There are many reasons ODI’s have morphed into what they are today. Much of it is somewhat irreversible. Many consider it as merely a (positive) evolution. I consider it a mixture of disproportionate innovation and preparation between not only the three major facets of the game, but also the conditions curated and applied to the international scene.
The result is that ODI clearly is the strangest and most inconsistent format outside of tournaments today. T20 and Test Cricket are the only two formats preserving their identity and providing a consistent balance between bat and ball.
Dynamism acquired from naturally gained insight over the years, athletic advancement, market forces and sports science are what represent evolution. Twenty20’s prominence, reverse laps, scoops and helicopter shots are all fruits of that labour.
But the continual development of massive bats, multiple fielding restrictions, excessive flat batting wickets, cricketing culture change, salary variance between formats and franchises. shorter boundaries, umpire’s call on the review system (and others I can’t think of off the top of my head) are not exactly natural adaptations to the sport.
In fact what is clear is that ODI Cricket has been pushed further and further towards becoming an extension of the T20 format. Obviously players have become highly trained to play aggressive shots 360 degrees around the field that find gaps, wherever the ball pitches really. Then we have all the relatively new powerplays. They alone have added a good 50-80 runs to the average score. I’m really not a fan of how many there are. Old rules and fairer pitches would even things up a lot more for the bowlers. if we’re allowing all the freedom in the world to batsmen, where are the advantages and support for bowlers? They’re having to bowl more unorthodox deliveries than ever due to balls in the slot disappearing over the fence so often. Preservation of the 50 over bat and ball contest is key, and this is simply not happening at this time.
The sport at the highest level in T20 and ODI formats has completely transformed. The demands on all players now regarding fitness, strength and conditioning, creativity and variation are at levels ODI has never been. Each format is affecting the other. Praise be that Test Cricket still holds more of an untouched value, but even that is gradually changing. Bowling development and support just cannot ride the same wave as batting in today’s conditions. The phrase “it’s a batsman’s game” has rarely been truer than today, so whenever we get a bowling friendly pitch or massive turner, I can rarely be upset as it guarantees a hell of a contest.
Talent too has varied through generations, but this is certainly an incomparable era to ten years ago. The bottom line here is, the balance at the top lev is proving to be too skewed in favour of batting, based on both natural causes and unnatural causes. It’s the unnatural advantages that the ICC ought to do something serious about. Runs do not always equate to excitement. The days of the 250 par scores were far more enthralling and probably generating more revenue (could be well off here).
I fear money and the emphasis on T20 will dictate ODI Cricket for years to come. It is not thriving.