|Strauss' 158 v India: One of the many highlights|
With the Cricket World Cup underway in the subcontinent, reports that the 50 over game’s demise suddenly seem greatly exaggerated. True, the One Day format does not provide the instant gratification that is associated with Twenty20 Internationals and neither does it have the marathon-esque battle of attrition that Test cricket brings, but what is wrong with having something in the middle? To quote the Clover advert on TV, One Day cricket is not a famine or a feast. It’s not skinny margerine and it’s not full fat butter. The middle is the best of both. I, for one, appreciate the fact that I can spend £50 on a ticket, spend the whole day at Lord’s and be sure of getting a result at the end of the day, just as much as I appreciate the relaxing nature of Test cricket. If you want a game which is over before you know it, football or rugby is your best bet.
The World Cup, so far, has been a fantastic advert for the One Day game. It has had everything you could possibly want. It’s had successful high run chases, successfully defended low targets, hundreds from big names, hundreds from people you’ve never heard of, upsets and even two hat tricks in a game. Anybody who watched England snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against South Africa will know that you cannot get that kind of entertainment from 20 over cricket, given the “lottery”-like nature of the game.
One of the positive effects of Twenty20 on the 50 over format has been the importance of strike rate. Gone are the days of Gavaskar scoring 36 off 174 balls as he once famously did against England at Lord’s in 1975. We are now at a time where international players are used to playing at such a high tempo in 20 over cricket that this has filtered through to 50 over cricket, where scores of over 300 are regularly posted.
Although it is great entertainment to watch somebody smack the ball out the park, it is equally entertaining, if not more so, to watch somebody build an innings with aesthetic genuine cricket shots. One Day cricket provides just that opportunity for the top order to make a contribution and to build on their trade as a batsman. After all, they are in the side because they can bat, not because they can slog. I hope that with the busy international schedule facing international cricketers these days, all three formats of the game can co-exist peacefully, with the right balance found between them.