Recent selection decisions suggest the Australians have already stopped caring about one-day internationals.
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The big question
Declining crowds. Plummeting ratings. Increasing boredom all round. Is one-day cricket doomed?
Quite a few current players seem to think so. A 2011 survey of our state and national cricketers found that over half believe that the 50-over format won't be around in 10 years time, squeezed out by the steady growth of Twenty20 and the perennial popularity of Tests. And at least one former great agrees with them.
"I reckon (that in) about three years... it will be pretty much gone," Adam Gilchrist recently told Triple M. "There is a World Cup in 2015 - I believe TV deals are all locked away to get to that, and those commitments will be fulfilled. But after that I think it will be history ... all the TV programmers and the administrators will be focusing on the two other forms."
So, are they right? Is cricket's one-time cash cow more or less dead meat?
Figures rarely lie. While ratings for the World Cup remain strong, to say the least – at last count, it had a billion TV viewers, making it the world's fourth biggest sporting event – they only come around every four years. In between Cups, we have ever more meaningless games and ever fewer people actually watching. Over 450,000 spectators attended one-day internationals in the summer of 1999-2000. Last summer it was 250,000.
And next summer, well, who knows? While Twenty20s were originally just aimed at Gen Y – kids with the attention span of a brain-damaged goldfish – the non-stop fun of the format has highlighted just how monotonous one dayers can be. Take a nap after the first few overs, and set your alarm for the final 10. Generally speaking, you will have missed nothing: just a batting side prepared to settle for four runs an over, and the bowling side prepared to concede them.
Two's company, as the saying goes, and three is very much a crowd. ODIs seem like a bit of an unwanted middle child in this day and age. They lack the stately charm of Test matches or the wham-bam glam of the new kid. Everything a one-dayer can do, one of the other formats can simply do better.
Defenders of one dayers almost always use a particular word. "Tweak." With the introduction of coloured clothing and fielding restrictions, free hits and powerplays, ODIs, they point out, have changed their form again and again since that first game. So why not simply tweak some more?
"I have no doubt the ODI will continue to adapt and evolve," says ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat. "In fact we always encourage our Members to trial new initiatives ... to see if they work."
For starters, they could change the schedules. No more of these endless, meaningless tri-series, where selectors don't even bother to pick their best sides, and Sri Lanka and the West Indies battle it out at the 'G. Even the players seem to be getting bored with them. "We do play too much cricket and if something had to give my choice would be 50-over cricket," says England off-spinner Graeme Swann.
A far better approach would be a kind of international round robin, where each team plays one another a certain number of times over a certain number of years, and every win earns them a point. If every national side had a place on a ladder, one-dayers might keep a place in our hearts.
There are also more dramatic options, like splitting it into a game of two 25-over innings. In tennis, says proponents, we don’t have to wait for hours to see the other player serve. So why wait half a day to see the other side bat?
Test cricket, as is often remarked, is a spectacle that stands alone. With five days of play, and no result guaranteed, it will never be threatened by Twenty20 cricket because it's simply not competing in the same market. You may as well say that apples are threatened by oranges.
One dayers and Twenty20, however, are peas in a pod – but the new pea tastes a lot better. What other major entertainment demands its audience's attention for an entire day? Football? No. Tennis? No. Movies? No. Concerts? No.
Fast, fun and feisty, Twenty20s accomplish in three hours what one dayers often fail to do in eight. They entertain. One dayers have had their day.
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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of BigPond Sport.