Saturday, August 14, 2010
The future of one-day cricket?
In recent times, one of the most hotly debated topics in cricketing circles is about the future of one-day cricket. Every tom, dick and harry, who has played international cricket is voicing his opinion as they don't want to be left behind when it comes to grabbing the headlines. The general consensus seems to be one-day cricket has become saturated and we should only concentrate on t/20 and test cricket. The latest former player to join the bandwagon is New Zealand's former captain and perhaps their best batsman ever Martin Crowe. The alternative view is to reduce the number of overs to 40 and split it into innings of 20 overs each. The Australian board is already going to try that format during this season, though their domestic players don't seem to be exactly happy with the idea. One of the biggest supporters of the idea seems to be the current record holder for the highest runs in both test and one-day cricket Tendulkar himself!
My two cents on future of one-day cricket
I don't think we can hide behind the fact that one-day cricket is losing its popularity ,but it isn't right to say that one-day cricket should be scrapped altogether as it has given us so much joy in the past. So, below are my views about how to inject life into one-day cricket.
Prepare sporting pitches - Unlike test cricket, the shorter formats of the game should slightly favour the batsmen as the crowds come to see big hits, but the feeling I get is, it has become too easy to get scores of over 300 in one-day cricket. I would like to see pitches that has something in it for the bowlers, but good batsmen can still get runs and a total of around 250 can be posted. It gets bad when in most of the matches, one team scores around 300, or over 300 and the other team can match it. I have always believed that cricket can succeed in long term, only when the game isn't fully loaded in favour of either batsmen, or the bowler. At present, in most cases, one-day cricket is heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen.
One of the greatest criticism of one-day cricket has been, after the bowling team takes the first two power plays, the game becomes monotonous. Once the fielding captain takes the first two power plays, he would spread his field and as a result, batsmen just pace themselves by taking singles and look for the odd boundary, until the slog overs come around. Sporting wickets would encourage the fielding captains to attack and look for wickets even in the middle overs. Gone are the days, when a Mark Taylor would introduce Warne in the first 10 overs itself on a track that is turning a bit, Dipak Patel opening the bowling, or Anil Kumble bowling during the first 10 overs in the subcontinent.
I would also like to see no boundary ropes on grounds. If that isn't possible, at least don't make a big ground like MCG feel like a small rugby ground in New Zealand. The beauty of cricket lies in singles being converted into twos and twos being converted into threes with fielders showing their agility to run the batsman out. Gone are the days, when we frequently used to see Dean Jones, or Beven running like hares and converting twos into threes with Bill Lawry shouting in the commentary box, it is all happening out there! Collingwood, Hussey, or De Villiers are very athletic and steal twos or threes, but with boundary ropes around, most of the times, we see big hits.
Limit the number of one-day matches- Just like t/20 cricket, one-day cricket was used as a cash cow in the past and now fans are fed up with too much one-day cricket being played. It seems like India and Srilanka play every month a one-day series, or a tri-series. Last year, England and Australia played a seven match one-day series and in the end, it was a real drag. Concentrate mainly on the World cup and Champions trophy with teams playing the occasional three match one-day series.
No more gimmicks- We have already seen the super sub fail spectacularly and now there is a push for converting the fifty over format into a forty over format and splitting it into two innings. I think it is complete madness as in the end, they would also lose out on the few loyal supporters, who still like one-day cricket and T/20 fans would stick with the fast paced t/20 format.
I like the batting power play as it brings life into the middle overs, but teams should look at taking it when they have wickets in hand and a batsman is set as it would make the middle overs more interesting. Teams would also benefit from it, as they would have wickets in hand and can go after the bowling. I just don't understand the use of batting power play with tailenders like Onions and Anderson at the crease. It happened in the champions trophy when England delayed the power play, though both Bresnan and Wright were going great guns and in the end, they were forced to use it with Anderson and Onions at the crease.
You may call me old fashioned for suggesting sporting wickets and not having boundary ropes and I have no data to show that it would work, but having visited many cricket forums and blogs, the general feeling I got was, as the fans of one-day cricket grew up watching it in the 80's and 90's, they like it as compared to test cricket, one could see few more shots, but at the same time, bowlers could get some assistance and as a result, it makes for good viewing. So, my feeling is, if ICC goes back to the fundamentals of one-day cricket which made it popular in first place, one-day cricket can retain its existing fan base and may even bring back a few fans, who have left following one-day cricket. Of course, there should be a reduction in number of one-day matches played and ICC should look to mainly market the World cup and Champions trophy. I though must be day dreaming to expect the brainless and pusillanimous ICC to take such steps.
I would just say that over the years, one-day cricket has given lots of entertainment to cricket fans with edge of the seat nail biting finishes. We have also seen so many great individual feats by cricketers. So, I don't think we can just say that let us scrap the one-day format.
Finally, for suggesting old fashioned idea, I am ready for the backlash lol.