Bat to the Future (or Here One-Day, Gone the Next)

by Andrew Gigacz

Cricket’s big issue of 2010 is the future of the one-day international. Whatever your preferred medium of cricket coverage, chances are the undercurrent flowing beneath it will be the debate about how the Twenty20 form of the game will shape the landscape of the sport over the next decade or two. And what place, if any, there will be for the game’s 50 over version.

As a fan of what many call the purest form of the game, Test cricket, I can’t say that I’ll be lamenting the demise of the one-day international (ODI), if indeed that is its destiny. That’s not to say that the ODI hasn’t served a purpose over the past thirty-odd years. Far from it. Financially, cricket today would’ve been a basket case without the introduction of ODI’s. They have served to provide a strong fiscal base upon which Test cricket has been able to build. And the fielding skills that we see today are far superior of those of the pre-WSC era. One-day cricket can be thanked for that.

But if I was asked to remember a specific ODI played even a year or two ago, I would struggle greatly. I have many special memories of moments, days and entire matches of Test cricket. In the ODI world, I can think of only a few. (Michael Bevan taking Australia from 6/33 to a last ball victory against the Windies is probably the best of those few.) Like a fast-food dinner, they’re a quick fix. I can remember some great restaurant meals from my past but I couldn’t tell you when and where I ate my best Big Mac.

In terms of the quick fix, ODI’s have been usurped. The Twenty20 format is so popular that domestic matches are drawing larger crowds than international ODIs. Twenty20 matches have most of the flaws of ODIs in my mind. While providing the odd magic moment, they can reduce what would be seen as something special in a Test – a couple of sixes, a double-wicket over or a whirlwind innings – to something almost mundane.

But the Twenty20 format does eliminate a couple of the critical faults that have dogged the 50-over game. Firstly, it removes the mid-innings “dead-spot”, where the batting side cruises to ensure it doesn’t lose too many wickets before it can make a big assault at the innings climax. And secondly, the Twenty20 game is over and done in a couple of hours, meaning families and individuals don’t have to sacrifice an entire day of their social calendar. It also means a far smaller chance of alcohol-fuelled crowd behaviour problems.

If cricket’s powers-that-be can recognize this, then they should be strong enough to make a radical decision sooner rather than later: remove the ODI format of the game and replace all existing ODI fixtures and events with Twenty20 games.

Don’t dither, just do it.

Immediate benefits will be there for all. The ICC and boards of the cricketing countries will have an immediate solution to the problem of the ever more crowded cricketing calendar. The players themselves will be afforded a far greater chance of enjoying proper physical recovery between matches and tournaments. With ODIs removed, there will also be less occurrences of players have to choose between representing their country and maximizing their earnings.

And fans of Twenty20 will get to see more of it. Even us traditionalists might be able to reap the benefit of the change via the luxury of longer, more meaningful Test series, where visiting sides have enough pre-series preparation time. An extra tour match for both Pakistan in the West Indies this summer would almost certainly have given us two more evenly-matched test series-openers.

So to one-day cricket I say thanks, you’ve served cricket wonderfully but your younger sibling’s hour has come. In the words of Big Brother’s Gretel Killeen, “it’s time to go.”

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. Steve Healy says:

    You make some great points Gigs, although I’m not yet sure whether they should scratch the 50 over game completely, but sometimes ODI’s are really predictable, teams always scoring at a steady rate of 4-5 runs an over without many boundries is the case a lot of the time. 2020’s add another element to cricket, its swing and hope for a lot of the game

  2. Thanks Steve. I always hope my articles are like a pencil well-sharpened at both ends, i.e. they have at least a couple of good points…

  3. Gigs whats with the Guillotine?
    dont tell me its a repeat of the French revolution! LOL

  4. I like ODI’s better than Test Cricket and 20/20

  5. Peter Flynn says:

    Agree Gigs.

    A well-reasoned argument.

    I’m watching the one-day World Series Classics and thinking what in the hell was that all about (except for Viv’s 106 at the MCG in 83/84).

    Love me Test cricket and don’t mind the T20 in small doses.

    The fans will vote with their feet.

    50-over cricket in Australia from here on in (played under the current rules and regulations) will be largely played in front of 2/3 (if lucky) full stands.

    Each sport has a critical mass of supporters. T20 is taking support away from 50-over cricket.

    And as Gigs argues, rightly so.

  6. Mais oui, Madamoiselle Eid. J’aime la guillotine. Viva la revolution!

    Well Josh, I guess you won’t be too happy with my piece then! I just think that one of the three formats needs to go to allow cricket to survive and thrive. And I could never allow Test cricket to lose out!

  7. I don’t disagree with your piece, i just like ODI. Not too short like 20/20, not too long like Test cricket. But, im not into cricket that much so my opinion doesnt matter too much

  8. LOL translation please??

  9. Didn’t you do French, Danni?

    Roughly it translates as (and you gotta say it in your best Pepe Le Peu accent): “But of course, Miss Eid, I love the guillotine. Long live the revolution!”

  10. Gigs, I agree. Definitely a well put together argument. I went to the Twenty20 between Vic and Tassie a couple of weeks ago. Very enjoyable game. One-day is stuck between the classic, 5 day challenge of a Test match and the speed and entertainment of a T20 game. It just doesn’t really have a place. The lessening crowds for ODI matches are just further evidence that ODIs are losing steam.

  11. Steve Healy says:

    Federer speaks french Danni, you better start learning.

  12. Bahaha Steve, I think Roger speaks a few languages actually. French, English, Spanish, German, Swahili…

  13. ….lol Gigs!
    im so French Revolution updated thanks to the hsitory holiday hw infact im making more notes right now.. :)

    yeah Fed is a smart cookie..id like to learn to speak Swiss. :)

  14. Gigs, I think your summation is pretty well right, and would reflect the lines that cricket administrators would doubtlessly be thinking along.

    Having said that, I think it’s quite sad, and also a risk. Sad because the death of 50-over cricket will demean the history of some of the great games in the past (the Bevan game you mentioned, the World Cup games against South Africa in 99, Gilchrist’s first 100 at the SCG in 97-98). A risk because 20-20 generally lacks the momentum swings you can get in a longer form, so there’s the chance that we might all be bored with 20-over cricket in 5-10 years’ time, and (if that time comes) it’d be a shame if we’d previously killed off the alternate form.

    I think the biggest problem with 50-over cricket is the plethora of meaningless games, which have devalued every game that’s played and so eroded our interest. I reckon there’s every chance that administrators will do the same to 20-20 too…

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