Former cricketers Wasim Akram and Sanjay Manjrekar were in agreement with ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat that there was life in the 50-over format yet in a discussion at the Capital in the lead up to the Champions Trophy in South Africa.
“The 50-over format really tests you physically. You have to have a certain skill level to win consistently in ODIs,” said Akram.
Manjrekar, who played in two World Cups for India, enjoyed much more success in the longest form of the game, but he too felt it was not the number of overs in the contest that was the problem.
“If anything, ODIs are most physically demanding for a player," said Manjrekar. "There has been a lot of debate but the problem has never been with world events like the World Cup or the Champions Trophy. You might get a low-key four-match bilateral series between the West Indies and New Zealand that doesn't attract much attention, and then the format comes in for scrutiny.”
Only recently Sachin Tendulkar had suggested splitting ODIs into four innings of 25 overs each. Akram, who had played in an English domestic game of the same format, did not remember it being dramatically different. Turning to the Champions Trophy, Akram said: "After seeing Australia in England, the team from Down Under will be firm favourites."
Both Manjrekar and Akram felt that the additional pace of the Wanderers wicket could make life difficult for batsmen from the subcontinent, and the discussion naturally veered to the return of Rahul Dravid at No. 3. "The Indian team should be looking forward to 2011. I don't know if Dravid is in their plans for 2011. In world cricket word gets around quickly if people feel a player has a problem against the short ball," said Akram. "Raina and some of the others have to work hard to overcome the problem.”
“It might be convenient to drop Raina down to no. 6 but it won't do his confidence any good,” said Manjrekar. “Bringing Dravid back was probably a reaction to the way we were knocked out of the T20 World Cup and the manner in which some of the young batsmen were exposed. But I don't think there's a long-term plan for Dravid.”