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Reports of the death of one-day cricket have been greatly exaggerated

The Roar The Roar 20/01/2016 Alec Swann

James Faulkner of Australia celebrates hitting the winning runs during game three of the One Day International Series between Australia and India. © Scott Barbour/Getty Images James Faulkner of Australia celebrates hitting the winning runs during game three of the One Day International Series between Australia and India.

I’ve seen a fair bit of the Australia versus India one-day series, and have largely enjoyed it.

Good batting is to be appreciated, whoever it is doing it, and there has been some stuff to please even the purists.

Plenty of evidence in the recent past suggests Twenty20 cricket has fully spread its influence onto its 50-over cousin, and Australia’s trio of victories have done nothing to counter this particular line of thought.

When scores of 300 are being overhauled with relative ease, you know the game has changed for good. Coming on the back of a World Cup that was by far the most free-scoring of all the global tournaments, it adds up to a strong case.

This brings me onto Brett McKay‘s article from the other day regarding potential changes to the 50-over game.

He reminded us that year after year there is debate around a format alleged to be on its knees, and ways to revive the flagging patient.

Even before Twenty20 showed its brash little face, you wouldn’t have struggled to find somebody brandishing opinions that are still doing the rounds.

‘The pitches are too flat’, ‘it favours the batsmen too much’, ‘the middle overs are tedious’, ‘why are there restrictions on bowlers’ and so on. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I may be in the minority, but there isn’t a lot wrong with the one-day game as simply a game of cricket.

One hundred overs provides plenty of scope for fortunes to change, for a lost cause to be dragged back, for batsmen to construct a meaningful innings, for a bowler to work his way through a spell. And, guess what, it always has done.

Trends change, as do the attitudes of those doing the playing, hence the game of 2016 which is barely recognisable to the one of ten years ago, let alone 20 or 30 years.

Australia's Glenn Maxwell acknowledges the crowd after being dismissed for 96 against India. © REUTERS/Hamish Blair Australia's Glenn Maxwell acknowledges the crowd after being dismissed for 96 against India.

Watch any Youtube video of one-day international cricket from the not-so-distant past – search Viv Richards for example and you’ll be amazed at the field placings and scoring rate. It is pedestrian to what classes as standard fare these days. And this is of a batsman who was way ahead of his time.

Where Brett hits the nail squarely on its head is in regards to context. A contest being played for the sake of it will inevitably attract a critical eye because it generally has no defence.

The ongoing series in Australia: what, exactly, is the point? That’s a rhetorical question.

Any administrator worth his salt (I know, it isn’t a long list) can see that the structuring of the 50-over game is crying out for some kind of clarity. A Champions Trophy exists, so why not make that the final point for a four-year-long ODI league?

Also, he has a point when it comes to international Twenty20. Last summer, England played New Zealand in a one-off game and did the same with Australia. Meaningless TV fodder. Domestic cricket is precisely where 20-over cricket belongs.

Furthermore, maybe we could do away with comically short boundaries, and a bit more grass could help the overall package, but generally the surfaces are not too bad.

But on a possible reduction to 40 overs? Would that really invigorate what already exists? I’m not convinced.

How about getting rid of all restrictions? They don’t detract from the game, so the aim of such a move is difficult to fathom. The game may have gone too far the other way when only four fielders were allowed outside the circle, but negating the very spectacle you’re trying to liven up would be a contradiction.

And as for the abolition of the toss, it has existed since a few blokes in top hats and brogues decided to stick a few bits of wood into the ground near a pub, and the sport has done alright since.

Cricket has a few ills – match-fixing, overloaded schedules, avaricious committee men – but the 50-over game, purely as a form of the sport, isn’t one of them.

Leave it alone.


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