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Sport  


 

LOI cricket is very much alive and popular

The 2011 Cricket World Cup has proved one thing beyond doubt that fifty-over One-Day International cricket is still very much alive and popular. Long live Limited-Overs Cricket!
In the eyes of many pundits of the game limited-over cricket was in great danger of being replaced by the shortest form of the game Twenty20 cricket when the ICC decided to popularise it worldwide and introduced the World Twenty20 tournament in 2009 in England. The popularity and success of the tournament led to its second edition being held in the Caribbean in 2010. Many views were expressed that Twenty20 cricket would prove to be the death knell of one-day cricket because it did not produce the same level of excitement as the limited version – 20 overs. There were occasions during the fifty-over game where it went into slumber especially in the middle overs before picking up to a crescendo in the end overs where most teams take on the batting power play to put as much runs on the board.

The 2011 World Cup was supposed to provide the yardstick for the future of ODI cricket and from the way the matches have gone, fifty-over cricket it seems is well and truly here to stay no matter what anyone says. Take for instance the World Cup matches that have provided nail-biting and nerve-tingling finishes – Pakistan pulling off a 11 runs win over Sri Lanka, England v India tie where both teams made 338, Ireland stunning England with the highest World Cup run chase scoring 329-7, England’s six-run thriller win over South Africa, Ross Taylor’s blitzkrieg century flattening Pakistan in the first ODI played at Pallakele, Bangladesh squeezing out a two-wicket win over England, South Africa holding their nerve to beat India by three wickets and England beating West Indies by 18 runs in a battle of wills to keep alive their World Cup hopes. Most of the close games have been witnessed from Group B which was wide open till the last qualifying round game was played. From these results one can gauge that it was not just one or two but quite a number of matches that went to the wire before a final decision was reached.

From the way the tickets have been snapped up, the encouraging spectator turnout at matches and the manner in which the tournament has been conducted, the 2011 World Cup is a far cry from the farcical 2007 edition held in the Caribbean where the organisation to say the least was terrible. Much of the credit should go to the ICC for quickly learning from their mistakes and coming out with a near foolproof 2011 tournament so far. Everything has gone according to plan or to put it in a better form according to the script. Only a handful of matches remain before the 2011 World Cup comes to a conclusion next Saturday (April 2) and by then we would have a new winner following the exit of three times in a row champions Australia from the quarterfinal.
The survival of fifty-over cricket is essential for it is the next best thing to Test cricket. Fifty-over cricket allows a batsman to build an innings unlike its shorter version Twenty20 where players with lesser talent and technique can even hold stage.

Cricket in different formats is good for the sport and gives a spectator the choice to pick the style of cricket he wants to witness – the conventional Test cricket, the Limited-Overs version or the Twenty20.
Like Limited Overs cricket did when it was first introduced in the English counties in the early sixties and a decade later at international level, Twenty20 cricket still in its infancy stage has caught the image of the public and is proving to be a draw card with sponsors prepared to pump in money, but for how long?
An overdose of anything is not good and so it is with Twenty20 cricket. For after the World Cup some of the leading players in the game will focus their attention on the Indian Premier League (IPL) (Twenty20) which is due to take centre stage during the month of April.

Already the extension of cricket played has taken its toll on the players with as many as around 20 getting injured during the World Cup and some even suffering from depression as in the case of England all-rounder Michael Yardy who returned home ahead of the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka wanting to be with his family.