John Buchanan did a commendable job as a coach    Getty Images
John Buchanan did a commendable job as a coach Getty Images

Former Australian coach John Buchanan trained the Australian side from 1999 to 2007, this was also the period when the side won three World Cups. Not just this, Australia also won Champions Trophy, couple of Ashes. After his stint with the coach was over, Buchanan joined the ECB as a consultant, after which he also rendered his services as the High Performance Director with New Zealand Cricket. Buchanan was also sen coaching the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League. Buchanan on this occasion opened up on many aspects related to the current state of the game and many more. In an interview with thehindu.com, Buchanan spoke about many aspect of the game and gave a deep insight about it.

When asked about if there is any scope fro innovations in T20 cricket after the emergence of IPL and T20Is, Buchanan said, “I think the real innovation must come from the administrators. I think it s the game that lends itself to for a more innovations around, for instance the number of players allowed to compete in a game. We just saw in Australia recently when a batter was struck on the head and he was removed from the game. And another player, who was not in the original 12, was allowed to enter the game. So my view is that a team should play as in a football game with maybe 15 players or rolling substitutions (as in field hockey). A substitution can happen at any time just the same as baseball and football what you are trying to do is take control of the game at any moment of time. If you think that you are losing trail of the game because of certain individuals are in the game when they actually should be out or vice versa, then it becomes the right of the coach to bring those changes. That can happen only if the administrators can bring in the change. The coach must have the right because the Twenty20 game is far more dynamic than the other formats and hence the situation requires someone far removed from the game to make changes and mak an impact on the game.

On being questioned about T20 posing a threat to conventional cricket, Buchanan said, “No. But I do think it s very much in the hands of the administrators to really take some good decisions about where and how it all fits together. So if your popularising the game, what all of us should be doing in the first place is just not focus on people playing the game at the top-end, it should also be at people coming into the game..children and their parents who support their children. They just want to hit the ball, run, have fun and get involved in a range of activity. So that s really backyard cricket. So that s where Twenty20 is re-branding backyard cricket. Therefore we need to encourage young children coming into the game through activity and Twenty20 will enable it. I think the traditional long form of the game will just not attract children, will not attract parents to be involved in long mornings, afternoons in the heat. Twenty20 is critical to attracting people into the game.”

When Buchanan was asked about Big Bash League has done good to Australian cricket and taken it forward? Buchanan said, “I think so. It has great ratings and the gate attendance is very high, which is good. But that s where I come back to the administrators. The downside is that the Big Bash almost actually competes with the long form of the game (Test cricket or Sheffield Shield cricket) which happens to be going on at the same time. So that s very confusing now. Twenty20 should not be competing with the long form. I think there is room for all three or all four. I think we have the fourth form which is the second long form of the game, simply because of the pink ball as against a red ball. It s played under lights which affects the conditions.

It s played with black sightscreens and one of the biggest thing is the physical demands on players. It s about recalibrating your whole physical system and also the umpires have to deal with day-night cricket over a longer period. Actually it s a one off game and you have to transition back into red ball cricket. The administrators are always looking for ways and means to enhance the product they have. I think they have created a fourth form of the game which is fine, but I think they need to acknowledge that they have to fit it all together so that the best product is delivered for the masses. Obviously broadcasters and entertainment will go with it.”

Recently Shane Warne expressed his views on Test cricket and termed it as boring, further Mark Taylor also suggested to cut down the Test cricket to four days. On this Buchanan said, “I think there are always a million ideas that will be tossed around. Obviously former players who have played the game have some views, the coaches have their views, the administrators have their views and the broadcasters will have their views. But in the end people have to think about the fundamental traditions of the sport, where all formats fit together. One has to get a clear picture before even they start thinking about tampering with rules and regulations. I don t think it will happen at this stage. I think anything can be boring.

I can get bored in a Twenty20 game simply because there may not be a contest there, I might not be interested in the people who are playing, one team might be on top of another or I might be tired. There is no question that Test cricket takes time, but that s what makes it unique. That s what will set it apart from other sports in history. Timeless Test matches have been played. So again the administrators are critical in the whole process. I think it s a case for less or more. We see Australia versus India in Australia once in four years. Then you might see a five Test series, but that is spread over a long tour. I will be inclined to go back to the future and play less Test cricket which would free up time for the other formats and therefore make Test cricket more appealing.”

On being asked if First-Class cricket will blossom as ever? Buchanan said, “Yes. Not only first class cricket there is club cricket below then you have the juniors..men and women playing the game. So that s why it is important for the administrators to understand that, it s just not the thin layer at the top which everybody goes to watch and which is the most visible aspect of the game. But if you don t have all the layers properly serviced and structured underneath then the top layers will not be able to produce the product, be it the long form or Twenty20 that will satisfy an expectant audience and expectant television audience.”