The T20 cricket is just 20 years old dude in comparison to 50 years oldie like ODI Cricket. Despite this, the fact remains that it has put the future of the longer version of limited-overs cricket in doubt. Just a few years ago pundits of cricket and some ex-international cricketers were of the opinion that Test cricket’s future is in danger due to T20. But, ever since the huge success of IPL and other league cricket I have always been skeptical about the future of ODI format and not Test cricket.
Due to T20, the game of cricket has overall become fast and that includes Test cricket as well. In the 1980s and 1990s Test matches were getting boring due to a lack of intent to win by various teams. It is not that decades before these two decades were any different, but at that time people were used to accepting those dull draws. But when T20 started booming all over the world even Test cricket started to see very less dull draws. Even if there are some drawn Tests you will inevitably find that their endings are far more interesting than any of the shorter format games.
Apart from this the increased rivalries between Australia and England (The Ashes), India and Australia (Border-Gavaskar Trophy), or India and England (D’Mello Trophy and Pataudi Trophy) in Tests have got the audiences back to this format. Along with these big rivalries, small competitions between Australia, South Africa, England, and West Indies have kept the overall interest in this format and hence we see more crowds in Tests in the last few years than we had in the past few decades.
So, the longest and the shortest formats of this lovely game have squeezed the relevance of ODI cricket per my personal opinion. Because the T20 game gives you faster results than ODI, slowly the interest in ODI bilateral series is on the decline. We can see the same in the ongoing New Zealand Vs. India ODI series is being played in New Zealand. One of the biggest reasons for this lack of interest in this series is that it started just after the T20 World Cup 2022 got over and the spectators are still in that hangover.
If we compare the T20 format and the ODI format they are more or less the same barring the number of overs filling up the difference. T20 has 6 power-play overs whereas ODIs have 10 power-play overs. Because in a T20 game teams have more wickets in hand compared to One Day cricket, most of the time they can accelerate in the final four overs insanely. For me, this is where ODI cricket lacks big time.
Previously there were 15 overs of power play and now there is 10 overs of power play in a 50 overs game. Once the power play in an ODI game is over the game gets dull for the next 30 overs and only if the batting team has wickets in hand then only they try to accelerate in the last 10 overs. This dullness is not for the team that is batting first, but it is the same for the team batting second also. At times team batting second loses too many wickets and the target is certainly not achievable they just try to bat out the overs.
This problem is for the bilateral ODI series and probably not for the ICC Cricket World Cups. Even in ICC Cricket World Cups, the interest in the game is when two big teams are playing. Unlike in T20s, there is a very rare chance to see an upset in ODIs as longer playing period suit big and experienced teams. In T20s because of the short time to react often we see minnows beating big teams. So ODIs losing charm and interest has one more reason to ponder upon according to me.
Just reminding you that all these are my personal observations and as a cricket fan and I want the ODI format to live longer than what I can see right now. So, with these personal observations, I am also having a few opinions on how we can (or in plain words ICC) change this format in question and make it more interesting or more enjoyable just like the T20 format.
Make ODI 40 overs per side affair
It is not that because I am comparing T20 with ODI cricket, and I just want it to have double the number of overs. See, people don’t have much time to spend on one-day cricket, Test cricket is a totally different cup of copy so we need not to drag that format here. But to add more interest in the ODI format, I think we can shorten it by 10 overs per side, just like it was shortened from 60 overs to 50 overs in the mid-1980s in England. This will increase the interest in ODI cricket as it will reduce almost 80 minutes from the game. Plus there can be a break of 20 minutes in between the innings to help to shorten more time.
Have 20 overs of power-play per innings
This may sound ridiculous but every reinvention and overhauling needs ridiculous handling. If the power play continues to have 12 or 13 overs only after changing the format to 40 overs, the purpose to make ODI format interesting and alive will not be served. So, my idea is to have half of the forty overs innings being played as a power-play. Hang on! These 20 overs’ power-play won’t be lasting for the first half of an inning only. These 20 power-play overs can be chosen by both the batting and fielding teams at their will but not after the 45th over.
So both the batting and fielding teams will have two sets of power plays with them to utilize at their discretion but they have to use both the sets before 45th over is bowled. Plus, no team can use them in a row. For example, if the batting team is using its first power play from the 1st to the 5th over it can’t use the second one from the 6th to the 10th over and the same goes for the fielding team as well. One more thing, for the first power play, whichever team is using, can have only two fielders outside the 30 meters circle, and for the second power play, only three fielders will be allowed outside that circle.
This will make big hitting more probable than what it is right now between the 10th over to 40th over in a one-day international game of cricket. The spectator who is inside the stadium or sitting in front of the TV will know that there will be another set of power play soon if these 5 overs are not having it. This constant change in power play and non-power play overs can help bowlers too in this batter’s game. Because currently the batters are used to playing slow and steady for thirty overs once the power play is over and the game gets boring.
But now since every 6th over will be a power play over or a non-power play one he may lose his tempo and the bowler can get benefitted from it. I am not a student of psychology but I think this change may help poor bowlers to take wickets, who get usually hit as a punishment for bowling no balls.
Bring back super substitute
I think that the super substitute or super-sub rule was very interesting and it should have been allowed by ICC for a longer period. I think that rule had in it to revolutionize ODI cricket. Anyhow now that it is a thing of the past and we just can’t judge what could have been the reason. But, when we are discussing overhauling ODI cricket completely I think super substitute can add further interest and excitement in the game.
My thinking is allowing two super substitutes if the captain and the coach of the team deemed required at any point of time during the game. So Super Substitute shouldn’t be mandatory but again it should remain at the captain’s discretion and he or she can include him or her even at the start of the 40th over of an inning. There should be one super sub for batting and a second for bowling. In the previous attempt, captains had to declare the super substitute’s name at the time of the toss. But now in our new 40 overs format, anyone from the remaining side that is not part of the starting XI can be named as a super substitute.
One more thing once you replace your main XI player with the super substitute, naturally he or she has to be part of the remaining game and there can be specific batting and bowling super substitutes only and none of them can be a designated all-rounder. To decide on a designated all-rounder ICC can take help from its All-Rounder rankings to make things clearer for the teams.
The reason why ODI cricket is getting boring is that it takes almost 8 hours a day to watch compared to just 3 hours for T20. The second reason is that the T20 format is getting more popular because it is fast and thus ODIs these days look slow thus the suggestions given above will definitely make the ODIs shorter and faster. Four power plays in each inning will keep the excitement going in the spectators and will keep both the batting and fielding sides on their toes and it gives balance to the game.
The super substitute will be a super special inclusion in ODIs because it will keep everyone guessing because the name and the time of the inclusion will remain secret for players, umpires, and spectators. Plus a good or a great super substitute can change the game’s direction completely within a few overs time. Imagine a scenario where a batting super-sub is taking the game away from the opposition and at one point in time the opposition brings a bowling super substitute from the dug-out and that super-sub takes back the game towards his or her team. Exciting isn’t it?
So, being a staunch lover of cricket I want to see all three formats of the game alive and kicking, but for that time and again they need to have some relook. I feel ODI cricket is now in need of that relook and by adding these changes as per my thinking it can not only change the format completely but it will give a new lease of life to it.
Well, I am going to tag BCCI, ICC, and MCC while sharing this article on the various social media platforms, but if you being the reader of this blog feel that you can also contribute to having refreshed format of ODI cricket please also share this blog on your social media accounts and tag BCCI, ICC and MCC as well.
Until next time it’s Avjo from my side!
29th November 2022, Tuesday