The problem isn’t in the kind of cricket that’s being played, it’s in the amount. As England are traipsing around various Indian outposts in the midst of a seven-game ODI series that is long since lost, even the most hardened of Barmy Army supporters can be forgiven for feeling intense apathy. What ODIs need is a bit of prestige, prestige that has grown impotent in the way that a virus would be impotent against someone with the relevant vaccination.
Once every four years, we have the World Cup. The next edition is set to be held in Oceania, and is expected to include fourteen teams in the style of the previous edition in the Subcontinent. It will be the first time since the inaugural two World Cups that the format has remained unchanged, and the 2015 was only kept from excluding the Associates by a deafening and unanimous outcry of displeasure from an entire global network of cricket fans. The ICC u-turned like a Conservative Minister. Should the 2015 tournament be as well received as its 2011 predecessor, will the ICC continue the paradox of culling the up-and-coming nations in search of a greater global impact? Would it yet again give a new face to cricket’s greatest celebrity?
Because if they want to save ODIs, they have to look at celebrity culture. If Rachel Weisz was in every film or TV show I ever turned on, I could possibly get bored of seeing her face, which would be devastating. If she went out and bought a new face, then would I even recognise her? I doubt it. So why should the ICC continue to force the 50-over format down our throats, and why should it keep changing the face of its greatest show-piece?
So, what I’m trying to say is that we need to cull meaningless One-Dayers. Bilateral series of no more than three matches would be fantastic, as would be a return to tri-series and quadrangular tournaments. Do not change the World Cup unless it is clearly broken. We need every match to keep its context. And the Champions’ Trophy, very soon to start in England? Keep it. Give it the billing that it deserves: the best teams in the world playing against the best teams in the world and only the best teams in the world. Not a Budget World Cup, and not just another ODI tournament.