T20 has totally changed the batting strike rate of cricket and the IPL has taken this even further. When Brendon McCullum smashed a 158 not out replete with 13 sixes while opening for Kolkata Knight Riders at the very beginning of the first IPL, it raised a very interesting question. Could we have a triple century in ODIs? If a batsman can hit 150 in 20 overs: Why not a 300 in 50 overs?
Of course, that was totally dismissed by many who didn't take IPL seriously. Besides even the 200 hadn't been breached by then.
IPL snippets: A kick works more than a hug
But now that possibility has been thrown open again thanks to Shane Watson's brutal 185 in a mere 26 overs. If a batsman can score 185 in 26 overs, then how much can he score in 50 overs? The answer is a mind-boggling 355, very rarely even a team score at the beginning of the history of ODIs.
In the history of sport, the 4-minute mile was a great mental barrier. Arne Andersson ran the mile in 4 minute 2.6 seconds in 1943 and yet nobody could breach the 4-minute barrier for the next decade or so. Some even thought that it was impossible in the first place.
So when Roger Bannister finally clocked 3:59.4 in 1954, the floodgates were thrown open and all the top athletes started doing it. Today the record stands at 3:43.14.
The same thing happened with the 200-run mark in ODIs. Before 24 February 2010, a batsman had been in the 180-194 zone about ten times, but couldn't go beyond that. The great Sachin Tendulkar, like Bannister, finally breached 200 and the psychological barrier went down the drain.
The same thing happened with the 400 total in ODIs. Sri Lanka perished at 398 in 1996. But when the barrier was finally breached we have had nine 400s from 2006-2010!
So don't be surprised if someone scores at least a 250 in ODIs very soon for a start!
All quiet on the IPL front?
Is it just me or is this a much quieter IPL with much fewer controversies? The ads seem less intrusive. Most of the action seems to be happening on the field for a change.
There are no Pakistani players and the Australian team is playing in Bangladesh, but no one seems to be much bothered. The BCCI dispute with certain franchises has also been pushed to the background.
One reason could be the absence of former IPL head honcho Lalit Modi, who was a controversy magnet. It could be also a sign of maturity as most of the things have fallen in place and settled into a routine.
Or maybe it's just due to the fact that India won the World Cup and everyone is so happy that they just don't want to focus on the negatives!
Format change the only constant
There is one thing that is constant and that is the continuous format changes in cricket. World Cups from 2003-11 all had different formats with another change in the offing in 2015.
With the introduction of two more teams in IPL4, a change of format was expected.
But not with the semi-finals! There will be no semi-finals this year, but qualifiers for the final.
The top two teams will face off. The winner will go straight to the final and the loser will get another chance. Teams 3 and 4 will also face off, the loser getting eliminated and the winner playing with the loser of the Top 2 teams. That match will decide the second finalist.
Confused? You're not the only one!
An IPL for Pakistan?
Why does the PCB keep talking of an IPL for Pakistan and not go ahead with it? At last count, about 14 countries have a domestic T20 tournament, so it shouldn't be that difficult to do.
Since no international team has toured Pakistan for two years, its players are playing lesser and lesser cricket. A strong Pakistani Premier League would be a godsend for the cricket starved sportsmen and fans.
In fact one only has to look at South Africa for inspiration. The Proteas were out of international cricket from 1970-1991. They surprised everyone by becoming a competitive team right from the word go. They chased 288 against India, winning by a whopping 8 wickets in their very third ODI match.
They comfortably reached the semi-finals of their very first World Cup in 1992. Their Test team was also formidable in no time.
When asked about this in the 1990s, most players pointed to a strong and competitive domestic structure being the key.
With Pakistan facing erratic isolation from international cricket, they had better put PPL on the fast track to remain competitive!
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/