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Cup Match is out-dated and needs to change

One thing you know about Australians is this: they love being in the water and they love their cricket.

Ok, that’s two things.

The World Championships, the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games showcase just how proficient the Aussies are in the water, but it traditionally has always been on large, well-manicured ovals across the globe that they have really shone.

As Aussie legend Ricky Ponting moved to second spot on the all-time Test run scoring list yesterday, it got us Aussies based in Bermuda pondering a few things.

Before we start, for the record, Ponting, the former most successful captain to ever wear the baggy green for Australia, and who made his Test debut in 1995, moved past Rahul Dravid’s career total of 13,288 to reach that lofty second spot. India’s Sachin Tendulkar has the highest total of Test runs with 15,470 at an average of 55.44. Ponting now has 13,289 at a Test average of 53.78.

Ponting lives in the same part of Australia that I come from — the Sutherland Shire in NSW. Incidentally, David Moore, the Bermuda head cricket coach, comes from there too. Only 122,000 people live in the Shire — so the above is worth noting.

Anyway, while we all celebrated Ponting’s incredible milestone, it made me think of Cup Match here, which is just around the corner. Start gearing up folks for your annual four-day break as Cup Match, to be played in Somerset this time around, commences on August 2.

I have been here for three Cup Matches now — and love them when you go to the ground. The coverage on TV is pretty lame, however. But by and large, the energy, excitement and what it means to people of Bermuda is infectious and good.

I researched a few things online for this story, and was surprised to discover that for many years, until 1902, the unofficial festive game was between two fraternal lodges on opposite sides of Bermuda — in Somerset in the west end and St George’s on the east end.

And here’s the starting point of my thought.

At the moment, recruitment of cricketers to each team determines their respective make-up. Fine — free choice by the players as to which side they play for is interesting. But is that really the strongest way of garnering interest, tension and parochialism for the classic each year?

It’s a bit like Real Madrid vs Chelsea in football. How many of the team actually come from those regions?

So what about this idea?

If we drew a line from the most extreme western point of Somerset to the most extreme eastern point of St George’s, then dissected it north to south, the inter-section would fall directly on the boundary of Devonshire and Pembroke, meaning a fifth of the eastern-most residents of Paget would be on the Devonshire side.

Completely broken down for easier understanding, the division that line would be: Team 1 everyone in Devonshire, Smith’s, Hamilton Parish, St George’s and the town of St George plus those scant few from the east side of Paget.

That leaves everyone in Sandys, Southampton, Warwick, Pembroke and the eastern part of Paget, all together as Team 2.

Where you were born, within these two regions, should dictate which team you play for on Cup Match weekend. Make that the new criteria for eligibility and promote it as such. The tension, parochialism and intensity of support would go through the roof.

Pride does that in human nature.

Pluck players from their club sides, make it a mate-against-mate contest based purely on parish of origin, and already the climate for competition changes.

Now, and here’s where it gets different on the field too, dispense with the old game format. The cumbersome hybrid format, which is Cup Match today, has resulted in 43 drawn years since 1902! How have you guys tolerated that?

Even the introduction of the 20 overs on the final day has not changed the complexity or opportunity for a result.

So what about this?

Let’s have two separate one-day matches between the two clubs. Then to get a result every time, simply add the respective scores together from each day. Whomever posts the largest wins.

I can already hear people saying: ”But what about rain, what about de rain?”. Well, if it’s pouring it matters little which system you apply; the match will be abandoned anyway. But on the times when drizzle or intermittent rain halts play, we have the already proven Duckworth-Lewis Method to help determine the winner.

That method has served the international cricketing world, particularly in one-day matches admirably.

Now, all that aside, let’s look at the two-day cricket festival under the proposed idea of playing one-day matches twice, then simply adding the final tallies to see which team prevails.

Hypothetically, suppose this year St George’s wins the toss on day one and chooses to bat first under beautiful sunny skies. They bang out 235 from their allotted 50 overs. We have tea, and Somerset comes in to bat, scoring 234 after 50 overs.

Day two arrives, God has been great this year providing us with typical beautiful Bermuda weather, and we set out again. New day, new game, so new coin toss.

Somerset wins the toss and elects to bat first this time. They club an impressive 297 from there 50 overs. President Alfred Maybury is throwing high fives in the air, smiling from cheek to cheek as his boys, probably led by Stephen Outerbridge’s inspired unbeaten 103, look set for victory.

This now leaves St George’s with the task of belting 297 for victory, thus emulating Somerset’s second day score. After ten overs, they are four for 56 and in trouble. We know at this point there will be a definite result, even if rain starts to fall.

Which is a lot more enjoyable then sitting there watching on with a potential draw at hand, once again.

Do St George’s manage to reel in the Somerset score this year from above? Hmmm, without a Ponting in the squad to bolster and belt away, it looks highly unlikely. But wait, he would not be allowed to play under the parish of origin rule.

But then again neither would Bailey’s Bay captain, Stephen Outerbridge, for Somerset.

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Published April 25, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated April 25, 2012 at 9:02 am)

Cup Match is out-dated and needs to change

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