One-day cricket February 7, 2010

Hollow day proves game needs a rethink

Observing the empty top deck of the MCG stands closed and quite a few of the other layers half-empty during the first game between Australia and West Indies, Peter Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald says it's hard to avoid thinking the ODI is running out of gas. Unable to rely on entertainment alone, one-dayers have not survived the ensuing scrutiny about their relevance.

Changes are needed. Shorter boundaries could be introduced and eight awarded for clearing the boundary. Earlier starts might be considered. Especially on weeknights and in term time, 10.30pm finishes take a toll. And the game can go along quicker, with faster over rates and so forth.

But these ideas exist around the fringes. No less important is to give the matches some context. Hitherto the main purpose of one-dayers has been to offer the public a good night out at the cricket. No longer could anyone claim that the game belonged to stuffed shirts. As far as night entertainment is concerned, T20 now serves the purpose better than its longer-winded older brother. Over the years, cricket has spent an inordinate amount of time maintaining the illusion that it occupies higher ground. Gradually, it has retreated from pomposity.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo