ODIs are no longer the sexiest thing in cricket, and T20 are to blame

12 May 2019 - 00:06 By TELFORD VICE

You might struggle to describe what used to be the modern miracle that was the Betamax video cassette recorder to today's kids watching Indian Premier League (IPL) games live on their cellphones.
Just as you might struggle to get them to believe that, on the same day that Sony unveiled their magnificent machine in public - June 7 1975 - the sexiest thing cricket had yet seen started at Lord's.
It was played in whites, using a red ball, without floodlights, and in innings 20 overs longer than it takes to play an entire T20. It was completed, in 47 fewer games than this year's IPL, in two weeks.
It was what has come to be called the first World Cup, and it's a world away from the tournament that will return to England at the end of the month.
And not only because of the easily listed differences in one-day cricket in the ensuing 44 years.
ODIs are no longer the sexiest thing cricket offers its market. T20s are, and the 50-over game has had to play catch-up to stay relevant. It is the podgy 45-year-old squeezed into a sleeveless T-shirt and a pair of artfully ripped skinny jeans.
Have all those switch hits, all that slow bouncering and the aerobic workouts that fielding has become made ODI cricket more engaging as well as more exciting? Or has all that turned the shortish format into a defensive technical tedium in which every eventuality has been thought of and planned for?
"The short answer is yes and no," Paddy Upton said between flights on his way back from coaching Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, and on his way to promoting his new book, The Barefoot Coach: Life-changing insights from coaching the world's best cricketers.
"T20 has made ODI cricket a better game, and it's also compromised it," Upton said. "It's made it better specifically by the type of attacking and innovative shots batsmen are playing, like the switch hit, ramp and different types of laps.
"In response, bowlers have learnt to bowl a number of different deliveries. Ten years ago, for example, most fast bowlers only had one slower ball option. These days they have a slower ball off-break, leg break, top-spinner and some form of knuckleball.
"T20 cricket requires batsmen to genuinely devalue their wickets, and to take far more risks.
"This 'new' mindset has led to the attacking game we see today. Previously it was only in setting a target in the third innings where batsmen had the license to attack that they have in T20 cricket today."
But, like Upton said, it wasn't all good.
"I think T20 cricket has undermined ODI cricket as well in that T20 is such an exciting product to watch, and it's potentially showing ODI cricket up to be a relatively lame form of the game, stuck somewhere between the purists' preference of Test cricket and the all-exciting T20 format.
"Some of the top players at IPL this year were referring to ODI cricket as 'paid batting practice'."
Deep in the dust of a storage warehouse somewhere a Betamax machine sits still and silent. Next to it, possibly, is a pile of cassettes from the 1975 World Cup, when ODIs were sexy.

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