The bosses of Cricket Australia believe ODIs can continue to play a key part in the men’s international game but have stressed the importance of having context around bilateral fixtures.
There has been heightened debate around the 50-over format amid the ongoing World Cup which has seen some disappointing crowds and a lack of close games, although the tournament has produced a number of eye-catching results with Afghanistan beating England and Pakistan while Netherlands overturned a powerful South Africa.
But amid an increasingly packed calendar, now becoming ever-more dominated by T20 franchise leagues, there is a growing suggestion that it is ODI cricket that will be squeezed particularly at bilateral level with discussions set to take place when the ICC meets next month in India.
The 2027 ODI World Cup is locked in to be jointly hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia and 2031 is to be staged by India and Bangladesh, with a returning Champions Trophy due to be held in Pakistan in 2025.
Direct qualification for the current World Cup in India was decided by the ODI Super League which meant bilateral series had added importance but that has been disbanded after one cycle.
“It’s really important that there’s context for those bilateral series,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said after the board’s AGM. “We’ve seen with the introduction of the World Test Championship how that works, we’ve seen with the qualification through to this World Cup with major nations [like] West Indies missing out, Netherlands coming through.
“So really creating jeopardy in those bilateral series. That’s something we’ll be discussing when we are in India towards the end of the tournament with the ICC.”
Bilateral T20I series could be given greater context in the future with Olympic qualification likely to be based on the rankings.
Australia have three men’s ODIs in their upcoming summer – crammed into five days against West Indies in early February – which according to the Future Tours Programme (FTP) is the likely figure for most future seasons. They are then not scheduled to play the format again until September when they tour England for a five-match series, with three ODIs against Ireland also marked on the FTP before that.
“We certainly see a role for all three formats,” he said. “To see a T20 century, Glenn Maxwell came in in the 39th over, so the spectacular impact of that in an ODI it adds a whole other dimension than just a T20.
“It’s an important format, we certainly think there’s a role. What is important is context, [not] just having matches without connecting them into qualifiers for a World Cup as an example – so those are the things, how do you give more context.”
Central contracts vs franchise cricket
News Corp also reported this week that there is now a mechanism within contracts where players can be docked a percentage of their earnings if they opt to play in overseas tournaments during the home season.
“It is designed so that if a situation does not clearly warrant a player being given a [No Objection Certificate], the answer doesn’t have to be only ‘no, you can’t go and play’. It is ‘let’s have a conversation and see if we can negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome’,” Todd Greenberg, the Australia Cricketers’ Association CEO, said. “That keeps the relationship strong and the player in our Australian system for longer.”
CA acknowledged the rapidly changing landscape and how all sides need to work together.
“We are conscious of the increased opportunity for players and to show some level of flexibility to pursue opportunities, certainly in the IPL and some of the other leagues around the world, is something we’ll need to support going forward,” Hockley said.
“To go forward into the future, there are changes that are here, there are changes that are coming,” Baird added. “The fundamental thing we need is trust and that relationship with the players and we’ve certainly established that.”
CA makes a loss, but confidence for years to come
Meanwhile, CA reported a loss of nearly AUD$17 million for the last financial year but that was a stronger performance than expectations aided by AUD$42 million coming from hosting the men’s T20 World Cup.
The upcoming year, which sees the men’s team host Pakistan and West Indies at home, is expected to also be loss-making before two big-earning seasons with India and England touring for five-match Test series in 2024-25 and 2025-26.
“It’s part of the cycle … these [past] 12 months is the difficult period,” Baird said. “But we’re certainly very confident on where we’re going … over the next two or three years, the forecasts are really strong.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo