Published on October 25th, 2023
The scorching sun beats down on a Mumbai Tuesday as cricket enthusiasts discuss the impending South Africa-Bangladesh clash at Wankhede Stadium.
Predictions abound – one expects the Proteas to score over 400, another backs Quinton de Kock to shine, and a third believes Shakib Al Hasan’s return will uplift Bangladesh.
The 2023 ODI World Cup in India has illuminated fascinating statistics and visuals regarding fan engagement. Multiple perspectives emerge.
Viewership records for the tournament’s digital streaming platform are reaching unprecedented heights, and packed stadiums resound with cheers whenever the Indian team graces the pitch.
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The ODI Format: Caught Between T20 Thrills And Test Traditions
However, non-India matches have frequently witnessed empty seats across the nation.
Notably, cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru have bucked this trend.
An intriguing trend that has surfaced during this tournament is the presence of more spectators in the evening rather than at the start.
For instance, the Wankhede on Tuesday saw over double the number of spectators at 6 pm compared to 2 pm.
This raises a significant question: sandwiched between the rapidly acquired taste for T20s and the indelible tradition of Tests, how much appeal does 50-overs cricket still hold for fans?
It’s a format that former England skipper Nasser Hussain, while commentating during the World Cup, described as the “lifeblood of the game” that cannot be “taken for granted.”
In terms of nuances, 50-overs cricket still holds a unique charm. While the five-day game tests every facet of cricketing skill and the T20 version provides quick thrills, ODIs offer a blend of both.
“The 50-over game is a proper day out. It provides time to construct an inning, work through trouble, and captaincy plays a more significant role.
It’s not just about big hits and luck,” explains Allan Smith, who traveled from the UK to witness matches in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Pune.
However, the “few balls to settle down” aspect of ODI cricket also works against it. An eight-hour day at the stadium, coupled with travel time, can test the patience of even the most avid cricket fans.
This may be reflected in sparser crowds during afternoon starts and lower television viewership during certain phases of a game.
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In-Stadium Experience: The Unique Appeal Of ODIs In India
Yet, the in-stadium experience in India stands in stark contrast to other parts of the world.
In England and other places, fans can enjoy a beer in the stands and have a good time with friends, making the match seem less prolonged.
However, some fans also appreciate the chaos and energy in Indian stadiums.
For example, Lisa Williams from Johannesburg, in India for work, can’t watch Test cricket but loves the excitement of T20 matches.
She admits that this World Cup has yet to deliver an exciting finish not involving Virat Kohli and centuries.
Utsav Trivedi, who attended Tuesday’s match with his family, acknowledges that he wouldn’t watch the entire South Africa-Bangladesh match on TV.
Still, he decided to make it a family outing for the unique in-stadium experience.
Rahman, a dedicated fan who has watched ODIs in Bangladesh, India, and the UK, acknowledges that their part of the world prioritizes their national team.
Despite this, the 50-over format continues to draw varying degrees of spectators’ interest during this World Cup in India.
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Feature Image Source: wikimedia