It’s high time that one reviews the fifty over format, though it is not clear of its replacement. Although Australia aimed another blow at the ageing provider of the world cricket, the future one day international cricket is highly debated for a while. The South Africa cricket and the England Cricket Board make their positions quite clear, by opting for forty over competitions.
Last year in 2009, India played against Australia in October with amazing television ratings. Other than that, England played with Australia for seven times shortly prior to the match between India and Australia, and viewers didn’t mind it earlier. The Champions Trophy is stuck between this with 50 over’s in South Africa and 20 overs in India, a Champions League producing excellent cricket and getting thumbs down from viewers and spectators. This would seem to queer the pitch, with some high profile tournaments working and other not working at all.
The two months provided sufficient evidence that it is not about the format that the contestants are worried about. A leading executive at Group M, who buys more media space and knows audience preferences better than anyone else, confirmed that in India, a match against Pakistan or Australia will always deliver, however with high concern on the non India games not delivering as per their expectations. For instance, the IPL rates are much higher than the ICC World Twenty20. In neutral games, the 20 over version out-rates the 50 over games.
The fifty over ODIs are strong in voter’s perspective, which have thin chances. Like in India, South Africa, England and Australia, the counties matter from a financial perspective, one can get full houses when the home team plays any of the other three, occasionally against Pakistan. The issue here is whether it is good enough to sustain the format as a whole or not. The response to it is definitely positive if one could restrict ODIs to games only between the countries and since it is impossible, there would be review of the format warrants. It is indeed doubtful to say that with right to the Champions Trophy, there would be lots of empty seats at the World Cup too.
For a year, the ODI will swallow along with some stops on the way and some forgettable ones too which is a good time to look at the alternatives. With forty overs, as England and South Africa have gone within their domestic competitions is one possibility and not different from what had happened to the world cup in the mid 80s, when it came drastically from 60 overs to 50 overs. On the bright side, with 20 overs of Powerplay, there would be action, with some chances to build an innings and from a marketing perspective, it is not removed from the fifty over game to get riddance of the present issues and problems.
Dividing the game into what is effectively a two 20 or 25 over game is like the existing Twenty20 format with the added variable of a deficit which one side will have to make good. It may sound exciting, where the best batsmen will get to bat twice in an afternoon. The issue is where one wants to have Twenty20 internationals or not. As Ian Chappell asked recently, that whether it is a gimmick or is it something which will last for a while. If one wants to test different aspects of a player’s skills, then it contributes to nothing. It is somewhat like a one hour movie getting extended to two hours. Other idea is to have some merit in order to play two innings and in the second carry the game forward from where it got stopped at the end of the first innings. The toss would not be as big an advantage with conditions applying to both sides, and players still having to adapt and play long innings.
Other than that, other merit is to play two innings and carry the game forward from where it had last stopped. Apart from that, it also addresses the issues before any ODIs in a better way. The toss will not be as an advantage, the conditions applying to both sides, and the players having to adapt and play long innings. Interestingly, it will make captaincy critical. It still leads to one side games, with most tailenders batting in the second half most of the times, and making a rain affected game difficult to award, especially if it rains in the third innings.
Ultimately, neither of these will solve the problem of one sided game or the one which suffers as the home side is not involved. All it requires is thought and trailing, the last of the option being the best alternative.