As the World Cup starts I realize I’m liking ODI cricket more now than I used to in the last couple of years. The key thing for me, I think, is the second coming of classical batsmen to One Day Cricket.
The problem with ODIs in the mid 2000s was that it had become a slambang game. Too many slambang players, with dodgy techniques were dominating the scenes. Boundaries got pulled in and pitches became flat (these two are still a problem I must say) and it just degenerated into slugfests. It was, to use a famous phrase, just not cricket.
In a way, I think the coming of T20 has actually helped make the ODIs a more classical game. What it has done is to make the slambang guys specialize in the even more slambang version (it has helped that there is a lot of money to be made by being good at T20).
Suddenly the slambang guys have figured that they’ve lost the skill of building an innings, which is something crucial for the one day game. If your team has to score 300, it is very likely that at least one batsman has to get something like a 100, and scoring 100s is out of the skill-set of the slambangers.
So you see the likes of “holding players” like Hashim Amla and Jonathan Trott coming good at ODIs, while in the mid-to-late noughties they would’ve never been selected for what was then the “shorter form of the game”.
Also, the quality of cricket in some recent ODI series (RSA-Ind, RSA-Pak, etc.) has been encouraging, and if not for the idiotic format I would’ve been really looking forward to the World Cup.