Is Twenty20 killing New Zealand cricket?
The scoop shot. The switch slog-sweep. Shorter boundaries. Dancers in the stands. The Big Bash (said: "Beeeeeg baash").
Whether you're a fan or a foe, Twenty20 cricket has a lot to answer for.
Before the first T20 international was played at Eden Park, between New Zealand (in beige) and Australia on February 17, 2005, many column centimetres were expended musing whether the abbreviated, abbreviated version of the game was a threat or saviour.
(For the record: Australia won by 44 runs in 2005, thanks to Ricky Ponting's unbeaten 98.)
Given the crowds flocking to domestic T20 games, the ICC was duty-bound to give it a go and try to broaden the game's appeal (and gate takings).
Eight years later, the jury is probably still out on its international legacy.
The slap-dash, glitzy form of the game certainly makes periods of a one-dayer seem fairly pedestrian these days.
Meanwhile, the T20 competition across the Tasman – which has suffered a huge drop in viewership and attendance – suggests the lustre is coming off cricket's shiny new toy.
The T20 effect
When New Zealand play England in a one-dayer at Hamilton's Seddon Park on February 17 it will mark eight years to the day since 30,000 people packed into Eden Park to watch that first international T20 match.
That's a decent period over which to run some numbers, comparing the eight years since February 17, 2005, with New Zealand's record in the preceding eight years.
What effect, if any, has the briefest form of the game had on New Zealand's one-day and test cricket record over that period?
NBR ONLINE crunched the numbers and the raw statistics show New Zealand scores more in one-day internationals with the advent of T20 and fewer test runs.
- Between February 1, 1997, and February 17, 2005, New Zealand averaged 210.83 runs in 186 one-day matches (excepting matches with no result) and 271.59 runs over 126 test innings.
- Between February 17, 2005, and today – the T20 era – New Zealand averaged 229.36 runs in 150 one-dayers and 257.17 runs in 116 test innings.
The win-loss ratio also makes interesting reading.
Pre-Twenty20, New Zealand won 86 of 186 one-dayers (two ties), for a 46.2% win ratio. That increased to 48.6% in the second eight-year block, as New Zealand won 73 of 150 matches (one tie).
In tests, New Zealand had 20 wins, 23 draws and 24 losses (for a 29.9% winning ratio) before February 2005, while after that the record was 16 wins, 15 draws and 30 losses (a 26.2% winning ratio, but with 49% losses versus 35.8%).
For the purists, in the eight years before February 2005 our lowest test total was 76 against Australia in November 2004, in Brisbane, while our highest was 630/6 against India, in October 2003, at Mohali, with centuries to Mark Richardson, Lou Vincent, Scott Styris and Craig McMillan.
New Zealand had 22 innings of 126 (17.5%) above 400 runs over that period.
In the T20 era, our lowest completed test innings score was 45, courtesy of South Africa in Cape Town earlier this month. Our highest total was also against India: 619/9 at Napier in March 2009, with centuries to Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum.
In 116 innings, New Zealand had 18 (15.5%) above 400 runs.
Figures versus talent
The aggregation of eight years of innings scores (minus matches with no result) makes interesting reading.
However, statistics are not perfect and with something like sport the numbers can be easily skewed.
Playing in that first Twenty20 international in 2005 were some of our best one-day exponents, such as Chris Cairns (retired 2006) and Craig McMillan (retired 2007).
You could argue retirements of key players – especially for cricketing nations without the depth of, say, Australia and England – would hurt New Zealand.
Yet two of our current one-day greats, McCullum and Kyle Mills, played in that historic 2005 match and, earlier this month, helped New Zealand to its first series victory of any sort in South Africa.
In terms of tests, you would think the raw figures would punish a side for making a big first-innings test score and setting up a small second-innings chase – although you would hope over that many innings the effect would be smoothed out.
Putting aside the recent captaincy debacle, New Zealand's current team isn't suffering in pure class terms.
If he returns against England, Taylor averages 43.57 in tests (eight centuries), while many people's great hope, Ryder, averages 40.93 (three centuries).
Compare that to 16 years ago, the opposite end of today's exercise, when our side featured Stephen Fleming (test average 40.06, nine centuries) and Nathan Astle (test average 37.02, 11 centuries).
However, it seems inevitable – and NBR ONLINE's figures back this up – T20 will make us more aggressive and successful one-day cricketers, while our test results, with fewer matches played, will suffer.
Back to the future
Looking back to February 1997 – eight years before the first international T20 was played – England breezed into Wellington after winning the first test in Christchurch and rolled our Lee Germon-captained side for 124 in the first innings.
The demolition, in 48.3 overs, was so complete England only used the three bowlers: Dominic Cork (one wicket), Andy Caddick (four wickets) and Darren Gough (five wickets).
To rub salt in the wound, Dipak Patel top-scored for the Black Caps with 45.
Graham Thorpe's century ensured England would only bat once, as England won by an innings and 68 runs.
England took the series comfortably 2-0.
Given New Zealand suffered two innings defeats in South Africa earlier this month, the looming test matches against England might be a case of back to the future for our struggling team.
Our chances will be better in the T20 matches.
It will be interesting to see if 30,000 people turn up at Eden Park.