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The greatest ODI ever played

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Roar Rookie
15th July, 2019
4

Congratulations to the English cricket team as they celebrate their first ever one-day international world championship.

There’s no need to rehash the game as it has and will receive a great deal of deserved focus for being the fittingly close contest of a tournament which was designed by the ICC to produce more contests.

There are a number of important questions which need answering in the next 12 months for the ODI format, though. Does this World Cup reinvigorate the ODI format? If the Big Three nations are the only ones financially able to hold the tournament, does it only benefit them?

Do bi-lateral tournaments benefit from home team wicket preparation and scheduling? Will England’s win translate into long-term support for English cricket?

The ICC was concerned with the number of lopsided games at the 2015 World Cup and controversially dumped associate qualifiers from the tournament and sanctioned a streamlined tournament where only nine members played each other once before the knock-out semi-final stage.

Cricket fans worldwide lamented the disappearance of qualifiers and questioned whether their incentive to continue with expensive programs for ostensibly part-time cricketers would grow the game. I for one missed the new Test nation Ireland punching above its weight and shaping the finals.

Has the ICC got it right? Will the ‘greatest final ever played’ in a format which was seriously being considered to be dropped from summer playing schedules, actually breathe new life into the game?

The ODI format has been ‘tinkered’ with for decades now in an attempt to get rid of dead patches and to force scores up, as administrators believe inattentive spectators need a six every three balls to justify their ticket price.

ODIs are a bigger scheduling commitment to broadcasters than T20s, highlighted when the Australian TV rights were awarded to a free-to-air channel which wasn’t interested in broadcasting ODIs despite Australia being reigning world champions.

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Bi-lateral tournaments held during playing nations summer periods have been treated as the opener or tacked onto the end of the season to free up the peak holiday times for domestic and international T20s. These ODI games now seem to be considered as training runs or experimental games for working out a squad for the quadrennial World Cup, with no intrinsic spectator appeal.

Is this because the hosts are designing batting roads, with short boundaries with the desire to produce 400 totals, in the belief that is all the spectator is interested in? Surely that then is just an imposition on the spectators’ time when they can potentially see a full T20 with a combined 400 in the time it takes for only one ODI innings.

Kane Williamson of the Black Caps

(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Whilst we’ve seen World Cups previously held in South Africa and the West Indies, it now seems evident the costs are becoming prohibitive and the Big Three – Australia, England and India – will be the only nations capable of holding the event as is currently the case with 2015, 2019, 2023.

We’ve also seen when Australia and India have hosted previously that neighbours have been included in hosting, but with Ireland missing from the Cup, did the ICC miss an opportunity to grow the game at this tournament with some games held in the backyard of a newly minted Test nation?

We may never know, but we’ll certainly see how well England can translate a home soil win into an increase in their flagging supporter base.

I never thought I’d hear myself congratulating the ICC, but their control of the tournament wickets, use of Kookaburra balls aided by the typical English weather produced contest cricket. Enjoyment for the fans comes from unpredictable contests, especially in tournaments where seats are rightly primarily filled by neutral cricket fans, not just devotees of the combatants.

The ICC has in some ways enhanced the format, but not grown it into associate nations and that is their challenge in the biggest spectator market in 2023.

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