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One Day Cricket is suffering from Middle Child Syndrome

Clint McKay looks to have played his last ODI. (AP Photo/Mal Fairclough)
Roar Guru
5th February, 2012
91
2603 Reads

Before its younger sibling came along, One Day cricket was all the rage.

Fifty over cricket was my first contact with the sport, and were it not for the white ball variant of the game my sporting interests may never have ventured any further than the various codes of football.

Michael Bevan’s brilliant batting displays in One Day cricket kept me spellbound for large parts of my adolescence. The colour, the thrill-a-minute spectacle, the smash-and-bash were all anyone could hope for in a sporting contest.

But now the fifty over game has been condensed further, and Twenty20 has all those qualities magnified several fold.

I suspect plenty of twenty and thirty-something cricket lovers would trace their first contact with the game to the fifty over format. My interest in One Day cricket allowed my later introduction to its older, respected sibling – Test match cricket.

The cricket family has fairly well demarcated lines.

Test cricket is the eldest child, the leader and responsible one who shows the way for the others. Twenty20 is the young upstart, spoiled and molly-coddled, given more attention than it probably deserves, its every whim catered for.

One Day cricket is the middle child on two fronts. It is positioned between its dependable older sibling and the brash youngster by both the duration of match length, and by the timing of its birth.

Anecdotally, being a middle child is difficult, so being a middle child twice over bodes poorly for One Day cricket.

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So it is little wonder then that One Day cricket is suffering from a severe case of Middle Child Syndrome.

It’s kind of sad really.

While Test cricket will always have a strong following from traditionalists, and Twenty20 has become the new gateway drug to other formats of the game for all the cool kids, One Day cricket is left – like others suffering from Middle Child Syndrome – wondering what role it should play in the family.

One Day cricket is neglected, left out, neither the old faithful nor the bub showered with attention at its every coo. It is neither steeped in history enough to keep the gaze of those over forty, nor exciting enough to interest the next generation of cricket fans.

With the eldest son and young upstart hogging all the attention, One Day cricket is friendless.

A recent poll by the Australian Cricketers’ Association of all professional Australian cricket players suggests it is not just the general public who are losing interest in fifty over cricket.

A paltry four percent of players nominated fifty over cricket as their favourite format of the game to play, and 44 percent nominated One Day cricket as the format of the game that they would retire from first.

With interest in One Day cricket lagging, the custodians of the game have trialled new rules in this format, meddling and muddling, searching for a remedy to the malady that is the Middle Child Syndrome.

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Split innings matches, super-subs and power plays have all been trialled in the past.

In the quest to keep One Day cricket relevant and interesting, there is a risk that these trials and rule changes become increasingly more absurd as time progresses and the ruling bodies try harder to keep the attention of the masses.

I suspect One Day cricket jumped the shark in 2007 at the World Cup in the West Indies, but it may not be for some time that we reflect on that crucial juncture as the first sign we began to lose interest in the Middle Child.

While its handicapping has been swift and brutal with the advent of Twenty20, I expect the ultimate end of One Day cricket to be protracted.

It will have short lasting spikes of interest along the way, hinting at a revival, which will allow it to linger on the cricket calendar for longer than it ought to.

If One Day cricket does die a death after an extended period of falling interest, it is possible we will scarcely mourn its loss.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelFilosi