Are 50-over ODIs in danger actually?
Asking if the 50-over game
is in danger
sounds timely considering the following:
The ICC keeps bleating about how it is proud that there are 3 viable formats of the game, and that all three can co-exist. That's actually rubbish. If the scheduling of tours & tournaments doesn't change significantly, one form of the game (and I'm willing to bet that it won't be T20) will gradually disappear until there's nothing left of it, except for silly-looking administrators (to paraphrase Lewis Carroll).
Let's assume that there will be 3 formats of the game, and that a typical series would have 2 tests (sadly), 5 ODIs and 2 T20 games. Factor in ICC rules (can't locate it) that mandate at least 3 days gap between tests, 2 warm-up games (1 before the tests and 1 before the ODIs), at most 1 back-to-back ODI, 2 days gap between the other ODIs, 1 day gap between the T20 games and at least 1-2 days gap between each leg (Test, ODI & T20) legs of the tour. We're talking of something like a 40-day tour, with 21 playing days. Nearly half the tour's duration would be devoted to the 5-day game (either the actual playing days or the warm-ups or the time between first-class games). It definitely does seem like the softest target. Remove the tests from the tour, and you can easily squeeze in at least 5 more ODIs.
Now, on an average, each team plays around 3 test series during a year. Let's assume that all these series are 2-test, 5-ODI & 2-T20 affairs (which is a very simplistic & minimal assumption). So we're talking of a total touring time of 120 days, out of which just over half are playing days. If only it was so simple.
There are ICC tournaments to contend with, each lasting 30-40 days at least, on an annual basis. Then there are some series that don't fit in to the minimalistic 2-5-2 model. They may have 3 tests, 5 ODIs and 2 T20 games. Others like Australia's tour of England
have 5 tests, 7 ODIs and 2 T20 games. That tour
started on June 24 (excluding the T20 World Cup
) and will end on Sep 20 - nearly 3 months, with nearly 50 playing days! Then there are some other meaningless tri-nation tournaments. Then there're the new leagues - IPL
and Champions League
So, players could be "on-the-road" for something like 220-250 days a year, playing on around 120-140 of those days.
Isn't it still obvious that if the ICC continues to harp on retaining 3 formats, something is going to give?
Yet, will it necessarily result in T20 driving the 50-over game out of existence? I suspect not
, primarily for commercial reasons.
Assuming that other factors are identical across both the formats (i.e. teams play out the entire allotment of overs, and lose the same number of wickets), TV viewers watching a 50-over game would see 60% more ads than when they were watching a T20 game (figure it out - 49 over-breaks v/s 19 over-breaks per innings).
Even though you can squeeze in 2 T20 games within the duration of 1 50-over ODI, the number of ad-breaks between overs is reduced by 22% (49 v/s 2x19). We haven't even got to the possibility that more wickets are likely to fall across 50 overs compared to 20 overs, thereby increasing the number of ad breaks!
Even the ECB's (and Cricket South Africa's) moves to 40-over cricket will fail for the same reason - 20% less ad-breaks. The BCCI is unlikely to support the ECB & CSA on this. Cricket Australia moved away from the tri-series format only this year. So they're unlikely to take a plunge without having evaluated the benefits of staging 2 bilateral ODI series compared to the ODI triangular format. There's probably not too much of a point in discussing what other countries will do.
In any case, the ICC had already announced the venues for the next 3 World Cups
over three years ago. This doesn't imply that a change in realities won't make them change the format of those tournaments. After all, the 2010 edition of the ICC Champions Trophy (hosted by West Indies) was converted into the T20 World Cup. Such a move would need the BCCI's backing (and by implication a few other boards that kow-tow to them), and that seems very unlikely at this point in time.
Labels: burnout, fatigue, future, odi, prediction, test cricket, twenty20