The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 ended with suspense for favorites India and ecstasy for reigning champions Australia as they won their sixth World Cup title and beat the hosts by six wickets in Ahmedabad on Sunday in front of a packed house, which as she mostly stayed mum for the majority of the game.
Like all multinational tournaments, this World Cup has given us some memorable moments. Whether it’s Afghanistan giving big teams a scare for a semi-final spot, Maxwell scoring a single-leg double ton or some controversial moments like Angelo Matthews’ time-out, the tournament will live long in the fans’ memories.
Here are some of the takeaways from this tournament, which could change the ODI format in the future.
No close competition
The first thing that comes to mind is the rarity of games going down to the wire, as many encounters have been decided with many overs to spare. The one-sided nature of the matches did not bode well for the future of this format.
For example, not a single game was played for the full 100 overs. Only nine of the 48 games played in this tournament were eligible to be called close games.
Pakistan v Sri Lanka, which the opener won with 10 balls to spare, Australia v New Zealand, which went down to the wire as Cummins’ men prevailed by just five runs, and the Pakistan-South Africa game, which Proteas won courtesy of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, were some of the very few matches that kept the audience glued to their screens.
The one-sided nature of the matches made the tournament a little boring for the viewers, especially from the beginning to the middle part.
Interest was restored, however, in the later part of the event but this was due to the standings of the table and how the results affected the standings of some other teams.
Bilateral ODIs are dead
The World Cup has also raised serious questions about the future of the bilateral ODI series.
With one-sided matches in mind, would anyone want to watch an eight-hour ODI in a bilateral series if you remove the scoreboard frame? I’m afraid the answer is no, which is why teams may play less ODI cricket in the coming years. As time progresses, the ODI format may be limited to the World Cup and Champions Trophy only.
However, the tournament had its share of surprises thanks to the performances of teams like Afghanistan and the Netherlands, who played out of their skins.
The Netherlands recorded two wins and showed glimpses of their readiness for the big stage. The win in South Africa was huge for them and the Bangladesh win also showed the improvement they had made over the years.
But one of the stars of the tournament was undoubtedly Afghanistan. For a team that had only one World Cup win before this tournament, they impressed one and all and narrowly missed reaching the semi-finals.
Afghanistan’s performance in this tournament was one for the ages as they gave the likes of Pakistan and New Zealand a scare for the fourth place in the semi-final and if not for those magical innings by Maxwell, they might well have become the team that will create history.
Who would like to be a bowler?
This tournament saw the most runs scored, most 300-plus scores, most single hundreds (40), most sixes (650+) and most boundaries (2100+) among all ODI Worlds Cup so far.
Was it because the rags became brilliant? or because the game is set up in a way that supports batting and leaves bowlers drowning in a deluge of sixes and fours.
If you look at the changes in the ODI game over the last 10 years or so, you will notice that it has become impossible for teams to contain batters, especially when they have batting-friendly conditions. The rule that there are only four players out of the circle from over 11 to 40 has contributed significantly to this.
As time progressed, boundaries got smaller, bats got thicker and bowlers got bolder in their approach to the game. So, at a time like this, who would want to be a bowler? Who would want to crash for a hundred runs in 10 overs every day?
However, we must not forget that we saw some great bowling performances from bowlers like Mohammad Shami, Adam Zampa, Dilshan Madushanka and Shaheen Shah Afridi, but quality bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Haris Rauf, Trent Boult, Rashid Khan and others appeared to be fighting for most of the tournament.
Can ODIs be saved?
The introduction of two new balls, smaller boundaries and rules in favor of batters have made bowling look so uninspiring. The problem in such a situation is that when a 10-year-old or 12-year-old child watches cricket, he always wants to be a batsman.
He/she wouldn’t want to be a bowler and get smashed every day, they would want to go out and hit the bowlers all over the park.
So the ICC senior management should review the playing conditions and even the competition between bat and ball. Otherwise, international cricket can turn into a Hong Kong Super Sixes competition.
The future of this format hangs in the balance and multilateral tournaments can only bring audiences to their screens and courts if they become much more attractive and competitive. Otherwise, ODI cricket may not survive the test of time.
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