One-day whirlwind short on meaning
Indian television has dubbed it “the honour series: playing for pride”. But if pride is the quality that drives a player when there is nothing else to strive for – “so and so is only playing for pride” is a common phrase among commentators on a dud fixture – then what exactly is the point of Australia’s seven-match whirlwind tour of the subcontinent?
World Cup 2011 prep and player acclimatisation aside, Australian captain Ricky Ponting has certainly wondered about a schedule that sent him to India’s slow turners for three weeks immediately before he plays a Test on the pacy Gabba surface.
Pondering what might unfold over the seven matches, Ponting concluded there was not much point to all this cricket unless players and outsiders could be given a reason to be interested in its outcome.
“The way that one-day cricket is played at the moment with one-off series like this, until there is a points system in place then it might get to the same sort of situation as it did in the UK,” he told reporters in Mumbai this week.
“We were 4-0 up after four games (eventually winning the series 6-1) and all of a sudden there is talk of teams rotating players in and out and doing all sorts of things.
“So the important thing I think is we make sure that every game of 50-over cricket has some significant meaning.”
There is a points system already, for the ICC one-day world championship, but its hollowness was underlined by an ICC media release on the eve of the first India v Australia match in Vadodara.
In trying to underline why the series was important, the release simply proved its weightlessness by stating that India have the chance to regain the top one-day ranking “for the third time this year” – do even the Indians know that?
The ICC is not entirely to blame for the crowding.
These matches are a result of the Australian and Indian cricket boards deciding the two sides should face each other every year in either Tests or limited overs matches following the pulsating contests of 2001 and 2003-04.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but even the Ashes would lose their lustre if the two nations met every year.
Which, given a scheduled UK visit by Ponting and co next year for another one-day series, is on the way to happening too.© AAP 2013