Yuvraj Singh put out a tweet during the India-Sri Lanka ODI match at Karyavattom expressing concern over a “half empty” stadium asking if One Day cricket was dying. Singh is not the first person to raise this concern. Last year, England’s Moeen Ali expressed the same opinion. Ben Stokes, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Adam Zampa and Irfan Pathan are some of the players who have expressed concerns over the future of ODIs.
Even though there are allegations that the low turnout for the match at Karyavattom was due to sports minister V Abdurahiman’s remark, the other side of the coin also has to be considered. People are not interested in watching ODI matches like before.
Players have complained that the ODI series between nations other than the ICC tournaments are losing relevance. Stokes retired from ODIs stating that three formats were “unsustainable” for him.
The main shortcoming of the format is thought to be the dreariness from over 20 to 40. The first and last 10 overs are played like a T-20. Teams steady their innings in the middle overs, when the field is spread out. It is the time when people start to get bored of the game. Players like Zampa and Pathan are of the opinion that this period has to be reduced. According to them, the game has to be reduced to 40 overs. The ODIs were 60 over matches in the beginning.
Test cricket and T-20 are two extremes of the game. ODIs lie in between them. With the introduction of T-20s, people started losing interest in ODIs. With this, the number of games were also reduced.
India has played 51 ODIs since the 2019 world cup. Of this, the most number of matches were played against West Indies (12). There are more matches in 2023 as it is the world cup year.
Series between two nations will only attract an audience if both are equally strong. Even the players’ list will affect the game. Other than Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, there are no star players in the current team like Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj. There was also no confirmation if new-age hero Suryakumar Yadav would play at Karyavattom. There were no star players in the Sri Lankan team either. If India was playing against Australia or England, things might have been different.
Also, earlier there was an excitement among the audience when a game was played at a place as it was a rare occasion. But by conducting two matches at one place in quick succession, the excitement for the game died down. The ‘demand-supply’ rule applies to sports too. Another reason is that the audience have to get inside the stadium two hours before the match and they have to spend 10 or 11 hours there. Difficulty in finding means to travel to and from Thiruvananthapuram on a second Saturday and Sunday, exams might all be reasons for the low turnout. Along with all these issues came the minister’s statement.