Having had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Melbourne Australia I took the opportunity to study the new scoring system in depth and below are my thoughts on the system.
Firstly by way of explanation I am a social player having first picked up a racquet in 1971 and joined a club 6 months later. I have played on and off for the last 36 years and been heavily involved with competitions particularly over the last 15 years. I never played for a County but did play in friendly leagues for a number of years. I have been an Umpire for the last 6 years and a line Judge at International events, National competitions and also Elite/ Grand Prix competitions so I have seen some high standard of badminton played over the years.
At the Manchester Commonwealth Games I saw virtually every badminton match played as I worked alongside the competitors ensuring they were ready to go on court at the correct time so was able to see at close hand the previous best of 5 x 7 points experiment. Apart from badminton I have been involved with the organisation of track and field, 10 mile,10k road competitions, cross country, sailing, tennis, golf and fishing competitions for my works organisation on a regional and national basis for the last 15 years so have seen many different competitions close up.
During the Team competition in Melbourne I saw not only the last two England group matches but also their semi-final and gold medal match. Also I was able to watch some of the lesser Nations play each other in group matches.
My first impression was total confusion in doubles matches as although the Commentator had given a brief explanation of the new system I was taken aback at the fact that each side only has one serve and that instead of when the serve changes hand you commence serving from either side depending on what the score was when the serve changed. Of course we have all been used to always starting from the “right” court and this took some getting used to at first.
I think it would be fair to say that most competitors in the matches I saw probably served slightly more conservatively to ensure that at least they didn’t throw away a point by serving into the net or hitting it out at the first opportunity. This was evidenced by the fact that most of the time certainly at the beginning of the matches ‘rallies’ actually got going and then it was up to each player to either win the point outright or as was happening a lot players hit the shuttle out thus giving away a point rather than someone actually ‘winning’ the point on their own serve.
Certainly it should be said that many of the lesser players scored more points which probably flattered them than they would have done under the old system. Comments were made by players off court that ‘at least I scored some points’. Well yes on paper they did appear to have scored points but it might be interesting to analyse if possible how many points these players would have attained under the old system (if any)
As regards the England Team matches in particular the only really close matches usually involved Aamir or Tracey who were both involved with protracted matches. Tracey in particular with both the match against the Indian and Malaysian competitors had leads which possibly she should not have surrendered but I am not going to get into any form of debate about the outcome.
In both the described matches were trying their best to win and were suffering from nerves which tended to make for unforced errors one might say but certainly the crowd were on the edge of their seats and no one would predict which way the match would go. When the points got to 20-20 each change of serve put a new emphasis on the next point and things were very unpredictable. Aamir suffered exactly the same in his semi-final against the Indian player.
The spectators were enthralled by the matches and I spoke to many people who had never even seen a badminton match previously and all without fail enjoyed the matches which they could easily follow with the rally point system. Other people who were not aware that the changes had been brought in couldn’t understand what was going on at first and thought the world had gone mad.
Matches generally were not on Court as long as they would have been under the old system but certainly were out there longer than the 5 x 7 points system. Some of those matches in Manchester were over in 20 minutes which was farcical.
Due to my work commitments at other events I was not able to attend any of the Individual competitions and did not see anything on television although one of the four courts was televised continuously. The only piece I saw on Television was a match between the top Australian men’s pair playing the top New Zealand pair when the only English Umpire at the games red carded one of the Kiwi’s for foul language to effectively give the Aussies match point which they proceeded to win by taking the next rally. The television station made more of the controversy surrounding the red card as this was considered a grudge match between old sparring partners anyway.
Was it a success? From my personal perspective I spent some with a lady from Northern Ireland who not only plays the game but coaches Juniors ( we worked together at the Bolton arena 4 years ago) we found it interesting and from what we could gauge from the crowd reaction so did the crowd.
What I would suggest is that we as players, organisers accept that maybe the game does need a change and lets live with it and adapt if necessary our styles of playing. All I would say is lets have one system not two.