Thursday, July 14, 2022

Kill ODI Cricket; Let Tests and T20 Cricket Rule the World

Growing up in the 80s and 90s the cricket staple used to consist of multination tri-series, quadrangular tournaments, and even six-nation tournaments. Ofcourse there were World Cups every 4 years and bilateral tours consisting of Tests and ODIs, but these multination tournaments used to generate a lot of buzz.

They were like mini world cups. Pakistan and India did not tour each other back then either. But they would frequently play in Sharjah as part of an AustralAsia Cup, a Rothmans Trophy, a Sharjah Cup, a Sharjah Champions Trophy.

Besides the two multination ODI series in Sharjah every year, there was also the annual World Series of Cricket played in Australia (aka Carlton & United Series, CB Series, VB series, etc.), which involved three teams compete for the trophy.

Besides Australia, the likes of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and England also hosted multination ODI tournaments in that era.

Even unlikely venues like Toronto, Singapore, Malaysia, and Kenya hosted multination ODI tournaments in the 90s.

Those were the best days of ODI cricket!

That is when ODI cricket was exciting. In between world cups, we got to watch the big teams play mini tournaments. ODIs had some context.

With the advent of T20 cricket, the significance of ODIs has diminished significantly. 

Let alone the fact that T20 leagues take up most of the cricket calendar; the biggest problem is the fanbase. ODI cricket is not exciting any more.

When you can watch a more exciting brand of cricket that produces a result in three and a half hours, why would you sit in front of the TV for 8 hours? 

I am a cricket nut. I used to watch every single delivery of an ODI. I still do when it is the World Cup or the Champions Trophy. But bilateral ODI cricket, I just cannot watch. 

I prefer a T20 match, league or international, over an ODI any day.

And that is really the future.

ODI cricket is dying in my view.

Unless multination ODI tournaments are brought back, ODI cricket will be in the grave very soon.

I see the future with only two formats: Tests and T20s.

Test cricket is still very exciting and creates some very interesting battles over 5 days. However, when it comes to limited overs cricket, the T20 format is killing ODIs.

And that is ok in my view.

We all need to evolve.

Cricket is no different.

Year round T20 leagues, a T20 World Cup every two years, bilateral test tours, and a World Test Championship every two years sounds like a great future for cricket.

With the amount of talent available in some nations, and the ability of others to develop talent pools, I will not be surprised if the T20 and Test calendars ran simultaneously.

Nations can develop two very different talent pools - one for test cricket and the other for T20 cricket.

Teams like England and India are already doing this where their red ball and white ball teams are involved in international tours at the same time.

Let each country have their T20 league. Let T20 cricketers participate in whatever league they want. Limit bilateral tours for T20 cricket. Maybe have 1 or 2 of them just before the T20 World Cup to fine tune the national teams.

Let Test cricket run in parallel.

T20 cricket is the way forward for associate nations also. The likes of Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, UAE, and even frontier markets where cricket wants to expand like the USA and China have greater potential to compete in the T20 format, relative to ODIs or Tests.

Let cricket expand through T20 leagues and T20 World Cups.

I have not seen the exact numbers, but I believe the number of ODIs played every year has reduced drastically every year over the past decade.

South Africa have already cancelled an ODI tour to Australia in January 2023 due to it clashing with their new T20 league!

Who even watches bilateral ODIs now?

I think the 2023 ODI World Cup should be the last one. Let ODIs die and let cricket live through T20s and Tests.

It will ease scheduling concerns as well.

We literally have a T20 league running 365 days a year. 

The BBL, UAE T20 and the new SA league in January, the PSL in February-March, the IPL in April - May, ECB's League and The 100 in June-July, the CPL in August, and back to the BBL and UAE T20 in December.

If these leagues want the best white ball players available, then where will they find the time to play ODIs?

Players should not be put in this difficult position at all.

The September-October-November window with no T20 leagues should be left for nations to play a couple of bilateral international T20 series, followed by the T20 World Cup.

This gives you a year-round T20 Cricket calendar, which sounds extremely exciting!

At the same time, test tours can continue simultaneously since the test teams will be built around completely different talent pools.

In my mind and on paper, this all sounds like a fabulous way forward for cricket.

Now over to the ICC and the cricket boards to implement it!

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