Whiff of fresh air for 50-over game

Champions Trophy shows the way forward for one-day internationals

Especially in the last six months, the future of the one-day format has come under intense scrutiny, attendances at grounds and television audiences dwindling largely because of the ‘boring’ nature of the middle stages of the 100-over contest.

The Champions Trophy hasn’t witnessed massive crowds or generated great interest in South Africa, except for the odd match. South Africa’s abortive campaign attracted capacity crowds, the India-Pakistan game at SuperSport Park was, expectedly, a sell-out and the knockout games have been well attended, which is a bit of a surprise given South Africa’s early elimination and the relatively lukewarm response to the initial stages of the competition.

Significantly, the players believe there is very little wrong with the 50-over format as it exists. As New Zealand skipper Vettori pointed out, it is the plethora of meaningless matches – such as Australia’s seven-match one-day series in England which ended only two days before the Champions Trophy started – that reduce the charm and drawing power of the one-day version.

For the first time since the Champions Trophy deviated from the knockout format in 2002, only the cream of the one-day world has been involved in this competition. That matches have been played on totally contrasting surfaces no more than an hour away from each other has challenged the skills and the adaptability of the cricketers, which is why Aussie captain Ponting called it the ‘best ever Champions Trophy he has been a part of’, notwithstanding the absence of a reserve day for the final.

Up to the players

Ponting also made it clear that it was up to the players to determine the popularity and secure the future of this format. “The key issue with the 50-over game comes down to the way teams want to play it,” Ponting observed. “The middle overs have been what the administrators have been worried about. Bringing Power Plays into the game has added a different dimension to it.

“If you want to play the game as best you can, as a batting side, you have to maximise those middle overs. If you do that, you'll make good scores. The more attractive the players can make the game, the more the fans will enjoy it as well,” he added.
There is every likelihood that overkill might reduce the vibrancy of the Twenty20 thrill, just as a surfeit of 50-over matches has left fans disenfranchised, indeed bored. Competitions with meaning, quality and spunk, such as the Champions Trophy can, however, keep the 50-over game alive and kicking. As simple as that.

DH News Service

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