On 29/8/2012 South Africa defeated England in ODI and with that they attained No. 1 rank in all three formats of the game. They had beaten England in England 2-0 in Test series and had attained No. 1 rank in Tests. They held No. 1 rank in T20. Attaining ODI No. 1 rank completed their domination.
England had their problems. They lost the first Test by an Innings. There was dissension in the team. Kevin Pietersen was dropped for the third Test. On 29/8/2012 at Southampton in second ODI wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter dropped Hashim Amla on 42 and 92 who went on the score 150. South Africa scored 287/5. England were all out for 207 in 40.4 overs, lost the ODI by 80 runs with 9.2 overs to spare. Same day Andrew Strauss, Englandâ€™s Test captain, retired from all forms of cricket.
For long South Africa were known as chokers. They had lost matches after being in commanding positions. Last year England had defeated India 4-0 in Tests, 3-0 in ODIs and 1-0 in T20. What a difference a year had made.
South Africa had abundance of talent before. It seems their losses were due to non-cricketing reasons. There was betting and match-fixing. When many people put money on South Africa winning South Africa lost. Bookies made money. People lost faith in South Africaâ€™s ability to win. They stopped betting on South Africaâ€™s wins. South Africa winning became profitable for bookies.
Three unexpected and unnatural deaths had South African connection. Hansie Cronje was South Africaâ€™s captain. Robert Andrew Woolmer was South Africaâ€™s coach though at the time of his death he was Pakistanâ€™s coach. Peter Roebuck, a cricket correspondent, died in South Africa.
Rankings of Tests and ODIs began around ten years back and of T20 some years later. For a long time Australia dominated the rankings. India attained No. 1 ranking in Tests and held it for about 18 months. England was No. 1 in Tests for a year.
As on 29/8/2012, in Tests, South Africa had 120 points followed by England with 117 points and Australia with 116 points. In ODIs, South Africa had 124 points followed by India with 120 points and England with 118 points. In T20s, South Africa had 130 points followed by England with 129 points and Sri Lanka with 119 points.
Retaining No. 1 rank in all three formats of the game is a tough task. England are South Africaâ€™s rivals with second place in Tests and T20s and third place in ODIs. In the next one year India will play many of their matches at home. To remain No. 1 South Africa will have to win most of their Tests and all of their ODIs and T20s.
There is the story of a man who killed the goose that laid golden eggs. Similar is the case with BCCI.
Recent ODI series in India against England witnessed large number of empty seats in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mohali, Bombay and Calcutta. There was drop in television viewing. The law of diminishing returns was at work. Within six months of World Cup interest in cricket had declined. During World Cup there were long queues for tickets for matches played by India and in some cases there was lathi charge. For the past four years there have been Tests, ODIs and T20s one after the other and people were bound to lose interest at some point.
When IPL began it provided an alternative to people fed up with K serials. Soon K serials disappeared. In 2009 and 2010 T20 World Cup was after IPL. In 2011 IPL was after ODI World Cup which India won and there was less interest in IPL.
Many cities host at least one Test or ODI every year. In those cities people have spent enough money and seen enough cricket. At one time when Tests were few and there was no TV in most parts of India every stadium used to be full for every Test. Then came ODIs, more Tests and spread of TV. Crowds for Tests in stadia declined. ODIs had full crowds. Then ODIs featuring India had full crowds and other ODIs had less spectators, sometimes very few in a stadium. Now even ODIs featuring India do not have full crowds.
Many Indians watch football and car race and interest in cricket is likely to decline. With less people watching there will be less money and that means decline of BCCIâ€™s clout. That may mean politicians and businessmen leaving BCCI and cricketers running BCCI.
Cricket World Cup 2011 is proving to be a boring tournament. It has 14 teams and spread over 43 days. Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are of 14-16 days. Football World Cup with 32 teams is about 32 days.
When Cricket Word Cup began in 1975 there were eight teams and four matches per day. The gap between matches was not long. In 1987 there were three matches per day. In 2011 it is one match or two matches per day with long gaps for teams in between. India played Bangladesh on 19/2/2011 and its next match against England is on 27/2/2011. In an ODI tournament a team having to wait for 5-8 days to play its next match is strange.
In 2015 the ODI tournament will be restricted to 10 teams. That may make the tournament interesting. Some want minnows to be part of ODI tournament. Sometimes minnows have done well. In 1979 Sri Lanka defeated India. In 1983 Zimbabwe defeated Australia. Kenya defeated West Indies in 1996 and reached semi-final in 2003. Ireland defeated Pakistan in 2007. Now Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe are Test playing nations. Minnows can play in Twenty20 World Cup which will have 16 teams. There are not many people in countries like Ireland, Holland and Bermuda who watch cricket on TV and that may be the reason for their exclusion from ODI format.
The web site for sale of tickets for final and semi-finals crashed soon after tickets went for sale. It is said that 10 million people wanted to buy tickets online but I doubt that figure. In cricket publicity stunts are normal. When tickets were put for sale for IPL in South Africa it was said that all tickets were sold within five minutes. When the matches took place there were not many spectators. TV channels should be careful about what they report and should not function as PR agencies.