It is the eve of the 2011 World Cup. The doubters and cynics are right, the ODI game is suffering. The media inspired perception is that one day cricket's idiot cousin T20 cricket has taken over, and many believe it is just a matter of time before this format of the game is phased out. The same old tired reason is used repeatedly, that the game is too boring, especially in the middle overs.
There is nothing wrong with the game, all it needed was the love and nurturing the cricketing world was prepared to give test cricket, the so-called 'pure' form of the game. With the correct mindset and understanding of the 50 over game, I believe it can quite easily make a comeback. Consider my resolutions:
1. Stop Turning ODI Cricket into T20 Cricket For goodness sake, they are not the same game.T20 is an entertainment format designed for a bit of thrills and a quick laugh. It is not to be taken seriously. But the unforgiving audience are demanding the same thing to come out of ODI cricket. Any innings below 300 that is not littered with sixes is suddenly 'boring'. Building a partnership, 'boring'. I can recall some of the most thrilling games I've seen were 250 scores. Give the game and players a bit more respect and patience, you did it for test cricket.
2. Stop Milking The Game An ODI series should typically be three matches long, five matches for what is expected to be an even contest. Anything over five is a joke. Who here really remembers what went on in the whopping seven ODI matches Australia played England in recently, other than England getting drubbed match after match. If you saturate the game, yes it will get boring.
3. Bring The Bowlers Back Into The Game
Fine, if you want to turn T20 into a run fest, so be it. Why punish ODI bowlers? There is nothing wrong with a grassy pitch, low scoring thrillers are just as entertaining. What about these tiny boundaries? Make sixes valuable again, a miscue should never be a six, Sehwag practically leg glances them for six in New Zealand. I believe there should be something in it equally for both parties, a balance. If a team can successfully chase down 400, there is something seriously wrong here. Why not bring back the bouncer too.
4. Enough With The Gimmicks, They Don't Work The super-sub was a stupid idea which thankfully got canned. Power plays need to go the same way. All the juice is taken out of a run chase when a batting team can bring the field up in the 45th over, and outside edge their way to victory. Getting 40-50 runs in death overs suddenly isn't a big achievement, the game has become lopsided for no reason. Free hits are equally daft. It looks horrendous, almost insulting to see batsman attempting an ugly heave, top edging a catch, and moving on as if it never happened.
5. Get Off The Bandwagon How many of these naysayers are actually staunch followers of the T20 game. A lottery game in which Zimbabwe can beat Australia. Do you honestly believe that the split innings 20-20-20-20 match works? Are 40 overs much more dynamic and exciting than 50 overs? Is the IPL really as exciting as the world cup (talking cricket quality here, not controversy quality). It became 'cool' to hate the ODI game. I blame the media (and cricinfo) for creating a sense of non-existent doom for it.
T20 cricket has its place in this world. Just not in the place of ODI cricket. Open your minds, and save the game I fondly grew up with.