I wrote this article in October, 2013... How much of this does this still hold weight?
A lot has been made about the new ODI rules, particularly the removal of the 5th man allowed out of the circle outside of the Power Play overs. The recent series for the ICC number 1 ranking between India and Australia firstly came under criticism in Australia mainly due to its close proximity to the upcoming home Ashes series and the perception it's bad preparation.
These thoughts and comments are short sighted, because cricket is cricket and runs are runs, in any format they should count for a player, particularly in this era of pitches resembling highways in all formats.
Since the series has been going, we have seen some incredible run scoring, and even more incredible run chases. Normally batting becomes easier at night in India, but never before have we consistently seen sides chasing down such big totals. This comes down to several factors - batsmen in incredible form, small boundaries, flat pitches, but what has been consistently been put under the spotlight has been the rule changes to ODI cricket, namely the reduction to only being allowed 4 men outside of the inner circle in non Power Play overs, and the use of a new ball from each end.
Xavier Doherty, Australia's premier limited overs spin bowler, recently said that the ICC should investigate making this rule flexible depending on the country and conditions. One only needs to glance at the figures of the spinners in this series and the ease at which they have been played to see this point certainly has logic.
The argument could immediately be made that there is only one ball in a Twenty20 match, however the game is different entirely.The second point, only having 4 fielders outside of the inner circle in non Power Play overs, certainly is making an impact, about that there can be no doubt.
The modern day batsman possesses a skill set which sees them able to hit the ball in any area of the field from any given delivery. Ramps, reverses, scoops and inside out shots are becoming more and more common and this will only continue to develop.
What we need to realise is that runs are good for cricket. The Hollywood version of cricket, Twenty20, allows players to smash, crash and innovate their way to scores around the 160-250 marks in 20 overs of cricket consistently now. Why would someone new to the game convert to ODI cricket when they see the same score? It's like saying you are introduced to motor sport in Drag Racing and then forced to watch a full Formula 1 race. Whilst it's exciting for a motorsport fan, stop for a second and consider those who are new and don't know the second thing about it.
In the 10 years of ODI cricket in India prior to this series, teams have averaged 237 (both first and second innings). In this series the average has been 288 (both of these figures include no results to remain consistent). So, with 2 new balls, only 4 men out playing on pitches resembling highways and some batsmen in incredible form, is 51 runs really worth all the talk?
For cricket to remain relevant, in particular this format which is coming under increased pressure, it needs to evolve. It must be a format new customers watch, the new customers who crave a little more but not a 5 day event, just yet anyway.The fact remains David Warner would be toiling for his club or state if not for his explosive debut in Twenty20 cricket against South Africa. I am sure we will sit back after this Ashes series and say the same about George Bailey, who despite all the talk about his last season in the Sheffield Shield in which he only averaged 18 (name a player who has been consistent across all 3 formats for his state whilst finding his way in International cricket) will in my opinion make his Test Match debut in the coming weeks and months, and could turn out to be Australian captain in time.
Next time you hear someone saying "it's a batters game", tell them yes, it is, because the team with more runs wins the game, so it has to be. Pretty simple, really.Challenge them to name any other global sport who has tried to slow scoring down in order to attract more people to it - my money says they can't, but if they can, get them to drop me a line on Twitter and I will happily eat my words, or watch highlights of Chris Martin batting on YouTube. Up to them.