The World Cup was stage managed hitting, and it could be the death of ODI

The World Cup was a desperate attempt to be something it isn’t, with a horribly stage managed display of industrially produced six hitting. If One Day cricket is to survive, it must start to carve out a niche, and recognise its place within the rhythm of the cricketing calendar. 

The ICC praised the glorious 2015 World Cup with a headline on an article on their website that Peter Moores would have been proud of:

‘STATISTICS SHOW RECORD-BREAKING WORLD CUP IS MOST ENTERTAINING IN HISTORY’.

The article says that ‘After the 42 group games, the average run rate for the competition looks set to average more than five runs per over for the first time in the history of the competition. 

“So far runs have been scored at 5.07 runs per over, at an average of 28.43 runs per wicket, beating the previous best of 4.95 in 2007.’.

By the end of the tournament, the overall run rate was 5.6 runs per over. 

But, this was man made carnage. 

This World Cup had a number of crucial elements fixed, which created a concoction of chaos for bowlers.

There were of course shorter boundaries, allowing for quick constant runs. There were two new kookaburra balls, meaning both less swing for the quick bowlers.  

In terms of fielding restrictions, a change was made in 2012, whereby a maximum of four fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle for the majority of the innings.

Oh, and instead of three blocks of power plays, there were two blocks: the first in the opening ten overs, when only two fielders are allowed outside the ring;  and the second, a five-over block taken by the batting side before the 40th over, restricting the number to three outside the ring.[ESPN Cricinfo].

In other words, it was a rigged game. 

Someone decided to throw out of the window tactics and subtlety, and put it on to the ‘crash bang wallop’ setting.

Like a stage production, It went to a script. 

The Associates had fun, but got nowhere. But sixes were hit. England flopped. A few sixes were hit [against them]. Pakistan and the West Indies fought hard and fell short. But sixes were hit. Sri Lanka were underestimated. But sixes were hit. South Africa got a Semi-Final. But Ab de Villiers hit lots of sixes on beast mode. Australia (the villain) beat their co-Hosts New Zealand in the final, then the Channel 9 team was let loose.

“It was the greatest World Cup ever”, and a thousand other cliches.

It wasn’t ‘boring‘, but after the 400th six, it did get a bit tedious. Oh, he’s scored a double hundred again.. someone wake me up when he breaks Lara’s 400. 

It was microcosmic of fifty over cricket as a whole; trying to be something it wasn’t.

Unlike the IPL which has genuine raw support and appeals to people as a a short sharp burst of drama, this was dragged out. It was mass produced six hitting forced down people’s throats.

The World Cup in 2015 World Cup saw a staggering 38 hundreds, compared to 24 in 2011 and 20  in 2007. Even before the quarter and semi final stage, there had been more centuries and scores of over 300 than any other previous World Cup. 

The next World Cup organisers should do the humanitarian thing, and replace bowlers with bowling machines. 

If 50 over cricket wants to survive, perhaps it should look back to 2003. 

Run rates were steady. Around one, with Australia narrowly pointing their noses over two.

It was exciting and engaging cricket, because it was unique and had character.

There were plots and sub plots.

Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee were genuinely hostile. Andy Flower’s black armband. Muttiah Muralitharan versus Shane Warne. The legendary Kenyan upset, a host of other things. It wasn’t just crash bang wallop, because it didn’t need to be. It was 50 over cricket with a unique flavour.

Admittedly T20 was not a dominant force at the time, but nevertheless, there was still an appetite for this brand of aggressive must thinking cricket. 

One day cricket must start to distinguish itself from T20 cricket, and not try to become like it. 

If it tries to emulate something which is hugely popular for two key specific reasons, it’s time frame and intensity, then it will fail. 50 over cricket will be like the embarrassing dad wearing Topman skinny jeans and red converse in front of their T20 son. 

One Day cricket needs to do some soul searching and recognise that it will not survive unless it is itself. It has had success when it has been itself. When it has embraced a balance between bat an ball, and between the pace of Test cricket and T20. 

This World Cup will be remembered as the World Cup that everyone knew the result of before it started. It was like watching a film that you have seen a thousand times before. It was enjoyable, but it wouldn’t hurt to see something different. 

One Day cricket is huge in the sub continent especially, and it a perfect stepping stone for the associate and Test playing nations. 

It needs to exist, and without it, there would be no middle ground between the oldest and newest forms of the game.

If 50 over cricket turns into 20 over cricket, it will die, and with it, cricket will lose all of its subtlety. It will become a sport of two extremes. 

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