Tough trip for bowlers on 22-yard strip

Tough trip for bowlers on 22-yard strip

When Australia last hosted the World Cup in 1992, along with New Zealand, its population was 17.5 million. Today it’s 23.5 million. Allan Border held the record for most ODIs at 241 while Sachin Tendulkar almost doubled the tally by the time he played his last World Cup in 2011 in India. The 1992 was Tendulkar’s debut World Cup and the 2015 is the first quadrennial bash will be the first that the retired legend will not be part of.     

Cricket, especially in one-day internationals, as a contest between bat and ball still had some relevance to it then but no longer. Consider this. Rohit Sharma rattled off 264 late last year against Sri Lanka to set the record for the highest individual score in ODIs.

There were only seven instances of 264-plus scored by entire teams in the 1992 World Cup. In the 1992 World Cup, Sri Lanka chased down a record 312 to beat Zimbabwe. Today that is the 18th equal highest successful run chase of all time.

Cricket, in the rest of the world, has gone through seismic change in the last 23 years and Australia is no exception. As the country prepares to host the 11th edition of the World Cup, against along with New Zealand, one of the notable changes here is the changing nature of the pitches. Australia may still be the place for the bowlers compared to other countries in a larger sense of the statement, but the average innings totals have been steadily increasing. The average innings scores were in the vicinity of 220-plus in the 90s and the same have gone up to 260-plus in the last five years.

In the 2014 series against England, the average innings total was just over 263 and given how the pitches have played this summer, this World Cup is likely going to be kinder to the batsmen. There has been an open resentment by Australian pacers who were upset with the lack of pace and bounce in most pitches during the Test series against India and the joke here has been doing the rounds that Cricket Australia prepared slow surfaces under an instruction from the BCCI! Irrespective of the mischievous suggestion, fact remains that Australia, who prided themselves on fast pitches, have been forced to succumb to the newer demands of the merchants of cricket.

Today, much of the cricketing schedules are drawn to the convenience of Indian audience. A T20 match involving India in the Caribbean starts at local 9.30 am so that the Indian fans can catch the action at 7.00 pm in the evening, never mind the fact that very few make it to the ground because of the early start.

Even the match schedules of Test matches, which were once sacrosanct in Australia, are being changed to suit the Indian viewers. A Test match in Adelaide starts at 10.30 am and a Brisbane match begins at 10.00 am so that the fans in India can catch the match by no earlier than 5.30 am. The ODI match schedules too are altered accordingly. Limited overs cricket today is driven by consumerism that has been perfected by India. Flat tracks, meaty bats, smaller grounds and high scores are the staple diets for the survival of one-day cricket in the sub-continent, a fact not lost on the rest of the cricketing world.

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