ODIs face a grim future

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Cook_batting Getty Images Alastair Cook of England hits out to the boundary with South Africa's AB de Villiers behind the stumps.

I’ve tried with one-day cricket. I really have. I’ve defended the format, the fact that the middle overs are interesting because it takes real skill to turn over the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking.

I once thought the Power Plays were a helpful aid to the format, it would demand captains become more creative, batsmen and bowlers to be more aggressive, and for the game to move along quicker. It still left time for the “run-a-ball” players, the nudgers and the nurdlers ... There could, I thought, be room for all three formats. I’m not so sure anymore.

For one thing, there shouldn’t be five ODIs on a tour any more – that’s too many, and devalues the product. However, the product itself is now also a problem as the series between England and South Africa has shown.

Nobody needs to see a “bat-a-thon” like the “438 game” every time, or a last over thriller in each game (no one’s heart could handle too many of those) but the kind of matches we’ve seen in this series doesn’t help those defenders of the format, so it’s made up my mind.

The World Cup is the 50-over game’s saviour. With that tournament’s history and the prestige attached to it, the format would appear to have a future but it’s future depends on there being less matches played and for the sport’s administrators to stop tinkering with it.

For the 50-over game, less is more. The World Cup is the main focus, so instead of a five- match series as is the norm for most tours, limit the series to three matches – in fact, have three of everything: Tests, ODIs and T20s.

Fewer ODIs would add greater value to the matches, and an end to all the tinkering would make for less confusion for viewers.

The Power Plays have changed enough times over the years to leave even the keenest viewer bamboozled. And despite the ICC’s best attempts, the use of the Power Plays hasn’t made captains any more innovative.

The bowling Power Play is always taken between the 16th and 20th overs, the batting Power Play between the 36th and 40th – and that’s only because the cricket lawmakers have stipulated that it must be taken before the 40th.

While many have expressed concern about the future of Test cricket – and there are reasons to worry – it’s ODIs which face the more grim future. It may be a case that for the format to be safe, more must be made of less.

Make the World Cup the priority and forget these lengthy five-match series, and for goodness sake, no more mucking about with the rules. – The Star



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