ODI Cricket which started in 1971 has now seen over 3000 contests between major cricket playing nations and what entertainment it has provided.
The world has seen the dazzling Tendulkar, The absolutely belligerent Jayasuriya the gutsy Stephen Waugh and many other great performers ranging from the great Viv Richards to the flamboyant Dilshan.
England's Kevin Pietersen looks dejected after been given out lbw to Australia's Ryan Harris (Out of camera range) during their fourth One Day International series cricket match at The Oval in London on June 30, 2010. AFP
In this great game which included a hat-trick from our own Farveez Maharoof only a few days ago! In that situation, with so much of entertainment provided, it was only right that the old enemies who started this wonderful game of cricket which is now played in different forms, play in the historic 3000th game too! Let’s not forget the first ever ODI game was contested by Bill Lawry’s Australians and Ray Illingworth’s England, which was won by Australia.
Whilst the world of cricket didn’t know what to expect from this new format, it is now a foregone conclusion as to how it has impacted on the cricketing world!
And back to the 3000th game and the ODI series between England and Australia! What a turnaround of English cricket! long considered the poor relations of the shorter version of the game, with England unable to win anything until the T20 World Cup in the West Indies this year, the English have surprised not just themselves and their fans but millions of cricket loving public with their recent dominance.
They have trounced Australia in every form of the game in the last twelve months! i.e The Ashes, then the T20 World Cup Final and now a fairly comfortable victory in the current ODI series.
It is heart warming to a cricket fan to note the resurgence of English Cricket! After all England is a great place for cricket to be played and to be watched. The crowds have always been fantastic and the passion and the pride the game carries are immense.
In that situation to be walloped by almost every nation with the exception of say Bangladesh and Zimbabwe was a huge dent in their pride, and being able to get back at some of the top teams in the last year or so will definitely be a boost for cricket in England.
The secret of success gained by England, I believe should be attributed largely to Andy Flower the coach, who has been a huge inspiration and has made the dressing room a happy place.
It was only the other day that Graham Swann one of the success stories of English Cricket in the last twelve months confirmed this fact to the media.
A group of happy men are bound to deliver positive results as against a disgruntled set that would be more interested in creating factions and disharmony. However let’s not forget that cracks tend to appear only when things go wrong, whilst when things are moving well one tends to ignore such cracks even if they surface, and tend to focus on the brighter picture only.
At the moment England basking in the cricketing glory appear to be focused on their winning habit and as a result of it Andrew Strauss has succeeded in molding a happy unit which has been the catalyst to their victories.
Besides the important off field adjustments and approach, England has definitely looked better as a team in every area of the game in the current series against Australia. Their batting which is a mixture of youth and experience has been their forte with Eoin Morgan very much the pin up boy in the line up with the durable Collingwood in good support.
However the worrying factor could be Kevin Pietersen! Hailed as one of the most exciting batsman in the circuit, Pietersen has failed to do good to his huge reputation indulging in rather reckless batting. He unfortunately never appears to inspire too much of confidence at the start of an innings though he can be devastating when set.
The issue surrounding him has been that he has failed to get the start on most occasions he would have liked and as a result England has been looking to the batsmen around him to put their hands up, which has so far been successful though not a strategy they want to peruse for too long.
The English bowling too has now got the cutting edge they badly lacked once. With the dependency on medium paced seamers almost a thing of the past, English Cricket has now looked to have genuine quicks in their ranks and the likes of Anderson, Broad, Harmison, Finn etc have appeared on the horizon and has been used to good effect. One remembers a story of the eighties when Graham Dilley one of the quickest bowlers in the world then was told by the then Chairman of selectors Peter May a very knowledgeable cricketing personality, to cut down his pace and concentrate on length and line, when English Cricket just had Bob Willis to hit back at the opposing batsmen.
Mind you this was the time that the West Indies and the Australians were tormenting the opposing batsmen with their battery of fast bowlers and England was the team which was mostly at the receiving end! And therefore it was no surprise that the likes of Graham Dilley, David Lawrence, Greg Thomas and to a lesser extent Devon Malcolm never had the backing of the then selectors with mundane trundlers such as Pringle, Capal, Sidebottom Snr, Ellison etc being preferred. I believe the change of fortune in English cricket at present has been due to the change of attitude from the previous stubborn stance, which is obviously expected to be a huge boon to the game in the country.
This would mean that more youngsters and more sponsors would be keen to enrich English Cricket ensuring its rapid growth rather than the retarding situation which plagued them in the nineties and during most times of the first decade in the new millennium.
I don’t mean that English cricket will be winning every day and every game, but at least they appear to be a team with enough resolve to make it happen on the field. The Cricket World Cup of 2011 in the subcontinent will provide us with a good indicator.
* Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator