Another poor crowd yesterday at the MCG for the One Day International between Australia and The West Indies, is this a concern for One day Cricket as a whole and a bigger concern for next year’s World Cup?
Australia are the best team in the world yet the punters still did not come even to say that they had watched the best exponents of this form of the game. Chris Gayle one of the most exciting batsmen in the world since compatriot Sir Vivian Richards was also not a big enough draw card to get people rushing through the turnstiles.
Yet people seem surprised at the waning crowds and put it down to the birth of twenty20 cricket, even though the writing had been on the wall for a long time, as the last World Cup indicated. The trouble was no one wanted to see the signs.
Leading up to the last World Cup the statistics were telling the story, in something like 80% of all one day games the team batting first won the game. So the battle the fans had paid good money to see rarely eventuated. The introduction of Powerplays and bumpers has not helped re-invigorate the game, and let’s be honest there are too many games.
Peter Roebuck, has suggested bringing the boundaries in and awarding eight runs for a shot that clears the boundary. He also has suggested an earlier start, which may be feasible in Australia, but probably not in the UK, where the ball will seam a lot more, and you will see the team batting first disadvantaged.
Rather than making radical charges to the fabric of the game, why not go back to making it more like the game it was when the Gillette Cup started in England in 1963?
In those days there were no field placement restrictions. Why not remove the restrictions completely and make it a battle of wits and wills, as cricket was always intended to be?
However the one rule that we would like to see removed is the one restricting the number of overs a bowler is allowed to bowl in a match. Batsmen do not have to retire at 50 or 100, so why should a bowler be forced out of the attack when he has bowled his allotted overs?
Cricket is supposed to be a battle between bat and ball, but with wickets favouring the batsman, and bowlers limited to how many overs they can bowl, the batsman will always hold sway.
Imagine Shane Warne still in the game, bamboozling batsman at one end and having the stamina to reel off twenty five consecutive overs, as the batsmen still try to amass as many runs as possible. Suddenly you have a spectacle that is far more worthwhile viewing.
If a bowler is on top and has the stamina to keep bowling, why should he be forced out of the attack?
Rather than introducing new gimmicks to the game, we suggest that the administrators go back to basics, and take the game back to what it was traditionally, a battle between a bowler and a batsman, and may the best man win.
We believe that this type of contest would appeal to the fans as well as the players. But don’t over due the amount of games played, as we have witnessed in recent years!