In the current era, the 50-over Cricket World Cup holds even greater importance than before. This is highlighted by Ali Martin.
After Australia’s momentous win against India on Sunday, a jubilant Pat Cummins expressed his renewed passion for ODI cricket thanks to this Cricket World Cup. Based on the statistics, it seems he was not the only one.
A 46-day epic that began with the previously unthinkable image of Sachin Tendulkar striding out into an empty Indian cricket ground ended up setting a record on the gates with 1.26 million people understood to have passed through the turnstiles at the 10 venues, nudging it just past the 2011 World Cup as the best attended.
The streaming platform Hotstar in India set a new record for the highest number of viewers watching at the same time during the tournament. This record was broken four times, not just because of the national team’s performance. One of the highlights was Glenn Maxwell’s impressive double century in Mumbai, which placed in the top three until the final on Sunday. The peak audience reached 59 million, making it the highest point.
It will take a week or so for the linear TV audiences around the world to be calculated and collated but the International Cricket Council, having reported halfway through the group stage a 43% rise in viewing minutes compared with 2019, expects to trumpet more record digits. The Indian Premier League is the prime real estate these days but the men’s Cricket World Cup remains a hugely lucrative plot.
While the enthusiasm is undeniable, cricket’s nature will likely prevent resolution of the ongoing discussion about the sport’s future, specifically regarding ODI games. The topic has been circulating even before Trent Boult delivered the opening ball to Jonny Bairstow at the start of the tournament, which now feels like ages ago. Many are questioning the longevity of 50-over cricket in the midst of the T20 craze.
Given the current situation, especially considering the figures involved, the men’s Cricket World Cup will continue to be held. India has secured broadcasting rights until the 2027 event, which will be hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. Similar agreements have been made in other regions, such as the UK, where the 2031 World Cup – planned to take place in India and Bangladesh – has already been finalized.
Although there have been reports about an ICC board meeting discussing the future of ODI cricket, the agenda primarily includes discussions on Sri Lanka’s suspension and updates on gender qualification in the sport. Any talks about reviving the ODI Super League, proposed by Cricket Australia, are expected to be the main focus.
The primary obstacle for 50-over cricket is maintaining its appeal. As Cummins celebrated his recent victory, his statement about rediscovering his passion shed light on how the love for the sport has diminished for him and others during the time between World Cups. This could explain the potential impact on the quality of cricket being played.
Several people have observed that this tournament has not had enough close finishes, despite having a diverse range of playing surfaces. The decrease in the number of One Day International matches may have contributed to a lack of familiarity with the tournament’s pace. However, suggesting an increase in matches would ignore the financial reality and the already busy schedule, comparable to the tightness of Shane Watson’s commentary shirt.
In my opinion, the World Cup is more important now than ever before. It brings together the best players from both Test and T20 formats and allows them to display their abilities on a global stage. Virat Kohli’s technical prowess led him to be the top scorer, but Maxwell’s unique approach resulted in an impressive performance on the 50-over field. While T20 variations have improved bowlers’ skills, the ability to bowl effective lengths in Test matches remains crucial – as seen in Mohammed Shami’s impressive performance throughout the tournament.
It is possible that this four-year international event will lose its significance due to the two contrasting formats being used. And in the future, there may only be one format remaining. While there are valid discussions about potential changes to the World Cup, such as implementing bonus points in the group stage or reducing the overs to 40, it still serves as a unifying factor in the world of sports. Losing it could have unforeseen repercussions.
Based on the previous agreements and data from the last two months, the current situation is irrelevant at the moment. However, one record was not surpassed this time: the crowd of 92,453 at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday fell short by 560 compared to the World Cup final at the MCG in 2015. As the exceptional Indian team learned, it is impossible to win every single time.