Why Does This ODI World Cup Lack Its Essence?

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The Last ODI Men’s World Cup?

Before the current men’s World Cup 2023 commenced, there was chatter galore that we may witness the last ever ODI men’s World Cup, owing to the utter surge in T20 cricket and leagues across the world, the problem of scheduling world competitions, increasing player exhaustion, and even spectator fatigue.

Mismanagement and Buzz-less Beginnings

Now, add to that the richest cricket board in the world’s mismanagement of a marquee event, and you have a tournament that is already seeming flat and buzz-less in its first week in a format of the game that was its most popular for at least three decades.

Issues with Ticketing and Scheduling

Fans and followers have griped about ticket-selling websites crashing on them, international and local fans having to alter plans since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) either changed the schedule or the dates or the venue for the India-Pakistan game.

Late Visas and Poor Outfields

Among other things, they issued visas really late to the Pakistan team prior to their arrival here. As you read these words, the English players have criticized a poor sandy outfield in Dharamshala where they’re playing Bangladesh at the moment.

BCCI’s Dominance and Media Silence

These are not things Indian fans or the international cricket follower’s community are likely to forget given the BCCI’s predominant position in the hierarchy of world cricket. To this writer, what’s more galling is that senior doyens in the Indian cricket commentariat — many big names and legends of Indian cricket — choose to clam up over the all-too-obvious facts aired by commoner followers of the sport online and on social media.

Pro-BCCI Stance in the Media

Most of the Indian cricket media and pundits are so ‘pro-India’ and ‘pro-BCCI’, they don’t state what’s evident and that needs telling. Especially the lot of ex-Mumbai bred cricketers-turned-commentators are so mute on such things, like everything is hunky-dory with the World Cup, simply because even a sliver of criticism, may mean they lose favor with the BCCI.

Crowd Troubles and Criticism

It’s not surprising it took a Michael Vaughan to call it out for what it is. “Crowds are looking very poor at the World Cup …Surely we should be giving tickets away to make sure stands are full…#CWC2023”. Only towards the middle and end of the India-Australia game at the Chepauk in Chennai on October 9, did the attendance reach around 90% capacity — out of 37,000 seats, the official attendance figure was around 33,110.

Mismanaging the Men’s Cricket ODI World Cup

Mismanaging the men’s cricket World Cup may cause severe repercussions. Today’s ‘aspirational’ India is wanting to look the world in the eye and aiming to host bigger sporting spectacles, displaying that it plays, competes, and even excels in sports outside of cricket.

Poor Performance and the Future of ODI Cricket

Over to cricket. If some of the earlier games were run fests, like the New Zealand-England or South Africa-Sri Lanka game, the India-Australia tie at Chepauk, turned out to be poor in large part due to Australia’s below-par show, but brought one more element back that could hopefully bring back some spark into the tournament.

The Need for Competitive ODIs

For the World Cup to match expectations, we need not just run fests but low- and medium-scale cliff-hangers, which can trigger great upsets. India’s 1983 final win was one. Similarly, through the 1990s and 2000s as scores steadily increased as the white-ball game became more batter-friendly, the best ODIs were still those where the bat could not always overshadow the ball.

The Fate of ODI Cricket

There’s a great danger that the ODI World Cup may behave like the IPL or a T20 league with sixes ad nauseam. Fans can tolerate that for maybe 40 overs, but not for a 100. (Also, we can now see why top-drawer Test cricket still gets bums on seats and viewership, at least outside Asia).

If it goes on for 100 overs, through this October and November, we may have really seen the very last of ODI cricket. The BCCI’s reputation, event management chops, and people connect, are all on the line. And with it that of Indian sport.

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