FORMER Australian one-day all-rounder James Hopes has called on cricket administrators to make all limited-overs series count for World Cup qualification to breathe relevance into the 50-over format and provide greater context for players and fans.
Friday’s series opener between Australia and Sri Lanka at the MCG is expected to draw a crowd of fewer than 30,000, given the series ultimately counts for little, while Channel Nine is fearful of a ratings drop through the Australian selectors’ decision to rest stars Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade, and overlook Michael Hussey in his final international summer.
Hopes is a strong supporter of the 50-over game and believes its future is safe given its duration appeals to advertisers, but said followers needed more reason to care. ”There’s nothing riding on it, it’s just a five-match series for nothing,” he said. ”I think we have to follow soccer’s viewpoint and say we’ve got to put some meaning in these series like a qualification process for the World Cup. Maybe then crowds and the media will actually get behind the game a bit more.”
Hopes said being out of the national one-day side the past two years had given him greater perspective on the format’s well-being. He feared administrators were trying to turn the 50-over game into a longer form of Twenty20 through rule changes.
He said one recent change, the use of two white balls per innings, meant the art of swinging an old ball – and batting against it – would be lost, which would also potentially make the role of spinners redundant. He said administrators should instead focus on the broader issue.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.