Questions over the future of the format despite record number of spectators reaching the stadium in ODI World Cup

…Bharat Sharma…

New Delhi, November 21 (Language) World Cup-winning captain Pat Cummins himself has admitted that he has fallen in love with 50-over cricket again, but currently the debate is going on about the future relevance of the ODI format. There is no doubt that India is the heartbeat of world cricket and the stadiums remained packed during most of the 45-day World Cup matches. It is no surprise that India has hosted the ODI World Cup with the highest viewership ever. The recently concluded ODI World Cup matches in India were watched by 12 lakh 50 thousand spectators in the stadium, which is a new record for this competition held every four years. However, this enthusiasm of the audience would hardly be sustained in the bilateral series. Players and fans of the game love Test cricket but the spectators are more inspired and thrilled by the T20 format. This format is being used to promote the game globally. In the digital age, the scope for concentrated cricket viewing is smaller than ever before. Besides, not everyone has the time and enthusiasm to spend eight hours for an ODI match. The ICC ODI World Cup in India was successful in proving that people are ready to watch the global competition of this game but the same confidence is not instilled in bilateral ODI series. In such a situation, the question arises: should ODI matches be played only in the World Cup year? If not, should the format be changed on the advice of legends like Wasim Akram and Sachin Tendulkar. The Indian team will play only six ODI matches next year while Pakistan’s next ODI match is in November 2024. This is the situation when this country will host the Champions Trophy (2025) in 2025. During the World Cup, Akram advocated changing the format to 40 overs instead of 50, while Tendulkar has long wanted to change the matches to four innings of 25-25 overs to increase the ‘thrill’ in it. Akram told ‘Fox Sports’, “I have a little problem with ODI cricket right now. Nowadays in one-day cricket you rarely see anything interesting happening in the middle overs (around the 30th over). If there is a 40 over format then there will be more excitement at that time. He said, “I don’t know if it is going to happen or not, but I think 40 overs will be more interesting, especially for bilateral series. Today’s audience, we know they have less time than they did in the nineties. We have to adapt it to the T20 format and social media.” His fast bowling partner Waqar Younis suggested the ICC to withdraw a ball from the bowling team after about 30 overs. He said, “One-day cricket is very much batsman-friendly. My suggestion to ICC would be to take back one of the two balls after 30 overs. This will make the ball 35 overs old throughout the game and the bowlers will get a chance to reverse swing. This is necessary to save the art of reverse swing.” After becoming world champion, Cummins said that he loves this format. “Maybe that’s why I fell in love with ODIs again in this World Cup because we won,” he said. I mean, the World Cup has such a rich history, I’m sure it will be around for a long time. Yes, there have been a lot of amazing matches, a lot of amazing stories over the last few months. So, I think it will definitely remain intact.” Language Anand Pantpant

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