to refer unclear decisions.

But the biggest and most significant change has been the introduction of Twenty20 cricket which came on to the scene in 2003 and has since taken the world by storm.

With the change of the game, we have also seen many strategic changes, such as players who are earmarked as specialist Twenty20 players, and specialist test players.

Australia were the first country who took the first step when they realised that the time had come to have a test and ODI captain when Steve Waugh became the ODI captain in 1997,  while Mark Taylor continued to lead the test side.

At first, the decision seemed strange and left many people mystified, and others downright angry.

But as time went by, and as the amount of international cricket intensified, the idea became more practical.

England and South Africa have since embraced the concept, and the majority of the players seem to be able to respond to the different captains and their different styles of captaincy.

What has become very interesting however, is the recent decision by the ECB to appoint former left arm spinner, Ashley Giles as their ODI and Twenty20 coach, while Andy Flower remains the director of coaching, or in language that we understand, the head coach of the test team.

This seemed somewhat surprising as Flower himself made it very clear that players such as Kevin Pietersen should make himself available for all three forms of the game when playing for England.

When Giles was appointed, speculation ran rife with many people suggesting that the decision had something to do with the disagreement between Flower and Pietersen and that Flower’s job may be on the line.

After all, there is the age old saying that ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’.

But maybe the rumour mongers are jumping the gun. Maybe the time has come for younger and energetic coaches with fresh and new ideas to coach the shorter versions of the game, while the purists can focus on the longer version of the game.

Cricket South Africa clearly think that the ECB’S decision to have two coaches may be a good idea as they recently appointed assistant coach Russell Domingo as the coach of the Twenty20 team.

Weather this decision is practical or not, time will tell. But if Zimbabwe were to appoint two coaches, who would they be, and would such a concept work for us?

It is my firm hope that we would be one of the few countries that would still keep some of the traditional values and stick to one coach and one captain.

Although to be fair, the countries who have appointed different captains and coaches for the various formats play considerably more cricket than Zimbabwe.

But, does the amount of cricket really justify such drastic decisions?

Most of the players and coaches say that the reason these changes have been put in place is because of the amount of cricket being played and because they have young families.

Should they perhaps not have considered all these facts when they took on the role as coach or captain?

Or have we all been slow to realise that cricket is just as tactical off the pitch as on the pitch?

All of these developments will certainly have fans debating and discussing the pros and cons of what is rapidly becoming a game of constant change. - Dean du Plessis

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