Make the ODI format go away!

2013-02-04 07:00
Sport24 columnist Ant Sims (File)
Please can the ghastly one-day format just go away?

South Africa saved face against New Zealand in the last of their three-match ODI in emphatic fashion. That the end of the game was exciting, there’s no denying, but it took a large amount of South Africa’s middle order to make it so and, for the most part, the final one-day felt forced, drab and downright irksome. Out of all the so-called threats T20 cricket poses, perhaps the biggest threat is to ODI cricket and not Tests.

If you looked at the bare skeleton of the match, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the match was exciting. It was, eventually, after South Africa’s rookie middle order conspired to make it so. 

The format was even abandoned on the domestic circuits of some countries for a while with both Australia and South Africa only revering back to the 50-over format after they were spooked by their failings at the 2011 Cricket World Cup. While that might explain some of the struggles the rookie Proteas have had to making the step up to the international stage, it still doesn’t take away from ODI cricket’s struggle to compete with Tests and T20s and that the format is failing to carve out an identity in the cricket world.

Over the last few years, cricket has become better and better. Despite a larger number of doom mongers insisting that Test cricket is dead, buried and on its way to cremation, that old lady has kicked and screamed and showed everybody that she’s still got plenty of oomph left in her legs.

Similarly, T20 cricket has grown exponentially from anther silly thing invented by the English to something which can generate pretty pennies for some domestic franchise across the world and a platform for players who perhaps aren’t quite good enough to make it at Test level to get a big pay day in one of those leagues and get their chance to shine on the international stage. And there is nothing wrong with that, cricket has become a professional sport and players are no longer required to keep two jobs just to make ends meet.

T20 cricket is great, because it’s brisk and easily digestible, if you can stomach the pompous arrogance of marketers to infiltrate the game to its core and their desperate attempt to make it as much of a commercial commodity as possible. Test cricket is great because it always has been and always will be the purest format of the game and while some might say that the five day malarkey is hard to get through, it’s not quite. Test cricket is quite like an open, endless buffet to which you can return to pluck supple delicacies from as the day wears on. Two games at the opposite end of the spectrum, yet both are growing in stature.

One cricket, however, despite desperate intervention, is seemingly going backwards. The constant fiddling and tinkering with powerplays and new balls and everything else that goes along with has made it tough for the players to keep up, nevermind the audience it’s trying to sell the product to.

One-day matches far too often feel incredibly cumbersome and while it had dished up a couple of great contests in the past (like the great '438' clash), the ratio of exciting games vs farcical or down-right snoozefests is out of proportion.

Whether it’s trying to grasp Duckworth Lewis, games being called off for “the wrong type of rain” (like what happened in Australia recently), teams incapable of getting through their overs on time, or whether the format far too often relies on the ineptitude of one side rather than skill and real contest in order to create excitement.  ODI cricket seemingly has too much going against it.

It’s a tediously boring monstrosity most of the time and while it might still be very much loved by players, loved so much in fact that they’re willing to do it for no match fee at all, and people in small towns, it’s a format which is either in dire need of proper intervention. Not the kind of intervention where you throw money and a few novelties at a problem child, but something to help it become more relevant than simply the prize of a World Cup.

If it can’t find that, then please, please just put it down.

Ant Sims is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    proteas  |  ant sims  |  cricket

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