There. I said it. The World Cup was bad for the game of cricket.
There is no better feeling in sport than winning. Australia lifting the World Cup for the fourth time in my life was a sweet as any other occasion. Despite this I can’t help be left with a sour taste about what the tournament does for the sport.
Crowds were wonderful, upsets were had and close games were more frequent than they had been at past tournaments. All fun and games, or was it?
The tournament was a success, but the barrage of high scores combined with the “new batting textbook” commentators ranted about leaves me feeling sour.
There were 23, 531 runs scored in the tournament at an average of 500.65 per game. When you factor in that England were playing and they were hopeless, this is a high scoring outlay from the more successful teams in the tournament.
There is a great skill in scoring 400 in 50 overs, there’s no denying that. But it is a skill which is demonstrating that 50% of the game isn’t valued under the current ODI format. If you’re a bowler you’re on a hiding to nothing. Powerplays, No-Balls, Wides and the new rules surrounding the bouncer have all been altered to ensure that runs are scored with ease.
When I first watched cricket a wide was a ball you couldn’t play a shot to with a regulation stance. Now a wide is something that’s either 75cm outside off or anything down the leg side. Two bouncers an over, anything over waist height and a full toss is a no-ball (unless you’re India), and don’t get me started on fielding regulations.
ODIs are successful because they have what the general observer classifies as “constant entertainment”. In a market when the forms of the game are getting shorter, entertainment comes through big hitting rather than a tight bowling battle. If people want big hitting you can replace bowlers with a bowling machine. The majority of bowling were half-volley’s outside off throughout the tournament, so why not give people more of what they so clearly want?
Cricket is one of my favourite sports. I’ll watch any form, but the shorter the game gets the less I care. ODIs aren’t a battle between batsmen and bowlers for the mental edge to get runs on the board. It’s a test of how long a batter will wait for the bowler to start bowling rubbish. If the batter can wait out the two over period at the start of a spell they are going to get runs.
The focus on attack hurts me as a fan, but it also hurts the next generation. Our future test cricketers think watching guys like Brendon McCullum is the way to build your technique to a level where you deserve a Baggy Green. No, it isn’t. McCullum is a wonderful cricketer with one fault – a severe inability to distinguish between forms of the game. Thank you very much short-form cricket for creating a monster which ruins it for the traditionalists. If you want to build an arsenal which will see you become a test great I suggest you YouTube guys like Doug Walters and Steve Waugh. They are the sorts of players we need to develop. I don’t need you scoring 15 an over on the first morning. I need you averaging between 47 and 60. That’s how we win tests, and reach the pinnacle of the sport.
For a pro-hitting rant you’d assume that I think there is never any smart bowling in the shorter forms. I know that Australia won the final with a fantastic bowling performance. Clarke for all of his faults devised a plan to beat an unbeaten team and pulled it off with apparent ease. Credit to him for that, but that performance alone doesn’t swing back to bowlers having a prominent role in the current form of ODIs for mine.
Is anyone else wishing The Ashes would hurry up and start?