'ODI cricket will grow stronger' - Lorgat
Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the ICC, has reaffirmed his faith in the ODI format, expressing optimism over its future given its ability to draw big crowds and generate sizeable viewership. Lorgat said the ICC, together with member boards, would continue to experiment with changes to the format that would make it more appealing. He was speaking on the eve of the 3000th ODI, to be played in Southampton, incidentally, by the same two teams that inaugurated the format in 1971 - England and Australia.
"That game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was arranged on very short notice after a Test match had been washed out and nobody was really sure what would happen," Lorgat said. "When around 46,000 people showed up to watch I think the organisers realised they were on to something big. Since that day it has been hugely successful and we have been treated to some of the great moments of cricket through ODIs."
The first three World Cups, beginning with 1975, were 60-overs-a-side tournaments while the ones that followed were all 50 overs. The game, over the years, has undergone significant changes but without altering the basics of cricket, Lorgat said. "That first ODI nearly 40 years ago involved the bowling of 40 eight-ball overs per innings and the structure of the game has been constantly evolving ever since. Over the years various initiatives have been trialled and refined and we now have quite a different spectacle to the one that was first on show.
"Coloured clothing, white balls, fielding restrictions, bowling limitations, Powerplays, free-hits and many other aspects of the game have all been introduced but the unmistakable and unshakable core skills required by batsmen, bowlers and fielders are still intact.
"And the broad appeal remains strong. ODIs still attract big crowds and enormous television viewing figures. The ODI series between England and Australia that gets underway tomorrow will be hugely well-attended and the recent ODIs in Ireland and Scotland were also sell-outs."
Cricket Australia recently announced it would experiment with a split-innings one-day format in the country's next domestic season. Lorgat said the "evolution" of one-day cricket would continue to make it relevant to changing times. "As we prepare for the 10th staging of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka next year, the importance of this format to the game remains very high," he said. "I have no doubt the ODI will continue to adapt and evolve - in fact we always encourage our Members to trial new initiatives at domestic level to see if they work - and above all, I have no doubt the ODI will continue to strengthen long into the future."