The fifty over game is currently under more fire than a coal grate and this form of cricket badly needs an exciting and competitive Champions Trophy tournament.
In its short existence, the Champions Trophy has been chameleon-like in its ability to change appearance.
It’s gone from a knockout affair to a non-event and has now settled ideally as a prestige tournament. It would be even more prestigious if qualification was expanded to a points system that inter-connected other limited overs tournaments.
This would ensure the majority of fifty over games were meaningful — quality rather than quantity should be part of any solution to the game’s perceived problems.
Limited overs cricket has a couple of inbuilt flaws. A match can be won without dismissing the opposition, which can encourage teams to over-emphasise containment. The rationale for the game is predicated on a close finish so anything less becomes an anti-climax.
Consequently, fifty over cricket is often perceived as boring because the close finish is a rarity and much of the batting involves a predictable “formula”. Gimmicks have been tried to spruce up the game — the now redundant super-sub and a variety of Powerplays. This has only served to entrench “formulated” batting so there’s a tendency to concentrate on scoring heavily in the powerplay overs and utilise the rest of the time to conserve wickets while accumulating risk-free runs.
Abolishing the not out might encourage batsmen to play with more freedom.
Heaven knows why administrators haven’t trialled matches that are divided into four 25-over segments. It is an idea that was floated early in the life of the day/night fixture and would virtually eradicate any inequities, in that both sides have to bat under lights and cope with evening dew.
In addition to eradicating inequities this innovation would provide scope for imaginative tactics, which along with less regulation should be a feature of revitalising the 50-over format.
The improvements should include preparing pitches that encourage an even contest. If the limited overs game constantly features teams chasing huge targets then there’s very little likelihood of a close finish.
The boundaries should be as large as possible, which places an emphasis on daring running between wickets and athletic fielding, two of the features that originally attracted fans to the limited overs game.
Short boundaries tend to emphasise defending the ropes and make some fielding attributes redundant, whereas larger extremities make containment difficult because of the big gaps between the outfielders.