Is ODI cricket just about the runs?

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Guest post by Edward Knowles

Over the past few weeks I have stayed up late and woken up early to try and watch as much of the 2015 Cricket World Cup as possible. This event is the highlight of the one-day format and one which every team strives to win. The ODI cricket that’s been displayed so far has been phenomenal  – it’s certainly the kind of cricket that draws in the crowds – but I’m not entirely satisfied with it.

What I ‘ve witnessed so far is some unbelievable stroke play, audacious shots and, sometimes, just outright bullying. As much as the viewers love to see a high scoring match, something about all this just doesn’t sit well with me.

Let’s go back to the 1992 World Cup, where the highest score amassed was Sri Lanka’s 313/7. In fact, there were only two scores over 300 in that World Cup and they came in the same match. As it stands, in the 2015 World Cup, there have been twenty scores over 300 and three scores of over 400!

SA scoreboard

Cricket has evolved significantly since 1992, and I for one am grateful for that. The introduction of 20/20 cricket around the world has done marvelous things for this great sport, and the massive scores posted in this world cup clearly demonstrate its influence on the modern game.

My problem with watching this brand of cricket is that I can’t help but feel that it’s becoming a batsmen’s game. Every aspect seems to swing solely towards the two men doing just that… swinging their willows. Bats are bigger than ever, fielding restrictions put the bowlers backs against the wall, free hits and the use of two new balls, are just a few of my gripes with the cricket we’re watching in modern times.

I would like to see some new rules being introduced into the one day game. For one, I strongly believe that a bowler should be allowed to bowl either side of the wicket without informing the umpire (or the batsman for that matter). Perhaps the no ball rule could be changed? At present, part of the foot should be behind the bowling crease – I’d be happy for it to be a legal delivery if the foot is on the line. If the bowlers foot is completely over the line then this should be a no ball, obviously. Another change I’d welcome would be the use of only one ball so that the bowlers can use it to get reverse swing later in the innings, and only change it if absolutely necessary. Current fielding restrictions during power plays make it too easy for the modern batsmen to score. All things considered, is it time for a rethink?

I love a high scoring match as much as everyone else. My question is this: why would any aspiring young cricketer would want to become a bowler when the game has developed so brutally towards them? Watching 20/20 and One Day cricket shows me that there really is nothing in it for the bowlers. The game should be an even contest between bat and ball – but as it stands, I feel that batsmen have a far greater advantage.

Imagine us, years from now, telling our children and grandchildren that the Protea’s brought South Africa to a standstill for months and even released a DVD of a match where we successfully chased down Australia’s 435. The way things are going, they’ll look at us and laugh. “Big deal Gramps, that’s a par score!”

If the rules stay as they are, I think it’s just a matter of time until we see a score of 500+ and possibly even a 300+ for an individual batsman. The prospect of this is entertaining, and outrageous at the same time. On the other hand, how good would it be to watch a good spell of bowling where the batsmen need to work for their runs and more so, work for their pay cheques? I, for one, would love to see it.

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