Sights and sounds of the Cricket World Cup
Before I start, a confession.
This article was written before the start of the Cricket World Cup with the purpose of slating the 50-over format and its future in an increasingly congested international schedule.
Expecting the inevitable saturation of pointless group matches between minnows and whale sharks, I assumed the first few weeks would be the perfect fit - but there never seemed an appropriate time to click the publish button.
England's inability to string consistent performances together
captivated a pessimistic 50-over domestic audience through sheer nerve-jangling tension,
erased Sir Vivian Richards from the World Cup history books while
Lasith Malinga single-handedly kept Kenyan chiropodists in business
until the next millennium.
In short, the derided group stages provided entertaining matches rather than the inevitable procession which the One-Day Cricket Detractors' Association (I am now considering revoking my lifetime subscription) had predicted.
India's second World Cup victory could spark a one-day renaissance
Although I am still convinced the 15 to 40-over procession needs revising - a six counting as eight in that period is one excellent suggestion by TMS commentator Simon Mann - the 10th global event has revived new impetus into the one-day format, especially in the subcontinent.
India's victory in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007
revolutionised the face of the short format with the Indian Premier League - so imagine the commercial possibilities for 50-over cricket following their second global title, the first in 28 years.
Do not discount a potential proposal to extend the IPL to 50-over cricket or England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand reinstating the format after pursuing alternatives.
England's domestic counties play 40-over cricket while Australia has experimented with split-innings, desperately attempting to lure an increasingly sceptical public back to the longer one-day format.
The success of the World Cup campaign could well just do that, although the International Cricket Council (ICC) - which is introducing a world one-day championship starting this month - must still address a number of problems, not least overscheduling and player burnout.
The ICC still has World Cup issues to deal with; it will cut the number of teams for the 2015 World Cup from 14 to 10 as well as shortening the tournament to he held in Australia and New Zealand.
The views of the majority of contributors below were made before the tournament, but they remain relevant.
ICC CHIEF EXECUTIVE HAROON LORGAT
"I had confidently predicted to the media on 1 February that this ICC Cricket World Cup would be the perfect showcase for the 50-over format to answer the critics and I had proclaimed that 'ODI cricket is alive and well'.
I am pleased - and naturally relieved - to say that so far the statements I have made have proven to be correct.
Key administrators around the world were either wanting to or actually tinkering with the format of 50-over cricket. Some were reducing to 40 overs; others wanted to trial split-innings while some had even more extreme thoughts.
As a game we were self-inflicting a crisis on 50-over cricket. It reminded me of a British jeweller [former Ratners chairman Gerald Ratner] who [once] pronounced that his merchandise was rubbish. He simply talked himself out of business.
A year ago we were in danger of doing the same to our much-loved 50-over cricket.
The more we talked of a game in crisis the more we created the crisis and the more we fuelled talk of doom and despondency. A vicious circle. And all the time there was no real evidence of a crisis.
Not only is 50-over cricket far from death row, it has a strong and vibrant future.
This World Cup clearly has context and we also have great content. The scoring rate of more than five runs an over has been the highest in history. Records have tumbled and heroes continue to be made at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011."
Haroon Lorgat was speaking at the Sri Lanka Press Institute Press Club on 28 March
FICA CHIEF EXECUTIVE TIM MAY
Fifty-over cricket is still an attractive prospect for the players, spectators and the various boards of each country.
People want to see compelling matches and 50-over cricket can still offer that - as long as it is competitive.
However, players continually complain about the number of irrelevant matches and overscheduling, especially with long, drawn-out series which effectively lead to dead, meaningless rubbers.
The seven-match series between Australia and England at the start of the year is a perfect example.
A radical solution to mid-innings torpor could be the awarding of eight runs for "sixes" hit between the 25th and 40th overs
BBC commentator Simon Mann
To counter this, the ICC is introducing a one-day championship which will assign a context to every match through points but none of the games will be arranged by them.
