Melbourne: Former Australia batsman Mike Hussey believes the increasing benchmark scores in One-Day International (ODI) cricket is the direct result of a demand for entertainment from various parties.
The prevalence of 300-plus totals already at this World Cup has led to a chorus of comments that ODI cricket is now too heavily dominated by batsmen, reports cricket.com.au.
"Fans and broadcasters and administrators want to see excitement. They want to see fours and sixes being hit," Hussey said Thursday.
"They don't want to see batsmen struggling and dot balls, plays and misses and things like that. I'm sure they'd love to see the wickets, but maybe the balance has gone too far."
Increased fielding restrictions, shorter boundaries and bigger bats have all had an effect on expanding what is considered a benchmark score across 50 overs.
Meanwhile, the introduction of two new balls appears only to have forced a rethink in strategy, with batting sides now saving wickets for an explosion of aggression in the final 15 overs instead of targeting the match’s opening exchanges as the time to tee off.
“Maybe that’s the challenge for the bowlers, but they’ve improved. They went through developing new deliveries like slower-ball, bouncers and wide yorkers and different types of slower balls. Perhaps they have to keep improving as well," Hussey told cricket.com.au.
Hussey is working as a coaching consultant for South Africa in the World Cup.
Hussey, who played 185 ODIs between 2004-12, says the standard first-innings total at World Cup 2015 is as high as ever, and it’s a point the numbers seem to bear out; in eight matches to date, the sides batting first have averaged 288.75, a figure dragged down by Scotland’s 142 against New Zealand.
“Here in Australia and New Zealand conditions are pretty good, so if you’ve got good conditions it seems 300 is the par score,” he said.
“When one-day internationals started, 200 was a defendable total. When I was playing the benchmark was 250 or 260 and it seems to have increased again. It’s gone up to 300, maybe 280 to 300 is a par score these days, which is amazing.”
In his new position as a member of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee, former England captain Andrew Strauss concurred with Hussey’s sentiment following a report that looked at restricting bat sizes last July.
"Our deliberations were centred around - has the balance of the game swung too far in the direction of the batsman, and also, what does the crowd want to see, what does entertaining cricket look like?” Strauss said.
"I think for the time being we feel there's a decent balance there still, that balance still exists. But clearly it needs monitoring to make sure it doesn't slip too far in one direction in the future."
Hussey said he was surprised by the apparent ease with which teams were capable of chasing down 300-plus totals in 50-over matches nowadays.
"What stands out to me is when Australia played England down in Hobart (in last month’s tri-series) and Australia were chasing 300 and they seemed to do it easy,” Hussey, who was picked up by Chennai Super Kings to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015, said.
“I know when I was playing if we were chasing 300 there’d be a lot of panic in the dressing room. I know there’s different field restrictions now with only having four (fielders) out (outside the inner circle). But still the players are not fearful of those big scores anymore," he added.
"T20 probably has played a bit of a role in that and then the field restrictions have increased the scores.”