Saving ODIs

Sachin Tendulkar’s recommendations to the ICC on ODIs, have yet again raised the debate on whether ODIs have become irrelevant, and if yes, what should be done to keep them alive and kicking?

I come from the ODI generation. I remember waking up at 4.30 in the mornings to watch Srikanth, Gavaskar, Shastri, Kapil Dev and others play against Australia and New Zealand down under. And elders at home never missed to notice the fact that I rarely got up early to study or during important occasions like festivals. ODIs have always been dear to me, and most honestly, I enjoy them over T20.

I must also confess that to me, a cricket team consisted of 2 regular openers, 3 middle order batsmen, a wicket-keeper batsman, and  5 bowlers, one of whom was generally an all-rounder, meaning he could score a hundred in Tests. Middle order batsmen didn’t open, and openers didn’t play in the middle order. If any of the other bowlers could bat, or if any of the batsmen could bowl, that was a bonus.

But alas, I seem to be in a minority. And a hopeless one at that. And nothing drives that fact to me more than the views of experts, who seem to unanimously agree that something needs to be done for ODIs – meaning, unless something is done, it is going to fade away. And as far as team combination is concerned, 7 batsmen and 4 bowlers have become a rule, even in Test cricket. And people who open in tests don’t necessarily get to play in ODIs, and people who open in ODIs, often play in the middle order in tests.

So, what do I do now? Fighting against experts, trying to prevent them from tinkering with the existing system could be futile exercise. So, I have tried to come up with a few suggestions of my own. While I am not sure whether anyone will like any of them, I will still share them with you.

First of all, I like the 2 innings, 25 overs each concept. It will introduce the 4 innings thrill that we get to see in Tests.

Secondly, I do not like to see the restriction of 5 bowlers being allowed to bowl only 10 overs each or even 4 bowlers being allowed to bowl only 12 overs each. Cricket is getting badly biased in favor of batsmen. Restricting a bowler to bowl only 10 overs is like asking a batsman to play only 60 balls. Do you think a batsman has to vacate crease, if he remains not-out after playing 60 deliveries? If not, why should a bowler? Furthermore, teams are already down to 3 ½ – 4 bowlers now, and no team is playing 5 bowlers.

To overcome this situation, and to re-establish cricket as a fair contest between bat and ball, without undue bias in favor of batsman, we must take off this restriction on maximum number of overs a bowler can bowl.  On the contrary, if needed, to encourage (force, would probably be a more appropriate word) teams to play regular bowlers, a condition can be imposed that at least 6 different bowlers must bowl a minimum of 4 or 5 overs each.

Thirdly, the Powerplays. I would like Powerplays to be abolished fully. Great batsmen, please face the bowling on its merit, score your runs and entertain us. However, there is a belief that Powerplays are the most crucial element of ODIs, that they infuse life into the game by allowing batsmen to play big shots, accelerate scoring and avoid boredom for spectators. If that is the conclusion of experts and if we want more of that, then here are some options to help batsman play some bigger shorts and further accelerate scoring:

  • Super Powerplay – 4 overs per each innings. Only 6 players from the fielding side, including the wicket-keeper and bowler, are allowed on field, and the remaining 5 get to relax in the dressing room.  Out of the 6 players, only 1 can be outside the 30 yard circle.
  • Bumper Powerplay – 2 overs per each innings. Same field restrictions of 6 players on field. Only change is, if the bowler bowls right handed normally, he must bowl this over left-handed and vice versa.
  • Mega Powerplay – 1 over per innings. Same field restriction of 6 players on field, and bowling with the wrong hand. Additionally, the batsman gets to select the bowler and also, no matter what happens in the over, both the batsmen cannot be declared out.

This will all be huge fun for the spectators.

Hope ICC would find these suggestions useful. And in case more are wanted, we can work on them too. Only, they must feel free to let me know.

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