One Day Internationals – Adding the colour to Cricket Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, watching cricket – ODI cricket – was a ritualistic mainstay for a kid whose family was decidedly cricket-manic. At that time, the rules and stipulations seemed almost
encyclopaedic with the flurry of the players adding to the convoluted mix. The prevalent confusion was exciting too, the urgency in the manner of play appearing far different from the languid, almost-relaxed play-making that the kid had otherwise seen in the same set of players. The history behind this difference came to the kid later, years later as a grown-up; perhaps at a juncture when the format is facing a near-certain overhauling, if not extinction. If I were Dr. Sheldon Cooper or anyone with similar characteristics, I would probably start by speaking of
unexpected torrential downpour at MCG that laid siege to three days’ worth of cricketing hopes between Australia and England, four decades ago. But since me and Dr. Sheldon Cooper are poles apart, it would be only wise for me to pick up the threads of my narrative in a more simplistic manner. ODI cricket, to put it bluntly, owes its creation to the rain-Gods and a chance stroke of brilliance by the MCG officials to come up with an alternative plan to salvage what remained of an Ashes test match between Australia and England, in 1970-71. The result: an eight-ball an over game with 40-overs in each side that not only lifted the bedraggled spirit of the onlookers but also paved the way for the true precursor of cricketing entertainment. In reality however, the 40-over format was a tweak too digressing hugely from the 60-over, six-balls an over game that had been laid out full-fledgedly in the English domestic front by then. 1972 and 1973 were however the true-bl ue path-breaking years for ODI cricket as the format went on to gain attention all over the world. The 1972 Ashes series saw the organisation – and eventual success – of the first-ever ODI series consisting of three matches. Albeit with yet another distinctive tweak. This time, the overs were reduced to 55-overs a side with the conventional, English domestic rule of six-balls an over. The very next year saw New Zealand play host to Pakistan, coming up with a 40-over, eight-balls an over ODI match. As the attention-span grew about the
new-gen format, more and more matches were started to be held in Australia, England and New Zealand between 1973 and 1974. Incidentally however, even though the format gained popularity, the variances and differences in the maximum overs of play continued in each series with each country coming to be associated with a variance. Typically then, ODI matches held in Australia were 40-overs a side, with eight-balls constituting an over whereas in New Zealand the overs were shortened to 35-overs a side with eight-balls an over. England, meanwhile continued with its 60-overs’ game consisting of six-balls an over. The differences in the overs weren’t reconciled till the very first cricketing World Cup, where the ICC officially adopted the abbreviated format and demarcated 60-overs as the maximum over-count to constitute a match. Three World Cups later – including the maiden World Cup – the 60-over format was officially truncated to 50-overs a side. This time, thanks to shorter daylights in countries in the sub-continent where the sport’s hold had reached to proportions never perhaps envisioned by the sport’s propounders in these geographical parts.