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Andrew Alderson: Future of one-day cricket at India's mercy


This morning we should know the future of 50-over cricket.

If India won the World Cup overnight, then the 50-over game will be a protected species to 2015 and beyond.

If not, then it will continue to struggle against Twenty20, ironically a concept that only went viral when India won the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007.

The Indian Premier League launched the following year and cricket became a blue chip industry.

The trouble with an Indian victory - and it will be well-earned because Sri Lanka looked sharp going in - is that cynics are already calling the ICC World Cup the BCCI World Cup. With some justification.

The juggernaut which is the Indian board made sure their team had the smoothest run into the tournament's latter stages. Fair enough, you might say.

They have the power so why not flex their muscle? The danger is that cricket becomes a farce where wealth and power override talent and skill.

That is not to detract from India's gritty knock-out victories over Australia in Ahmedabad and Pakistan in Mohali.

It is instead a reminder of India's advantages at this tournament as a direct consequence of BCCI power.

Until the bloc-voting structure of the ICC board changes - and it will require some form of revolution to do so - the beneficial coincidences and concessions will continue. The tournament is already on the sub-continent but rather than earn the right to play a home quarter-final on ability (for example by finishing first in its group), India had it guaranteed on the basis of "prior rankings" before the tournament. India ranked higher than Sri Lanka and Bangladesh so no World Cup result (other than missing the last eight) could deter the path to an Ahmedabad quarter-final.

That was regardless of whether they finished first, second, third or fourth in their group. It is difficult to ascertain when the ICC made this decision - no doubt it is buried somewhere deep in the minutiae of a board meeting, but it was only clarified by the ICC's chief executive Haroon Lorgat on the eve of the tournament.

Objective measures like tournament points or, if need be, net run rate should decide where teams play future matches, not "prior rankings". India also benefited from the timing of the semifinals.

Despite playing the second quarter-final on Thursday, they played the later semifinal on Wednesday, giving them an extra day to refresh. New Zealand and Sri Lanka had to turn around for the Tuesday match in Colombo.

These incidents could be viewed in isolation but it is hard not to feel some puppet strings are being pulled on other tournament issues.

One was the appeasement to the BCCI after ICC general manager Dave Richardson (the former South African wicketkeeper) suggested Mahendra Singh Dhoni should have understood the umpire decision review system (UDRS) rules before commenting publicly on the 2.5 metre LBW review which cleared England's Ian Bell.

The BCCI responded by saying Richardson should have been more discreet talking about the Indian captain. This was a chance for the ICC to take charge but they backed down, again through Lorgat, and said Richardson did not intend to demean Dhoni.

At least Lorgat did not waver on backing technology as a means of making decisions more accurate.

The other lesson barely heeded from the Caribbean tournament is that it needs to be shorter with perhaps a couple of qualifying teams joining the test-playing nations.

There should be a maximum of 12 teams and never more than four days between matches. Teams should be capable of playing, travelling, resting, training and playing again; handling quick turnarounds is part of the game's skill and fitness. Those concepts should all be worked into the Australasian event.

Television advertising revenue might be down but so will logistical costs. Surely it's better to charge higher rates over a concertinaed period where you get better ratings because people's attention spans are held.

But no need to worry - India will decide.

- Herald on Sunday

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Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Andrew writes and broadcasts on cricket and the Olympic disciplines for NZME's print, digital, video and radio platforms. His most recent project followed New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2015 northern summer. He has attended four cricket World Cups, three Olympics and regularly works as a correspondent overseas.

Read more by Andrew Alderson

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