The formats of cricket – a comparison
Cricket. The best international sport in the world in my opinion. With the 6 stumps, the 2 batsmen, and the 10 fielders, and the bowler, cricket is just an amazing game. Like any other game, it has formats. Cricket has three formats: Tests, ODIs, and T20s. Test cricket is “classic” cricket, played in white clothes, over a span of five days. It is the slowest of the formats, and takes a cricketing mind to watch patiently. ODI cricket is a little more on the exciting side. With 50 overs an innings, it is still very long, but not as long as Tests. Lastly, T20 cricket is the most quickly paced and exciting format of the game. It is only 20 overs long, meaning it is short, and hence not as boring. Now, let’s look at them from the perspective of the players.
Playing Test cricket for your country is a tremendous honor. Why, you may ask? Well, tests, as the name implies, are “tests”. They are the place where your skills will be put to the test. Test cricket demands more of the players than any format, both physically and technically. For one, the captain and coaches have to plan for five days, and not just one. They have to interpret how the pitch might behave for five days, and then come to a conclusion on selecting players and other stuff. Also, it really demands a lot of you, which ever position you play. Full-time bowlers are expected to bowl at least 35 overs a game, batsmen are expected to be like rocks; resolute, and determined to stay. To help them, strike rate is not important. They can take 200 balls to score 35 runs and nobody will care too much. Consequently, they are expected to score lots of runs. You are expected to get your team total to at least 360. Even fielders are tested heavily. For example, you can stand somewhere for like half the day and nothing will come your way, but when it does, you will be expected to pull out your best fielding. This is why fast-bowlers in particular find Tests very stressing, and also why quicks like Brett Lee and Shaun Tait forfeited this format and preferred to focus on the shorter formats.
ODI Cricket is kind of like the “neutral” format. This format is neither as slow and heavy as tests, nor as quick as T20s. You can score at a reasonable strike rate or about 80, and bowling spells are limited to 10 overs a bowler. A team total of 260 is a great total to have. It is not as terribly long as test cricket, but can go on from about 3 in the evening all the way till midnight. Still, it is the format where the majority of players play, as then neither have to be too durable, nor have to be too quickly paced. Even though teams that play it generally go at 4.5 an over on average, they can go at 8 an over sometimes, like the South Africa vs Australia match, where both teams scored 400+ runs in the whole 100 overs played.
T20 Cricket is the most unpredictable format of them all. You can need 5 of 30 balls with 5 wickets in hand and still lose the game, or score 25 in the last over to clinch a win. T20 is, in my opinion, the most fun of them all. It is 40 overs of run-scoring-wicket-falling-nail-biting-brain-twisting cricket. Your team can go from 124-0 in 13 overs to 150 all out in 19.4 overs, or go from 9-4 in 4 all the way to 197-7 in 20. It is the format that needs the most inventive thinking, and unorthodox tactics. In test cricket, you can bowl 6 full-tosses on middle stump, and even if the batsman hits 5 for six, if he gets out on the 6th, you’re safe. In T20 cricket, however, if you give 30 runs, whether or not you get a wicket, you will generally be taken off the attack. This is also the format where strike rate and economy matter the most. There’s a reason most senior batsmen don’t play T20s. After adapting to a required strike rate somewhere around a lukewarm 75-80, if you are expected to score at 200 when the circumstances call for it, it’s not easy. This is why most countries prefer to use T20s as a kind of testing site for young talents. Also, full-fledged all-rounders have more value in T20s than in any other format. That’s because you don’t have the option of using batsmen as part-time bowlers (if you ask MSD to bowl in T20s, the batsmen will take him for runs). So if you can bowl 4 overs at about 6.5, and hit at least 30 per game at a strike rate of around 120, you’re in. Despite all of what I have said, T20s are not very demanding physically. You need to bowl 4 overs as a bowler, and staying at the crease for about 10 overs will make you a very valuable batsman.