England star batsman Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from limited overs cricket must open up some serious introspection among cricket administrators the world over. The South Africa-born England player revealed recently that he was forced to quit the shorter form of the game that was piling on to his workload. Quite clearly, the co-existence of all three forms of the game has hit a roadblock.
Fifty-over cricket has reached its sell by date and the advantages of scrapping it outweighs the positives. Sure, this will negate the significance of being a world champion team, but then something’s got to give if the paying public are going home happy. Obviously, Twenty20 cricket has affected the influence of its 50-50 counterpart. There were cynical views over Twenty20 cricket, but it has been accepted with time and it no more projects the so-called devaluation of cricket skills when compared to a longer (not longest) form. The Indian Premier League has played a huge role in the popularity of the shortest form.
If ‘boring’ is too strong to describe 50-over cricket, ‘prolonged’ may fit the bill. And it is no secret that the mid-overs of a one-day international doesn’t see many fans flushed with excitement. Ditto the players. Sachin Tendulkar has suggested a split innings system for one-day cricket, but the decision-makers have not paid enough heed to its feasibility. It was not a ridiculous idea and was worth a try, but now it may be too late. Twenty20 cricket has been lapped up far too well for the public to start enjoying 50-over cricket.
The game cannot afford to continue ignoring the threat of the Twenty20 game. It must be faced head-on. Saying goodbye to one-day internationals is one way of doing so. “I see T20 taking over from 50-over. It’s fun, it’s exciting —people come and watch it,” is what Pietersen said the other day. He’s right.
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