Friday, June 21, 2013

Don't make ODIs so odious

Two identical semi-finals in the Champions Trophy, both won by teams bowling first on damp, overcast mornings in England, prove my contention in the previous post - that it's an unequal contest in these circumstances, and the administrators should have done something to level the playing field. Maybe a start at high noon instead of 10:30 a.m. would have done it. England and India were the stronger sides, and deserved to go through to the finals. But South Africa and Sri Lanka were not so weak that they could be thrashed with more than ten overs to spare. Fans were denied the pleasure of watching two good match-ups. Top level cricket needs to be managed better than this. As it is, both Test cricket and ODIs are on the back foot, as the T20 leagues capture our interest. Critics have lots of bad things to say about T20 cricket, but at least the playing conditions don't change so much in the course of a three-hour match. The one-day game is obviously harder to manage because it is more than twice as long. The administrators have livened it up too with the new field restrictions, allowing no more than four fielders outside the inner ring at any time in the innings. This has forced captains and bowlers to apply their minds in the middle overs too, while creating more options for batsmen. Now the administrators need to figure out how to ensure the contest doesn't fizzle out with the toss itself. Sri Lanka stood no chance at all in the semi-final with India. The new ball was doing so much that even batsmen of the class of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayewardene could at best try to survive. But Test cricket style batting will only get a score below 200 and that's never going to be enough if batting becomes easier later in the day. Once the Indian openers got going, it was clear there could be only one winner. It was time to switch channels.

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