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October - November 2009
India Sport Scene
Thinking Aloud: Future of One Day Internationals
When One Day Internationals were born, and when this form of cricket became very popular with the masses, some cricket pundits had then predicted that Test Cricket was in danger of demise. Nothing of that sort happened. Test Cricket actually prospered. It became more aggressive, the fielding standards and physical fitness improved so also there appeared innovation of new strokes not chronicled in any text books of cricket ( eg. Reverse Sweep). There was more urgency shown by teams to try for results than for tame draws. All these positive points percolated in Test Cricket from the one day internationals. Adam Gilcrist and Nathan Astle scored centuries at a pace never seen in Test cricket except for those scored by the one and only Sir Donald Bradman. Similarly there is no danger to one day international due to the advent of T-20 cricket. Actually, T-20 shall benefit the 50-over game. Danger is not posed by the new form of cricket. Danger is posed by the I.C.C. and the cricket administrators of various countries who are responsible for a glut of O.D.I.s Too much of even the best spectacle causes diminished or loss of interest. The decreasing popularity of 50 over cricket is simply due to its overdose. In trying to fill the coffers by arranging matches galore, the I.C.C. is going to kill the hen which was laying all these years golden eggs. This greed has to be curbed. Same greed will also kill the interest in T-20 cricket if I.C.C. does not wake up.
Test Cricket is the ultimate form of cricket and all cricketers dream of representing their country in Test Cricket. All spectators who are aware of finer point of the game do relish Test Cricket the best. The masses that like cricket but are not aware of finer points of the game prefer one day cricket whereas those whose main attraction is entertainment of all sorts provided by T-20 go for this form of cricket. As result is guaranteed in the shorter versions of this great game, they draw more eyeballs whether in the stadia or on Television.
The main task for real cricket lovers is to make sure that all forms of the great game thrive. The solution is simple and as follows.
The steps in brief are:
I.C.C. should ensure that the greed of amassing “MAZUMA” by fleecing the spectators by organizing matches galore should be banished pronto. If this is not done, it will surely kill the hen laying golden eggs and the poor hen will end up as well grilled tanduri chicken on the plate of destiny carved by the administrator’s themselves.
Welcome all nations who wish to play international cricket and make them associate members. It will help in globalizing the great game, which I.C.C. so much desires.
Divide the Test Playing Nations in two Divisions. Division 1 shall consist of six best teams only. Division 2 shall be made of other teams including those having been enrolled as Associate members.
Test Matches shall be played amongst themselves in either Division. On 1st January every year, the worst team from Division 1 shall be relegated to Division 2 and the best team from Division 2 shall be elevated to Division 1.
Matches shall be restricted between two teams to only three Test Matches, three one day international and three T-20 matches with a gap of three days between two matches. This adds to a total of only 58 days which means that Division 1 teams could play up to seven series in a calendar year.
World cup should be played every year of O.D.I.s in even years and of T-20 in odd years.
World cup of Test Matches too could be played every two years amongst the best four teams as a knock out tournament the two semifinals being played in two different countries and the final in a third country. It will surely increase the popularity of the game and could be attractive not only to the knowledgeable but also to the masses.
Things suggested vide supra shall surely multiply the viewer ship both in the stadia as well as the television. It would mean more sponsors, more advertisement and generation of more “mazuma” without the necessity of overkill.
In this manner a good window could also be allowed to tournaments like the IPL without it clashing with international cricket. Top players then need not retire from their national teams to play in tournaments like the IPL for lure of the lucre.
Sachin Tendulkatr has a fantastic cricketing brain and his suggestion will further increase the interest in ODI.s .It will almost neutralize the advantage of winning the toss and both teams will have almost similar condition to match their skills. It appears D. Richardson of the I.C.C. misinterpreted Sachins suggestion. After the first 25 over-session, the same innings will restart after the opposing team has played its 25 over session. So Richardson’s fear that batsmen may not be able to score centuries is unfounded.
One more thing could be done to further increase spectators interest and to give bowlers too some advantage. After the first 5 overs of power play, the next ten overs of power play could be allowed in two five over spells for the bowlers to take at their choice. They then can take them when a new batsman arrives and is not yet settled to take full advantage of the field restrictions. At the moment both short versions of the game are loaded in favor of the batsmen. This suggestion may give some much needed encouragement to the bowlers. Also the middle overs which are supposed to be dull may no longer be considered dull. It is my earnest request to the I.C.C. to consider these suggestions and if found suitable, to implement them early.