How many times has the cliched phrase “time for change” been used in sport? Well, surprisingly not that often in the wonderfully conservative world of cricket administration. Yes, the public and the commercial titans have voiced such progressive desires, but the dysfunctional and self-serving members of the ICC will not adhere to public suggestion. Wait. No. Let me rephrase. Considered public and player opinion will be listened to if it means an inflation in the ICC members’ bounteous off-shore accounts. Or am I foolishly confusing myself with the BCCI? Indian cricket dominates 70 per cent of world cricket revenue and as a result, they now dictate the actions of the ICC. For 100 years, the ICC was simply a back office to the Marylebone Cricket Club. Now in our modern commercial world, the ICC is restricted by the elephant in the room- the BCCI.
Yet, lets divulge deeper with the idea of “change”. While, Twenty20 cricket is tragically threatening the importance and relevance of Test Match cricket, One Day cricket is self-destructing, despite some astute judges who see Twenty20 cricket as the dagger in the heart to 50 over cricket. Where Twenty20 cricket succeeds, One Day cricket embarrassingly fails. The hit and giggle 20 over game provides instant cheap thrills to a often drunken crowd. Saucy dancers, beer advertisements and explosive innings- what else can an over-exuberant Gen-Y spectator want? Overs 20 to 45 in 50 over cricket is filled with tedious and predictable stroke play and mundane tactics. It is only the last 5 overs that daring cricket is played. And by then Channel 9 have flicked over to the news. Thanks very much.
However, One Day cricket can survive and perhaps even flourish if appropriate changes are made… and fast. Test cricket challenges players’ mental and physical strength (i.e. Mitchell Johnson’s Lords debacle), and the mighty format also exposes flimsy technique- as Phil Hughes can attest to. Twenty20 cricket provides a condensed version of the game to viewers- the IPL really have embraced the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” line. Often, the entertainment can be seen off the field- the after game Bollywood functions. The game of cricket is second to the commercial madness- even second to Michael Clarke’s intolerable Bonds ads. Finally, we come to One Day cricket. Who can recall what happened in the first One Dayer of the current series between Australia and England?… I didn’t think so. For your information, Shane Watson orchestrated possibly the greatest innings of his career with a wonderfully brutal match winning 150 not out. Sorry if that information seemed insignificant.
One day cricket must revert to the opposite of Twenty20. It is beyond me why the ICC in all their glorious wisdom, insert these new quirky rules that by the end of a match, spectators are still scratching their heads in bewilderment. Whats the point of these restrictive new laws? How many times have i heard a bored spectator ask “what the hell is a powerplay”? Good question. The ICC must dump such complexing rules and free up the game with little to no restrictions. Instead of strangled fielding restrictions for both the disinterested players and spectators’ sore eyes, let the captain dictate wherever he deems appropriate for his men to field. And to follow the boyish indoor cricket rules, a fall of wicket should cost the batting side runs- lets say 15. Also, let the bowlers bowl as many overs as they could be bothered. I admire David Hussey as a cricketer but I would rather watch Timmy fall down the well AGAIN then watch him bowl his little floaters. Finally, lets shorten these ridiculous 7 game series. As Matthew Hayden revealed recently, players are bored by game 4. By freeing the laws of a spiralling format, this new and what I believe to be improved format will provide the consumer with a contrastingly different product to that of Twenty20 cricket.
For all of his devious motives and highly questionable deals, the second coming of Moses (or as he likes to believe), Lalit Modi, envisioned a product that would instantly capture the hearts of a cricket obsessed India. Despite the English being the founders of Twenty20 cricket, Modi grasped the “glamour” of this new exotic product and elevated it to a nearly inconceivable level of popularity and attractiveness. The reason for the IPL’s success? It was new, sexy and so BOLLYWOOD. One day cricket must provide viewers with a new and ambitious product of free flowing and DIFFERENT cricket. Oh sorry, I mustn’t use such a daring word like”ambitious” when discussing the ICC’s governance of the game. The way forward for One day cricket, much like Test cricket, is for the administrators in all cricketing nations to cut down their underserved egos and for once follow through on their repetitive and now unbelievable rhetoric- “for the good of the game”.
We can all dare to dream can’t we?