One Day cricket damaged beyond repair

One Day cricket is nearly, if not already, irrelevant on the domestic and international scene.

Australia and Sri Lanka are meant to be playing the first ODI of the summer at Australia’s home of sport, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, yet, if one flicks through the newspapers, courageously sits through Channel Nine programming or even listen to 1116 SEN, there seems to be very little care factor.

The Australian selectors seem to agree as well. Headline acts Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey and Dave Warner will not grace the G’. So why should we care?

Maybe 25,000 people will make the journey to the MCG to see George Bailey lead a side that features Test reject Brad Haddin, forgotten Steve Smith and the “other” Hussey. Oh it should be riveting!

Australian One Day Captain George Bailey rightly defended his Australian XI.

“It’s still the Australian cricket team, isn’t it?” Bailey said. “I’m sure Sri Lanka won’t be taking it as the Australia B-team.”

However Bailey puts it, the bleak reality remains that both the public and the players are being cheated with this so-called “series”. How Sri Lanka perceive the Australian XI is inconsequential. What the public choose to believe is.

Australians can sense when there is legitimate world class competition on show. Just like when Australia competes in the Soccer World Cup, or the Australian Boomers facing the goliath USA basketball dream team, Aussie sports fans get behind the sport, even if some have little understanding of the game.

Friday’s ODI is dubbed “Summer’s Biggest Dress Up Party.” Not a bad promotion but I tend to sway more to the idea that Friday’s ODI at the MCG is a “dress up” international contest. Win or lose, there is very little consequence or reward for either Australia, Sri Lanka or the West Indies.

In what can be described as a rarity, the Australian selectors are not to blame for the underwhelming and dull build up to the ODI series.

The 50 over format has lost its purpose and initiative.

A total of 456,264 spectators attended ODI matches in the summer of 1999-2000, an encouraging figure that plummeted to 251,916 last summer. In a competitive environment where most major sports in Australia are seeing rises in match attendance, One Day cricket has frighteningly trended the other way.

Kerry Packer envisioned the 50 over aside game as cricket’s answer to the popular demand for faster and sexier sport and entertainment.

We now fast-track to 2013 and viewers’ demand has become more acute. American baseball is struggling to recapture the claim as America’s number one game and so is cricket in Australia- both victims to consumers’ want for aggressive entertainment that is finished in two hours and with preferably a few cracked ribs along the way.

The forever controversial Twenty20 format in cricket still stirs tribal divide amongst the traditionalists and the modernists.

England invented and popularised the 20 over format nationally and India commercialised the big bash globally.

Public consensus and statistics suggests that Twenty20 attracts and demands the biggest viewership and profit. Also, if you braved one of Matthew Hayden’s talks, I mean one of his mind-numbing lectures, you get the sense that the players have truly embraced the format as number two behind Test cricket.

The brand of One Day cricket has seemingly been damaged  beyond repair by the T20 mania. Test cricket continues to endure, however delicately, while One Day cricket is somewhere with “Warney’s” ex-wife Simone Callahan.

Twenty20 is filled with constant heave-ho and industrious play while One Day cricket is restrained until the final 10 overs. What was once the purpose of 50 over cricket is now the objective of T20.

Who would have thought that after Ricky Ponting’s triumphant 140 not out in the 2003 World Cup Final against India when ODI cricket sucked the cricketing world in, that a domestic game 10 years later would have more bums on seats (46,581 at the MCG) than a ODI at the same ground?

What can be more morbid than hearing from one of the greatest limited overs players to ever grace the field to forthrightly announce that One Day cricket will soon be “history”?

”I suspect that one-day cricket may be obsolete in about three years’ time,” Adam Gilchrist said.

Indeed it will be.

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