In the wake of one of the world’s best players, Ben Stokes, retiring from ODI cricket, the debate over whether the format (50 increments per side) is sustainable has been reignited. While the viability of three different formats has always been a part of the discussion, the focus has now shifted to the presence of ODI cricket.
With the Test World Championships, experimental cricket has been revived somewhat as the games become more outcome-oriented. T20, with leagues, has money and fun. So where does ODI stand? Is it boring, is it too long to be fun as the T20I, or is it too short and less noticeable to be as cool as the tests?
In response to this, Irrfan Pathan, the former founder of India, spoke in a conversation with business standard He said, “One day cricket needs revamping. It should not be cancelled at all because it is very important financially for broadcasters as you have over 100 ads sponsorship, which neither T20Is nor Tests in a day provide.”
Does ODI Cricket need a refresh?
Pathan, who represented India in 120 ODIs, with 173 wickets and 1,544 points, said, “I think 40 caps should be made per side, which will allow the boring parts of the 50 over format (up from 25-40) to be scrapped.”
Irfan’s idea was already in play at the domestic English circuit where Pro-40 matches are being played in the Royal London One Day Cup, the premier domestic tournament. Even Sachin Tendulkar suggested that ODIs could be a four-inning game with each innings containing 25 increments.
But, despite the success of the ODI World Cup in 2019, with live coverage reaching an average cumulative global audience of 1.6 billion viewers, why is the ODI cricket dying? The answer on everyone’s lips in unison is “increased workload”.
Read also: Keep pushing yourself to the limits: Stokes in his retirement speech
Is ODI cricket really increasing the workload or is it becoming a scapegoat?
The controversy over the workload has intensified to the point that after Stokes’ retirement, former cricketers like Waseem Akram and Nasir Hussain suggested that the ODI format needed to be reconsidered, with Akram even suggesting that the format be scrapped altogether.
“T20 is kind of easier, four hours of game is over. Tournaments all over the world, there is a lot of money – I think that’s part and parcel of modern cricket. T20 or Test cricket.” Akram was quoted as saying in the Vaughany and Tuffers podcast Cricket Club.
However, if the workload is really an issue, then it’s not because of ODI cricket, but rather other formats that are more played compared to ODIs by major cricket nations.
Since the 2019 World Cup, only 246 international matches have been played, of which, 96 were played by non-tested nations. On the other hand, 868 T20Is have been played since July 2019. There were also 121 Tests in the same period, which would account for 605 days of red ball cricket, almost three times the number of ODI matches.
Unplanned scheduling for ODIs
Aside from the World Cup Finals, World Cup qualification and continental tournaments, what is the need for several T20Is duo when countries already have their own leagues for about two months with the participation of international stars?
On the other hand, ODIs do not have such leagues and their existence depends entirely on bilateral relations. The scheduling is done by the boards in such a way that the ODI bilaterals are bargained to try to place more T20 or Test cricket. As a result, players like the Stokes, or in the future, stars like Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson may drop out of the ODI format (they complained about the extra workload too).
However, Manoj Tiwary, who has represented India in 12 ODIs and three T20is and has been part of 98 IPL games for four different sides, believes that only those players are withdrawing or considering withdrawing from ODIs, who have a lever position. In terms of mega IPL contracts and other T20 contracts.
“It is an individual’s decision on what he wants to play. But if you look at it, only players with IPL contracts of Rs 10-15 crore are withdrawing or considering withdrawing from ODIs. They have already secured their financial stability so that they can withdraw.
But just because five out of every 100 active players drop out, you can’t cancel the format completely. Tiwari said business standard.
Regarding the waning interest of people in the 50 format, the 36-year-old, who recently scored for a century in the Ranji Cup quarter-final against Jharkhand, said, “There is no gap between the series.”
“Previously there was a huge stretch of gaps between one series and the next, while currently the audience does not even have the time to move from one series to the next. The ICC and cricket boards need to make sure there is no overdose.”
It is an issue of supply and demand
It’s all about demand and supply, says Arun Lal, a former Indian cricketer. Talking to business standardLal said, “While I agree with most people on the fact that ODI cricket is less inviting to fans and players, the truth is that the game is not guided by the suitability of Ben Stokes or what Waseem Akram says about the format?”
“The quality of the sport will not be affected by someone’s retirement because the younger generation will have a faster chance to play at the highest level and who knows, they may be better than those who have retired.
Nobody has to decide if the game is dying or not, if it is dying, its sponsorship and viewing will automatically decrease and TV channels will withdraw from the live coverage of the game,” added Lal.
Where does the figure go in the end?
The ICC presented the ODI Premier League as a qualifying tournament for the ODI 2023 Football World Cup. Since Covid-19 struck at the start of the league, it was random for the public to understand. 13 teams are part of the league and each team has to play 24 matches, 12 at home and 12 away.
The 12 games are part of four series of three games each. Not every team has to play every other team, so the league format doesn’t even make sense.
They neglected the boards involved so much that South Africa lost their three-match series against Australia to absorb the new IPL-style domestic T20 league.
The ICC needs clarity on the Premier League. Just as the World Test Championship has been revised, and now every demo match played is part of WTC, the Super League’s performance can also be made more linear and understandable to fans for starters.
Whether or not the 50-over format is on its deathbed is debatable, but if so, it is clear that the onus is on the ICC and the boards for not giving it sufficient context and meaning, nor the gap for audiences to understand the game in an era of T20 leagues and strife WTC.