CA chairman pushes ODI revamp
In his final year as the Cricket Australia chairman and an ICC powerbroker, Wally Edwards is intent on making further changes to ODI cricket as he watches the World Cup contested according to playing conditions he had a major hand in bringing about.
Edwards has believed for some time that the 50-over game should be re-branded as "World Cup cricket", with a more vigorous points and rankings system linked to Cup qualification across the four-year cycle that culminates in the global tournament. Such a system would create the context many have yearned for in ODIs for decades.
Edwards' concept for World Cup cricket will be discussed in detail at an ICC subcommittee meeting in Melbourne next week. Edwards serves presently as chairman of the influential Executive Committee or ExCo, a key plank added to the ICC's governance under the raft of "big three changes" pushed into place by India, Australia and England at the governing body's annual conference in June 2014.
"I'd like to see a lot more context for 50-over cricket," Edwards told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I would call it World Cup Cricket. We've got a meeting on Monday in Melbourne with the ICC and one of the subjects is this. From my point of view this is one of the big strategy items, which is also focused on making the world of cricket better.
"I would have a system where maybe after one year the top two teams play off in a best-of-three [series] or something, which would take a week," said Edwards, a former opening batsman for Australia. "That counts for one year and if you could work the points out so that even teams like Ireland have a chance that would be quite interesting. There [would be] a decent prize at the end of it, a decent lump of money.
"In the second year [after a World Cup in the current cycle] you've got the Champions Trophy, which I would like to call the World Cup qualifying tournament. In the third year you'd be finishing off the rankings for the World Cup and then in the last year you've got the World Cup. Something like that where each year there is a some pinnacle at the end that everyone is playing to achieve, and then the World Cup is the big one. It will make a lot more sense to people I think."
The proof of Edwards' ability to influence the thinking of the game's global governors has been demonstrated by the presence of two new balls at either end and tighter fielding restrictions at this World Cup, meaning fielding teams can only use four fielders outside the circle at most.
Edwards pushed for these changes - which India, among others, have not appreciated - because he believed strongly that the game's regulations should encourage attacking cricket, rather than the sort of percentage run-saving tactics that had become commonplace in ODIs.
His philosophical views predated the arrival of Darren Lehmann as Australia's coach, but the host team's aggressive way of playing the game, striving for boundaries with the bat and wickets with the ball, has dovetailed neatly with Edwards' view of how the game should be played.
This was illustrated starkly during Australia's opening World Cup fixture against England at the MCG, where Edwards was a delighted spectator in watching his team pile on 342 for 9 before rolling the visitors for 231.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig