New Delhi:Bowling great Wasim Akram and former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar today warned International Cricket Council against rushing with Sachin Tendulkar's idea of splitting the 50-over format, saying such a far-reaching decision should not be taken in haste.
Amid debate that post-Twenty20, one-day cricket is on its deathbed and Tendulkar's idea of splitting it into two innings of 25 overs each could be the answer to the crisis, both Akram and Manjrekar said ICC should not rush with it.
R C Venkateish, Managing Director of ESPN Software India Private Limited, chipped in with data to prove that ODI popularity has not really dipped as feared.
"This is just another idea, which was actually suggested in the past as well. So it's surely not a bolt from the blue. But ODI has been hugely successful concept and to change it, ICC has to give it a lot of thought. When you plan to alter such a successful product, you have to be careful," Manjrekar said here on Thursday.
Akram vaguely remembers playing one such two-innings 50-over match and did not sound impressed.
"I played one in 2000-01 and it was a different experience. I think ICC should try it at the club or domestic level and see how it goes before trying to implement it at the international level," said the former Pakistan captain. Venkateish said despite Twenty20's growing popularity, ODIs continued to enjoy corporate backing.
"The proof of pudding is in rating and all ODIs over the last six months have seen impressive ratings. There has been no dip at all, as was feared. I would say this talk of ODI dying is more in the media realm and speculation," Venkateish said.
Akram said, for him, ODI had not lost its charm. "For me, there are three formats of the game and eaach has its charm and you need different set of skills to succeed. As a player, the 50-over format is tougher than Twenty20," he said.
They were speaking at a programme in which ESPN STAR announced selling syndicates rights of the ICC Champions Trophy to 183 territories, hoping to make it one of the widely viewed sports extravaganzas.
ICC General Manager Campbell Jamieson said the Champions Trophy was being marketed aggressively and the eight-team September 22-October 5 event would clear the doubts. "Cricket has not been marketed historically but Twenty20 was and we are marketing Champions Trophy now, hoping it would be a grand success," the ICC official said.
Venkateish said the Champions Trophy would prove a visual treat for the viewers.
"This is the biggest ODI festival of the year and the race for the number one spot is intense. We have a panel of 13 eminent commentators and it would be a visual treat for the viewers," he said.
Both Manjrekar and Akram were asked about the implication of Andrew Flintoff rejecting a contract from his board and turning freelancer and both agreed more cricketers would follow him.
"This is sign of things to come. Everything evolves and cricket too is evolving. You have to acknowledge that this is interesting time for cricket. Suddenly so many branches coming out of the trunk and first you have Chris Gayle saying Test cricket may die and now you have Flintoff rejecting his contract," Manjrekar said.
Akram felt Flintoff's choice would allow him to rest whenever he needed.
"Not signing contract doesn't mean he would not play for England. It only means he can have rest whenever he wants," Akram said.