There has been a lot of talk over whether the 50-over version is on its way out ever since Cricket Australia’s two-innings one-day format has made it to the news. And while it’s too early to ring the bell for the current arrangement of the one-day game, there can be no denying the fact that 50-over cricket is indeed in need of a massive overhaul.
When the World Cup is held in the Indian subcontinent next year, without doubt crowds will flock to watch the matches. But that doesn’t mean the problems with the format can be ignored. And, anyways the major issue was never with countries like India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, where cricket continues to be a passion. But with the amount of T20 cricket being played, it was only a matter of time before countries began with experiment with the present one-day version.
It is not that the ICC hasn’t made changes to format. In fact there have been a number of them over the last decade — the introduction of the hawk eye, power plays, free hit, et al. However the moot problem, i.e. the predictability aspect hasn’t seen much of an improvement.
Thanks to the field restrictions, the scores are getting bigger and bigger, but are being chased down as easily as they are set. The boundary ropes are getting shorter, which means the bowlers are beginning to feel they have little or no role to play other than running in and landing the ball on a spot. Agreed this is exactly the same case with the T20 version. And herein lays the issue.
If the spectators can watch non-stop slam bang cricket in 40 overs (three hours) why would they spend seven hours (100 overs for the same); more so when the game gets so dull in the middle overs of both the innings, when the teams are looking to consolidate.
What the new two-innings format proposes is to do away with the lacunae. And hence it must be given a serious thought. With both teams playing two innings’ of 20 overs each there will be lesser scope for mediocrity, which the present 50-over contests are inadvertently promoting.
The game flourished in the ‘90s, because it matched people’s idea of entertainment. However times have changed. In this Twitter-Facebook era, who wants to see batsmen aimlessly pushing and prodding for 20 overs, before launching an assault? It is an ‘instant coffee’ generation and the cricket played must be in sync with the audiences’ mindset.
Among the advantages of the two-innings version will be that you can watch your favourite team or player bat or bowl a second time and cheer for them if they failed the first time round. Nowadays fans have a developed a tendency to switch off their television sets once the preferred team or player has batted.
The newly-proposed format can possibly discourage that from happening. Further, teams will also get a better chance to make a comeback, unlike now when most of the matches are dominated by one side. In the tri-series against Zimbabwe, all the matches were won by the side batting second, the last thing a one-day tournament needs.
The flip side to all this is that the future of the 2015 World Cup is in danger. Well, that was always going to be. As mentioned earlier, the 2011 World Cup was never going to be affected, considering it was being played in the Asian cricket-playing nations. But that doesn’t mean the ICC can relax. They have to look beyond, and too the future. And if that means altering the World Cup arrangement as well, so be it.