ODIs reach 3000, but how many more?
Nearly a third of all one-day cricket internationals played have taken place in the past decade, highlighting the problematic future of a tiring format.
Australia’s match against England at Southampton on Tuesday was the 3000th overall and the 1338th since 2000, maintaining a sharp upward curve of fixtures that has continued since the first took place as an afterthought to the rain-ruined 1970 Melbourne Ashes Test.
The unbridled proliferation of limited overs matches, for years considered the commercial imperative for cricket’s participating nations to support themselves, has left a schedule so cramped that there is little room for pauses, and even less for meaning.
Perversely, the most significant results in limited overs cricket these days – aside from the World Cup every four years – are those achieved despite the handicaps put in place by the schedule itself, such as Australia’s win over India on the subcontinent last year amid a surfeit of injuries.
Despite the glut of matches, there remains no cap on the number of fixtures to be scheduled by cricket-playing nations, only the minimum stipulated by the often ignored Future Tours Program.
On the occasion of the 3000th match, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat emphasised the game’s successes, while also noting a history of evolution and experimentation.
“The first ODI nearly 40 years ago involved the bowling of 40 eight-ball overs per innings and the structure of the game has been constantly evolving ever since,” he said.
“Over the years various initiatives have been trialled and refined and we now have quite a different spectacle to the one that was first on show.
“Coloured clothing, white balls, fielding restrictions, bowling limitations, powerplays, free-hits and many other aspects of the game have all been introduced but the unmistakable and unshakable core skills required by batsmen, bowlers and fielders are still intact.
“And the broad appeal remains strong – ODIs still attract big crowds and enormous television viewing figures.
“The ODI series between England and Australia will be hugely well attended and the recent ODIs in Ireland and Scotland were also sell-outs.”
A desire to re-energise the format by trialling split innings has emanated strongly from Cricket Australia, with a view to altering the international brand of ODIs in time for the 2015 World Cup in Australia.
Lorgat has previously expressed doubt that the format would change so dramatically by that time, but he has kept the door open for changes.
“As we prepare for the 10th staging of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka next year, the importance of this format to the game remains very high,” he said.
“I have no doubt the ODI will continue to adapt and evolve — in fact we always encourage our Members to trial new initiatives at domestic level to see if they work.”
It is no surprise that out of all nations, India have played the most matches – 746 – while Australia are not far behind on 742.© AAP 2013