All the matches are all bilateral agreements between two countries so fundamentally, the better teams will want to play the better teams.
National boards must take care to ensure the country product does not become diluted.
Reducing limited-overs internationals from 50 to 40 overs or creating split-innings matches will not address the problem.
From my understanding, the split-innings trial in Australia has done little to entice more people to follow cricket.
From the players' perspective they still believe one-day cricket has got a bright future and the three formats, with proper scheduling and non-saturation, can complement each other.
Fica is the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations
FORMER ENGLAND PLAYER ROBERT CROFT
The teams and countries themselves look at one-day cricket and see it as their cash-earner. However, from a supporters' point of view, sometimes less is more.
In 1997, I remember a three-match one-day series before the Ashes series over here and we played the Aussies at the start of that summer and beat them 3-0 and all three matches were fantastic.
We also didn't have Twenty20 cricket in those days as well, which is now tagged along into a one-day period in the current set-up. It almost gets to the saturation point, where you can turn people off to the game instead of turning them on to it.
It needs to be streamlined fractionally and maybe make series three matches, or five matches at the most. We maybe need to get a clearer pecking order of number one, number two, etc in the world.
Looking at this winter, I don't mean this derogatory, but a lot of the England lads who were part of the tour, once the Ashes were won, were ready to come home.
The Aussies had everything to play for, and England not so much, even though there was a World Cup down the line.
And for many of these extra one-day games, the grounds aren't even full. It's better off having three or five games with full grounds, than seven or more games with quarter-full grounds.
Robert Croft played 50 one-day internationals for England and took 45 wickets between 1996 and 2001
BBC CRICKET COMMENTATOR SIMON MANN
Seven-match series should end. I understand that the administrators want them in order to pay the bills but it is counter-productive to flog the players.
It leads to injuries and rotation so spectators are short-changed. For example, neither Australia nor England will ever field again the XIs that turned out in Perth for the seventh one-day international just before the World Cup.
Ideally, tours should comprise three one-dayers and three Twenty20s. Make the games special or, at the very least, more meaningful. There should never be more than five ODIs in a series.
The legacy of this World Cup should be that if treated properly and with respect, the 50-over game is by far the best format for one-day cricket.
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
The format should be reviewed at regular intervals so that players are set new challenges. There has always been innovation in ODIs and some things have worked, while things haven't.
Bowlers should be helped. Let them bowl more (12 overs), let them bowl more short balls, be more lenient on leg-side deliveries. If a batsmen doesn't attempt to hit a (leg-side) ball it should not be called wide.
A radical solution to mid-innings torpor could be the awarding of eight runs for "sixes" hit between the 25th and 40th overs. It would give bowlers a chance of taking wickets as well.
SPORTS MARKETING EXPERT NIGEL CURRIE
There has been a definite Test cricket renaissance in England ever since the 2005 Ashes, while the appeal for the 50-over game has waned considerably.
But for potential sponsors and advertisers, the carrot remains the Indian market - it is absolutely crucial.
It is the only sport that truly delivers and reaches a lucrative market in a nascent economy with the world's biggest population.
Tendulkar and the Indian market is still the number one driver for ODIs
By 2025 the Indian middle-class will have swollen to [an estimated] 583m people - some 41% of the population, providing a very attractive market for prospective advertisers and sponsors.
For many western corporations, India can be a notoriously difficult market to break into, which is why cricket is such a fantastic vehicle to increase the exposure of brands and companies.
Global sports brand Nike is the perfect example. It has established itself as one of the biggest sports brands in the west and has broken new ground in emerging countries like Brazil by sponsoring the national football team's shirt.
And it has done the same in India, a market they had never previously explored properly. It's a tough market to establish yourself in but cricket is a huge trump card.
If one-day cricket is still popular in India, then it's still popular to sponsors and advertisers.
Nigel Currie is director of marketing and sports consultancy Brand Rapport
Additional reporting by Phil Dawkes