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One day cricket in Australia on the decline

Clint McKay looks to have played his last ODI. (AP Photo/Mal Fairclough)
Roar Guru
27th January, 2014
60
1740 Reads

The Australian cricket team might be going through some sort of resurgence but even their recent dominance over England has failed to ignite public interest in the shorter formats of the game in the country.

The future of cricket has been up for continual debate ever since the glamour quotient of Twenty20 took the cricketing fraternity by storm in the early noughties.

When the one day international format came to the fore 40 years ago, it gave the sport a much-need boost and catapulted cricket into the modern era.

You can argue, pointing out that T20 adds its own excitement to the game, but despite its fanfare and over-the-top antics, it hasn’t created the hysteria that 50-over cricket generated when it first burst onto the scene.

ODIs have served as an arena for many greats of the game to exhibit their potential to the hilt, entertaining and, more importantly, inspiring fans all over the globe.

The element of craft in cricket has taken a pounding as aggression, muscle and brute force form significant components of the shorter formats.

We will never again witness players of the calibre and excellence of Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis as we head into an era where cricket is virtually all about sixes, fours and truckloads of money.

Also, the fact we now live in an age of spontaneity has had a damaging effect on cricket thanks to the prevailing impulsive behaviour of the general public.

The 2015 ODI World Cup in Australia could be the last 50-over World Cup thanks to diminishing crowds in the last few years, which point towards an obvious indication of this quandary.

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There hasn’t been a crowd in excess of 50,000 at the MCG at an ODI in the last six years.

In more recent times, the first ODI of the recently concluded series between Australia and England could only draw a crowd of 38,066.

Moreover, at the Blundstone Arena in Hobart last year, an Australia versus Sri Lanka ODI drew a paltry 8,102!

These figures clearly indicate interest in ODI cricket is diminishing at a rapid rate.

If you think T20 cricket is the reason for the demise of ODIs, think again.

The 2013 Big Bash League in Australia failed to draw huge crowds, numbers hovered around the 15-20,000 mark across the country.

Stars versus Strikers (MCG 09/01/2014) – 24,344, Stars versus Hurricanes (MCG 21/01/2014) – 21,443 and Sixers versus Hurricanes (SCG 15/01/2014) – 17,264.

T20 has been an enigma ever since it was introduced; thoroughly enjoyable with its stylised package of dance, music, fireworks and glamour, but has evolved, becoming mundane and repetitive.

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Going by history, there might come a time when people find this slam-bang format mind-numbing and abandon it altogether.

Strong crowds form the fabric of any sport, so what can the ICC do to sustain crowd interest in the shorter formats of cricket in Australia?

For starters, they have to reconsider whether the game needs three formats.

Surprisingly, crowd numbers at Test cricket are still encouraging but a decision needs to be made on whether T20 and ODIs need to be pursued simultaneously and if ODIs need to be scrapped for good.

Otherwise interest in cricket in Australia could kill the sport in a nation that has a rich cricketing history.