The changes made by the Cricket Committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to the playing conditions of One-Day Internationals (ODI) do not come as a surprise. The massive strides, in terms of popularity and ‘eyeballs,’ made by the shortest (thus far) format of cricket — Twenty20 (T20) — has prompted the august body to alter the existing rules to keep the flag flying high for the ODIs.
This will seem perplexing for many cricket romantics who decried the ICC for making ODIs more attractive than the traditional format of the game: Test Cricket.
As an aspiring cricketer, growing up in maidans of Mumbai, I can never forget how local cricketers, with both international and first-class games under their belts, sneered when the one-day version was introduced.
They felt that the core values of cricket were being compromised.
The revolution — in the midnineties during the ICC World Cup in the sub-continent when cricket was hawked like a marketed commodity with TRP ratings being a part of cricket statistics — made romantics fear for the existence of the longer, 5-day format of the game. Will ODIs kill Test cricket was the main question in the media! It will sound a bit bizarre but Test cricket has managed to survive the onslaught of the ODIs, which is now struggling to compete with T20. Case in point being the poor turnout for India’s home ODI series against England and the West Indies in 2011.
The games, during the two series, saw empty stands and dismal television viewership that too in a country where cricket sells like hot cakes. Test cricket, on the other hand, had packed crowds during the Ashes series and when India toured England and Australia.
ALSO READ: Two bouncers an over likely in one-dayers
To try and revive ODIs, the ICC Cricket Committee, chaired by Clive Lloyd, has recommended a few alterations to the existing format. Powerplays will be restricted to the first 10 overs with an addition of one five-over batting powerplay to be completed by the 40th over. From now, only four fielders will be allowed outside the 30 yard circle and the number of shortpitched deliveries (read bouncers) will be increased from one to two per over. The last one ostensibly to keep the bowlers from shedding tears.
The ICC will be hoping that the recommended changes, to be ratified the ICC board later this year, will add extra zing, vis-à-vis entertainment, to One-day games and try and bring it as close to the T20 format as possible.
The ODI format, which was labeled as ‘pyjama cricket’ by the legendary Australian Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly, was tolerated by cricket traditionalists as it helped its siblings – Test and first-class cricket.
For many years, ODIs were the cash cow that pumped in huge amounts of money to help run first-class and Test cricket in many countries. Thanks to the huge success of the T20 World Cups, the Indian Premier League and the Australian Big Bash, the shortest format of the game is now expected to be a large source of funding for ICC and world cricket bodies to maintain and manage the traditional forms of the game.
At a recent Legends Club meeting at the Cricket Club of India, many former Test and first-class cricketers concluded that T20 was a vulgar form of cricket. Most opined that the traditional technique of batting was ‘disappearing in favour of the baseball form of cricket; sans art, patience, perseverance; having a go at every delivery’. Whether the die-hards like it or not, T20 cricket is here to stay and it is ironical that the youngest sibling is now shouldering the responsibility of having to run the family of cricket.
(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer)
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2012. MTNPL. All rights reserved.