The past week or two has seen the beleaguered 50 over form of the game return to the limelight. With the advent of Twenty20 there are many who do not see a future for this form of the game. It possesses neither the consummate test of skill and durability of test cricket nor the quick-fix of its shorter counterpart.
It is still to recover from the disaster that was the 2007 World Cup which, besides Freddie Flintoff losing a feisty battle with a pedalo, possessed barely a single encounter which lived in the memory beyond the second round of post-match drinks.
However, there has been some good cricket played over the past week and some real excitement. Australia have mercifully abandoned their tired 3-team format which generally yielded at least 4 largely meaningless games and had become a test of endurance which was beyond most fans. Bangladesh have provided another of their occasional reminders that they may become competitive sometime before the turn of the next century and West Indies and New Zealand fought a well-matched series.
New Zealand came from behind to claim the series 2-1 with two games rained off. Notable performances came from Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill who scored an unbeaten 122 on debut only for the game to be rained off. Daniel Vettori was consistent with the ball, supported ably by Mark Gillespie. For the West Indies, Darren Powell did some damage to the NZ top order and Chris Gayle scored a terrific century in defeat in the final game. His runs took him to the top of the ODI rankings meaning that bizarrely, despite being ranked 7th in tests and 8th in ODIs, the West Indies possess the top-ranked batsman in both formats (Chanderpaul and Gayle respectively).
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka played an extraordinary final of their triangular tournament. When Bangladesh were bowled out for 152 the result seemed a formality but they promptly reduced Sri Lanka to 6-5, not a score you see very often. Sri Lanka still won thanks to the cool head of Kumar Sangakkara and the lower-order slogging of Muttiah Muralitharan.
The first two matches in Australia’s 5 match series against South Africa have been highly entertaining, closely fought affairs with each team taking a game apiece. Shaun Marsh has led the Australian batting with a pair of 70-odds but Australia’s batting has been unconvincing. In the first game though, they looked set for a win until SA took the batting powerplay and Albie Morkel went beserk in Klusener-esque fashion to club 40 from 18 balls and win the game. This was after yet another fine knock from J-P Duminy. Morkel was unable to repeat his heroics in the second game as SA fell 6 runs short.
The batting powerplay has really enhanced this series and added some interest to the previously pretty dull middle overs. It could be a move which really rejuvenates the 50 over game.