(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Mon 20 Nov 2023, 4:35 PM
A World Cup that started with questions over the future of 50-over one-day internationals ended with doubts still being expressed about their worth outside the context of a showpiece event.
Australia's six-wicket win over India in front of a 92,000 crowd at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium may have been a disappointingly one-sided final for home and neutral fans.
But the memory of several more dramatic contests earlier in the tournament was still vivid, with Afghanistan overwhelming defending champions England by 69 runs and non-Test nation the Netherlands defeating eventual semifinalists South Africa.
One of the plus points of an ODI is that it allows a team to stage the kind of epic comeback more often associated with a Test match, while still producing a result in a day.
And while the high velocity, smash-and-grab Twenty20 game may be increasingly important to the finances of players and national boards alike, as evidenced by the lucrative Indian Premier League, it rarely produces drama to compete with cricket's longer formats.
Nowhere was this more evident at this World Cup than during Australia's remarkable pool play victory over Afghanistan when, on the brink of defeat at 91-7 chasing 292, a staggering double century from Glenn Maxwell secured an extraordinary three-wicket win.
Pat Cummins, who kept Maxwell company during an unbroken stand of 202 in that memorable match at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, admitted to mixed emotions after leading Australia to a record-extending sixth World Cup title.
"It's hard to say. Maybe because we won, but I did fall in love with ODI again this World Cup," said fast bowler Cummins, who took a superb 2-34 from his maximum 10 overs as Australia held India to a modest total of 240 all out.
Australia briefly wobbled at 47-3 in reply before Travis Head's 137 and the opener's partnership of 192 with Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out) took Cummins's side to victory with seven overs to spare.
"I think the scenario where every game really matters, it does make it a bit different to just a bilateral (ODI)," said Cummins after a win that ended a run of three straight World Cups titles for a host nation following 2011, 2015 and 2019 triumphs for India, Australia and England respectively.
This was Australia's eighth appearance in a World Cup final, having been involved in the inaugural 1975 showpiece game, losing to the West Indies in a celebrated clash at Lord's.
"The World Cup's got such rich history, I'm sure it's going to be around for a long time," said the 30-year-old Cummins, with the next edition scheduled for 2027 in southern Africa.
"There's so many wonderful games, so many wonderful stories within this last couple of months. So, I think there's definitely a place (for it)."
But the issue of what happens to ODIs between World Cups remains to be discussed.
Prior to this edition, incoming MCC president Mark Nicholas called for all ODIs between World Cups to be scrapped.
"We believe strongly that ODIs should be World Cups only," he told ESPNcricinfo.
"They're not filling grounds in a lot of countries. And there is a power at the moment to T20 cricket that is almost supernatural."
He added: "In a free market, the most money wins."
But former Hampshire captain Nicholas was a television broadcaster at a World Cup where he commentated admiringly on both Afghanistan and the Netherlands.
And without bilateral ODIs between tournaments such as the World Cup and the Champions Trophy, to be next played in Pakistan in 2025, how will those teams maintain their standard or become even better at 50-over cricket?
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