Alright, 2015 has almost arrived. But has the 2015 Cricket World Cup also arrived? Well, not quite. Maybe, the feeling is different in the host nations of Australia and New Zealand. After all, the world cup is returning to the Australian continent after 23 years! There have been a whole lot of changes in these 23 years.
To sum up in a line or two would be difficult. The Little Master’s first World Cup was the one organized in the Australian continent. Well, that should sum it up!
Pardon the digression, but Sachin and Cricket were synonyms for quite a number of years. Winning the Cricket World Cup was the one dream; he would have given away all his records/personal achievements for. Well, India did win the World Cup in 2011. Sachin wasn’t at his prime though he ended up 2nd in terms of most runs scored in the tournament. ODI cricket was a format, Sachin had made his own. When he decided to retire from ODI cricket on Dec. 23, 2012; the battle of the ODI format with the other two formats became that much tougher.
It is in this context, that the upcoming world cup will be all the more crucial for the future of ODI cricket. There will be a whole host of stars missing from the playing elevens. Some have bid adieu to the game, some have been made to (read KP) and some are injured (Michael Clarke would be a notable absentee, if he doesn’t recover).
After grappling between making the tournament, a shorter one and letting the associate nations get exposure; ICC finally went back to its 14 teams divided in 2 pools.Maybe, the format of qualifiers as used by FIFA for World Cup or the Euro qualifiers could have been thought of as alternatives. With a huge list of associates and affiliate countries (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/page/300901.html); ICC needs to a better job of promoting the game. Is the current divisions format used in the World Cricket League (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/site/416816.html), the best they could come up with?
Will ODI cricket survive? Is that even the correct question? Should it survive?
I am going to sound a bit pessimist here. But I don’t think ODI cricket can survive. Not in the current state, where ICC keeps implementing changes by the dozen. Tests and Twenty 20 formats (mostly club based) do not offer ODI cricket much breathing space. Yes, ICC has tried; by curtailing the number of T20s, countries can play in a year. But hasn’t that helped the club based T20 leagues?
The battle between the formats should be guided by the survival of the best. Cricket as a sport needs to touch many more geographies and T20 is best suited to be promoted for that purpose. International Test Cricket could be restricted to the top 8 nations. Abandoning the idea of the World Test Championship for the Champions Trophy, wasn’t the most prudent one. But with cricket administrators at ICC being guided by commercial interests rather than the game’s interests; one can hardly expect much!
The 2015 Cricket World Cup is an opportunity for the ICC to search for some much needed answers and give a much required direction to the game of cricket.
PS: While Rohit Sharma hitting a double ton in an ODI inning isn’t such a bad thing; when he hit it the second time round, I did wonder – is this it? The final nail in the coffin! #RestinPeace #ODIcricket