Australia’s Loss of Face or ODI’s Losing Edge?

Trent Bridge threw the game a googly. For a second time, England’s batsmen thrived to post record scores as it is obvious Australia’s cricket is going through troubling times. But was this a game only between England and Australia or does it point to more problems for one day internationals?

A loss by 242 runs is going to hurt by any stretch of the imagination. That that margin did not come in the context of Test cricket but rather in the fifty overs format where England scored a mammoth total of 481 runs for the loss of six wickets in its allotted fifty overs is particularly of concern given that the opposition was Australia, England’s oldest and most traditional rival in the sport, albeit in the not so traditional format of limited overs cricket.

Arguably Johnny Bairstow is in the form of his life, scoring his fourth one day international century in six matches while Alex Hales is showing he can match for pace, as each touched nearly 150 runs off ninety-two balls each. In contrast, Australia’s inexperienced bowlers scored centuries or near centuries that would have been the envy of their batsmen who never had a chance after the walloping they took on the field.

There have been many contentious issues raised along with this rather extraordinary match that went down at Trent Bridge. It was, also, in Trent Bridge that England previously scored 444 against Pakistan in 2016. And although it would seem that 400 runs in a single innings in fifty overs format was not possible till 2006 until Sri Lanka first did it, it now seems like a more familiar phenomena and rightly so since they have been now something in the range of ten in less than four years.

While there is no doubt that the demons in Australia’s cricket have decided to have a field run as they go through a rut on the field – their sixteenth loss in eighteen matches – to go with a range of unsavory behavior on and off the field, there are, also, alarming signs about how one day internationals may be the recipient of being made almost secondary to the common denominator demands that Twenty20 suggests dangerously to the point of its own extinction.

If bowlers worldwide are raising alarm, it is not to take away from England’s batting exploits and ability to capitalize on Australia’s inexperienced, suspect bowling unit. That said the one day internationals, in the advent of Twenty20, have often been labelled expendable, financially untenable and a skewed game favouring the batsmen. With shorter boundary ropes and flat, lifeless, one dimensional pitches that allow little for the ball to come into play as the game progresses, the bowlers may as well be replaced by bowling machines because with Twenty20, batsmen have learnt to innovate, risk and even put the good balls away.

While it is laudable that the England batsmen rallied from that ignominious defeat to Scotland ten days back to pose this record total and draw out Australia into an embarrassing record loss and series, there is a great deal more that needs to be looked at if one day internationals are not be treated as the go between the attritional Test cricket and the mind numbing format of Twenty20. After all, one day internationals were, essentially, the enticing limited overs edition of a timeless feature called Test cricket.

While having five fielders outside of the thirty yard circle in the last ten overs is a step in the right direction brought into play after the last edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 in Australia-New Zealand, more needs to be done to balance this glorious game between bat and ball once more.

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