Waqar Younis revived an old debate, Sanath Jayasuriya stirred it into a conversation and on Wednesday, Pat Cummins, the premier fast bowler who could freelance as a film star, presented a somewhat contrarian point of view. The issue at hand? Do ODIs need a white ball from each end through the innings?
“ODI cricket is too friendly for batters. Suggestion @ICC 2 new balls to start, take away one ball after 30 overs, continue with the other. At the end, that ball will only be 35 overs old. We will see some reverse at the end. Save the art of #ReverseSwing. Comments please.” This was a message on X from Younis, the sultan of reverse swing, on Tuesday.
Jayasuriya obliged Younis early on Wednesday. “Some changes need to be made,” said the former Sri Lanka batter whose explosive start with Romesh Kaluwitharana in the 1996 World Cup redefined one-day batting at the top of the order.
Agreeing with the former Pakistan skipper, Jayasuriya said: “If @sachin_rt had the privilege to bat with two balls and under the current power play rules in our era, his runs and centuries would have doubled.”
Speaking at the pre-match media conference ahead of Thursday’s semi-final against South Africa, Australia skipper Cummins said he was for anything that favours bowlers. “(But) I think in some ways over here in India, the ball actually deteriorates okay, so sometimes at the end of the innings the scoring isn’t as free-flowing as, say, in Australia or some of the other countries.
“But there’s no doubt you know the ODI cricket nowadays is a million miles away from the ODI cricket from 20 years ago where they used to use one ball and it used to reverse swing.”
In the context of this World Cup semi-final, Pakistan bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Wasim Jr. have shown that reverse swing is possible at Eden. But that, as Cummins pointed out, will not hold true for many other venues. Reason enough for the conversation to continue.