Will Gore: ODIs can be as much of a blast as T20s if they are not one-sided

Outside Edge: The margins of victory were so big that fans might have wondered why they came

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The Independent Online

As England and India try again to take the field of play today, the future of the one-day international remains up for debate. The washout of Monday’s men’s’ and women’s  50-over games seemed somehow symbolic, coming hard on the heels of the exciting T20 Blast finals. More importantly, the poor attendances for England’s ODIs against Sri Lanka back in May and June were strongly suggestive of the public’s modest appetite for what used to be cricket’s shortest form.

In one sense, the summer’s first batch of ODIs was a triumph: both sides enjoyed good victories and the fifth match was actually a decider for once. On the other hand, only one of the games was close and three were dismally one-sided.

Recent one-dayers elsewhere in the world have fitted the same pattern. In the Caribbean, West Indies thrashed hapless Bangladesh three times in five days. Zimbabwe have been similarly hammered by South Africa and Australia. The margins of victory were so enormous that fans might reasonably have wondered why they bothered turning up.

Occasionally, there is a match which reminds us what the format has to offer. Pakistan’s thrilling penultimate-ball win against Sri Lanka on Saturday and England Women’s victory against India at Scarborough showed how ODIs can deliver the excitement of a T20 but within a more engaging strategic context. Reducing the number of meaningless matches could improve the ratio of games that have the capacity to captivate to the very end.

But there is an oddity here. At this year’s World T20, only 10 of the 35 matches went down to the final over or were won by fewer than six runs. The fact is that a large proportion of 20-over slogathons are far from close in their outcome. The difference with ODIs is simply that spectators are not around long enough to notice.

Heritage bats have the edge

I was always at heart a Gray-Nicolls man. True, I flirted with Hunts County for a time and had my best season with a borrowed Slazenger V6. And in recent years a heavy, second-hand CA bat bored a hole in my increasingly underused cricket bag.

Since Gray-Nicolls re-released its famous Scoop a couple of seasons ago, heritage bats have become all the rage. Given that the trend has coincided neatly (and unfortunately) with the return of the moustache, cricket could easily have slid back to the 1980s.

I eventually gave in to temptation and bought a GN Powerspot last week. Its edges are at least twice as thick as I remember, and yet it feels somehow less solid than blades of the 1990s. Whether it will adorn the middle as well as it does my living room remains to be seen.

Will Gore is deputy managing editor of the ‘Independent’ titles and ‘London Evening Standard’

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